Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Home Authors Posts by Ed

Ed

Fathers in Africa, man up

Years ago, I became very good friends with a girl who is half Portuguese and half black. My friend had a younger step -brother who was half Portuguese, half English. They had something of a rainbow nation establishment in their home . The younger brother, spoke not a word of Portuguese, could hardly muster an English phrase and was only proficient in one of the African vernacular, a little odd for those who met this little blonde bloke for the first time. The little boy, as all his other siblings, was practically raised by the family cook as their father was constantly away on business.

Years later, I have come to know another family, as I am sure many others have, where the children are “different” from their parents. A black orphaned little boy has found himself the son of a man of European descent, hardly speaks a word of the African vernacular as many would be quick to point out. The only concern the little boy has, is why his hair can’t be gelled into a mohawk like his friend? One boy was sired by a wealthy man who could offer everything a child needs materially and the other, abandoned at birth by a father who couldn’t be bothered about the child’s welfare. Economic status, race and other issues are regarded as dividing walls of hostility by many yet  the two little boys had one common need that had a common solution. They just needed a father, a hero, a teacher and found one in what others would consider the most unlikely of places.

FATHER & Daughter

Philosopher Umberto Eco once said,  “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”.

The scraps of wisdom Eco spoke of are an elusive reality for many a African child, resulting in a society whose fabric continues to disintegrate. With the absent-father-syndrome eating away at over half of African children’s lives, one shudders to think what lessons are being taught.

According to Kevin Rutter, the founder of Fathers in Africa, “Just about every one  of society’s problems stem from the lack of male role models. ”

Directly or indirectly, the absence of a father has a psychological effect on a child resulting in aggressive or passive behaviour, two extremes which are undesirable for a well functioning society. There is no denying that apartheid wrought many social injustices whose effects we still feel today. However, migrant labour is used as a scapegoat for the legacy of crime and violence, to some extent rightly so for it tore apart families, yet systems don’t make people, people make systems and people are also the key to undoing systems. As fathers continue to sire and go M.I.A., we will continue to see apathetic or angry children growing into employees, employers, politicians, members of society who will ultimately affect our lives in one way or another.

“Anyone can fire and have a child, but not everyone is man enough to be father. ”

Fathers in Africa is one of a few organisations who realise the need for African men to come to the party and father our nation. With very few resources available and a lack of role models from whom men can learn to father, the cycle of brokenness is likely to continue from generation to generation. Absenteeism of fathers does not only occur in  cases where fathers do not reside with a child, but there are many cases where fathers are present physically yet not involved in their children’s lives. Present in affirming and shaping children through simply acknowledging, “I see you and I hear you”.

Fathering is not only a vocation for those who have been  involved in the process of biologically engineering children into the world. Every and any man can play a role in fathering the children of our nation as an uncle, a brother or friend. Like the little boys mentioned earlier, children do not discriminate, they simply need a hero, someone who at odd times, simply charts the way, to not give directions for a road they never walk in.

There is no denying that there are exceptions, not every child with an absent father will turn out to be a criminal or victim of abuse, but research shows that young girls without a male role model are more likely to end up in abusive relationships, fall pregnant at  a young age or turn to substance abuse. Young boys growing up without the affirmation and discipline coming from a father figure, are likely to find it difficult to submit to authority, turn to aggression or passivity among many other issues. In no way is the role of mothers trivialized, neither is it suggested that mothers do not discipline children or are inadequate role models, but the disintegration of the family unit ultimately translates into a dysfunctional society. The piece of the puzzle that is found missing more often than not is the father and the lessons being taught to the nation include:

  • You solve problems by running away, denying they exist or by simply sweeping them under the carpet
  • You make up a million and one reasons not to get the job done yet never give the one reason why it can and should be done
  • There is always someone or something to blame for the wrong in your life, you are never responsible
  • Money and material possessions determine your worth

FATHER QUOTE

Kevin Rutter believes true change will come if we turn away from focusing on band-aid solutions that simply address the effects of the fathering crisis. If we do not bring men into the picture , we are holding the campaigns such as the 16 days of Activism in vain. Involving men in fathering the nation will not only assist in shaping future generations, but is critical in curbing present levels of abuse and violence.

