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African Renaissance

Psychosis

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There is a torment in waiting for the psychosis to break.

You can never heal completely from that wreck. I can tell you what it is not. Psychosis is not a polite madness. It is not going to go away any time soon. You will recover but then again you will relapse. Psychosis is I am afraid another dimension, a violent dimension, in which we are dealt the cruel blows of hallucinations and voices. I wish that it could only be my potential, food, music and love that affected me deeply instead of psychosis. I have discovered that a woman and an inpatient of a mental hospital must always keep a diary. I have discovered that within me there is always this struggle for creativity, extraordinary innocence, and unchanging hope. I have to be better. Better than sane and the mania. I have to be better than when the hypomania triumphs.

I have discovered when I do better everything begins working coordinated. My parents are my guardians. In the great house where once my childhood ruled, my mother’s love is my anchor. My lifeline. It features goals, my adolescent potential, sanity and sleep. For a long time I lacked awareness of what having psychosis would mean in the long term. I know now the depression would make me an ordinary woman but what gives me the creativity. I have never been in love like other women. I have never married like other women. I have never had those children with the white picket fence but I write books. They pour out of me. I dismantle marriage and give it a bad name in my short stories. All I know of life is empty fields, waiting rooms. Waiting for doctors to see me. Psychiatrists. Still I am left overwhelmed.

I have been damaged, filled with anguish, bittersweet angst, filled with manic energy and I have written with a spontaneity. Family life, keeping diaries over the years has saved my delicate psychological framework. Given me the motivation for my intuition to dream again, when all I have to offer the world is my sadness. I know what the word ‘lack’ or rather the words ‘lack of’ means. The lack of being there so completely in the present. I know what the sensation of being caught between fantasy and illusion means. I spend a lot of time on my own now. I do not call the pain and the wounded feelings that stir deep within me loneliness. Psychosis is a nightmare. I cannot really bring myself to explain the parts of this non-reality that is also very much a frightening reality for some.

It is only a voyage. It is only a voyage into eternity. There is winter in my heart. Ice in my lungs. The horrors of depravity in my chest. All holding me down. This is an acute system. Psychosis is like suffocating in the dark. Drowning with despair on your left-hand side and hardship on your right. Studying the case studies of people who experience psychosis must give you a profound take on humanity. How much of our soul we give away. How much we take and take and take from the people around us. The people who love us. The people who treat us, the doctors, the nurses, after all are they not strangers. These are all rhythms that go by the name of love. These are all rhythms that are a return to love and normalcy. I think when I say that I mean it to be factual.

People could never see the brightness behind my eyes. Why I kept to myself. The quiet me. Perhaps all they saw was the intelligence. I knew early on how dangerous it was to make friends, to have relationships. I was scared to death of the boyfriend and girlfriend relationship because this would mean now I would have to come clean. I would have to confess. I was always the confessional type though especially throughout my poetry. I could not see what others saw. I knew I would be no good for anyone. No good for domestic life. No good as a wife and a mother. Sacrifices would have to be made. I think my children would have been too independent at a very young age. They would have had to look after me. I do not think that men really have it within them to take care of a mentally ill wife.

I know every day what I have given up in the pursuit of sanity. Mostly I feel the hunger in the dark. The hunger for closeness, for contact, for love but I know I would not have been able to deal with it or accept it. I cannot even accept praise for my writing. I shy away from it. I painstakingly crush it. I know I must or else the art form that has become part of the perspective that I have of the exterior world will not survive. All those drawings of people. Am I tragic? That is hard to escape. Not with the wealth of ideas that I have though. With my battle with psychosis, I have encountered coma, relief, disaster and horror. I write about what I think intimacy is. All I know of intimacy is the partnership of my parents. Sometimes I feel that all I am are fragments pieced together.

