Tag Archive: South Africa


The Dot Spot

The Dot Spot by Dorothy Black

dot spot

This book is bylined as ‘Adventures in love and sex’ and while it is that, it is so much more. It really is adventures in you; adventures and voyages.

Ms Black is a sex columnist who finally, thank everything you believe in, decided to write a book.
“A sex columnist?” I hear you say, shocked and slightly titillated (if you were honest).
“We don’t really need another book about all that!”

Oh yes we do. And this is the book we need. This is the book every single woman needs, and probably quite a few men too. It’s the big sister we never had, even if we had a big sister. It’s the friend we can trust who knows more than we do but never makes us feel stupid. It’s the slightly crazy aunt we adore because she makes it okay to say stuff and ask questions, and she tells us the truth.

Because this book is not just about sex and what to do, how to do it and where to find people to do it with. It’s about finding out who you are, what you really truly want and need, and then being empowered enough to go ask for it.

It is chocful of information and opinion as well as experience. Ms Black is not some expert tut tutting at you for not knowing stuff, but rather your mate sitting around a dinner table admitting what she didn’t know and telling you how she gained the knowledge. She shows you the way, she doesn’t drag you down the path.

One of the many things I took from this book is the idea that we should stop speaking of our sex lives as though they are separate from our actual lives. As Ms Black says, it’s your life and how you choose to express yourself sexually. They are not separate things, one of which is active at a time. If one aspect of our lives is not healthy, you can be sure all aspects will be affected.

Ms Black takes women’s sexuality out of the basement cupboard of shame and has created a space where women, and men, can learn, grow and develop as rounded, satisfied sexual being. She simply and succinctly reminds us that we are going to be sexual creatures, and be sexually active – we may as well do it the right way for each of us. It’s too fundamental an aspect of life to screw up really.

The line ‘We do the best we can with what we have’ is used in this book more than once. There is no judgement is what anyone chooses to do, but what Ms Black is doing here is making sure that we all have more, know more, believe more, so that we can better make decisions about what we do.

And that has to be a good thing for the whole world.

The only problem I have with this book is that I didn’t have it as a 20 year old when I set off into the sexual wonderland. I made so many crappy decisions and did so many stupid things because I just didn’t know. Every single responsible loving mother who can admit their daughter will be a sexual being one day should get this book for her. In fact, every woman should read this book and then pass it on to the men they love, be they brothers, lovers, or friends.

Life changing, liberating and empowering – a wonderful book.

Advertisements

swimming again

Not three years later the god of children and swimming pools looked down upon my mother, rubbed his chlorine smelling hands together and said “Right, it’s your turn again.”

 

As a six year old and an eight year old Stephen and I were big kids and life had got easier for my parents. Swimming in particular. We were never allowed into the pool area if no grown up was there, but once we were in the pool, my parents could read and potter about knowing that if we did drown it would probably be accompanied by shrieks and screams and large amounts of blood from a split head. Either that or the one not drowning would raise the alarm. Hylton, however, was still arm band bound. While arm band wearing makes kids a whole lot safer in the water, not wearing them around the pool must be cause for grey hair and stress creases on the foreheads of the adults. Hylton had to learn to swim so my parents could get on with stuff while we played.

 

Hylton was told that it was against the law for children over 4 to wear arm bands. He liked his armbands but my parents planned to send him for lessons once he was 4. Parenting skills have changed somewhat since the seventies – but then the number of kids drowning has gone up too. Hylton approached his 4th birthday with sticky, sweaty, hot arms covered in slowly perishing orange plastic. He was big and old enough to blow the arm bands up himself and his upper arms were often covered in drool until he jumped into the pool.

 

In the afternoon of his 4th birthday Hylton stripped off his armbands and jumped into the deep end of the pool. My mother was obviously not as confident of his swimming skills as she had been of mine 3 years earlier because she almost leapt in after him. My grandmother almost had a heart attack this time and tried to jump in to save him. She appeared to have forgotten that she couldn’t swim either. All of the commotion was going on at the edge of the deep end when Hylton’s slick head popped out half way down the pool. He casually swam to the end and got out.

 

The little bugger had thought it was the law that he had to wear arm bands until he was 4. He claimed he could swim for ages but was waiting until he was 4 to take the arm bands off.

 

My poor parents.

