What is your life worth in South Africa?

In June 2017, a man by the name of Brent Kruger was caught in the cross fire in Atlantis Cape Town and suffered 3 gunshot wounds before crashing into a wall and dying from his injuries at 32 years old. There have been countless men, women and children before him who have lost their lives in senseless killings, whether random or intentional.

Gang violence and the effects thereof have been an ongoing problem in the Cape Flats and slowly spreading to other areas in Cape Town. Areas previously known as ‘safe’ or ‘quiet’ are now areas where people have to stay indoors as much as possible, for fear of being robbed or murdered.

And yet life goes on.

We see their names in the paper, we read about their deaths online, in print media, or hear about it on a television broadcast. These nameless faceless human beings are losing their lives everyday and nothing is done.

I ask my fellow coloured people…what is happening to our people?

What is happening in our communities that young men feel the need to pick up guns and join a life of crime? What is happening to our young women who are still experiencing alarming rates of teen pregnancy?

Our people are dying.

We are killing each other.

Coloured people don’t need to fear disease or police brutality, coloured people practice fear of their own race. Daily.

Why is this happening? How long will it continue to happen before someone does anything?

Do coloured people not matter?

I am not one to pull the race card. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have no racial prejudice. But I have to ask, what is a coloured life worth in South Africa?

Franziska Blöchliger was brutally raped and murdered, her killer was swiftly brought to justice. She deserved that justice, although it won’t bring her back to her family, they got justice. Closure.

Many men and women of colour are murdered every day…where is their justice? Where is the public outrage for their lives being taken too soon?

Where is it? Did I miss it?

Where is the media coverage for all the coloured men, women and children who lose their lives daily? Where is it? Is it that everyone has become so desensitized to this violence that no one is really conscious of the fact that it isn’t just NEWS, or a BODY COUNT in the morgue, these are actual PEOPLE that are dying.

Brent Kruger leaves behind a wife, 3 daughters, a sister and his mother. Not to mention the extended family and countless friends in his community who all mourn his death. Three young girls have to navigate this world without their father. Three girls…who will turn into women, will never have their father walk them down the aisle. 

And what are we doing about it? What is Law Enforcement doing about it? What is the government doing about it?

Everyday people of colour of being gunned down, stabbed, brutally murdered…and what are we doing about it?

It’s taken me a long time to write this blog post. I’ve been angry. I’ve been RAGING with anger. Because these are my people. And regardless of them being ‘my’ people, they are people. They are human beings with dreams and goals and families. And they have no voice. They do not get justice.

Our court systems are over run. Our jails are over crowded. Our police force is over worked. And then steps in the criminal. Easy pickings. Case file goes missing. Evidence goes missing. Witnesses get murdered or intimidated to the point that they recant their statement.

A man who steals may get up to 10 years in prison. A man who rapes and murders however…pretty good chance he might just get a suspended sentence.

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind but how are we to deter this type of behaviour if there aren’t harsher sentences for taking someone’s life?

Our children suffer the most. And this is where the cycle continues. Children are losing their parents to gangs, whether joining a gang or being killed by one. These children left to fend for themselves have few options, and so turn to a life of crime to sustain themselves. No education, no support, no guidance.

And the cycle continues.

We need help.

Why hasn’t the Western Cape been declared a disaster zone yet? Why aren’t more active steps being taken to protect the innocent?

Because…maybe we need to decrease our melatonin levels in order to receive some kind of assistance???

I pray that good people in these communities stand together and make their voices heard. Keep your children safe. Educate your children on the dangers around them. Speak to your sons. Show them there is a life outside of violence that is worth living. Invest as much time in your children as you can, try and safeguard them from the pitfalls of continuing the cycle.

It saddens me that our fallen brothers and sisters will only be remembered as their families speak of them fondly, but hopefully by the time their kids have children of their own, this senseless violence would have come to an end.

Save our people.

Save coloured people.

Save black people.

Save our children.

Protect our children.

Be the change.

