Your Body Language Speaks Louder Than Your Voice… and Theirs.


, , , ,


“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. “~ source

I have a problem.

I suffer from imposter syndrome.

Whether or not I am a high achieving individual is debatable of course. I accept that. I simply believe that in this context, this term refers to any individual who has achieved more than they hoped for at that point in time.

The result of this syndrome is sometimes I second guess myself at the worst of times. At other times my innate comfort in going unnoticed or to ask for permission unnecessarily wages full unauthorised nuclear warfare on my desire to use my voice and make decisions and it affects my outward behaviour.

I stumbled onto a 2012 Ted Talk about the powerful impact our physical poses and body language have on the state of our minds and, consequently, on how we are percieved by others. (Yes. Yes. I’m late to the party. 4 years late :O ).

The thing is you can’t change your body language permanently overnight so, according to Amy Cuddy, adopting a power pose privately for a couple of minutes before a big meeting or the like, actually alters your brain chemistry resulting in a noticeable increase in confidence.


Over time, one can then work on permanently developing strong, confident body language but until then, she says, we can certainly ‘fake it ’til we make it’ with great results.

Her theory has recently come under fire from an ex-fellow researcher  (read about it here). The criticism may be true but it may also simply be a bad “case of the ex.” This remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the question of body language is an integral component of most MBAs world-wide. It seems to be that important. The gist of the teachings being that your language informs your audience how to respond to you. If you look meek and unsure, what you say is more likely to be second-guessed and/or disregarded even if you are right. If you are arrogant and brutish, people will actively try to “take you down,” and if you are confident and relatable, people will buy what you are selling…i.e. you. (coincidentally, this feeds right into my next post).

Along a somewhat similar vein, I read an interview with the symbol of fairness and impartiality, Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. One of the things that stood from all that she said, and I am paraphrasing, was that before she successfully took on the Presidency and the spotlight became her second home, how she dressed was never an issue. Now, she says, she is becoming more meticulous about her appearance so that people can focus more on what she says. In other word, she recognises that people tend to ignore the valuable things being said in favour of discussing a missing button.

Likewise, Hilary Clinton, well before she became a presidential candidate, once famously stated, “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.” Though it was said jokingly, it confirms that she has understood and harnessed the power of using physical appearance to divert the attention of smart minds despite telling them as much directly. Physical presentation matters.

I could go on but all scientific jibber jabber aside, what is crystal clear is that body language informs both internal and external perceptions of ourselves. The power to control that perception is ours to weild…or not.

Success: A Personal Definition



“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” ~ John Wooden

My brother and I were driving home the other day and I intentionally pressed “Play” on the song M.I.L.F. by Fergie and unintentionally pressed “Play” on the conversation that led to this post.

Brother: *Looks at the radio then looks at me then continues with his business*

Me: I am conflicted by the fact that I like this song. 

Brother: *looks at me with mild interest*

Me: I like that it is one of the first songs that speaks to the sexiness and beauty of older, successful women. On the other hand,… well… its called M.I.L.F. 

In his characterstic curveball fashion…

Brother: Is it possible that you like it because you identify with being older and successful?

Me: You might be on to something.

The light that typically signals impending mockery goes on in his eyes

Brother: So you consider yourself successful?

Me: I had never applied my mind to it but yes, I think I do. 

Brother: With this little i20 you drive?

Combined laughter..

Me: Yes, actually. Despite my little car, I do. I drive this car because I choose to and not because I can’t afford a more traditional “I have arrived car”. 

Brother: How do you define success? ….

How do I define success? A question each of us has to answer in order to know what our goals are. The definitions of success floating about out there are innumerable.

Why is that?

I believe, like Stephen Covey, that this is because success is categorically individual.

What means that “you have arrived” will be very different to what means “I have arrived.” Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” That aim or purpose differs from individual to individual. Take a gorgeous house set on prime real estate in the most upmarket area that sells for a premium for example: For some, success is owning that house. For others it is renting that house. For yet others, it is renting and sharing that house. For yet more it is living in that house with a spouse. For others still, it is simply being seen at that house. For someone, it is working at that house. For another it is knowing the person who owns that house. I could go on but I think I have made my point.

