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Showing posts from June, 2014

Shall we move beyond being ceremonial Ubuntu campaigners?

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About a month ago, we celebrated Mothers's Day. Yesterday was Fathers's Day and today is Youth Day. In less than two months, on 09 August we will be celebrating Women's Day. In effect, all those who make up a family unit will be acknowledged and affirmed for the profound roles they play in their families and communities in this cycle of celebrations. But alas, in most instances we are merely ceremonial, doing the talks and the shows. We don't really want to deal with the real issues of absent fathers, broken families and disenchanted youth. Cathy (not her real name) and her family are a case in point.
Cathy's family typifies how deeply scarred we are. Cathy, a mother of five children, is a recovering abused victim. She has finally divorced her abusive husband, but she is still sharing a home with him because she depends on him financially. They are two strangers stuck together because of circumstances. The battle lines are drawn and all the family members are the c…

Celebrating Nazeer's birthday and Glenda's legacy

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We have a super celebration in the the family tonight. Our nephew, Nazeer, Aka Nazarro (compliments Pa Peet) will be 21 on Sunday, 8th June but the party is happening today. The party, that is, where all the aunts, uncles, cousins and friends will be. The REAL party, we are told, is a combo celebration of four newly-crowned 21 year olds that will be entertaining their inner circle of friends to a looooong weekend away. But this 21st celebration - Nazeer's Big Key Day - is a very special one. You see, Nazeer lost his all- time hero, his only parent and chief caregiver when he had just turned seventeen four years ago. Glenda, our darling sister, Nazeer's Mom, finally gave up the fight against cancer in July 2010. Since that time, Nazeer has become Levona and Ricardo eldest son. With our strong family bonds, we could help soften the blow of his loss, but I still believe Nazeer's strength of character and the lessons he learned from Glenda have been critical in his life.As…

Your junk is somebody's treasure

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Winter came blasting into Cape Town this week. Temperatures are dropping and the air is icy cold. Even our homes are like freezers. Spare a thought for the homeless who live side by side with the elements.

On Thursday morning, just after seven, we saw a homeless couple resting on the bridge. Their trolleys were loaded with recyclable waste. The man and woman were rather thinly dressed on this bitterly cold day. The two of them must have been early on the road, sifting through people's wheelie bins.

ThIs couple was a picture of resilience; of fighting against the odds. The light drizzle falling at the time and the dark, scowling clouds were temporary obstacles in their path. Their real challenge is surviving the stigma of being a nuisance factor, a threat to our safety and security. And, they jolt our conscience uncomfortably, reminding us that our throwaways become their source of income.

All is not doom and gloom. The sun, surrounded by a halo of orange light signalled the end of …

Pursuit of Happyness brings Zwelakhe Nofemele to Cape Town, again

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Meeting ZwelakheToday I met 21-year old Zwelakhe Nofemele at the Lentegeur Psychiatric hospital in Mitchell's Plain. Zwelakhe was manning the Lentegeur Resource centre where there is small shop selling T-shirts. The T- shirt slogans catch one's eye immediately. I am hooked.Emblazoned across the t-shirts are the slogans as you can see on the picture: Mal / adjusted and Nor / Mal. The word "Mal" is an Afrikaans word meaning mad, mentally ill. Good gracious, I thought. Why would the very place where the mentally ill are supposed to find refuge and support, exploit their vulnerability? Society already stigmatizes those who have mental illnesses, now this? I asked Zwelakhe why these slogans gave been chosen. Zwelakhe became the storyteller." These t-shirts are part of a small business that is run by one of the past patients of Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital. This man designed the slogans when he was a patient here. These slogans highlight the discrimination and the …