How am I supposed to live without father? He is passed. Gone into the hereafter. He is never to return. While, yes, I am still very much alive. This Emily Dickinson will outlive Amherst. The confines of her childhood home. I will live out the rumour that I was the poet marked for life in her bedroom. Sitting, sitting at her desk from the early afternoon, to the early hours of the morning. They will perhaps, perhaps speak about my voyage as poet into the known and unknown world, over terrain and republic, through familiar ground and unfamiliar territory, but that has now come to an end. My eyesight is poor. Yes, my eyes are weak. I cannot see the wildflowers so clearly anymore. Sometimes I dash my fist in a pathetic fit of frustration at what I have become on the kitchen table. I have over the years withdrawn from public life. I had life once. I had life in me. I had fire and hell and brimstone in me too, but this was at one stage in my life so far away in memory now. Yes, even my memory goes dim as time, dim as the hours in a day that go by. In another time, another place, another Amherst I was operated now. Father thought that perhaps would be best for me. After that, I was not the extrovert anymore. I did not travel. I became more inhibited. Wildflower. I think of the wildflowers of my childhood. I think of my sister, Lavinia, of us picking these wildflowers. Every heartache in this world is my heartache. Cracks are beginning to show in my armour. The helmet of salvation is still in a sturdy position on my head. I did not have any need, or, desire to speak in public anymore at functions. I did not want in particular to declare myself a missionary servant in the church. I stopped going to parties. Was no longer the most popular socialite in the Amherst community. People keep on leaving me in my life. Oh, there are so many kitchen teas, and too many weddings, and then there are the baby showers that I have never got around to ever going too. They are (the Amherst-community, the public, the Christian-folk) doing to me what they did to my father. Either full of praise, or, rubbing him up the wrong way. Spreading rumour after rumour. I am not strong like he was to take it all in, and then exhale. My father was an educated man. My father was an intelligent man with a robust energy for anything political. He was elected to congress because of that. I am just like a woman now (and a woman will always be a woman). A woman is emotional, so they say, whoever they might be. The woman is of course the one with the survival instinct. I am sitting (here as a woman) moaning about her lot in life. I am not educated in the way my brother was. He went to Harvard Law School. All I have had is self-learning. All I have reached is enlightenment. All that I am is lonely. The loneliness awaits me most of all in my bedroom. This, this is all I have. This sword. This pen is my sword.
The terrors and the nightmares visit me at night. Without them, I am nothing. Have nothing but to question my own sanity. What have I done?
I have isolated myself to the point of no return. I have no life. I have no function either than to be nurse and caregiver to the childlike woman who carried me in her womb for nine months. I haven’t become older, nor, wiser gracefully. Of course, I am frightened for the future. I am a woman alone in the world. No husband to offer me sanctuary, certainly there are no more friendships. No more correspondence with male editors. People move on. The girls I knew when I was a girl, they are all women now. I don’t want to be on my own anymore. I don’t want the hours. These hours filled with beasts of terror. The machinations of an insane person’s frame of reference. And I ask myself where is the science in all of us. It is science that keeps my brain in check, set in my ways, my habits, my very schedule that I keep lest I go out of my mind. For what happens to a spinster when she grows old. When men become weary of her. Wary most of all of her moods. Her waking thoughts keep going around in circles. I am going mad again. Do you know what it, what this life means to me now?
I no longer have a purpose. There is no longer meaning in my activities. Even basic things, my temper (because I have one, because I am temperamental), I have to continually check myself. Remove myself from the situation before there is conflict. Before there is terrible pain. Loss of insight into how the conflict arose in the first place.
Before there is even a choice in the matter, I have to leave. I have no father for companion anymore. No more mother to shield from the world. To love. To love is such a treasured thing. I, I am now Lazarus. I just am. I am Hamlet’s Ophelia. I am apostle, saint, sinner, disciple and follower. Life cursed me. It is a terrible thing to say. I take that back. I cursed myself. I am to blame for everything in the end for everything that has ever happened to me. To love is both a curse and a gift. Because eventually you lose the ones you love the most. There are funerals. And all the time there are funerals, there is a funeral in my bones. In this, this wildflower’s bones. Love me, adore me now, praise me, worship me, grant me a divine audience, or, leave me. Let me alone. Let me be. Let me go. Surrender me to the universe as all women are at some stage of their lives, whether they are mothers, or daughters, or orphans. There was always this key struggle in my life. To exist. To exist. I am truly an orphan now. Can’t stand my sister-in-law’s parties any longer. I will need a chaperone. Emily cannot be alone. Emily cannot walk by herself anymore. Emily must be calmed down when she feels the wretched distress of the terrors that come at night. Who am I? Who is this stranger dressed in virginal-white all these years? In mourning for her father. In mourning for a mother possessed with childlike qualities. No children to comfort me when I am elderly, infirm, weak.