Granted, to most individuals, at the very least, success means money and power. Sadly, I am not transcendent enough to fall outside of this category. I simply fall out of the category of people for whom money and power are the sum total of their definition of success.

My drop of saving grace is that there are other things on my list that somewhat balance out my baser self. Success to me means the ability to buy accompanied the freedom of choice not to. It means remaining true to the principles I was raised with, despite the full understanding that I can choose not to. It’s the ability to provide for every need of those who depend on me without straining myself financially. It’s the ability to use my voice and my pen. It’s a personal brand that is synonymous with excellence. It’s the ability to empathise. It’s winning the love of a child. It’s nailing a new recipe. It’s continuing to learn. It’s evolving. It’s learning to do a sharp, crisp turn during a cha cha with your partner at full pace (Trust me. It’s not easy!). It’s a life with love in it. It’s family in all its bizarre shapes and forms. Its finding and keeping true friendship. It’s God.

Success is categorically individual.

She Designed A Life She Loved.


, , , ,


“She took a leap and built her wings on the way down.”

I’m tempted to say I’m back. I really am.

But the truth is I can’t say that. I can’t say that because I am not sure I am.

I think I have changed. I am not sure I am the same person I was 3 blog posts ago.

In fact, I am sure I am not.

No. It’s not because I’m married now. It’s because a year and a half of monumental changes in the life of a person can have that effect. And they did.

A brutally demanding job in an unforgiving environment has made tougher. It has taught me to be unapologetic about who and what I am. It has taught me to speak up. It has taught me to ask for more. More money. More work. More credit. More responsibility. More change.

It has taught me that sometimes strength is simply using your voice to speak.  “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman.” ~ Speak up for someone simply because it is the right thing to do. Say a kind word to someone you do not need to be kind to simply because you can. Say no to what you do not want out loud. Speak politely and firmly as you voice the need for positive change in your life, in the lives of others and in the space aroud you. A chip in the glass ceiling is the biggest step towards shattering it. Your voice can change a life. My voice can change a life. Our voices can change lives. Speak up.

I feel a sureness in my step that wasn’t there before. A confidence born of knowing that I am adding value. Born of knowing that I have earned the respect of those around the boardroom table. Despite the pressure of that pedestal, not fearing being wrong or being corrected. It’s ok. Learning is an unending journey. If you are not learning, you will stagnate.

That little voice that questioned whether my opinion was right or even mattered speaks to me a lot less now.

I am filled with gratitude for the life I have. For God. He is my beginning and my end. For my incredible husband (He shoud be worried about setting such a high standard when he has signed up to live up to it forever *chuckles*). For my siblings. For my mother and the time I had with her. For the extraordinary friends that bless me with their presence in my life. For my family (new and old). For a new stage in that life. For never feeling like I know it all. How could I ever? For every hardship and heartache that taught me to appreciate the good that life has to offer. God blessed the broken road that brought me to this very moment. How remarkable is that thought?

I love being a woman more. I own being a woman more. I donated most of my shoes *gasp.* (If that isn’t proof of a significant shift in the wind, then I don’t know what is). I have chosen to see the good in the my life and take a moment to appreciate it. I acknowledge the hardships in my journey (those bygone and those to come) knowing they serve a purpose. I take in the simple, daily moments because they paint the beautiful bigger picture. I buy myself flowers. I own myself. I finally get that I can. I finally let go of the excuses not to.

There is a change. I live by a new Constitution.

