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African Renaissance

The Anatomy of Loneliness

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You’re the star signs of a fortunate man in realms. I won’t fly into you again. You won’t come around like clockwork on a Sunday evening. I think I love you. You never say the same. So, I guess that’s my answer then. Wish me luck. Wish you luck.I’m a flame. I’m a flame in a pantomime. Look out for the sleeping satellite. Souls are like the rooms in a mansion. You’re

gone into the arms of another woman. Your skin is like velvet, but taste like regret. Guess this is goodbye. Or just a veil. I’ve romanced you. You’ve seduced me. I’m learning thatI’m a celestial. You’re free. I thought we’dbe together forever. You’re nearly a married man, my friend. Could have been me. But would we have been happy? I could never have given you the children you wanted.

I know you would have been satisfied with one. Sleeping with her, your muse, she’s fallen. Goodbye mysterious lover. Goodbye never boyfriend. Goodbye for never given you areal chance at loving me. Again, I’m dying inside. Whatever this is, I look within. I say goodbye with my head held high. Guess I won’t be invited to the wedding, or, the wedding reception. Too much history there. Here. In the dark. Goodbye, old friend. To your new life. We won’t be sharing anything together any more.I thought you always were half-ashamed of me. Didn’t know we could have spent eternity together. So much wasted potential, so much pain. I’ll always understand you. You me. I wish you and your future wife all the gladness and happiness in the world. It won’t be with me. So much wasted time. I let the years go by. You were loved. Take that with you. You were cherished friend once. Now you’re in love. Don’t return my phone calls. You’re free. I understand everything now. Look at me. My smile stays on while my heart is breaking. Nobody wants to love wretched me. Let go.I’m already gone. Faded into memory. Don’t speak. Don’t speak. You do that so well, so well.I will always love you. That is all I am taking with me. Tears and joy. And the despair of loneliness.

We want the same thing. Just not with each other. We desire other people to fill those hours.

You don’t love me in the way I need to be loved. You see, I want a man who deserves me.You want a woman who deserves you, and who fits your high profile. I’m not the one. I’m not the one.If I was, you’d be here now, not in hiding. She’ll be your wife. She’ll be your wife, and it cuts like a knife. I had feelings for you once, once. I’ve surrendered you to the universe. It gave you a wife. You never came around all that often anyway. You’re feeling good. I’m feeling the blues. Your wife is your hope now. Your hands. I’m no superwoman. Don’t even have a man to call my own. No one to love. Those days are long gone. No one. No one like the one I love. I’ve gone the distance. Followed my heart. Tell you something. Must be karma. They say, read the books your father read. I waste time. I waste time. When I do, I cry.I don’t need a shield for that. To display emotion. I’m more together now than I’ve ever been. I’m letting go. I’m saying good bye.You’re still beautiful to me. This morning the love of my life said that she didn’t care for me, to listen to me. Perhaps sisters are like that. I don’t love the men anymore. They’ve gone to the cemetery of the mind. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. I don’t have any regrets. I never started a war. Conflict makes my blood boil. Once I was under his spell,but he never chose me. Did not love me. He wanted to hide me away from the world.  Your sad songs stopped my heart. They kill me now. I tried to fall in love, I failed, but I’m wiser now. I tried to teach him that I was hurt too, but he walked right on by, said goodbye.

I wanted to say, please don’t go, but he didn’t give me a chance. He just made me wise. Don’t dedicate anything to me, he said. I’m not that kind of person. Did Einstein have fangs like me, did he love like me? For sure science stopped his heart like it does me. You were always there.I am in space dementia, my collective soul feeling megalomaniac. I’ve been bruised black and blue.I have been wounded, eyes on fire with no cash.Time has all the answers, whether you want to decode the moon, the planets, the sun, or just want to love, fall in love, leave a lover. My lungs are made of iron, and flightless bird. I want it all.I want everything. Who will I love eventually? Who will love me for a lifetime, an eternity? I’m tired of waiting. It feels like I’ve been waiting forever. There are micro cuts on my fake heart. Say that you will love me anyway. He’s gone.And all I want to be is where the boys are, the guys. The older men with their ways, premium brand of cigarettes. Take me up there all the time. Take me.Take me to the museum. Take me to the muscle museum. Teach me to love him. Teach me to care for him. To bury my secrets deep. Encore. Nothing like love to heal the broken-hearted. Encore, after encore. I’m falling like a flightless bird. A flightless little bird, scared-shitless, yet still flying.

And I still believe in freedom, you know that.You’re king. Your land is king. Your ocean-sea isking. Together we go. I’m going to make a mistake. I’m going to get gone. No one loves me in this place. Waiting for someone to save me is a useless exercise. It kills me to say this that nobody loves me like I do. That I matter like nuclear energy to no one. I’m priceless. Love me for me. No one’s around. So, I walk alone. Always on my own.No more hurt now. Only triumph. No more trials. Step back wolf. Don’t embrace me. I’m a ghost in the wilderness. Ghosts don’t change no one. Just an illusion shaped like a human being though. Your love sure looks good to me. I’ve seen better days. River of dark nights upon me again. Save me, why don’t you save me my love, love, and old friend; you’re all loved up now with kids on the way. I need you, but nobody needs me. I’m dead to the world.It came from Japan. It came from Hiroshima’s lonely. You cut her. He cut her. You cut her hair.She sleeps alone. This rain that is falling is a miracle. No one wants that person’s reflection in the mirror. No one wants to love her, to love me.Nobody misses her. Even her words are lonely.She remembers all of their wounds, her wounds,his wounds. She’s torn the miracle now. Turned paradise into hell. But she’s an athlete. So, endures.