Fragments of dopamine, serotonin, burnt out nerve endings and flashbacks to times when I was happier. When I was a child not having to deal with trauma, depression, my dad’s depression, pharmaceuticals and lack of parental supervision but you must understand I was dealing with all of these things at some level or other even when I was a child. Life was stressful when I was a child. Life became even more so when I grew up. What is despair compared to love? We all want to be accepted. I mean it makes you begin to question the distance between self-love and fear. I have lived my whole life in fear of what others might think of me, what they will say, and what their opinion of me is. Fear just programmes the psychosis. Fear just becomes another reality. What I wanted for all of my life was to live in your world.

All I wanted was to have thoughtful parents who loved me; thought the world of accomplished me. Parents who clapped every time I won something at school. Every diploma I received. My goal was to perform excellently. Even as a child, I was a perfectionist. The doctors never spoke about the hallucinations. The hearing of voices. Maybe they wanted to protect me. Maybe they wanted to say. Perhaps this will never happen to you although it has happened to other people whose diagnosis played out the same way that mine was about to. Perhaps psychiatrists do not believe in the future. Perhaps they only believe in the now. Perhaps they only believe in fixing the now. I made a normal life up for as long I could when I was in high school. It worked. Then it did not. Now I write for a living. Psychosis banging at the door.

Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.

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African Renaissance

Truth and the third wave of the pandemic: To be vaccinated or not to be vaccinated

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Photo: Atharva Tulsi/Unsplash

I have endured the worst possible case scenario. Being locked up in a mental institution for six months while in my late teens, early twenties. Even though I was of sound body, mind and soul. I am 42 years old now and I haven’t come all the way back from that experience. Everyone wrote me off when I returned home to Port Elizabeth as Gqeberha was known in those days but worse was to follow. Inhumane treatment from those closest to me, rejection from society. I was taught that I had a mental disability and would never be able to work again, hold down a steady job or earn a monthly income. I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to now live on the fringes of society since I would be unable to make a positive contribution to society. For twenty years this continued. I had to all intents and purposes not only given up on myself, my personal success, development of my potential and fulfillment and engagement in a relationship that would lead ultimately to my future happiness. The goal of marriage and having a child, bringing children into the world and raising a family was not only put into the distant past, I thought that it would always be non-existent for me.

I would spend my time listening to sad music, love songs on the radio and wonder why it was not me caught up in the scenario of having a relationship with the opposite sex. I sank even further into the pit of the hell in f despair and hardship. I virtually had lost control over my life, received a disability grant which I did not spend on anything which I personally needed. Family considered me to be the proverbial black sheep of the family. When I got angry at the way I was treated I was certified. My rights were taken away from me. I was verbally, mentally and emotionally abused. I did everything in my power to be loved and accepted by both my maternal and paternal family which is why I believe so strongly today in dismantling the stigma that surrounds issues concerning mental illness and depression mania, euphoria and elation (however mild or all-consuming it might be). At this late stage of my life I have become an advocate for mental wellness. To stop the fight and curb the alienation and isolation of sufferers of mental illness. I want people from all walks of life to realise that people with mental illnesses can enrich our lives and can make a positive contribution to society.

I myself have always sought solace in writing. I have found it to be an instrument for change and therapeutic as well.

I have firsthand knowledge and experience of being called anything from schizophrenic to being diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder and because of the heavy psychotropic medication I have taken over the years I have had a host of illnesses presenting themselves. Chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, an underactive thyroid, chronic kidney disease, gout and heart disease. These diseases manifested themselves early on in my life before the onset of middle age when they would be more prevalent in someone who would be prone to these sorts of illnesses because of not living a healthy lifestyle.

I take each day as it comes now and live in the moment. I have my good days. I have my bad days. I have a mean temper and constantly have to watch what I eat, watch what I say and how I react to people who treat me as him I am a second class citizen because of everything I have been through in my life. Truth be told I always knew I was different. The depression started in childhood for me. I was always an overachiever. I would come home in the afternoons after school but no one ever helped me with my homework, told me either that they were proud of me or believed in me or loved me for that matter.

