Pancakes.

About four weeks ago, my family eagerly awaited the birth of my nephew. I will quickly admit that I was having a fairly crappy day and this was the one good thing I had to look forward to. Or so I thought.

Anyway, that evening, while looking through the pictures and video clips from my bro-in-law, I wondered what kind of aunt I would be. Which was strange because I already have plenty of nieces and nephews. So I’m already an aunt. Why was this different? Because deep down a part of me felt like maybe I haven’t been the best Aunt to his older brother. (A role that I actually have to just define for myself ’cause I have no clue what it entails) Like his parents were raising him a certain way and my being was disrupting that instead of enhancing it.

So while these and many other thoughts were swirling in my head, I get invited to the kitchen for pancakes. (I live in a backpackers) There is a huge stack of pancakes on the table. Along with syrup, lemon juice, butter and cinnamon. I don’t remember the last time I ate pancakes, but I grab myself a plate and sit down. The late night chatter and laughter from the other guests is soothing. People dish and leave. Others stay. A syncopation of sorts.

In between mouthfuls, my hair is decorated with fallen flowers while a guy takes pictures. I don’t remember pancakes ever tasting this great. I smile and wish my nephew a Happy Birthday. When he’s much much older, we’ll celebrate his day every year by eating pancakes. And he’ll think I’m weird for it. But I won’t care. ☺

Advertisements

Day 25: Remember (Christmas)

Remember how around this time last year you moaned about having to make your own vegetarian dishes? And how you woke up early to prepare, taking turns with your Mom in using the oven? And how stressed you were ’cause you kept everybody waiting. And you hoped the food would turn out ok and it did?

Remember this day. Your vegan lentil loaf was a hit.

Allow yourself time to evolve. And allow those around you to do the same.

Youth Day Part 2

Today is Youth Day in South Africa.  A public holiday. You can read about it here.

On this day in 2009, I had moved back to Port Elizabeth from East London after my work contract had ended. I was interning and had the false belief that I was going to be hired full time. But that didn’t happen so I moved back home. I was sitting on the floor reading the local newspaper when I came across an article that made me extremely upset. I grabbed a pen and paper and immediately started writing. I have cut out some of the parts because the response is very long. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the “Yoof” article published on Youth Day (June 16). I need to say something about it. I cannot speak for the many youths of South Africa, but I can speak for me and this is what I have to say:

Frankly, I am sick and tired of being compared to the youth of 1976. Please do not get me wrong here. I am not undermining the event in any way. I know all about 1976 and the intensity of the situation and the sacrifice made so that we can live a much much better life. I will always be eternally grateful for that. However, when you compare us to the youth of 1976, you are implying that we are not good enough. And that is not fair. We will never measure up to them. And what were the white youth of 1976 doing when all this was happening?

I generally don’t feel understood and appreciated by those older than me. You moan about how lost and superficial we are, but don’t you feel that parents have played a role in the way that you perceive us? I don’t know what the previous generations want from us because they only open their mouths to point out our faults and remind us of how we’re losing the plot, along with our roots. This kind of talk also extends to the workplace.

Let me tell you a bit about the youth of today: Some of us don’t like to think for ourselves, or prefer not to think for ourselves because we always have to do what we’re told. We take in whatever is fed to us because we will more than likely be dismissed for sharing our opinions. Yes, some of us do act grown up, but our minds aren’t. We don’t know what to do with the raging hormones and whatnot but if parents aren’t exactly going to advise us, then we will copy what we see on TV and do as our friends do. If you talk to us on our frequency and try to shift your mindset a bit, you will find that we’re not as stupid, ignorant or ungrateful as you think we are.

The majority of us are forced to study “proper” degrees so we can get “proper” jobs. By that I mean the B.Scs, the BComs and the likes. After that, we must make lots of money to help out our parents and family and flaunt our wealth so that people can talk about how well we’re doing and in turn make our parents feel proud of us. So excuse us for being obsessed with labels and nice cars and dreams of owning that mansion. God help you, if you choose to study languages or Art. Even if your parents seem ok with this, you’re bound to meet someone who thinks that people who study the Arts are wasting time.

We then go on to work for people who expect us to sit in an office from 9-5 everyday even when there is no work to be done. Nothing ticks me off more than wasting time at work because I’d rather be wasting time at home. If I’m at work, I should be there to work and if I’ve done everything before “home time”, I should be allowed to leave for the day. We have to deal with bitter colleagues who just don’t understand that we have a different way of doing things. Colleagues who are threatened by us for no apparent reason.

Anyway, the point is, it takes more than conversations with your son and some websites to find out what the youth is really thinking. It is not fair to look at the young politicians of South Africa and then conclude that we are all stupid and should not be taken seriously. I mean, if I was living in 1976, I would also lay down my life for my freedom. No doubt about that. But it’s 2009 and if I want to lie under my duvet all day for youth day because I feel burnt out or I need a break or whatever, I think I’m entitled to do so.