Come back again and say you love me, Orpheus. You smile back at me. We dance. I’m in your arms again. You’re my angel. I’ve found an angel. I prayed, ate bowls of fire, was lit from the inside like two suns. The fire was you. The fire was your love. Spring came into my life. I am transformed. I am your metamorphosis. You are my love, the love of my love. I am yours everlasting, my Rilke. I am yours, yours, yours forevermore.

I am your sonnet clasping an ever-fixed star. No indelible mark left on this earthy plane of the ache of heartbreak. We’ve overcome it all for winter is gone now. That season forsaken. After winter comes the spring. You’re all tenderness. Call me love or beloved. You speak with your reading hands. Signs are everywhere. Your hope for commitment to the laws of love. All its rituals. Companionship. Respect. Admiration. The owl flits through the air. Content with their lot in life.  They are loved. I am adored. They are praised. I am worshipped. There’s no more room for glimmers of loss and emptiness. No more time for anguish in my life. This is the love of the ancients. Time spent drinking tea has become our ritual now. Our paradise. I smile. Old souls growing old together. Joy. Delivered from growing old alone. The sea speaks only of the beloved to me now.  Everything can be cured now. Wars especially. Perhaps the recession. Even global warming. Other than that, there are no obstacles in our way. Those days of waiting for someone is gone. There’s nothing that I regret. For now, all we have is each other. That is enough. You bring me flowers. The world of love brings me flowers. Winners. Tomorrow we will be the winners. I lift up my head. You’re staring at your newspaper. I make the breakfast. You make the tea while listening to the radio. I make a fuss. You’re careful not to shout when I do. You forgive. You forgive me. That’s never happened before. When I’m sad, you read to me. You take my hand and order me to dance. Tell me that you love me, only me. I dreamed a dream. You exist because of that dream. Our love, love exists because of that dream. There’s no ransom. No thunder in this house because of you. Only you. Joy, joy. There’s only sunshine, even when it rains. Love is an echo from my distant past, it has bewitched the deep of my soul. I’m living in a cage. It is swell, and ancient, and beautiful there, except that I’m longing to see my love. Your name is horizontal, your love is like a disease, and all I want is pleasure.

This is the end of tenderness and inspiration, this is the end of lust and silence is translated into the accompaniment of joy, and these books are singing to me joyfully. In the bedroom it is night and day, and I think of one of father’ friends that I may be secretly in love with. How strong and handsome he is, how he buried a son. How I did not bury my dead great-uncle who hung himself from the rafters in an outside toilet. This is what the world is coming to. There’s tenderness in the break of day, the breaking of the waves, the sure vibrations in them, the vigour of the sun. And all I can think of is death, and death by suicide, and how there are no photographs of my paternal grandfather’s siblings. Dennis was a ruffian., and died a ruffian’s death. The daughters were blonde, and now they are dead too. The root of the flame is found in space, and environment, and cause, and the issue of blood. I know everything there is to know about the issue of blood. I carry endometriosis inside of me, in much the same way I carry infertility. Lenny come back. Dennis come back. Winifred and Bea, let down your ringlets. I want to go to Jamestown. I want to go to Saint Helena. I want to find myself there amongst Napoleon’s flora, and fauna. And for the first time in my life I feel that I matter. Company does not anchor me; it is strangers that anchor me. I am fading, fading, fading away. How strange to see this kind of decay in someone as young as me. 40-years young. This is the end of me, the end of me writing like this, writing poetry like this. And the more I think of my great-uncle’s suicide, the more I think about death. He’s a chameleon, he’s an aroma, he’s a man with some incident of childhood trauma in his life. And I am a woman with some incident of childhood trauma in my own blind life. Perhaps in another life my typhoon, I will be a paperback writer, or novelist.

I find something to identify with every type of creative there is, even the typhoon spilling words into the air. I’m going into chronic-overachiever mode again, a lesson in humility to build my confidence, nothing (but we lost it) tragic there, all I want to do is make a name for myself, you’re beautiful, you’re perfect, you’re the rain pouring (but we lost it) down, washing my sins away, you’re my church, dogma, religion, controversy, and you’re all I want. All I see, (but we lost it) want is that holy feeling when I’m around you, but all we have is days, not weeks, not years, and you don’t (but we lost it) want to come back here. I’m a fan trucking, my love, my love, you’re interwoven into my gene pool, my bloodline, (but we lost it) you’re here, but you’re already gone, and you haven’t said those magic words, you haven’t said that you love (but we lost it) me, Cleopatra, you don’t need me like I need you. You want Prague, and I want Rainer Maria Rilke. You want (but we lost it) to speak Czech, and I want Milan Kundera’s inspiration, and creativity, and the priorities that informed his writing. (but we lost it) I’m once in a house on fire, in a hospital ward, in high care. I want it all from Amherst to Washington, don’t leave (but we lost it) but you’ve never listened to me a day in your life, so you won’t start now. I’m a work in progress, not so much a (but we lost it) great success like you with your life planned out, instead my depression has mapped out my entire life, its detailed (but we lost it) text uncompromising and you protect me most days, but other days I’m out there on my own, fighting alone, the boat (but we lost it) is going down, I’m swimming for my life now, reading Salinger as if it was about us, blood sisters, reading Hemingway on driving ambulances during the war, (but we lost it) the billions of peaks and troughs of the waves, I love you more than life itself, break, break, break, you watch me break. (but we lost it). I’m reading Martin Amis, I’m reading Kingsley Amis, I’m reading your mind, kismet, palmistry, astrology in the stars. (you’re a stranger) Don’t leave me here, on my own, but you want to be free. You want to love, distance, you want to hurt but without me.

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

The Cemetery Of The Mind

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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.

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African Renaissance

The YCCC and How It Changed the Future of South Africa

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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.

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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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