There are fathers going out on a limb for their children, like former Proteas coach Gary Kirsten, TV personality, Michael Mol, former Bafana Bafana player, Ricardo Katza and 7 De Laan actor, Zane Mears, through their FrontPage Fathers initiative. To get involved, please visit their website: www.frontpagefather.co.za

Fathering takes a lot of responsibility and hats off to the unsung heroes across the country, who are standing by the children  against all odds. We certainly can learn a thing or two about fathering from Ironman competitor, Dick Hoyt:

 

 

Life’s journey

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Comings and goings, goodbyes and hellos, greetings and driftings, arrivals and departures…an unending stream of lone or accompanied travelers, embarking or arriving from life’s journey.

“We part to meet and meet to part…” so they said, making life a series of partings and meetings. A never ending cycle consisting of the joys of welcoming and the sorrow of bidding farewell. Some rejoice at the birth of a child while others grieve the loss of a life.
Watching individuals drift through the lounges and lobbies of air and road ports, one cannot help but be moved. Here a man bids goodbye to his family, there a mother returns to an elated daughter. Over here grandparents welcome their grandchildren for the first time. There, a broken heart walks away leaving an invisible trail of sorrow. Around here waits an impatient man whose visitor is delayed by a couple of hours and over there is one who has become dejected for the wait has been too long, all hope of ever receiving the expected visitor is lost.

LIFE's JOURNEY

Observing all these travelers and receivers of visitors, life itself seems to be reminding one that like an air or road port lounge, things come and go. People come and go. Seasons come and go but regardless of where you find yourself, YOU remain. You endure the losses and gains life brings. You weather the storms of life and rejoice through the victories. Happy or sad, content or miserable, triumphant or defeated…you continue to survive. Survival may become easier or more difficult as a result of the comings and goings of events and people, but you do not cease to be. Whatever happens, the fact that you are alive does not alter. You simply begin to perceive your existence differently and the lenses through which you view life are ultimately tinted by your attitude.

LIFE's JOURNEY
Similar to the traveler, you could choose to rejoice in partings with the anticipation of meetings. You could choose to embrace the departures with the hope of arrivals. Rejoice in saying goodbye for the opportunity to say hello. Each event that comes and goes, preparing you for the next. Without the foundation of the past, one cannot have the formation of the present or the glory of the future. Embrace the journey and embrace your fellow traveler but above all, never cease to live life fully regardless of what air, sea or road port lounge you find yourself in.

An eternal romance song

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An ancient king once composed a song. A song whose every note struck a chord that tugs at more than just the heartstrings of man. Rising in elation at times falling in humiliation, the song went on and on…an eternal romance. Almost stifled to a screech by life’s burdens at more than one juncture, out of the king’s belly came forth notes many a seasoned composer fails to pen. The notes looped by tears of joy and groans of sorrow, strewn across the sheets that chronicle a king’s days…our days on earth.

Gifted and favoured above kings in the art of war, his weapon of choice, a harp of ten strings. Releasing countless arrows swiftly proceeding to the very heart of the Creator. If ever there was one poetically gifted, King David would sweep up numerous awards hands down.

A lover and fighter, gentle and fierce, a paradox of sorts yet his song continues to echo through time, sung by every man or woman who has purposed to truly live through the good, bad and the ugly. In similar fashion, our lives undoubtedly rise and fall but whatever you do, may your heart never stop pumping your life’s song. Shout if you will, whisper if you may, hum if you so please or groan if life deems it so, but let the song play on.

an ETERNAL ROMANCE

In the words of the great bard, William Shakespeare, “If music be the food of love, give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die.”

I speak not of a somewhat disillusioned melancholic lover whose hope of capturing a damsel’s heart is deferred, but I speak of a much more adventurous pursuit of love that leads to an eternal romance. Love redeemed and redefined in both depth and dimension by a Lover whose desire is to be known and to dote on the one He loves. Like the ancient king’s song that never ceased to rise up to the Lover’s ears in joy and sorrow, in triumph and in defeat, in life and in death, in loss and in gain…may the songs of our hearts forever rise in praise and petition, in trial and thanksgiving, in sorrow and submission.

If music be the food of love…play on I say, for in the audience of Eternal Love, never can the music of a  contrite heart and pliable spirit, be in excess. Never will His appetite sicken nor God forbid, die.

If Wishes Were Horses

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If wishes were horses, the world would be every breeder’s dream…a stable full of pedigree thoroughbreds sired by stallion specimens made in heaven. Alas, wishes are far from being horses so many a horse breeder’s dreams dashed for as long as time endures. Yet wish on we do and wish on we shall, hoping against all hope that perhaps one day, just one day that wishes would be traded for the reality we long for.