Africa’s worst enemy

*****warning******

emotional post

I may be white but I consider myself African

I think the people who leave must fuck off – it’s our duty as Africans to rebuild this nation of ours

We reaped while it was ‘good’ (for us) and now we must be part of the hard work to make it good for everyone

I get angry when I am called European – I am African

But sometimes I think Africa is fucked

And it is fucked by Africans.

I have been involved in some work for a few neighbouring countries – and the crap that teachers want included in text books is terrifying. Misinformation, anti-African bias and just plain nonsense – and this is what the teachers think the kids deserve to know. What chance does a kid at school have of ever getting a job when the teacher teaches that if you are bewitched you will never get a job! I am not knocking traditional beliefs, but cummon – give the kid some hope, some skills, even some idea of how to behave in an interview. Don’t just teach (in a text book) that if you are bewitched you are fucked so don’t even try!

Seriously, that was in a book I had (obviously) to rewrite.

Then some research I helped collate showed that teachers in the Eastern Cape think it is pointless trying to teach the kids to read and write because they are not going to get jobs anyway. Now I do know that unemployment in the EC is frighteningly high, but again, let’s at least equip the kids with a chance. And this attitude from an educated person from the area who is employed!

Or maybe they are employed not because of their education but because they are not bewitched!

And what’s with Ubuntu se arse! Ubuntu but only if I like you or you come from the same piece of land I do or we speak the same language. No ubuntu if you are trying to make a living in South Africa after escaping war in your own land, perhaps even a land which housed our exiled ‘terrorists’ when they were escaping our war. No Unbuntu even if you have been here 45 years but were born on foreign soil.

And its not all about black people for you racists out there. White South Africans loved this land when we could have three maids and a garden ‘boy’, but now that some work is required, millions have packed their bags and hauled out ancestoral passports and fucked off. They do not deserve to be called African – ever again! The runners have taken their skills and their children, the future of this country, away. They do not deseve to be allowed back.

Africans are Africa’s own worst enemies.

When will we stop fucking our own people up and actually start making this continent into what it could be?

an agent of change

I turned 18 at the end of my matric year – 1985. I remember there being some sort of voting opportunity when I was at university. Scores of us went along to the voting station and loudly and disruptively didn’t vote. We, as Wits students, were protesting the fact that not everyone could vote. Personally I was also protesting the fact that there was no party I felt I either wanted to vote for or could, in all morality, put a tick against.

In 1992 I was living in London, and I used my right to vote for the first time. I stood in a queue that stretched around South Africa House, for hours until I was admitted into the Embassy and allowed to make my mark.

Two years later the whole country went to the voting polls for the first time ever.

I know I had the childhood I did in part because of the apartheid regime.

I know I have the education I do because of apartheid.

I know I have benefits I am not even aware of because of apartheid.

I also know that as soon as I had a voice, I said NO

I know that many many people my age did this.

I know my parents raised all three of us well aware of the fact that things in this country were wrong.

I know all three of us voiced this as soon as anyone would listen to us.

I know I am tired of being blamed for the world I was born into with no recognition of the efforts I was involved in to change that.

I cannot unbe white along with all the privileges that brings.

Yes, I benefitted from apartheid, but never through my own doing.

There seems to me to be a lack of realisation of the age of the people who were new voters when the voting changed in this country. We are not the loud, vociferous 20 year olds. We are the stable, slightly broader than we used to be late 30 and early 40 year olds.

We are the men who refused to go to the army.

We are the students who rioted and protested.

We are the masses of people who said ‘enough’.

We are the people who risked our lives for our beliefs.

We are the people who were born with advantage but were eager to share it.

 I am tired of twenty somethings thinking they invented this new land of ours. What they did was inherit it.

Afrikaans

I heard a most interesting conversation on safm yesterday.

It was all about Afrikaans as a language of oppression and reconciliation. This is my summary and comment on what I understood yesterday.

 

Afrikaans is considered the language of the oppressors in this country. It is the language the Dutch of the original colonialists has morphed into. And as such, seems to be forever associated with the raping of the land. The Nationalist Party from 1948 onwards continued to display that the language was one of oppression.

 

But why and how?

In the early 1900s there was an interest in a translation of the Bible into Afrikaans. It was at this stage that it came to be realised that the language needed to be standardised. To translate the Bible meant simply that there had to be agreement regarding what every word meant. A dictionary had to be created.

