We are seduced by people, individuals’ who achieve extraordinarily. I never thought I would be living the life that I am living now. I am literally living out my dream. I am a poet, and a writer. I was very much in love with the stage as a child. I was four. I started reading when I was four. I was eight when I wrote my first poem. My friends were writing stories about Barbie and Ken. I was quoting Shakespeare.
I took part in plays when I was very young, all through high school.
Lead role in the house play. Editor of the school magazine. I wanted to be a child prodigy, a gifted child for the rest of my life. I always wondered where does it come from? This nature to drive yourself to achieve, achieve, achieve.
Achieve nothing less than perfection. I was perhaps only five years old, or, perhaps even younger than that. I thought to myself later on in life, when I was a teenager and beginning to feel the onslaught of peer pressure. I wasn’t fitting in. I was being bullied. I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I made up for that in my twenties. There was for a time period a complete lack of interest in anything academic, or, social, or, athletic in high school. I consciously chose not to succeed. I told myself I didn’t want to be successful. In my mind, if I wasn’t successful people would like me more. Life didn’t work out like that. I was my father’s daughter. So, I had this depression in high school. It would continue, these spells all through my life.
The depression did two things. It made me go into an almost catatonic state. I did not speak. I did not communicate. I didn’t talk to anyone. Then there was the onset of eating disorders. A phase of anorexia, which turned into bulimia. On again and off again in high school. On again and off again in my early twenties. My body. My physical body became a villain. I couldn’t trust what to eat. So, the bipolar genius is obsessive. But we don’t all have obsessive compulsive disorder. I was, still am a perfectionist. I have to at least write a certain amount of words in a day. I have to write a poem, or, meditative haiku. Not just one but a series of them. Also, people in high school, other students would say, you’re so ahead of your time.
This did not make me feel good. It only made me feel more different.
Is it natural, or spiritual, and why don’t I have it? When I was very young, I would watch a lot of television. Some good shows. Mostly sitcoms of happy families. My family was dysfunctional. I have a brilliant manic-depressive father, who was the principal of a high school in a sub-economic area in the Northern Areas, of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. He worked on his doctorate in philosophy for nearly a decade. Riding up and down to Grahamstown for about on average every two weeks. Sometimes I would go with him. I would play on the hallowed grounds of the university. I’d be about six or seven years old. We’d be the only people of colour there.
Everybody had a degree. Professor Ray Tunmer was my dad’s supervisor.
He’d make coffee before they began to go through the chapters of his thesis my father had worked on the evenings when he came home from work. I’d watch him sleep. Watch the news sitting on his lap. My father was my life. My father was my entire life. My mother, a narcissist, is still an extremely beautiful woman. She had it all. She was also very religious. Experienced the loss of her youngest brother early in life. Her father was a high-functioning alcoholic. I’d walk around as if I owned the place. We’d eat strawberries and drink pineapple juice at a roadside stall. Creativity seems almost second nature to them? It captivates lesser mortals. The average.
But there’s the other side to the creativity, the creative mind of someone who suffers from bipolar. Is it a mood disorder or a brain disorder? Why do I have to take the medication? Why do I feel isolated and rejected from society? Why do creatives live solitary lives it seems? Are they lonely people that have social patterns of self-destructive behaviour? The bipolar genius takes life literally moment by moment. They live fully in the moment. Immerse themselves in it. It is very much an unorthodox life. The life of the creative.
You’re a gifted personality. It never leaves you. There were many, many times I thought that, there it goes. My poetic gift was gone. It wasn’t. It was always there. As a child I had the flair for the dramatic.
Able to memorize poetry written by Emily Dickinson, study and portray Shakespearean characters in monologues from his plays. I still think that bipolar mood disorder doesn’t make me special, but daily there are breakthroughs. Research studies are being done on the brain all over the world. We must take cognisance of the fact that it is a lonely life. Creative people understand loneliness, the solitary life better than anyone else. I think in retrospect it was my mother who wanted to be up there, under the spotlight, on the stage. For me, sometimes everything came a little too easy, a little too effortlessly. Being different when you’re young and gifted, when you’re a child prodigy doesn’t make you popular. It makes you stand out.
When you are a child you do not want to stand out in this way, you just want to go to the park, play on the swings (but of course, every single thing that I did with my younger siblings, also gifted, was a competition). Genius is unafraid to challenge the status quo. Genius is not frightened of asking questions about the world around them.