Maybe that annoying uncle would learn where to draw the line with his embarrassing comments at large family gatherings. Perchance, that wife would realise she’s letting go of herself and turning into a strange woman, far from the one who walked down the aisle. That maybe, just maybe that husband would remember decades have passed since he was 18 and the “reckless teen edition” should have been revised to “responsible husband and dad” years ago. Oh how we wish this or that one would be more polite, louder, quieter, perhaps more accommodating, more patient, less this and more that…the list is endless.

A horse breeder may not always get his dream pedigree but makes the best of what is in his hands. He recognises the strengths but also embraces the weaknesses, learning to manipulate them for his favour. Since wishes are not horses, the dream of a perfect world where all share the same viewpoint is a myth only the most naive would ever fall for. Wishing upon a star for the perfect brother, sister, husband, wife, mother, father or boss may be ingrained in our DNA, to desire something better but if we could read minds, it may turn out the very next person may be wishing you into oblivion.

IF WISHES WERE HORSES

The greatest test of patience the human race is faced with every waking moment is that we have one world, one planet earth, take Richard Branson and his living in space aspirations out of the equation, all 7 billion of us have to share it. From the beginning of time, one generation after the other, no amount of wishing has miraculously replicated planet earth for the sake of those who just cannot stand him or her. So what shall we say then, if wishes are not horses, and sadly if beggars will never ride, then maybe it is time to stop dreaming and with arms wide open embrace reality.

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”

When the longing to “tweak” someone’s behaviour comes along, take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What can I do to change me?” There’s no denying that there are some of us who feel we have it all “waxed”, but then again, our greatest criticisms about others often stem from our own weaknesses. There may be some who are generally “uncouth”, but perhaps we could try on a different pair of lenses; lenses that are made in the attitude department, where nothing is taken at face value but rather evaluated from somewhere deeper; parabolic lenses that see both ways.

“When others look at you, what will they find?”

The End

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What would the words of a dying man sound like?

Is he aware of the nearing end or blissfully oblivious to the inevitable fate we all meet?

Is the end signified by a tune rising to its crescendo and falling into silent nothingness?

When the end arrives, is it recognizable like the coming of winter, when vegetation is stripped of colour?

 

Xavier – December 14, 2011 “Just been put on oxygen.dont feel any better”

Optimus Prime  December 14, 2011 at 3:31pm “Stay positive Xavier you are in my prayers”

Xavier December 14, 2011 at 3:42pm “Trying.its also the breathing.difficult.”

Bumblebee December 14, 2011 at 3:44pm “Be strong and stay positive x”

Electra – December 14, 2011 at 3:53pm “Hey Xavier I am thinking of u try be strong my friend u in my thoughts xxx”

Julius -December 14, 2011 at 4:30pm -So sorry Xavier, like Optimus Prime say’s be positive and you’ll be amazed. Stay strong my dear friend.

Storm – December 14, 2011 at 5:04pm “Xavier thinking of you!”

Joe December 14, 2011 at 5:45pm “Hang in there Xavier we are all thinking of you.”

Jane – December 14, 2011 at 5:50pm “Thinking of you Xavier, get better soon ok xx”

Kim Possible December 14, 2011 at 8:34pm “My thoughts and prayers are with you, stay strong xx”

Storm – December 15, 2011 at 11:10am “Sad news Xavier passed away suddenly last night 12.15 am thanks to all of you for support and friendship!”

Kim Possible – December 15, 2011 at 11:25am “RIP our very dearest and precious friend Xavier, FB will never be the same without you. You are now safe in the arms of Jesus. Love you my friend”

Electra -December 15, 2011 at 12:38pm “We were not there to hear your last faint sigh~Or even whisper a loving goodbye…God took your hand we had to part. He eased your pain but broke our hearts…R.I.P my friend. Heart felt condolences to the family on the loss of their son & brother xxx

Simba -December 15, 2011 at 6:23pm “Rest in peace, my friend. We will always miss you. The city won’t be the same without you.”

Nala -December 15, 2011 at 7:18pm “Rest in peace Xavier will miss you”

Mufasa -December 15, 2011 at 8:56pm “Rest in peace Xavier you will be missed may memories of you be in our hearts forever.”