She loved life and it loved her right back
celebrate her passion
She listened to her heart above all other voices
celebrate her wisdom
She pursued big dreams instead of small realities
celebrate her priorities
She saw every ending as a new beginning
celebrate her resiliency
She discovered real measurements had nothing to do with numbers or statistics
celebrate her self-esteem
She was kind loving and patient…with herself
celebrate her tenderness
She woke up one day and threw away all her excuses
celebrate her accountability
She realized that she was missing a great deal by being sensible
celebrate her spirit
She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans
celebrate her goals
She ignored people who said it couldn’t be done
celebrate her independence
She had a way of turning obstacles into opportunities
celebrate her magic
She went out on a limb, had it break behind her and she discovered she could fly
celebrate her faith
She discovered that she was the one she’d been waiting for
celebrate her self-reliance
She added so much beauty to being human
celebrate her presence
She walked in when everyone else walked out
celebrate her friendship
She just had this way of brightening the day
celebrate her radiance
She made the whole world feel like home
celebrate her warmth
She decided to enjoy more and endure less
celebrate her choices
She decided to start living the life she’d imagined
celebrate her freedom
She colored her thoughts with only the brightest colors
celebrate her optimism
She was an artist and her life was her canvas
celebrate her brilliance
She ran ahead where there were no paths
celebrate her bravery
She crossed borders recklessly, refusing to recognize limits, saying bon jour and buon giorno as though she owned both France and Italy and the day itself
celebrate her joie de vivre
She held her head high and looked the world straight in the eye
celebrate her strength
She not only saw a light at the end of the tunnel she became that light for others
celebrate her compassion
She designed a life she loved
celebrate her joy
She took the leap and built her wings on the way down
celebrate her daring
She said bye-bye to unhealthy relationships
celebrate her happiness
She remained true to herself
celebrate her authenticity
She made the world a better place
celebrate her


Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem


Dear Mr. Schneider,
I attended your elementary
School almost thirty years ago
And I’m very sure that
You will remember

My name is Suzy.
I’m that hyperactive girl
From the Egyptian family
Who used to always play dead
On the playground during

You used to keep me
After school a lot,
And then my father would
Force me to make the long
Walk home in the cold or rain.
Sometimes I would arrive
After dark.

I’m writing to tell you
That I was bored as a kid.
I was bored by your curriculum
And the way I was always taught a
Bunch of useless

I did not like being locked up
In a prison of scheduled time
Learning about irrelevant material,
And watching belittling cartoons and
Shows approved by academia that
Made me even more

As a kid
Who was constantly
Growing, evolving, and
Being shaped by all around me,
I wanted to travel,
See other kids
In the world like me,
To understand what was going
On amongst us and around us,
To know what we were here for
And what was our real purpose
For existence.

I have some questions
I would like to ask you, Mr. Schneider,
Now that I know that you are no
Longer a school principal,
But the new superintendent
Of the entire school

I want to know
Why racism today
Was not clearly explained to me
Even though we covered events
That happened long ago.
I want to know why you
Never shared with us
Why other countries
Never liked us,
Why we are taught to compete,
To be divided in teams,
And why conformity is associated
With popularity, while
Eccentricity is considered

I want to know
Why my cafeteria lunches
Were slammed packed
With bottom-tier
Processed junk food
Only suitable
For pigs?
And why is it
That whenever a bully
Slammed a kid into a locker for
His lunch money,
Nobody explained to us
That egotism, selfishness and greed
Were the seeds of

I want to know
Why we were never taught
To stick up for each other,
To love one another, and that
Segregation sorted by the
Occupations of our fathers,
The neighborhoods we lived in, our houses,
Choices of sport, wealth, clothing,
Color of our skin
And the texture of our hair
Should never, ever
Divide us?

And lastly,
I want to know why
Is it that whenever I pledged
Allegiance to the flag,
I was never told that I was
Actually hailing to the

You used to say that
I was a troubled child,
A misfit, and that I needed
Obedience training,
But you never acknowledged that
I was the fastest runner in the district
And that I took the school
To State and Nationals to compete
In the Spelling Bee among kids
Grades higher than me.
And that it was me,
Who won that big trophy
That sat in your office when you
Used to detain me for hours
And tell me I was no

Mr. Schneider,
If we are not taught truths as kids,
Then how do you expect us to
Grow up to be truthful citizens?
If we are only being taught the written way,
And it has not shown positive effects
In societies of yesterday or today,
Then how can we progress as a
United and compassionate
What good is it,
To memorize the histories
Of our forefathers,
Without learning what could be
Gained from their lessons and mistakes
To improve our future

And finally,
I want to thank you;
For I know you have a tough job
Dealing with rebellious children like me.
Your job of mass processing and boxing
The young minds of America has not been an easy one,
And I congratulate you
On your recent promotion.
But I sincerely want to thank you,
Thank you,
And thank you,
For always pointing out
That I was
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Countdown To The Wedding

Forgot to RSVP

I can’t believe I am getting married in 6 weeks.