For the record though, I did not lie under my duvet all day. I did not go boozing or partying or anything like that. I wrote this letter and am working on 2 articles (one about youth day) to post on the website that I write for. You say: “Our youth stirred themselves to get to the polls, but they were probably motivated by the desire to get someone else to sort out their problems.” Yes, that statement will definitely get me off my arse and “take to the streets” for the sake of my education. Come on now!

I’ll admit, there are many things I do not understand about the youth myself, but I do have dreams and they aren’t superficial in the least bit. We are not all airheads. I am part of a team whose vision is to get the youth talking and thinking about our country and our continent. I am one of the estimated 2,6 million 15-24 year old unemployed youths. I am turning 25 on Women’s day. I am selfish because my focus is on getting myself on my own two feet before I can do for others. I don’t feel bad about that at all. Less finger-pointing at our flaws, I think.

Yours sincerely,

Unathi Nopece, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth

Letter to my 16 year old Self

You said you guys should just be friends…

He came to the boarding house that evening and asked someone to call you. You were wearing your navy denim jeans and your brother’s red and white Michaelhouse top. He had come to talk about the kiss. You told him you didn’t want to pursue it further. This was a good move.

It’s ok that you told him you think you should be friends even though you wanted more. Granted, you’re suffering for your choice. You get to watch him take other girls to dances. You have to answer that “Why not you?” question over and over again. And your heart aches for what could have been. It hurts like hell. Let it. This is temporary. You’ll be fine. For one, there’ll be more guys… But when you’re in your mid 20s, you ‘ll say hi to a guy while sitting at the bar waiting for a show to start. He is one of the performers, but you’ll miss his performance. You’ll make small talk and you won’t think much of it. This is a pivotal moment. Thank me later.

A few months from now, someone will enter your life and make you question everything about it. She’s abrasive, but you’ll like her. Because she’s honest. She reminds you of what your life could’ve been if you’d had a different upbringing. She’ll make you reflect on yourself. You guys will grow close. You’ll get attached. She’ll be your best friend. She’ll leave after a year. You’ll cry over it. But you’ll email each other. You’ll lose touch. But you meet again years later and it’ll feel like she never left.

It’s not too late to change subjects. I know you want to do Art. Rather badly. But you’re scared. What if you suck? You’re reconsidering French. But you won’t drop it. Good move. As interesting as Biology is to you, you won’t use it. Along with Chemistry and Physics. I hate to break it to you, but…You won’t be a Medical Scientist. Or a doctor. In fact, you won’t even need the Sciences that you’re studying. But they’ll teach you planning, structure, organisational skills, logical thinking etc. You’ll need these later in life.

Your obsession with The Cranberries? It doesn’t die. Ever. It helps you form a life-long friendship with someone. You won’t realise this until your ten year reunion. She’s a great guitarist. She can sing. You believe this. She doesn’t yet. But you’ll play guitar and sing together. She’ll join some bands after high school. You’ll pay to watch her perform. It’ll be mad fun.

I’m not sure yet if you’ve started dancing. But when you do, you’ll love it! You’ll consider going professional. Because you’ll be that good. Or so you think. But life will get in the way and you’ll give it up. Don’t be too bitter about it.

Your relationship with your brother is changing. You’re not quite sure what happened. Maybe you’re outgrowing him. You can’t do anything about it. Let it be.

You envy your sister’s relationship with your Mom. You wish the 3 of you could find some kind of common ground. You won’t. Instead, you’ll develop your relationships with them separately. First your relationship with your sister will grow through emails about boys and phone calls and texts about balance sheets and income statements. [Accounting right? Who ever thought?] Then your relationship with your Mom will be built through fashion, beauty, accessories etc. Yes, this is the same mother who stopped buying you clothes because you would cut and resew them. But you guys did pierce your ears together that one time when you were 9/10. Remember?

Two years from now, your position in your family will change. It will start with a strange conversation in the sitting-room with your Dad about a financial decision he made. You’ll get freaked out. You’ll wonder where Mom is. This is the beginning. You’ll be given a lot more responsibility. This will make you angry. You won’t understand why. But you’ll grow into this role.

You have such a strong sense of self. I love this about you. You are also ahead of your time in many ways. Many people your age aren’t thinking the way you’re thinking. You’ll feel lonely a lot. Some of your friends are far away. But there are others in your school who feel just as misplaced as you do. You’ll befriend them. You’ll hang a banner on a roof with some of them towards the end of high school.

Keep finding solace in those novels. Keep writing in your journals. Keep your wit and sense of humour. You think it’s weird that you like to study maps, but you’re a dreamer. You need your imagination. You will go through so much. Discover so much. You are exactly the person you imagine yourself to be. All that and more. The time will come when you can express that freely. Your life will truly begin after high school. You will grow so much. It’ll hurt. People won’t understand. You’ll lose friends along the way. You’ll make new ones. But you’ll be ok.