Brent and Family

Cape Town 2017.06.22 Brent Kruger and his wife Renei on Mother’s Day this year with daughter Cassidy and niece Ava Cerf

 

 

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NINETEEN

We are 5months into the year and so much has happened. Justin Bieber came to town, water shortages in Cape Town have forced people to be creative with how they save and reuse water…the natural hair movement is growing in leaps and bounds and…what was the other thing???

Oh yes!

Nineteen children have been murdered in the Western Cape since January 2017.

Let that sink in.

Nineteen innocent souls, who didn’t ask to be here were murdered before they even got the chance to live.

You think abortion is wrong? Inhumane? Murder? Ah yes, let’s fight for the rights of the fetus. And yet no one is addressing the elephant in the room. Which is the fact that no effort has been put into keeping the children that are already here, safe.

So many children living in poverty. So many children being abused. Children living on the streets. Children starving. Children dying of preventable diseases. Children being sexually assaulted. And what has been done? What punishments do these perpetrators get if and when they are eventually apprehended?

Just in case you want to do that thing where you just read this and file it under ‘statistics’, let me break it down for you. Here are just a few of the stories, of ACTUAL HUMAN LIVES being ended in a brutal manner.

  • 4 year old Iyapha Yamile. Murdered.
  • 14 month old Lindokuhle Kota. Murdered.
  • 13 year old Rene Roman. Murdered.
  • 11 year old Stacha Arendse. Murdered.
  • 3 year old Courtney Pieters. Murdered.
  • 3 year old twins. Murdered.
  • 15 year old boy. Murdered.
  • 17 year old boy. Murdered.

These are not statistics. These are our people. Our children. And no one is doing a damn thing about it.

While the world is populated with a lot of sick individuals who prey on innocent souls as their victims…something needs to be said. Children do not operate independently. They cannot and should not be allowed to do certain things without adult supervision. And while there is such an outcry about how ‘unfair’ it is that ‘kids cant be kids’ anymore by playing in the street…the question that concerns me is…are parents not parents anymore?

I was born in 1985. To give you some context. Before all the kidnappings and murders and increased high-jacking’s and house burglaries. Can I recall a time where I was allowed anywhere without my parents? No. I cannot. If I stepped even a meter away from my father in a shopping mall I would feel his wrath. Did I think my parents were insane at the time? Yes. Do I think they are insane now? Hell no.

And before you comment on this post angrily and accuse me of being insensitive, I do not claim to know the individual circumstance of each family of these murdered children. I am not sitting on my soapbox pretending to be the perfect parent. My only question is, when will society step up in the masses and 1.understand that the world has changed and 2. Do something about it. There is power in numbers. The same people who helped search for Courtney Pieters could’ve offered the mother their help in looking after her. Surely the mom with no job could offer her assistance while the other working moms go to work? Surely we need to realize that parenting is a team effort. It takes a village remember?

But our villages do not listen. Our villages do not take heed. How many more innocent children need to die before people start being more vigilant? Instead of wanting the noisy kids to play outside while you enjoy some peace, go sit on the stoep and WATCH THEM.

10 yr old girl last seen walking to the shop….a mere two weeks after a 13 yr old went missing…

Why are parents gambling with their children’s lives.

While you sit and fight for your rights to the ‘good old days’ where children were safe outside, our children are dying.

While you blame the government…our children are dying.

Yes the government should impose harsher sentences for offenders but the onus is on you to protect your child BEFORE the crime occurs.

My heart aches for every parent who has to bury a child. My heart aches for the parent who has to read the results of the postmortem and accept the gruesome details of how their child died.

But my heart is also filled with rage.

My heart cries for the innocent souls who couldn’t protect themselves. My heart is enraged that our communities still haven’t woken up.

19 children is 19 too many.

And to place your trust in someone because they belong to a church or borrowed you money or gave you a packet of smokes…awareness is half of the solution. Murderers, rapists…they don’t LOOK evil. They blend in. They stand next to you in church, in Pick n Pay, at school, at work. They blend in and take advantage of your kindness, or offer their kindness and fool you.