Who will look after me? Where will I go? I have flashbacks of the old me. The old life I led when I was young, calmer, more carefree, free in other words to do as I pleased. To love who I wanted to love. But that time has come to an end. There is something sinister about death now. Upon their arrival I prepare the house, I welcome them. I welcome people who have become strangers to me over the years. They’re here now. Only stay for an hour or two. They take my breath away.
There’s no escape. No room in the house that I can withdraw into. I don’t write anymore, you know. I have completely given that up. My wildflower. I am no wildflower in the full bloom of youth anymore. The people around me are mysteriously silent now. They say nothing. They do nothing for me. They do not speak to me, and if they do it is condescending. It is patronising. They sneer, jeer, mock, stare, glance my way, and say nothing. There is no communication. There is no connection there anymore that drives us together again. Just pain and bondage. More pain. More bondage. I think it all a trick of my mind.
Must be, right? When I was a girl, I was happy. When I was in love, or falling in love I was happy. Now my mind is clouded. My judgements, what about it. I have no judgement on anything, anymore, anymore. No love. Only bitterness. No husband. Only regret. To think that now I am a joke. Well, that is how I feel. This emptiness rolling around with the birds and the butterflies and moths in the abyss of self, what is left of my ego. There is no longer an identity to speak of. No longer a charmed life with suitors in tow. No more marriage, or, even indecent proposals. No joke. Recluse. I’m a recluse. I don’t go out. I don’t socialise. Another break from reality, then another, and another, until no one is laughing anymore. They say prayers. They say prayers instead. They give me tracts. Reading matter for my spiritual progress. Readying me for my spiritual awakening, or, some reckoning made on behalf of the God of all matter and energy. There are variations in my behaviour now. Sometimes it comes on strong like a narcotic. It grows and grows and grows. Sometimes it is subtle, but it is always there. I know nothing of the world, nor do I want to now. It has come too late. Too fast and furious is the end times upon me. The end of my life. Rather the end of my life as I know it. No more father. No more father. No more shelter. No more sanctuary. Who is going to look after me when I am old and tired, and a white-haired lady whose hair is streaked with silver? The show must go on nonetheless. I must endure. The survival instinct kicks in. I must prepare my work for posterity. The legacy is in the writing itself.
The hours I spent in my bedroom. Word after painstaking word. I am given orders. I am told what to do. What not to do. Nobody comes to the house. Soon, soon I will be the only one here. It won’t be a sad affair, I promise you. I have so much to do. I have to prepare an entire lifetime of work. Put it into order. You think I’m someone. I’m a nobody. I’m a real nobody with a nothing life to show for it. All these times I was hoodwinked, you see. I thought I was charismatic. I thought I would always be dear, one day be darling wife and mother.
Now I have nothing but this for the world. This incredible body of work. The work must not be still. Must not be composed as I am. It must go out into the world. People must read it. It will be pushed.
Pushed into the world. But not by me. By critics, and editors. By the working class. By the people who love me unconditionally, and without question. Unlike the non-supportive members of this society. Give me the working classes over the petty middle class any day. They love without expecting anything in return. They are so poverty-stricken, you say, what would they want from a recluse like me. What can they possibly offer a poet who has lived a ruined life? An unmarried life.
A life marked by pain and terror at every turn. I have known what it is to be loved. Now no one can take that euphoria away from me. Not even the love of my life, the work, you see. The work, the writing of the poetry is the most important thing. It is not so important for it to be praised, for the writing life to inspire, for my own life to be admired anything like my grandfather’s life was, or my father’s life, or my brother’s life. Published widely. I know this for a fact now. My plan is my plan. My goal is my goal. My writing is my writing. Yes, I am helped financially. Yes, I am well-off in some ways, but life is getting tired of me, and I sometimes find people in society tiresome.
Their notions are ridiculous. Wishing to turn me into something that I’m not. A Protestant. I was a no-hoper. Not part of the Christian revival scenario that overtook New England in my younger days. I rejected the church. I rejected the indoctrination. The lectures that were supposedly sermons. I never rejected the faith though, although it must have seemed that way to my beloved father. The one man in my life who loved me for me, I guess. Now I am alone. Utterly, utterly alone. I’m old-fashioned in my thinking, in my outlook on life, but not when it comes to spiritual matters, and issues of faith. I just no longer make sweeping statements with regard to Christ. The only people I do make sweeping statements about are those who wax on prosaically on the total annihilation of the human race because of the end times.