 

Above are the last messages exchanged on Facebook hours before and after Xavier passed on. Xavier (all names changed) was an ordinary man with a life many of us would consider “nothing to write home about”. He possibly had a dream to live a little while longer, see another sunrise, perhaps long enough to have another breakfast, make another post on social media, laugh at another silly joke. Perhaps Xavier’s dream was to live till the ripe old age of 80 and possibly have a family of his own, provide them with a decent home and comfortable life. Maybe he would have wanted to travel the world or see more of his own country. He may have dreamt of seeing the world become a better place, perhaps just for a comfortable life, yet the end came a few hours after his final post “Trying.its also the breathing.difficult.”

ART 2

The last moments of a man’s life spent reaching out, grappling for what could sustain him. Searching and hoping for relief, longing that perhaps when the morrow came, pain would subside, relieving him of the agony of being incapacitated and confined to a hospital bed. Reading through the posts over and over again, I cannot help but realise how fleeting life is to reserve words of kindness and encouragement for tomorrow. The words that mattered the most came moments before Xavier lost coherence, taking his last breaths he was unaware that he was being missed or would be missed. He was unaware that someone thought of him as a precious friend and a valuable part of their circle of friends.

Friends are meant to be companions and companions make a journey lighter and worth travelling. Let us take a few moments continually, to say words of encouragement and show kindness, for who knows, there may never be a tomorrow.

Fairy Grandmothers

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I am inclined to think fairy godmothers are not a mere myth but living reality. For one, grandmothers carry all the qualities of suitable candidates of the demanding job of making wishes come true. As a wee child, I believed my grandmother had an invisible wand and possessed supernatural powers only those with the title of Grand Mother were entitled to. She could fix almost any clothing item and in cases where an item was “beyond repair”, she found a way of metamorphosing a pair of trousers into a skirt. Once a shirt magically transformed into a pair of shorts with the breast pocket somehow perfectly positioned as the back pocket. Then there were multicolored patchwork blankets and mats that resembled an atlas…in short, nothing ever went to waste, nothing was ever beyond redemption. She also had a way of turning foodstuffs into pharmaceuticals and the random into remedies for one ailment or another.

FLOWER ART PEOM

In my grandmother’s house was a gourd of dreams

Desirous of the rainbow, it soared beyond beams

Oblivious to a world that was fertile breeding ground

To traps by which some would remain forever bound

Dreams to a young heart paid for in full by currency faith

With nothing to lose, giving up the only price to be paid

 

On my grandmother’s dress were precious blueprints

Maps to treasures concealed in vaults only fit for kings

Numerous secret codes brewed in peanut laden dishes

Solely interpretable by words unsaid to unlock vast riches

In the heart of the believer, a secret garden nurturing hope

Weeds of countless breeds yet the seed of optimism did cope

FLOWERS

On my grandmother’s face were lines of life

Where stories were traceable, of victories and strife

In deep gorges and grooves lived pearls of wisdom

Vagabonds could bargain and trade rag for chiefdom

Keen eyes, sight refined with age and seasoned by time

Foretelling the clock, deciphering tick and chime

 

In my grandmother’s crafty hands we were raised

Molded into vessels by tasks would not be phased

Lullabies were as charms to awaken the phoenix

Turned myths into legends far beyond the sphinx

Fingers crafting masterpieces from ordinary things

Clearly resounding, the memory of yesteryear rings

New dawn for Delta Dawn

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Every milestone reached in our lives deserves a celebration. While some are grand and extravagant, some almost go unnoticed yet they are noteworthy milestones all the same, each deserving an etch somewhere in time, whether visible or invisible. I am one who tends to prefer celebrating momentous anything in silent pondering. However, on occasion I have found myself a guest at some revelry or another. At such occasions, I find myself employed, without common consensus or salary of course, as an observer.

Not so long ago while faithfully conducting my self-imposed vocation, I found myself quite intrigued by examining the faces of those present at a friend’s birthday ‘do’. Some danced with vigour while others, well, the spirits being served had simply sucked the “living spirit” out of them. They either stood by in a stupor or attempted to master the art of walking all over again. Then there were those who like the host of this party, looked like there were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Then of course there were those who get any party started much to the delight of patrons seeking a story or two to tell at the “post mortem” hearing.