When this was done, the Afrikaans as spoken by ‘civilised’ people (read white) was used. This despite the fact that thousands of non-whites spoke Afrikaans as their first language. Words of Dutch, Flemish etc origin were given more power than ones of Cape Malay origins. An example of this apparently is ‘Dankie’ and ‘Tramakassie’. Both words mean the same thing, but Dankie, as a word with Germanic (read white) origins has more semantic value in the language.

Doing this to the language split it into the ‘proper’ (read white) Afrikaans, and the kitchen Afrikaans (read non-white). And so proper Afrikaans as the language of the oppressors was created.

 

What I find so interesting about this is the huge numbers of non-whites who speak Afrikaans as a first language or as a very competent second language. If you use volume to decide what average is, the average Afrikaans speaker is not the Blue Bulls supporting ex Nat voting dude with a beer belly and holding a braai fork. It is probably a Coloured farm working in the Western Cape with coffee coloured skin and a metal roofed house.

What needs to happen is the restandardisation of Afrikaans so as to include the aspects of the language as used by all of its speakers.

Maybe this is the only way to ensure that Afrikaans survives in this multi-linguistic nation of ours. It would be a pity to lose so original and vibrant a language because only some of the people who use it are allowed to contribute to its development.

 

Afrikaans does not live only in Tshwane

racist

I am sure it was Pieter Dirk Uys who said that every day he admits that he is a racist, and then spend the day trying not to be

If it wasn’t him, it could’ve been

 

In this shiny new South Africa of ours many of us try very hard not to behave in a racist fashion. All of us, all colours and cultures, grew up with a sense of our separateness because of race. For us oldies, we grew up in different areas, went to different schools and were taught not to trust each other.

 

We all were, not just the whites.

 

 

So how do we think that in 15 short years all of that prejudice will have vanished? What hopefully naivety is that? All we can do is try. And recognise that others are trying too.

 

And I try. I do. I have friends who are not white and I have friends from different cultures. When watching someone eat with their hands in public I try to remember it’s a cultural thing and my way is not right, it’s just my way. When my space is invaded in the post office queue I try to remember that a personal space bubble is a luxury of middle class, of having my own bedroom as a child, of growing up being driven around in a car and not a packed taxi.

 

I do try.

 

But when that taxi driver cuts in front of me in the rain and then just looks at me, mean little racist words and phrases leap to mind, unbidden. At best I think ‘those people!!!!’, and at worst, much worse words and thoughts.

 

That I ever think ‘those people’ means I consider myself separate from them because of my race. And let’s be honest, I think at least that ‘my people’ are better drivers! That’s racist!

 

When I see a hot white woman with a black man I wonder why. I do, I am sorry, but I do! I don’t have a problem with it but for just a second I wonder why. The word ‘why’ is just there, in my head, before I can bat it away and think ‘because they like each other’. But it is there. And that’s racist.

 

I see a black man playing with his child in a park and I think ‘wow.’ I have this horrible idea that black men impregnate and vanish.  I know too many black single mom’s not to think this. This is sexist, I know. And it’s racist.

 

 

And it is very hard to admit these things cos I don’t want to think them or feel them. And cognitively I don’t; I really don’t think I am better than anyone else cos of my colour, race or culture. I do not lump people into categories based on their skin colour; I think there are both nice people and shits in every group everywhere.

 

But my knee-jerk reactions often let my higher being down

 

I am not proud of these thoughts.

I try very hard not to allow them to exist

 

But I am a racist

And every day I work hard at not being one.

District 9

I saw this last night

And I think it is a stunning movie.

Satirical, smart, sassy, funny – it’s got it all.

The ‘shoot-em up’ movie part of the movie is just good fun. Its engrossing and …well, fun. Fun like Bruce Willis movies are fun. The production is slick and the movie looks big budget.

 

 I do wonder though how many people will get the satirical nature of the first section of it. Perhaps you need to either have been there to watch the news reports of the 70s and 80s, or at least have a keen awareness of what went down in this country, politically, to really get the humour behind the subversion going on, on the screen.

But the satire is clever. Scary kind of clever. Lots of people outside of South Africa are gonna buy into it as being real. And it is, kind of. That’s what makes it so smart and so dangerous. I do think we may have a mini ‘War of the Worlds’ situation with viewers outside of SA and /or politically unaware viewers though! But maybe that’s not a bad thing.