I also can’t believe I haven’t blogged about the process.#bloggerfail

It has been the most exciting and most trying process ever.

Even though I have known that I am getting married for a few months, I haven’t really felt “excited” i.e. giddy (not to be confused with happy)  about it until this past weekend and I know exactly why. This wedding planning process has confirmed that I am an OCD organiser. Unless every item on my “to do” list is either completed or in-progress-with-a-clear-plan-and-timeline-to-complete-with-sufficient-room-for-error-margin-time-wise, I feel unsettled. I have finally achieved that state of relaxation and excitement and I love it.

I have learnt a lot of things about myself, wedding planning and interacting with people throughout this process. The most valuable of those lessons are these: know what you want and what is important to you. If you don’t, you will drown in the waves of well-intentioned suggestions. In addition, knowing what is important to you will mean that you will know what you are willing to compromise on and what you are not. This sets the tone for your budget and for negotiations with suppliers. Give and take is inevitable. If you haven’t figured out where you would rather spend and where you would be happy to save, you will spend an unnecessary fortune. Knowing what you want also allows you to sift through all the lovely suggestions you will get and to pick the suggestions that make your vision better. Even more importantly, it allows you to make quick, confident decisions. If you don’t know what you want, you will end up having someone else’s wedding and paying top dollar for it.

Be it friends, suppliers, family or the pastor, communicate succintly. Giving them the vision is not enough. You might think it is but it isn’t. Your loved ones and suppliers can’t see what you are imagining so if you leave room for interpretation, they will interpret and they will might come up with something entirely different. Tell each person exactly what you want or else the resulting confusion will exhaust you at best, or at worst, result in a wedding you don’t want.

Go for pre-marital counselling. Period.

Almost finally, once you pick and pay for a dress or shoes….stop looking!!! There will always be a better dress or a better pair of shoes accompanied by that pesky voice in your head that says “you will only wed once. It’s totally worth the money.” Don’t. Do. It. Sometimes the voice takes the form of a very persuasive salesperson. Be wise.

Finally, be unapologetically yourself. Don’t try to recreate someone else’s wedding experience. You can learn from others and be inspired by others but ultimately this is your day to celebrate in the way that makes you (and your mother) happy. For example, instead of a traditional wedding website, my fiance and I launched a blog. It’s a platform we can use to blog about marriage, love, kids, challenges and good times. The idea of continuity and preservation of the memories in writing is important to me and his enthusiasm and the delight we both took in working on the blog together is a very special memory. Even the parts where we disagreed intensely about themes and content and deleted and re-did attempt upon attempt punctuated with a little sulking from both of us here and there all contribute to how special it is.

For the record, I chose, ordered and paid for my wedding dress within 3 months of getting engaged, without ever stepping into a bridal boutique. The wedding dress was one of the things I was willing to compromise on (shocker. I know.) and I was lucky enough to get one that I absolutely love with minimum fuss and at minimal cost #score. I feel like I should be in the Guiness Book of Records or something😉

Oops, I almost forgot… I promise this really is the final finally… finally, be patient and long-suffering. You will be tried. Losing your cool wont help (unless you are supposed to try lamb shank on a bed of sweet potato mash accompanied by root veggies and the chef serves you lamb shank pie in a pot with a bone sticking out and you absolutely refuse to eat it and send it back to the kitchen #truestory) You may not be understood. You may struggle to find what you want. You may need to haggle back and forth for some time. You will need to follow up on RSVPs you didn’t get. You may need to explain to the decor person that adding votives to your quote and to your decor when you gave them a list of exactly what you want that didn’t have votives on it is trying it. You may need to explain the spice palette to the chef a couple of times. You may need to send a multitude of pictures to your hair dresser and compeltely dislike the result (this is why you have trials). You may need to push things along. You may need to look through a million options of a million things and not spot anything you like and then randomly happen upon a picture of a cake that makes your heart skip a beat. Patience isn’t really an option. It’s your only choice.