Looking around the room, my eyes fell on a few individuals whom, regardless my eyes wandering around the room, seemed to draw me back. A young man, who seemed to have just passed the minimum age restriction for drinking, stared blankly into the space before him. Bottle after bottle he drank as if attempting to drown some invisible obstacle with the hope that he may perhaps be able to swim to the other side of the room were happiness seemed to be a more attainable reality. In the middle of the room were a couple of party starters, with smiles across their faces danced the night away with such precision they would give Beyonce a run for her money. From time to time, one or two of the dancers would stop to look around, as if to ask, “Do you hear me…?” Mustering a smile again, the dancing would soon resume.

As the night wore on, I bumped into a young lady who had been a reveller of note on the dance floor. Though her makeup seemed quite intact given the lighting, the look in her eyes said “the mask is falling…” Just as I was walking away, “What should I do…?” she said. Taken aback by the determination and abandonment in her voice as she spoke, I looked over my shoulder thinking or rather hoping she was addressing someone other than me. “What do you think I should do…?” she repeated, almost pleading through teary eyes.

Giving an answer I thought would suffice, the question gnawed at me all night. As each one of us finally walked away, I noted there were those who walked away bubbling over with joy, genuine smiles thanking the host for a night well spent. While others walked away, heads drooped, very little said as we exchanged our goodbyes. On my mind the questions still lingered…

people shadows

What do you say to a young woman who is doing all she can to land a respectable young man to be by her side for the rest of her days? What do you say to a young woman who would give her all so she may know her worth does not lie in what she can give but in who she is? What do you say to a young man who definition of happiness is found in what he can hardly remember, let alone keep hold of? What do you say to a middle aged man whose life is seemed unfulfilled and is in pursuit of that which can help him redeem lost time?

In years to come, will we walk around as mere shadows of what used to be, laden with unfulfilled dreams because we sought to fulfil them in the wrong places or will we look back at a life well lived?

My hope is that whether male or female, young or old that the story will turn out better than the one told by Tanya Tucker in her hit, “Delta Dawn”

Love is…

Love is…

If love is love, is it possible that it may all be encapsulated into a string of words, bringing into captivity what love truly is in pursuit of its true meaning? Is it at all probable to quantify love and narrow down its magnitude into mere superlatives?  Is there a chance that perhaps love has a switch which opens floodgates of overwhelming currents and make them cease in the blink of an eye. Perhaps love has a sell by date and with time loses its potency, rendering it an expired product unsuitable for use. Is love perhaps an invisible agent, possessing chemical properties which only become apparent with rigorous experimentation? Whatever love is, whatever it is not, I am convinced love is not a creature resembling mythical gods, neither is it a fleeting feeling but rather a conviction arrived at by choice.

A conviction we assume only and only when love, ceases to be a feeling, passing season or a chemical substance, only proven by litmus tests.

To know love comes from having known He who loves without a shadow of doubt…

Have you ever been so loved

Your lover deciphered your name while your lips were yet without form to utter the word

Have you ever been so loved

The one you call dear proclaimed you the apple of His eye, the jewel in an incorruptible crown

Have you ever been so loved

Angels were your armed guard summoned to sing you a lullaby to cradle and gently rock you to sleep

Have you ever been so loved

You were called dear heart and lovedy the moment your lover set eyes on your very form

Have you ever been so loved

In the presence of THE ONE, “I” and “you” cease to exist only to be found as empty shells of grammar

Have you ever been so loved

Time became the only space between the present and the majestic reality embodied by undying hope 

Have you ever been so loved

Streams from lands unknown sweep your all and make deposits into the sea where desire in unknown

Have you ever been so loved

A fine mural was painted for you, the breadth  and width of the expansive earth we now see

Have you ever been so loved

The stars adorning the night skies danced from the east to the west at the summoning of your beloved

Have you ever been so loved

A harp of countless strings, strums a gentle whisper that tells you sweet SOMETHINGS

Have you ever been so loved

Mountains trembled and succumbed, bowing and giving way to the Lover’s scepter in your hand placed

Have you ever been so loved

The promise to give you the world is unquestionable and endorsed in a blood covenant

Have you ever been so loved

Your Lover’s jealousy burnt down kingdoms when your affection but for a moment deflected towards another

Have you ever been so loved

Nothing at all mattered but YOU, for the matter strewn the unverse in its entirety was NOTHING at all

Have you ever been so loved

Love was neither mere concept nor action but the very essence making up the sum of the ONE who loves

Have you ever been so loved

Petals and pals were spared the agony of determining to the tugging questioning if the lover loves or loves not