While you can’t live in seclusion, you can protect yourself and your family. My daughter is 4 years old and every two weeks on rotation we have these chats:

  • No one must touch your privates. Not even your friends at school.
  • You mustn’t touch anyone else’s privates.
  • If someone asks to see your privates or show you their privates shout no and tell a grown up.
  • Don’t talk to strangers. Even if they offer you sweets. Only take sweets from mommy, daddy and granny. Because sweets from strangers can be poison.
  • Don’t keep secrets from mommy and daddy. There are good secrets such as surprises and birthdays and their are bad secrets. Never keep a bad secret.

It kills me that my child has to grow up before her time but I will be damned if my child becomes a statistic. I don’t say this to prove that I am the perfect parent. I say this because I have accepted the reality of this world. And I want to empower my child instead of falsely trying to shield her from the evil that has overcome humanity.

I stumbled across an article about a man who had killed his ex girlfriend…and in doing so discovered an entire blog called Counting the Women dedicated to documenting the slain women and children at the hands of not only strangers but their partners as well.

An entire blog…keeping record of murdered women and children…

I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

19 lives gone.

I hope that we can do something before the next 19.

I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within. 

First off,that is obviously not an original title. That is taken from the famous India Arie song,but it is just so fitting that I couldn’t help but use it to describe this post.

While I was sleeping a natural hair movement started taking root in South Africa and though I caught on very late I did participate albeit only for six weeks.

So just in case you didnt know,the South African apartheid regime initiated this horrible thing called the pencil test by which people of colour were divided by the sleekness or lack thereof of their hair. This was but one of the apartheid practices that sadly still divide our country and our people. People with ‘kroes’ hair are looked down upon and subsequently they spend hours straightening their locks.

While I understand that this must’ve been intense for the people in the apartheid era I dont exactly connect the dots in the year 2017. I was never subjected to a pencil test. But funny enough,the first people that made me conscious of my hair were my own parents. I wasn’t allowed to go out with ‘that bush’. My mother would bitch and moan every weekend while doing my hair,as if it were a battle to be won. When I started doing my own hair I was ill equipped,I wasn’t taught how and I didn’t have the right tools or products. When I was 19 I chemically straightened my hair for the first time. I thought it would wash out…it did not. I was mortified. Instead of curls I ended up with waves.

Then I moved out of my parents house and I was free. I was free to do what I wanted,with my clothes and my hair. And I chose to keep it straight most of the time. I then went on to marry a white man. The first person I dated ‘outside of my race’. And he wasn’t even really phased about this hair story. I sat every weekend with my rollers (hair curlers) as usual and when I went to bed I used either a scarf or a swirlkous. My husband is now familiar with the `limitations` my hair has and during winter he often makes jokes as he is running to the car screaming MY HAIR IS GOING TO MINCE,but its not meant in a derogatory way. He has dated white women with sleek straight hair and now he is married to me with not such straight hair and there are no issues. Every couple of weeks when I do wear my hair curly…and I complain about it..he always says he likes my hair curly,as if to say I don’t have to straighten it for him. But I don’t. I prefer my hair straight.

Curly hair vs straight hair

The ‘problem’ I have with the natural hair movement is that now I am a target. I’m seen as a conformer. But as a person who does not feel pressured by society to have straight hair,why does using my flat iron make me a ‘slave to society’ when it is my personal preference?

The other ‘problem’ I have is the grading system. Unbeknownst to me,they have names for the type of curls you have. And I fear that there are women aspiring to have curls that their heads will never grow no matter how much they twist and coil it,regardless of how long ago they threw their relaxers and flat irons away.

We all experience life on our own level of understanding. I have had so much shit happen to me that I honestly cannot sweat the small stuff. And in my opinion hair makes it on to the short stuff list. You do what makes you happy. There are so many women wearing make up,glueing false nails on their fingers,dyeing their hair,tinting their eyebrows and altering their appearances in some way or another.Some are doing it because of pressure and others do it because this is their preference.