Birthday Month Reflections 1


God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. – Voltaire

It’s my birthday month and I am going through some sort of self/life/work-reflection overload. Weirdly enough, I am enjoying it.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough for me is the realisation over the past 2 months that I have now made some sort of peace with my mother’s death. It’s taken a long time for me to let go of the anger; the desperate ‘why;’ the intense grief;  the eternal “I want her back;” and the overpowering memories of the losing battle with cancer.

I remember crying desperately alone in my car all the way home a couple of months ago, after watching a hilarious movie (yes, I laughed throughout the movie and yes, I can see the irony) because the manner in which the doctor delivered the “it’s cancer and there’s nothing we can do” line was exactly how the doctor said it to me. I also remember saying to God, “I can’t do this forever. I can’t hurt like this forever. I need to start healing. Please do something.”

Apparently, He did.

He must have been working quietly in the background because now when I think of my mum, I feel warm inside. When people tell me she would have been proud, it doesn’t make me angry anymore (I can not adequately express the anger I would feel when people would say this to me). I appreciate it. I randomly laugh out loud at the memory of the moments she truly dug deep to embarrass me in public (usually because she was proud of me) lol. Like that time I walked on to the stage to receive an award for coming first at school and she jumped out of her seat at the back of the hall and ululated and danced right down the centre of the hall shouting, “mwana wangu iyeye. haadyi chimwe chinhu kunze kwemabhuku!!!! ululululululu *dancing in circles for emphasis and extra embarrassment*”I could have spontaneously combusted in that moment. Who knew what incredible value that moment would have for me decades later.

I remember the hidings. They were the real deal. She took no nonsense.

I smile at the blunt honesty with which she delivered her assessments of some of my abilities. When I joined the choir she said, “Mwanangu (my child), I am assuming you joined the choir because all your friends are there because we both know you can’t sing.” I really can’t🙂. The lesson: know your weaknesses.

I also remember when I started trying to adopt a fancier accent when speaking English in early high school. *sigh* The foolishness of youth. She always spoke to us in English in order to force us to develop our ability to communicate and enunciate in English so when that twang started rearing it’s silly head she was right there to put a stop to it in short order. “Why are you speaking like that? You want to sound fancy before your ability to communicate correctly and concisely in English has fully developed? It will just make you sound foolish and uneducated. Learn and master the language. Your accent will change accordingly naturally.” She was right. This is a principle I still apply to work, life and sport. Master the basics before you open the top drawer. The fancy 1,2s will follow naturally.

I remember waking up from my very first epileptic seizure in a hospital. I remember the overwhelming confusion as I took in the needle in my arm, the white walls, the white bedding and the strong medicinal smell. I remember starting to panic and turning my head and there was my mum, asleep in the chair next to my head and just like that, the panic was gone. Mummy was there. It didn’t matter where I was. I would be OK.

The mother of them all was when I told her I was going to take back an ex: “Mwanangu, I won’t tell you what to do but you must never take back an ex.Nothing good can come from it. Have we not cried enough tears over this guy?” I did it anyway. Boy, was she right. And when her predication came true, she just held me and let me cry my tears then dusted me off and told me, “it’s ok. Now you have experience and your heart will heal. Eventually, someone better will come along. Hopefully, a better-looking someone.”

She didn’t wear makeup at all. I remember her watching me intently in my late teens as I fiddled with eyeliner I had bought for myself using my pocket money. I thought she would be mad when I added lip-gloss and nail polish a short while later. I saw her watching me paint my entire toe with my poor, inexperienced  technique. A few days later she said, “I spoke to my friend at work. She loves makeup and wears it everyday. She has agreed to teach you how to apply it. You can just tell me when you want to go.”