Have you ever been so loved

You would consider my enquiry a mere jibe and pathetic attempt at poetic composition

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwK73QbNPKo

 

GOD IS LOVE

Africa – A Land Without Cold and Horror

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Though the meaning of the word Africa is slightly debatable, all theories on the word’s origin lead to one conclusion. Africa means “a land without cold and horror”. This is a revelation many would dispute or find ironic based on the current state of affairs. However, when finance experts and business people from around the globe look to Africa they see the sunshine and dollar signs on every square inch of resource-rich terrain. Africa may have more than her fair share of conflict, disease, corruption, poverty and the list goes on, but she is also  the New Frontier.   Not only does Africa  have good prospects for a bright future but we are poised to leapfrog ahead of many developing regions if the majority of us adopt the right attitude.

Africa is  the continent with the youngest population in the world.  A young population not only presents vast economic and social development opportunities but also creates room for ideologies to be changed. It is far easier to ignite the thirst of the young and set the blood of our youth to burn with passion for the motherland. It is the youth that can form the bridge from the current status quo into the future which generations past may never even have dared to imagine. Nevertheless, this will not occur if we as Africans and residents of Africa do not take it upon ourselves to be authors of our own development. If truth be told, this continent will not rise from the ashes as a result of foreign aid and multi-national corporations. We are not going to see widespread growth  by looking beyond the borders of this continent for help, at least not without paying dearly for it in the long run. Too many present day governments are enslaved to debt from years past, yet  they hardly recall what the money was spent on or why.

Corruption is a menace we cannot ignore and mismanagement of public funds by politicians and the elite few is, sadly, common practice. If we as Africans do not put our own house in order,  visitors will happily do it  – in their own way and for their own benefit.  For decades, African governments have been put through economic policy reform regimes which often lead to the same thing –  international money lenders getting even more out of the deal. I am inclined to think that loan sharks are not only backyard  – they come in all shapes and sizes. From where I stand, the reality is that the world system tilts in favour of those with more political and financial muscle.   I do applaud all the developmental growth made possible on our continent by financial aid institutions.  However, the question that begs an answer is “At what cost?”

I could go on and on berating tales of injustice done against Africa but refuse to believe that Africa is just a victim. We are not just some kind of game that the East and the West play during tea breaks before returning to more important matters.  The best way to build a muscle is through exercise and if we as the African continent are to ever become an audible voice, a force to be reckoned with, we better start putting in the hours…blood, sweat and tears. Exercise is a process involving sacrifice, diligence, patience, consistency, endurance, discipline and faith. And above all, the strong belief that the vision of a continent “without cold and horror” is an attainable reality.

Without cold if her people are constantly working.  Without cold if her children consider one another and keep each other warm. Without cold if brothers and sisters dwell in unity without prejudice. Without horror if, instead of plundering and killing, we each learn to honestly earn our keep and resolve conflict amicably.

WE LOVE AFRICA

Yes, many of us may be angry at leaders who gather all, leaving the masses out in the cold but if we as the citizens of Africa, unite against everything that divides us for that one common purpose, standing tall will not just be a distant possibility or a borrowed dream.   I am not advocating for an airy-fairy-happy-ever-after-fairy-tale but for a land where we have reasobably acceptable standards of living, where our vast natural resources benefit Africans  as much as they benefit the rest of the world. A continent of people willing to walk that long rocky uphill mile so that when we get to the top, we can proudly stand tall and say “We did it”.

I long to see a land where we have our own dream, the African dream.  And when the African muscle eventually develops into something formidable I would like to think it shall be called “Africanus Primus Fonterra”.  Simply put, Africa will be raising some serious dust!

The Ancestor

 

My grandfather was a proud man who never compromised when it came to his culture and values. Many knew him as Ashumba, the Lion, a name that was passed on from ancestor to ancestor. Ashumba, the man who did everything with fierce passion except for one thing, show love. He believed that showing affection makes a sloppy job of raising children. So when we visited him over the school holidays we worked because to him we were extra hands on deck! There was no difference between the seasonal farm workers who toiled in the fields for a daily wage and his offspring who stood to inherit the fruits of all his “blood sweat and tears”. We all had to work! Like any young people would feel, to us, this was torture, abuse, exploitation…child labour!  But every school holiday we were shipped off to live in his household.

After long grueling days helping around the farm, we would spend the evenings of walking around on eggshells lest we were summoned to perform some needless duty for “loitering”. No offspring of his was to ever be seen as good for nothing! He  insulted the laziness out of us – an exorcist of laziness, some would call him.