Oh, and those girls in your boarding house that you don’t like all that much? Well…let me just say that something interesting happens before your 30th birthday. I’ll leave it there.

Sincerely,

Your soon-to-be 31 year old self

Throwback6

throw6

2006.
October or thereabouts.

This is the thinnest I’ve ever been as an adult.
And possibly the saddest.
If you look closely.

I volunteered myself as a model for a photographer in exchange for some pictures. Because goodness knows I needed a break in routine and an injection of happiness

You see….
This was the year of the betrayal
The year of loss
The year of balance sheets, income statements, presentations
and group work.

Smoking kept the darkness at bay.
8-10 cups of coffee carried me through my days
Wine soothed me to sleep
The Blues held me so tight and vowed to never let me go.
Melancholy drowned my aura and kept my shoulders hunched

I searched for beauty in the cracks of my broken heart and
started to find it….bit by bit

It was a tough year.
I still wonder to this day how I graduated.

Throwback 5: My first Book Review

Title: A Testament of Hope: The Autobiography of Dr. Sam Motsuenyane

Author: Dr. Sam Motsuenyane

Publisher: KMM Review Publishing Company

Genre: Autobiography, Non-Fiction

I must confess that when I offered to review this book, I had no idea who Dr Motsuenyane was. When I showed my mother the book, she said: “Oh, the NAFCOC man.” I didn’t want to ask what NAFCOC was. I am pretty much clueless when it comes to Commerce and acronyms. So I turned to Google. After browsing a few websites, I could not, for the life of me, understand how and why I had never heard of this man before.

I was not sure about what to expect from this book as it is an autobiography. I generally prefer fiction. The title did not tell me much either. I found it somewhat misleading. Although there is a message of hope contained in his story, the book pays more testimony to perseverance rather than hope. This is not your typical rags to riches story. Like all black families during Apartheid, Motsuenyane’s family was not rich. However land and farming played an important part in their livelihood. Agriculture remains his passion to this day. In 2002, he formed the Winterveld United Farmers Association and from this association created the Winterveld Citrus Project, which farms just over 55 000 citrus trees and supplies oranges to other citrus companies and Pick ‘n Pay stores. Motsuenyane emphasizes the importance of land and suggests that Agriculture serve as the basis for South Africa’s overall economic development.

The book is written in a business-like style. It almost feels like reading a business report without all the big words. This is understandable as he is after all a businessman. “The book is intended for the black business community as well as the youth – especially black youths. I wrote it to try and recapture the spirit of the pioneers, to convey how we struggled to establish organisations in very difficult times. Better times have now come, but more should be done,” Motsuenyane says about the book. Indeed, he captures the spirit of the pioneers and the struggles involved in trying to build a black business industry in South Africa. Nevertheless, I did struggle a bit with this writing style. Not because it was difficult, but because it felt almost monotone. I expected more creativity, more metaphors and more visual descriptions.

What is most interesting is the role that black business played in helping to end Apartheid and negotiating for the release of Nelson Mandela.  Much focus has been placed only on the pressure put on the Apartheid government by the ANC. So it is refreshing to read about other sectors having an influence on ending Apartheid. Motsuenyane was also Mandela’s economic advisor and helped rebuild South Africa’s economic industry after Apartheid.  Another interesting aspect of the book is the land issue. Motsuenyane hails from a farming background and believes that a return to Agriculture, especially by black people, will result in self-reliance and self-sustenance. In a nutshell, we need to be entrepreneurs and create our own opportunities instead of waiting for the government to provide for us.

Overall, Dr Sam Motsuenyane has done a lot for South African black business. He is perhaps best known as one of the founding members of the National African Chamber of Commerce (NAFCOC) as well as of the African Bank. He has laid a solid foundation for business, which must be further developed by our young business people of today. This book is about the life of one of the most influential men in South African business history. If you admire Patrice Motsepe and Richard Maponya, then you should definitely admire this man. This book adds another important dimension to our South African history and because of that, you should get yourself a copy.

 

Bio: Unathi Nopece has just completed her BA (Hons) at NMMU. She is currently unemployed and looking to work in Cape Town. When she is not job-hunting, she drinks copious amounts of coffee and talks incessantly to herself. This is her first official book review.

Throwback Diary Entry

[ 11 September 2013]

I can relate to Black Swan

because I know what it’s like to

be smothered by a parent. So

much so that you can’t even think clearly, let alone

breathe.

Like the more space you

wish for, the more smothered

you feel. Like somebody is

just refusing to let you grow

because a lesser version of

yourself makes them feel

better…

‘Cause they can

only love you when you’re

less of yourself.

Yeah, so I know what that’s like.

I’m living it.