I followed (at least attempted to) the natural hair movement for about 6weeks. And I stopped because I was tired. And broke. It actually costs a lot more to be natural. I bought flexi rods and new products. And then I had to find time to use all these new things. No more wake up and go,I had to actually spend time in the bathroom fluffing my bush just the way it wanted. My hair was weighed down and my ends were suffering. The naturals might argue that I needed to experiment with different products etc but honestly,I have had this hair for 31 years,I know what it wants. And it did not enjoy being constantly washed and fed products and being combed. I have now gone back to my usual ritual,which consists of a once a week wash and deep condition followed by an old school roller set and then a flat iron.

I am not completely anal about my hair. I wash and go when I don’t have time but I prefer having my hair straight because its low maintenance and effective. I don’t have to change my hair to suit anyone so I wear it in a style that suits me and only me.

So I admire the curly bushes on facebook,and I support the movement but I am not a follower. I only hope that this will continue to be a positive uprising. I sincerely hope that this isn’t yet another way to divide us. Respect someone else’s choice as they do yours above all.

Blood may be thicker than water but it doesn’t always taste good

As this blog continues you will get to know my family a bit better,as well as my relationship with them and without them.

My ‘mother’ is a covert narcissist. My father is part enabler,part self absorbed and part Bible basher. My one and only sibling is estranged from me on and off,very socially awkward and generally just not well adjusted because of the emotional abuse that stunted childhood development.

I am just in the middle of all this mess because I decided I couldn’t live in the dysfunction anymore.

I remember the first time I discovered that my family wasn’t ‘normal’. I was over at a friend’s house and she had been a bit clumsy and broken a glass. I sat back in fear,trembling from head to toe,my heart beating out my chest. The rage I was expecting never came.

Her mother rushed over and asked her if she was okay. Made us both sit very still while she cleaned up the glass. And even gave her a hug and some ice cream afterwards.

In my house I wasn’t allowed to break anything or lose anything unless of course I wanted to feel my mother’s wrath in the form of silent treatment,a solid grounding and the sweet satisfaction of her having a good enough reason to beat me with a belt.

I had many of these awakenings from age 10 to 15. I felt trapped. I felt like I was living in a prison. I felt alone because no one knew what my life was really like.

Everyone thought I was extremely shy and socially awkward because I never went anywhere without my parents present. When in actual fact I wasn’t allowed out anywhere. This was in part to prevent me from having any fun and part so that I wouldn’t create any strong bonds with anyone and blab the family secrets.

I had many dark days. Many. This type of abuse was hard to explain and still is. Very often we don’t have physical injuries. Physical injuries serve as proof,and when you don’t have proof,well you need strong emotional ties to someone to make them believe you. So as you can see,this is all part of the abuse,it keeps you locked in.

The family I have now don’t keep secrets. They don’t isolate me and make me feel afraid of offending them and being punished for challenging their authority in any way.

The family I have now aren’t related to me by blood at all.

They are however the people that I have come to depend on and who also depend on me. They have seen the darkest corners of my soul and led me back into the light when I was too weak to walk.

They are people who believe me and believe in me when I can’t summon the strength to do it myself.

I have found them in the weirdest ways. Mom groups on the internet,clients turned friends,coworkers, and a few on support groups.

Though my journey is still a difficult one,the kind souls I have met along the way have saved me in ways they don’t even realize. The hardest part of not having a family is feeling isolated. Having a few good friends can make the world of difference.

I often tell my friends that I love them and that I appreciate their friendship,this world can be cruel,you never know what those words can mean to someone.

Regardless of whether your relationship with your blood family is good or not,don’t ever take your friends for granted.

Photo credit: flowers from one of my besties

Spring Cleaning – House and Soul

So I find myself living between two extremes, wanting to reuse everything in order to recycle and save the environment, and the polar opposite being please dear God I can’t live in all this clutter!