When I look back at those years, I am thankful for the lessons we learnt under his care that have helped us endure the best and the worst of times with reasonably level heads.

As his children and grandchildren grew older, one could say he softened up a bit.

He loved sitting in the living room after supper staring at the blank television screen. There almost seemed to be sacredness to those few hours between supper and bedtime when he just sat there in silence. Too afraid to ask or interrupt his peace and quiet, we let him be until one day I was brave enough to go and sit with him. For a long moment, nothing was said, we just sat there and I understood it was probably a place of contemplation. As timid a teen as I was by then, I summoned the courage to ask him, “Where did you come from grandpa?” The look on his face seemed to be that of being overwhelmed, perhaps relief. Almost like, “I am glad someone cares enough to ask.” We must have sat for hours as he narrated how his father died when he was just 2 years old and his mother left him in the care of an uncle as she went off to remarry. Raised under a heavy hand, mostly fending for himself, all he knew was hard work. When other children may have been going through potty training, he was already fighting for his own survival. The calluses on his hands seemed to be a reflection of the stone wall that had formed around his heart, numbing the ability to feel any kind of emotion. Above his own personal battle, witnessing the war that raged in the 60’s and 70’s didn’t help either. Emotionless as always, he expressed neither anger nor gratitude for the hand life had dealt him.

Oftentimes I had wondered why he was so hard and somewhat cold but only after that day did I realize it emanated from his view of authority and his image of who God was – shaped by his upbringing. He never doubted the existence of God but strongly that believed the gateway to God was through his ancestors. Ancestors who had left him as a defenseless tot. His logic was that God was far too unattainable for mere mortals like you and me to approach. God lived so far away that only those long gone had the ability or time to travel there and plead on our behalf and in turn the living had to appease them by making animal sacrifices. Due to the ancestors’ long trips to God, they would apparently be thirsty therefore  they required a special brew made and offered as a form of worship.

God was a wrathful being who was quick to administer discipline without much debate and wasted no time listening to your side of the story. Grandfather spared no rod, whip or cane. As you can guess, I was the recipient of a few lashings in my time. Mostly because I was too undiscerning to notice when he was angry and also too slow to move when the others had long scurried off.

Despite unknowingly inheriting the legacy of my grandfather’s “rough childhood”, the desire to find healing was the doorway to finding the truth. Surely dead people couldn’t do a better job of communicating with God than the living, my young mind would silently reason. Moreover, if they apparently consumed intoxicating drink how was I to be assured they would get the message to God and not fall into a ditch somewhere along the way? Despite my distorted view of an authoritative do-what-I-say-and-if-you-don’t-you-will-go-to-hell kind of God, I began to fumble my way towards Him. My picture of  God was still that of an awe inspiring version of may grandfather. Instead of piercing words, he had fire coming out of his mouth and smoke out of his nostrils. Kind of like a sterner looking Merlin sitting up in the sky with a huge cane waiting to administer punishment for my every wrongdoing. The more I tried to do right, the more I seemed to fail and it was just too exhausting. In moments of failing to “reach the bar” or “be the model child”, going into hiding seemed the best solution until I felt I had done enough to redeem myself. Self redemption is a myth by the way. If truth be told, how does one pay their own ransom if they are caught up in a hostage situation and happen to be dead?

 

It is only when I began to have my own version of “Smackdown” with God that I realized the way to him was a street called love. Love he demonstrated by giving his Son Jesus, a ransom to rescue hostages like myself. Hostages to generations of bitterness and anger. Hostages to circumstances and situations that shaped our lives even before we were born. Hostages to our own frailties and fleeting desires as human beings. Knowing that a gruesome death on the cross took away the wrath that was meant for me, is the reason I can look back and smile even at the memory of a few of the whippings I took. It is the reason I can take away the good memories from the past and learn from the bitter ones. It is also the reason I learnt I could mourn my grandfather, keep his legacy alive but remember the fact that he is gone…dead and with me remains only memories, lessons I learnt and nothing more.  He can neither bless nor curse. I chuckle when I think, if my grandfather were the ancestor assigned to present my recommendation, I bet God would have a very bad impression of me.

And by the way, experience tells me, there is never any point playing Smackdown with God. When I throw my best punches it is as thought he just keeps saying “Is that all you got…?”

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