Everyday I am a work in progress. It is tough dealing with moodswing but that is the currency I deal in and the territory that borders my sense of self-control.

I have been called many names. None of them pretty or lovely. I have had zero support from my immediate family and my estranged family has complete written me off and washed their hands off of me thinking there is nothing they can do for me. This has been very hurtful and even has made made me feel quite suicidal over the years and in my hour if need, my hours of silence, pain and collective trauma I turned to God, prayer and meditation in my hour of need. At the time of the outbreak of the pandemic I got corona and was admitted to the psych ward at Provincial Hospital here in Gqeberha. I had no medical aid and was once again at the mercy of the system but I survived hell and that harrowing experience again to live to tell the tale of how to overcome the impossible, to live and to learn, to remain humble and kind even in the face of adversity and cruelty.

Loneliness, abject poverty, homelessness can either kill you or make you realise that you are powerful beyond measure and I have realised that I am powerful beyond measure.

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African Renaissance

Thoughts From the Frontline

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Photo: Keenan Constance/Unsplash

“Hip/Hop, Trap. I would describe my music as different, unique, compared to what I hear in the music industry in South Africa. It is a different sound of genre based on hip hop. In my downtime I listen to artists like Mexikodro, Playboi Carti, Diego Money, Pyrex Whippa, Lil Gotit and Sahbabii. In my life my family has been and still is a major influence, I just want to see them happy and stress free. I want to be successful so that they can spend the rest of lives living comfortably. I chose music because I believe that it is something I’m good at. I wouldn’t call myself a musical genius, or say that I’m talented musically because I’m not but, I have taken the time to learn everything that I know today, I started as a rapper, but now I am a producer as well, a very good one if I should say, I mix and master vocals, well I try to. It is still something I am learning on a daily basis and I believe that one day if not soon, I will understand that aspect of music. The guys who I record with are so gifted at what they do, we really inspire each other to take it to the next level. I would be lying if I said that I inspire myself, well maybe I do, I don’t know, however what I do know is that we can go to the next level together because nowadays you rarely see a duo or a group of rappers in the South African music industry, there are 4 of us in our group including others who aren’t full time as yet, I think that makes the odds better for us to take it to the next level as opposed to being a solo” SUPREME ZEE, CEO OF Holidae Don’t Stop!

“What inspires me to take it to the next level is basically my daughter, Family and my everyday experiences growing up and living in Westbury losing friends and family to gang violence had a huge effect on me since a young age I’ve been through hell and back if I may describe in short and I’ve realized, to make it out you really need to dig deep. This is also one of the main reasons why I started writing music. I love Music, it is my passion that is mainly why I chose to make music, ever since a young age I’ve just been through the worst writing music and articulating every word I write is therapeutic. Manifesting and having faith in God has carried me through. Major influences in my life remains God, my baby girl, my family and obviously my Team Holidae Dont Stop! We always encourage one another to do our best we definitely do bring out the best in each other and I’d say the beats that supreme Zee creates brings out the best in me personally and it’s also one of the major influences in my music career it’s only elevated since the moment we started. In my down time I listen to All types of music mostly Gospel & HDS. I would describe my music as being one in a million very versatile, real and unusually different from the usual and it has an unorthodox flow and style to it so you can literally expect only the best” TheGR8ACE, CEO and co-founder of Holidae Dont Stop!