Every 3months or so I ATTEMPT to declutter my house in order to make cleaning more efficient. Halfway through I kinda lose interest and shove everything back in the cupboard but nevertheless, 3months down the line I swear to get rid of everything. How is it that we accumulate so much junk every week? Receipts and tiny knick knacks, it never ends. To complicate matters even further I am a crafty person and a keen gift wrapper. So very often my little treasures are useful and then I am thankful I kept some of other random oddity. But I am in a transformation phase right now, so I guess my cupboards are in for a shock as I try to reinvent myself and the way I do things on a daily basis.

Everyone knows that the key to a good spring cleaning is a strategy. Start in one room, or even one corner of a room (depending on how much crap you have) and work your way from there.

Easy Spring Cleaning Tips:

  • Have three separate piles, one for trash, one for charity and one for storage
  • Find a place for everything
  • Be ruthless, if it hasn’t been used in the last 3months then chuck it
  • Clean as you go

And Separate Tips for People Who Procrastinate:

  • Stay focused on the task at hand
  • Only take a break when you’re done with one section
  • Don’t shove it all back into your cupboards after 3hours
  • Don’t justify keeping anything just because you paid for it

I must admit when I pull it off I feel pretty damn chuffed with myself. The house instantly looks neater and more inviting. And I always promise myself in that moment that I will maintain this beautiful clutter free existence. But little by little everyday, I get home after a long day at work and I don’t have energy to sort through my daily clutter and it just accumulates all over again. Oh well, better to have tried than never to have tried at all right?

Is spring cleaning your soul a thing? i think it is. And if it isn’t the I’m making it a thing right now. As you’ve read in previous posts I was stuck in a dead end job for many years, taking this new job was a HUGE change for me, like ENORMOUS but I find myself now wanting to change other things. namely my personal life and relationships with people and how I interact with them.

When you are generally unhappy it is hard to pinpoint when you are genuinely unhappy about something. Reason being that your life just sucks in general so you can’t really point fingers at the source. But when you have a huge shift towards a happier space, suddenly every negative vibe is a threat to your happiness.

I go to work every day so amped to get started (yes even on a Monday) and I find myself looking at certain negative things bringing me down and every day my resolve gets stronger. Like I don’t need this shit, I deserve better.

Whether people in my life know it or not, I have made a promise to myself to make next year and the future in general, a better one for myself. For years I’ve put the needs of others before me but I really feel like I need to be selfish and take care of me in order to stay sane.

So I’m cutting the dead weight. I’m cutting out people who drain me, people who don’t support who I am and where I’m going. As harsh as it sounds I feel it needs to be done. I don’t want to wake up one morning 20years from now with regrets. It’s corny as fuck but it’s true ; you only get one life, so live it well.

I have wasted far too many years already, and I don’t plan on wasting anymore. So whether we interact in 2017…is all up to you. Add to my life, don’t tear it down.

Now excuse me while I walk around the house aimlessly in order to avoid the pile of laundry, dishes and 4year old treasures that need to be packed way.

For the house I recommend this book: Ditch your glitch by Kate Emmerson

For the soul..I suggest having a look online at various self-help books that best suit you but one of my favourites is The life changing magic of not giving a fuck by Sarah Knight.

Happy Cleaning!

springclean2

 

I have become a ‘selfish bitch’

Okay, let me explain what I mean.

After years of living in an emotionally abusive home, being told what to do and what to eat, and who to talk to etc etc I am finally making a stand and realizing that I have more options than my parents made me realize.

Back then I never had the option of saying NO. And for a long time after I left I never used the word no because that sense of obligation was so ingrained in me that I never considered it an option. Until all of these obligations started weighing on me like a ton of bricks. It gets hard to breathe. Each day is a struggle. You sit waiting for the next request to come up and drag yourself to wherever you need to be.

It is an exhausting way to live. It is not a life, it is an existence.

I waited many years for this ‘storm’ to pass. There I was like a fucking idiot standing in the rain waiting for it to stop when all I had to do was go inside. But when you are a victim of abuse you are so accustomed to not having a choice, that long after you break free from your abuser, the habits live on.