Who want to quote the Book of Revelation to me of all people (as if I have never heard of the four horsemen of the apocalypse)? Speak to me of the prophets. Men of integrity. Speak to me of their depth of character. Their spiritual progress in the world. Elijah being taken up to heaven in dazzling chariots of fire. Speak to me of Ezekiel, his protégé. There was one minister who called the world an apocalypse in the making, an experimental dystopia that was a work-in-progress. I just felt that he was attacking the very cultural background of Amherst, and insulting my intelligence. I had just cause to do what I did. To turn my back on that world of the church. A spinster in distress. I am distracted by thoughts of my own mortality. I can hardly see the flowers now. I can hardly see them, but they are the first thing that I think about when I open my eyes in the morning when I wake. The very last thing on my mind when I go to bed at night.
Wildflowers are a sight! A sight to behold. The wildflower is the hero in my life now.
The Cemetery Of The Mind
This is me. The voices are inside my head. Calling me. Speaking in ancient tongues. They talk and talk and talk. The damage is done. The damage is done. I wanted a child while I was still young. They think of science in masculine terms. The humanities and creative writing in feminine terms. There’s a gap for you. There’s an excursion into the remembering mind. The shaking woman’s interesting double life. I think of the anatomy of my loneliness. How everything in life is a mystery. I am waiting for sleep to take control of my aching limbs, my physical form. I invest the past into insomnia, for no fight is worth it. What are we fighting for anyway? He’s not here, they’re not here. No one can hurt me now. Marilyn, the hunter. Diana, the hunted. I want to live before planting love. Your fingers feel like ice slipping to the bones of me. They thread my bones to my being. Give hope to my flesh. Now I just want to live, but there are days when I am tired of wanting to live. The washing flutters in the breeze, men and women have been kind to me, and I have a lust for the gulf between us, how I’ve imagined you my entire life. Country of Adam’s rib, country of blood, stone and wine. Her teeth bite into my pose. There’s my unbearable sadness. Watching you satisfies me. I go all cold sometimes. The tiredness, the energy. In a perfect world you would have been free. You would have set me free. Your womb fashioned me. So, I write for the passionate outsider. The woman was displaced. The female dispossessed who lives from one day to the next in psychological extremes. I am that woman displaced like Jean Rhys. I am the dispossessed female. And the woman that I love, whose womb fashioned me is my mother’s.
I think of all the time we have wasted sibling. All the love that is gone. My loneliness grows like plant sap. Like water in wild places. All the fight has left me as I chase the sea. I wake, I chase the sea. Rabbit is gone. Don’t tell me about your secrets. Don’t tell me about your love, sibling. Leave me like you have always left me. Leave me standing here by the bright lights of this city by the sea. I always wanted your love. You were always high on life. The extrovert with friends. You erased me from your life so effortlessly. From your kingdom. I think we have said it all. The love is gone. Gone from your world. Gone from my life. They say I have a death wish. I’m hungry for it. The ghost of my spirit is hungry for it. It is cold here. Winter is coming on strong on this radar. This illusion sticks around like the Seine. I wish I was a ghost dropping off this radar. I feel sick. You make me sick. I lost the proof. I think of all that I have sacrificed. Think of myself as a crime and a victim. Sibling, you’ve found love. We’re passed the object of forgiveness. Nothing I can do about it. You’re the daughter of the Czech Republic. Let me take you to the low of the city. I am wearing my glasses. Keeping my attitude. I think of your German boyfriend with his artistic fingers, sensitive face. How again someone else replaces me in your life. Bipolar takes all. Bipolar thinks that love is evil, that love means war. My mother never brought me sanitary napkins in the hospital. Never brought me clothing to wear. I walked around like a zombie. When she came, she spoke to the other patients there at the hospital. Looking for a friend in a stranger. She left me alone. Standing there. I was her mirror image.So bulimia and anorexia nervosa found me.