What they can do with their imagination and creativity far outweighs what the average person can do. I’ve asked myself that eternal question, “Why me?” I’m a writer and a poet. Some days it feels as if, it’s even acknowledged deep inside of me, as if I was born to do it.
You hear this all the time. I was born to do this. I was born to imagine, to create, to progress in life using these gifts, but my creativity is genetic.
My father is a brilliant educationalist. He is the most selfless, giving and gifted person I know. He grew up in a time when there was a great deal of alcoholism, addiction around him, poverty and the promulgation of the Group Areas Act, I think what people today refer to as the forced removals. In those days you could not have relationships’ and marry across the colour line. It was the law in South Africa. The fact of suicide. People have committed suicide in our family. Mental illness is in our genetic makeup. He has six degrees. He studied at London University, he went to Rhodes in Grahamstown, he went to the University of the Western Cape (Bush
University) during apartheid. He wanted to become a medical doctor, but his family was poor. His mother was a seamstress, cleaned houses, and churches and took in washing.
His older sister had to go to work, leave school and put her brothers through university. He is also creative. He is a writer. Has written pamphlets on mental wellness. He has co-authored books on historical non-fiction. He was moody. Still is. But now I know that it is simply an aspect of not only creativity, not only an aspect of genius. Every knows who my father is in the Northern Areas. A few months ago, they named a building after him in Port Elizabeth. This is our normal.
Writing books, engaging in discussions about politics, relationships, life into the early hours of the morning, watching documentaries on apartheid, and me listening to my father talk about the past. About how he heard Ruth First speak.
This was at an African National Congress conference in London. How he was recruited into a subversive organization when he sixteen years of age, along with his brother. How his comrade Dulcie September was assassinated. This is how we live. We live to understand our brain.
How our brain functions. The deeper levels of imagination that only highly intelligent people have access to. It is not easy to have an above-average intelligence. People are always testing you. If you are creative, highly intelligent, have bipolar, or a recurring (see chronic here) mental illness. You don’t write books to make money. To get on the New York Times Bestseller list, or, to become a national bestseller. I write books that will move a person, because that is all that it takes. Just one person is all it takes to start a movement.
That one person can influence other people, communities, learners in every sphere of life (like my dad did). That’s why I write. My father devoted his entire life to learning everything he could about the brain. Philosophy, education, psychology, mental aberrations’, physical abnormalities, and the effect that it had on the mind. That’s why my father writes. In our world, we’re normal. In the outside world, we’re outsiders. But would you rather want to change the world, the way that people think and move and exist and evolve in their reality, or would you rather be average. Coast through life. Marry, have a family. I’m here today to tell you that there’s a kind of nobility in that. Those are noble ideals too. To be follower, or disciple. What you are doing to the utmost of your ability, God sees that.
The YCCC and How It Changed the Future of South Africa
This was the pre-apartheid education that we received when we were still at school. I was 13, 14 years of age at the time of the promulgation of the Group Areas Act in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, which then led to the forced removals and people literally being ‘dumped’ in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth. Dr Neville Alexander came to Port Elizabeth on two occasions. The YCCC-organisation (Yu Chi Chan Club) was primarily based on guerrilla warfare as is expounded by the leader of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Se Tung. It elucidates in his long walk to freedom, as well as his account in the new democracy as is expounded by his books and writings. These ideologies played a key role in formulating policy in the fight of guerrilla warfare against the Nationalist Party government. It is imperative to mention that the textbook for the organisation was Guerrilla Warfare by Che Guevara which was slavishly followed by discussions in the organisation. Other books included Partisan Warfare by Lenin, as well as Das Kapital by Karl Marx.
This took a lot of preparation and in-depth discussion groups took place based on these classic writers. It was imperative that these books were simplified and applied to the unique situation in South Africa. Dr Alexander and Ali Fataar, the then banned member of the executive of the NUM (New Unity Movement) came to Port Elizabeth to do exploratory work in creating fertile political groundwork for establishing the NEUM (Non-European Unity Movement) groupings. They visited areas like Korsten, Schauderville at night where they held underground discussion groups on the non-collaboration and the ‘Ten-Point Programme’ which at that early stage were very important and relevant documents. These were lengthy discussion groups which took place throughout the night. However, it crystallised into a solid branch of the NEUM (Non-European Unity Movement), Korsten branch. Further exploratory work was conducted in the area before these two stalwarts could return to Cape Town.