 

 This film is a sad indictment of the entire human race, set somewhere where the worse behaviour of the human race was visible to the rest of the word for so long. But also the place of some kind of hope for the human race. If we can do it, in real life, anyone can! Even the fantasy world of the movie.

 

It’s a skop, skiet and donner, it’s a love story, it’s a story of friendship, and it’s a coming of (political) age movie. It’s funny and also very sad at the same time. I felt excitement and despair in equal measure. There is even one rather gross scene for people who like that – i thought it unnecessary but i’m squeamish!

 Sharlto Copley is unbelievable as Wikus van der Merwe. His essential change from the moustachioed plonker at the start of the movie to the character he is by the end is magnificent. This man had better be nominated for an Oscar! Truly, he is breathtakingly good!

The rest of the acting is great too – no one lets the side down at all. It’s neatly and sharply edited, the cinematography is varied and efficient – sjoe, I just really liked everything about this movie.

Oscar nominations – I’d put money on it!

This is a good movie.  It has just been added to my now list of two best movie ever!

say what?

A mate and i pretended to be foreigners in our own country yesterday. We put on fake accents which conned enough local people, and went out for lunch. It was very interesting.

We were treated with a great deal more patience than i ever have been when just being me. The waiter was very attentive and spoke to us very clearly to ensure we understood. Communication between waitrons and patrons in this country is often rather fraught. Many of the permanent waiting staff in South Africa are black and do not have English as their first language. Most of the patrons in restaurants are, still, white people who at least have English as a strong second language if not first. (i do not know if this is statistically the case, but for me it certainly is empirically.)

And yet, despite our rather funny eastern bloc accents (who knows what we actually sounded like) we communicated perfectly easily with the waiter. He understood us, we understood him and everything was hunky dory.

 So why do white patrons and black waitrons so often seem to misunderstand each other? Are we being deliberately obtuse? Do we want to be misunderstood to prove some point? Is language a passive aggressive tool of dominance we use against each other?

 I don’t know the answer to these questions but i do wonder of societies with many languages active have these kinds of issues. Or is it just us, with our race/language mixture?

crime

Us South Africans love crime. We do! We claim not too and threaten to leave on a weekly basis. But underneath it all … we love it!

We get off on living in such a dangerous place. We love that we can watch movies showing the violence of the ghettos – and feel a kinship. That Ross Kemp came to interview our gangsters as part of his Discover series makes us proud. ‘Look’ we all think ‘We are as bad ass as the best’.

 I swear we minded a little that America got the 9/11 horror!  We haven’t had a good violent mass killing in ages. Our terrorists were so….beige in comparison. And now we are all rainbow nation, holding hands while our sports teams frolic through international defence.

 We NEED our crime to remain butch and solid. Without it, what excuse exists for khaki shorts and long socks? To whom should we pledge alliance if not to the fight against crime? It unites us and makes us feel like superheros.

 And Johannesburg dwellers lead the charge. EVERYone knows someone who has been directly affected by crime. If not, what kind of a woes are you? Just please just make up a story so we think you fit in.

 The stories. Oh the stories. I love the stories of crime that float around dinner tables and water coolers. I have heard the same story go from being a guy waving what might have been a gun at some people at a traffic light to a full blown failed hi-jacking with bullets and anti-white slogans flying through the air. The stories grow and grown, embellishment by embellishment. Even the protagonist of the story will let this happen without comment cos he gets tougher by the telling!

 We claim to hate the crime and yet give it more air time than any other issue. Victims eat out on their story for ages, perpetrators caught and punished feature on Carte Blanche and start funds to educate township kids. We all wallow in the possibility of post traumatic stress disorder and love to see images of strikes and taxi violence on CNN.

 But how many of us actually try to change anything? We put higher gates and walls around us; we electrify our surroundings and pay armed guards to patrol. We anti hi-jack our cars and teach our kids what to do when a man points a gun in mommy’s face. We make ourselves safe so we can have the dinner parties at which we discuss crime.

 But do we tackle the real problem? How many of us have contributed towards the education of a child other than ours? How many of us feed someone we don’t actually know? How many of us have taught a single other human being how to read, write or count?

 We don’t. We do nothing. We sit behind our walls, remote controls with panic buttons clasped firmly in our fat little hands, and we moan about what this country is coming to.

 Cos we love the crime! Without it, we may actually have to talk to each other. And we are not mature enough for that yet!