My inspiration comes from knowing that I have a God given talent and my friends (HDS) and family that motivates me day to day to do better. I chose music because as a hobby it is something I love doing which started out in high school where I had friends that used to rap over beats and I’d just stand within the circle and listen to their rhymes and it became to amuse me when I found out that there are people in my community creating their own music, whereas in 2019, I linked with the crew Holidae Dont Stop! and it has been a wonderful journey ever since! Learning and growing at the same time. My mother has played a role as one of my biggest inspirations including friends (HDS) have been a major Influence in my life, for they always pushed me to be a better me. Not giving up on me and providing not bad advice but love and positivity. I’ve been in difficult situation in the past and I am just trying to make a better standard of living for my family, my friends as well as my community (Westbury). In my down time I listen to various genres like Rock, Rnb, Hip/Hop, Rap, Emo Rap. I would describe our music as Western Plug for it derives from Hip-hop with an offbeat including 808s and guitar and piano samples that Supreme Zee (Producer) recreates and when hearing the beat, I can automatically put my heart on it.” Bando -recording Artist at Holidae Dont Stop!

 To conclude this, we are all from Johannesburg South Africa as one of our members spread across as far as Cape Town, temporarily. Our member who are not full time are – Leiph Camp (Splaash66) Stock broker, Razaak Benjamin (Glock) Salesman and Marion Reyners (Marion The Great) Facilitator. “Our music is Bold, Iconic and timeless” TheGr8ce. Our crew is based in Jozi (Johannesburg) although we do not have a manager as yet. Our follow up record will sound similar to the “Western Plug tape” that we have recently released, followed by 3 singles. Plug is a genre that derives itself from Hip-Hop and our next single will drop in 2 weeks. The link to our music is on all platforms and the Love and support would be much appreciated. We literally wont stop! –

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African Renaissance

Slavery and the real life bending sinister

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What is slavery? It is nothing more than poverty of the mind. It is not a school of thought or a philosophy. It is scarcity. It is lack. It is cumbersome. It is heavy. It is a burden.

What does it have to do with politics? Ask what it has to do with genocide.

What does it have to do with the power of having a slave mentality? Just as easily as we rise, we fall. A leaf. Ask yourself this. Does the leaf or gravity have the slave mentality or is it just a path to its consciousness, and if it is a meandering path to its consciousness what does that make of gravity? Gravity is easily the culprit or saboteur. A cup carries water but how does the water break through the physical wellness of the body to sate thirst, how does water flow through the universal meridians and find sanctuary in all the wild places that the ocean cannot contain, in code, in which case what observations come out of these natural and bohemian studies.

A slave is a slave is a slave. My grandfather was a slave. My great-grandfather was a slave. On both the paternal and maternal side they are non-existent for me. I live for my father. My father is not a slave. You see his mind is not enslaved. His psyche, his mental, emotional, physical wellness, intellectual prowess and integrity is intact inasmuch as he is not a slave to the peculiarities and eccentricities of the people he finds himself amongst.

In the stages of my own life I can see that I have been enslaved (my mindset and attitude was) by my body image, my identity of cosmic Africa, the cosmos, my self as an African, what I was entitled to, my basic self esteem. I was a slave to my sister, her dalliances, her whiteness, her renouncing Africa for America then Europe and I understood what loneliness, family, friendship and family finally meant and this frightened me a great deal because I realised I had never really loved myself before. I was a slave to every moment up until I heard James Baldwin speak up. I had truly been a slave to waiting for someone to release me and offer me relief somehow from this kind of suffering and cognitive thinking. I wanted happiness but the price for my freedom was this. Somebody else had to love me before I could.

Ask what slavery has cost us as humanity. Look back at history. When I look back at history, all my life I never felt safe. Whether it was the bogeyman, or a horror film, or apartheid, or reading about apartheid, acknowledging it was the difficult part. How would you even begin that dialogue? What could you partner with those hectic images that left you with an urgency and a sense of betrayal from God? So, I grew up with an unpleasant disdain for middle class families in South Africa. It was easy for me to picture them as racist which they were and still are to a certain degree and yet how could I not be? The thought of slavery and decolonization never left me even as a child as I sought to fight for the betterment of society and to right all the evil wrongs.

Slavery is everything. It is primitive. It is visible if you look hard enough. We haven’t even begun to talk about or discuss in rational terms without venting or becoming agitated or irrational about race relations in South Africa or slavery as a concept or narrative in Africa.

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