As a young student (16 years of age) we had the opportunity of meeting with people of the calibre of Dr Alexander at a very early stage in our political careers. This took place while we attended the CPSU (Cape Peninsula Students Union) group at our residence in Lloyd Street, Cape Town. This group grew rapidly as more and more progressive students became interested in the finer progressive political ideologies of the CPSU. We met regularly every fortnight and the discussions took place until the early hours of the morning. The topics included Bantu Education, Coloured Education, Bush University, Students Representative Council issues and the like. We also organised regular meetings on camping trips on Table Mountain where extensive politicisation took place on advanced political ideologies such as capitalism, imperialism and world ideologies of the day. We became acutely aware that our home got the attention of the security police. However, this did not deter us from becoming acutely aware of the intrusion of capitalism and imperialism and the like. It was at a very young age that I became involved in student politics which has its origin in political activity.
The forced removals, the Group Areas Act, the political upheaval caused havoc amongst particularly the young who were influenced by teachers who belonged to the Anti-CAD (Anti-Coloured Affairs Department) and the TLSA (Teachers League of South Africa). The city was ablaze with political activity which in a short space of time demonstrated deep into the youth. This needless to say was influenced by political youth in the Western Cape. What was affecting the students in the Western Cape was, alas, also affecting the students in the Cape, particularly Gqeberha. At times, the situation became extremely volatile and out of control. Organisations like the NUM (National Unity Movement), Anti-CAD (Anti-Coloured Affairs Department), TLSA (Teachers League of South Africa) reigned supreme. It was also apparent that the ratepayer’s organisations which were formed to fight against the rapid erosion of management committees.
Many public meetings were held with F.A. Landman and Dennis Brutus (vice-chairman), who were at pains to point out the disadvantages of the Group Areas Act. Many groups were formed which included the ANC, the PAC, the Unity Movement and allied groups were mobilised. It became apparent that the Group Areas Act was not going to go through a very easy passage. The organisations were not unified in their actions and this gave the opposition deep inroads into progressive thinkers. As a student group at the University College of the Western Cape we were invited to SOYA (Society of Young Africa) meetings in the Mowbray Minor Hall on a Sunday afternoon. For the first time we witnessed serious altercations among the members of the NEUM (Non-European Unity Movement), and this included Dr Neville Alexander and Dr Kenny Abrahams.
The topic of discussion was on Angola and the chairlady of the meeting Miss Wilcox clearly did not understand her mandate. Dr Neville Alexander and Dr Kenny Abrahams tackled her on the political aspects of FRELIMO Liberation Front of Mozambique). It appeared that two factions had now developed in the meeting. It was really a fisticuffs kind of thing. It appeared as if Dr Alexander and Dr Abrahams were at loggerheads with the present discussion leaders of the main group. The matter came to a head when the chairperson asked Dr Alexander and Dr Abrahams to leave the meeting. However, before that could take place Dr Abrahams announced to the meeting that all those who believed in democracy would leave the meeting. I was one of the Western Cape students who felt urged to leave the meeting with Alexander and Abrahams, which we did and met again at No. 2 Swiss Road in Lansdowne for a follow-up meeting. Officially, at this meeting there was information about the YCCC (Yu Chi Chan Club). Dr Alexander and Dr Abrahams felt no animosity which the meeting gave them as they left.
Dr Alexander was described as a dark horse by my father. As with all leaders, the maverick visionaries and profound thinkers, brilliant intellectuals, and having the primitive wonders of both wisdom and intelligence, for these men ahead of their time their faith was shared only by their comrades in the struggle. These stalwarts have taught me that it is the tendency of every man, woman and child of every race, of every faith to embrace every other man, woman and child of every race, and of every other faith. Indeed, it is rare. Indeed, it is exceptional when it happens. Language is a bridge. The language is not of love, but of respect. It is the flesh and blood of mother tongue language that divides us. It is respect that conquers self-pity, arrogance and narcissism. There is no one identity. Yet there is one moral code. Multiculturalism has changed the order of history, moral ambiguity, cast a spell on the doctrines and phenomena of religion. In humanity, in this human world, these leaders have taught us purpose on earth, the awareness of self, lack of ego and the finding of our identity in existential relativism, pedagogical and counterfeit phenomenology. Multiply achievement and you get the candy shop of the poetic horrors of over-abundance, the romantic weariness of decay and the complex strength of popularity.
Truth and the third wave of the pandemic: To be vaccinated or not to be vaccinated
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.
Thoughts From the Frontline
“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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