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African Renaissance

Womanhood, Choices, Redemption And Personal Survival In A COVID-19 World

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So much pain as the leaves fall and gravity is a symphony. I am a million different people from the one day to the next falling, falling, falling. She thinks in the language of poetry.

Her head is stuck in the clouds. She never sleeps. All she sees is the melody is pain. That or a love story. That or the psychological framework of someone singing to her in a music room. All she wants is to be loved, if that were possible. But it seemed out of reach most days. Mostly. If she could just love. Love herself. Acquire identity.

If she could only be strong, but she was a kind of limited person. So she goes to her childhood sea and she never thinks of swimming anymore. She waits upon the clouds, gravity, a love story, sleep, the melody to take the pain away. Oh, she knows that will never happen.

She doesn’t fall asleep anymore. So she reads.

Jhumpa Lahiri short stories and she’s never won anything for her writing. She wonders if she will ever be a great writer. She looks at Lahiri’s impossible beauty and she looks at her failures, thinks of all the origins of smoke and mirrors when she smokes a menthol cigarette. She thinks herself a joke. She thinks herself a universal joke in the face of all these dilemmas she faces and that she thinks she conquers by the seat of her soul. But she is a limited person. She is not fearless. She is not confident. How can anyone live like this, she thinks at twenty two years of age. This road, this road, this open road. She doesn’t think happiness can hold her, that it can last forever. I need shelter. I need protection. These things are on her mind.

She writes them down. She writes them down. She knows what it is to be lonely. She’s felt that way since childhood. It is all she knows. She thinks of all the words she never said to her mother. How her father abandoned her. She wonders how she can get a move on with her life.

She thinks about the impermanence of life. Thinks of clarity. Thinks of peace. She thinks of all the dimensions in memory. That secret world. She is in a bit of a rush this morning. Preparing for her first job interview. She drinks a glass of orange juice. Calls that breakfast. She doesn’t know that the eating disorder she had in her teens will give her the health problems of an elderly woman in her thirties. That is so far off.

Today she is a working professional. She has never been in love yet.

She keeps putting it off. Octavia thinks she has all the time in the world to fall in love. Until tomorrow then. Love can wait she says.

But memories stay with you forever, the same way that the seagulls do of her town, the waves and she doesn’t know yet she’ll be chasing that childhood sea forever, lost in the labyrinths of an illusion. She has never been in love because she was never loved. She knows she would rather hurt than feel nothing, nothing at all. She wants people to need her. She wants to be loved. She does not know she will live with regret when she is an old woman. Her life will be bittersweet.

She was a secretive person by nature. It was part of her personality.

Ingrained within her since she was a child. Since her turbulent adolescence. Of course, she wanted truth. The man knew better. That was his particular job, his expertise. The skill set he had found directly and indirectly in his habitat and enviroment. The woman looked at the man and told herself that she was not in love. but the man in her life was the landscape of home to her. The picture of her every cathartic metamorphosis. The man was the, her authentic sanctuary. When she had been younger, walking away was the only thing that she knew how to do. Walking towards a man, towards a relationship. Finding herself there. She was old. Getting older.

Losing her identity in the shapes of things to come.

The onset of negativity and self-doubt, insecurity and chronic illness, disabling fatigue and depression. She was a restless figure even in the arms of a man. Before I go. You were someone I used to know, she says to her reflection. She looks tired. She is tired. Let me photograph this memory. In the arrangement of this light she is her most authentic self. Creative. Imaginative. Good. Kind. She was also her own worst enemy. A saboteur. The man thinks something else.

Something completely different. He thinks that nothing compares to this woman that he has chosen to be his wife. The woman is in his arms. They are dancing. Then walking down a street towards a restaurant that they both want to try out. He wants her to give him all her fears. He knows she is afraid.

That she is hesitant. That everything in love seems to hurt her. The man has left her twice before. Here is my heart. Here is my spirit.

Her eyes want to tell him that she is crushed. Crushed by life. Her spirit is broken. Has been broken a thousand times. The man knows that the woman is a secretive person by nature. The woman feels she can’t go on. There’s a side to me you don’t know. The man has made her his decision. Still the woman doesn’t feel good enough. As if she is not enough for him. She has been left before. Then, back then he thinks of those moments when all she had were her fears. I waited for you. I waited you. Look, I am here now, the man says, trying to console her with every action and response on his part and he wonders, wonders will it ever be enough.

There is hurt in her eyes. You left. You left me alone. You left me before, so, what is different this time. You will leave again. You will find a girl. A girl who is more than suitable for you. I am old.

Getting older. Oh, you say that you love me. Now you love me, but you left me before. You let me alone. So, certainly I was not good enough for you. You’ll hurt me again. You’ll leave me again, she say this with a kind of finality, a kind of certainty in her heart. She does not know yet that they will have children. A son. A daughter. That she will be happy.

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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