She holds all the power, all the cards. The woman who ate everything. I never had your heart. This takes some time to explain. Let me understand you. Let me understand this. Out of reach, you’re always keeping busy. I’ll always be the same. When I was in love, I was in love with my own shadow. My heart’s bruised. I think all the time of how close to death I was. The renal unit at the Livingstone Hospital. My life is the diary of a volunteer. On the imagined wings of a bird in flight, I come to you. This message comes to you. This love letter comes to you, my mother. Theories have long since disappeared. The image of the soul. The twin image of our soul has vanished. Nothing gets better here on this side of the world. I don’t see myself in the mirror anymore. It is only my pride, your ego that lends itself to a new philosophy of the advanced world. I’d like to leave the world random. But I no longer want to examine the past, aftermath, aftershock, shielding the echo of the shadow, my bruised shadow. We have nothing to say to each other anymore. Only the visions remain. The words are all gone now. You grow out of it. No, not bipolar. The vision you had of yourself in high school. Where you would be five years down the line, a decade. It is just me giving up my consciousness for another. You grow out of the authentic. It is coming back to me. The collect calls I made home from the hospital. Abandoned there. Younger, I was arrogant. Life was so easy, comfortable, and happy. Not anymore. I wish I could say I have achieved my personal goals, fulfilled all my wildest dreams. What am I holding onto? The self that is a soulless misanthrope. The universe is amplified. Birdsong in the air. The leaf falls. It is just gravity.
And because of the violence against me, I have zero tolerance for violence. And because of the mental cruelty against me, I have zero tolerance for mental cruelty. They have defeated me. The family, the cousins, the aunts and the uncles. I am done looking for love in a home that puts me up against the wall. I am lethargic now. Not wanting to talk. Not wanting to talk to anyone. I am on my own now. Alone. All I have is loneliness. That’s the kind I am. The voices say, Petya Dubarova, to stop talking so much and to become a good listener, an effective listener, an efficient communicator. Revealing the purpose and value of others as God sees fit, as I connect with the universe. To transcend the negative, the voice tells me Petya, I also have to transcend the pain of the universe, the loneliness of the universe. I have to remember birth, rebirth, saturation. I have to move on from one phase of personal growth to the next level. From maturity and the confidence of maturity, to death. But it is difficult and tiring to be forgiving of myself, to be grounded in self-love and the world around me dearly, or, for life. And then there’s this nourishing sense of spirituality that strengthens me daily. I am a stranger waiting for the train worshiping sharp objects eating eggs, chicken and soup. I live in a dark house born of green figs in September on a Sunday afternoon. A dark house born of a writer in a cage sheltered and protected by the light from all the activities of harm. While watching the first snow of a June winter, with the falling snow the road inside finds bipolar me again. High on life. Low on life. Numb on life. Dead to life. And then I realise I am never going to see uncle Rabbit again.
Ever. He died on a Thursday evening of a heart attack in a hospital room while I exhaled a pose. While I overcame my evolution at home typing out my third novel. I have the fear of love, of falling in love on my side, of sexual intimacy, of being made to feel vulnerable in front of another person. I am crashing. I am crashing into the waves chasing the sea of Petya Dubarova, and there will always be those who lecture me. I think the world, and my siblings have made me toxic. And I remember the day my sibling’s girlfriend showed me her tattoo. He must have a thing for a girl with tattoos. I don’t know. We aren’t close anymore. What happened in my own father’s life is happening now in my own. The estrangement from the middle earth of the inner family, of the immediate family. I make cinnamon toast or eat peanut butter straight from the jar with a butter knife, and I try not to think of writing confessional poetry, or, the fact that I’m not loved by siblings, or, cousin, or, aunt, or, uncle, or, distant relative. I show them my rewards like arrows. Only I see the columns of light in my arrows. Yes, I’m done. I’m done. I’m going nowhere. I’m going everywhere. Jagged little pill in my mouth. Rush of water down my elated throat. I really wanted to see her tattoo. Why, oh, why am I so surprised that she gladly showed it to me. Bipolar has made me frightened of everything. Of landing on the ash heap like other people’s sorrows. I think of my own sorrows. I’m left thinking of how important it is to keep correspondence, journals and copies of your work. I think of my own father and mother living out this kind of perfect life.
My mother had a spacious house, they had two cars, and she had to raise three children. Two daughters and a son. She didn’t teach me to have that. To invest my life in children. To invest my life in sons and daughters. I know my roots and they go deep like a ninja-warrior. Now I find myself living vicariously through Dorothy Parker, and Maya Angelou. I think of the mute wind. I think of the constant rain at my window. I think of what I see when I see wildflowers. Cemeteries, ghosts, the apparitions, the voices in my head, hallucinations. There are days when I am just writing to get by. I keep telling myself it is not hopeless. All is not hopeless. That this life is what I have been given. My siblings think they know it all about bipolar. Even more than me. I can’t understand a word that they possess about mental illness. They give it to me, not as a gift, but as something to control. I think of the difficulties of my father. The difficulties of a young mother having to accept a manic-depressive husband. Nobody caught me when I fell. Contradictions keep me busy for a while. I try too hard in relationships. I was a teenage runaway falling away to the waterfront of hospitalisation. The perspective was clear. The view of my life settled. I had the beauty of language. It gave me interconnectedness. The relationship I wanted. I was on a sailing boat that caught the wind. On my way. On my way. Then the mania would come, or, the clinical depression, or, the attempt to take my own life, or, the suicidal thought, and I would be derailed again from the perfect life that I had lived before. I would be abandoned and forgotten by my mother.