Whether it is in my mind, or just the way it is, I have become somewhat of a selfish bitch. I make time for my immediately family (my husband and child) before I schedule anything with anyone else. And if any social engagement does not suit my schedule I just decline.

I am an introvert of sorts. I love being around people but I equally love being at home in my own space. I do not like spending time with people who do not add value to my life or people who disrespect me.

Many will claim that my ‘issues’ are standing in the way of me having a larger group of friends and family but I disagree. It is all about quality over quantity is it not? So why am I branded as this selfish bitch for wanting to make the most of my time with the people I prefer?

You know what it is? Social obligation. Society hands us this set of ever changing rules that everyone just blindly follows.

You MUST be close to your family.

You MUST be seen out every weekend surrounded by a group of people.

You MUST do everything you can for anyone that asks.

I call bullshit.

I now handle my life the same way I handled my wedding guest list: If I haven’t seen or heard from you in the last 6 months AT LEAST then you’re not welcome. Life passes us by so quickly. I blinked and suddenly it’s almost Christmas. I can’t make up for the lost years of my childhood but I can work towards creating a better present for myself and a better future for my child by living for myself and not others.

I have a few close friends that I consider my people and for them I always have time, a shoulder, a cupcake, a glass of wine. But I don’t interact with them out of a sense of obligation. I interact with them because they add value to my life and they are invested in me as a person.

So no, I won’t be making it to your house next week, I’m just a little busy taking care of me.

Spring

So I started this blog with not much direction. I was planning on using it as an online diary, a virtual abyss for me to just dump all my thoughts into the universe but life got the best of me and somehow I ended up in the abyss instead of my thoughts.

It is October now, and supposedly spring and yet the scarf around my neck and my thick socks beg to differ. But I am feeling a very strong spring vibe in my life right now. I started a new job on the 12th of September and things are going so well to the point that everyone that sees me asks what I have been doing differently.

Let me rewind a little bit. I was in a dead end job for 8 years (insert collective gasp here) No I was not lazy, I was anything but. Scared, anxious, not qualified enough for certain jobs but definitely not lazy. It is hard to find someone willing to give you a chance these days. Even more so to find an employer that is going accommodate the ‘disadvantages’ that come with hiring a mother.  I don’t understand the discrimination though. Mothers are responsible. Yes we drop everything when our children are ill but we never pitch up to work hungover and highly ‘medicated’. We are multi taskers and very reliable as well as self motivated. Employers need to open their minds to the benefits of hiring mothers.

So anyway, back to the story I started feeling depressed. I would constantly ask my closest friends if they saw the warning signs of depression. All of them said no. Obviously this was about more than just a shitty job. I do not have a supportive family, I have had to fight for almost every single thing in my life, and the daily grind at a job that was draining my soul was just escalating everything.

I was about to throw in the towel when I saw a vacancy being advertised in the most extraordinary fashion. They wanted someone competent, but it wasn’t crucial for the person to have the qualification or the experience.  SAY WHAAAAAT NOW? They were looking for someone with a great attitude and to slot into their team. I took the chance. What did I have to lose right?

So after 18mnths of job hunting I scored my second interview out of the hundreds of emails I had sent out.

Nervous is an understatement.

And as I’ve said…I GOT THE JOB!!!!

This job has truly changed my life. It has given me back my sense of self worth, it has eliminated so much stress, I am once again positive about my future and my capabilities.

Depression is a real thing. And it doesn’t always have to be a chemical imbalance and it cannot always be fixed with medication. Sometimes the only way you can dig yourself out of the pit is to make a change or cut a toxic person out of your life. This is sometimes easier said than done, but when you eventually make it to the top of that hill it is worth it.

This is obviously not the whole story, after all this is a blog post and not a short documentary hahahah, but stay tuned to my blog and you will uncover this story layer by layer. I hope whoever reads this sees that you can overcome that burden in your life. Even if you only take one step at a time, take the first step.