I would be abandoned and forgotten by my siblings, by relatives who told me that they wished they could be of more assistance, but they had their own problems, or, uncles and aunts would just ignore me. With the onset of mental illness in adolescence, my life became more complicated over the years. I became a hunting and gathering woman of current trends forecasting for a blog that I wrote, ephemera from my paternal grandfather’s life, and phenomenology. I became this rather complex vessel (never studied further, never had the sunny road of the marrying life, or, those sons and daughters, and strange, I had always been madly in love with children my entire life), and in the end it was language that accepted me, not family, not siblings that had looked up to me once when I had the normal life, the kind of life accepted by family. There would be all this ignorance and sham surrounding my mental illness. I became known as the storyteller, I would make up stories, and this would do the rounds. So, I am threatened and cajoled, told in no uncertain terms by my sister that I am not living. She never phones home to speak to our father, elderly and infirm now. Weak and limiting and limited, and I tell myself that what matters most is recovery. Coming out of that despair and hardship and release of relapse. Now I think back to the early days of the initial treatment of my bipolar, the hospitalisation of my bipolar when I became something of a pill popping zombie, then an insomniac, and then there was this return to normality, to home-life, but also terrifying ignorance in the family, also terrifying ignorance around the sufferer, and stigma.
The discrimination of living with the bloom and smoke of mental illness. I keep telling myself pain births creativity. That it is the motivation for pursuing God. Must be more Eckhart Tolle, or Gary Zukav than me I suppose. In the hospital people may want to be your friend. But outside, you become like strangers again. You return to a kind of semblance of your previous life. You find people don’t want to know you anymore. Release from hospital always brings me back to writing, to my childhood. To the swimming pool in Gelvandale where I was baptised, to a picnic in Port Alfred. Yes, I found baptism and God. And sometimes, just sometimes, the writing annoys me, or, I get annoyed with myself, and sad, as if my work is almost incomplete. Almost as if I am not living up to my own expectations. And every time upon my release from the hospital after my meds have been adjusted, I have to open a new door, learn to live a new life again. It’s difficult, but I have endured this. I have survived. I remember that I have strategies, goals and actions. As my father did before me. I hate it that I blame him. I hate it when I say something that hurts him, and I see him wince as if I have slapped him very hard across the face. I mean, I am used to embarrassment, and humiliation, and people unfriending me with a kind of energetic efficiency. I have to work on self-love daily. I pray daily. I try to be kind but it is like making an anonymous donation. And every year I promise myself more self-love, more personal growth, more prayer and meditation, more reading, and I make an action plan out of it for the next six months. To the lighthouse.
To the lighthouse I go. There are days when I talk and talk and talk. There are also days when I cannot meet your gaze. When people’s faces look different to me in the morning light. When I’m afraid of Virginia Woolf. Society allows many things to happen to you when you are mentally ill. I’m always putting my trust in people, and being let down badly. Balance is everything. All I can think of is that I am a novelist now studying the craft of writing with every narrative that I write. That I am a poet. And a bipolar life can be as healing as rain with a savage kind of violence. At least that’s the way that I see it. Bipolar itself, there’s still so much that we don’t know. What I hear most often from other people who live with bipolar, is this. That I wasn’t always bipolar. I wasn’t always like this. I didn’t need to take a sleeping pill to sleep. Maybe there was a traumatic incident in your childhood, or, long term abuse, or, you were never loved by a parental figure, or, there was a kind of stress or burnout that you couldn’t deal with. I’ve been there. Uncle Rabbit is gone. I’m still here. I still get to live life with purpose and meaning and truth on my own terms, and there are days when I feel like a tragic figure caught in a storm. There are days when I want the world to see me. There are days when I don’t want the world to see me, because I don’t think that they’d understand me, but there are also days when life is infinitely more beautiful. There is an image that I manufacture every so often in my mind whenever I feel like it. I see the picture of a little girl, and she is loved. Bipolar is not on the scene yet. Her life is not derailed yet. She is eating watermelon on the beach. The sun is going down. She is laughing with her boy cousins. Smiling for the camera. Smiling for all the world to see.
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.
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