I miss her. I love her. I wish she could have lived longer. I wish she had had a chance to see her grand-kids. I am grateful that she was there to mould me into what I am. I am grateful that she taught me how to live without her. I am glad she taught me how to think outside the box and to challenge the status quo. I am grateful she taught me that it’s ok to learn from those who know. I am grateful she wasn’t afraid to let me see my flaws and learn to use them as strengths. I am grateful she cultivated in me a love of books, language, art and culture. I am grateful that I had a real chance to say goodbye and I took it. I am grateful that I had her for as long as I did. I am grateful she was there to take the bus with me to Johannesburg when I left the country for the first time to go to Varsity. I am grateful she came to teacher/parent days. I am grateful she religiously checked my grades right up to my law graduation. I am grateful she taught me how to look after and do my own hair. I am grateful she was there to patiently teach me to bring my short temper and intense emotional reactions to all things under control so I could control my epilepsy. I am grateful she was there on the occasions when I failed and it got the better of me. I am grateful that I had her as long as I did. I am grateful that I have an entire lifetime of her love to remember her by. I could write a book and the pages wouldn’t be enough to contain the list of all I am grateful for.

I am grateful for the tears that I cry now because they are tears of acceptance, gratitude, sadness and missing her not tears of denial, anger and a hopeless burning desire to tun back the clock or to know why. I am grateful.



Mind your own womb

This is so worth a thoughtful read…

Nadirah Angail

pregnant bellySomewhere there is a woman: 30, no children. People ask her, “Still no kids?” Her response varies from day to day, but it usually includes forced smiles and restraint.

“Nope, not yet,” she says with a chuckle, muffling her frustration.

“Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know,” the sage says before departing, happy with herself for imparting such erudite wisdom. The sage leaves. The woman holds her smile. Alone, she cries…

Cries because she’s been pregnant 4 times and miscarried every one. Cries because she started trying for a baby on her wedding night, and that was 5 years ago. Cries because her husband has an ex-wife and she has given him children. Cries because she wants desperately to try in vitro but can’t even afford the deposit. Cries because she’s done in vitro (multiple rounds) and still has no children. Cries because her best friend wouldn’t…

View original post 743 more words

Force of Habit



“force′ of hab′it. n. behavior occurring without thought and by virtue of constant repetition; habit.”

I was going to blog about a few beauty, health and life hacks that the world already knows about but that I have only just worked out and started reaping the benefits of *sigh.*

The plan had to change because I had a minor epiphany.

During a recent sermon, one of the pastors at our church told the following anecdote:

A couple was newly wed and being lovers of food, they splurged on a fully outfitted kitchen. The husband absolutely loved fried fish. Not only did he love fish, he loved to have his fried fish served whole. To his surprise, his wife would always cut the fish in half when she fried it. Eventually he asked why and the response was simple:”this is how my mother used to do it so this is how I do it.” Visiting his mother-in-law and her mother, he witnessed the same thing and asked the same question. The answer was exactly the same, “this is how my mother used to do it so this is how I do it.” Finally, he had the good fortune to sit with his wife’s great grandmother and he asked the same question, “Oh that!” she replied. “I always cut my fish in half because I had such a tiny pan!”

fried fish

His little anecdote reminds me of the story of the Cat and the Monk:

“Once Upon A Time, There Was A Monastery In Tibet. The Monks In The Monastery Meditated From Dawn To Dusk.

One Day It So Happened That A Cat Trespassed Into The Monastery And Disturbed The Monks. The Head Monk Instructed That The Cat Be Caught And Tied To The Banyan Tree Until Dusk. He Also Advised That Every Day, To Avoid Hindrance During Meditation, The Cat Be Tied To The Banyan Tree. So It Became A Daily Practice, A Tradition In The Monastery; To Catch The Cat & Tie It To The Banyan Tree Before The Monks Starts Meditating. The Cat Remained Tied To The Banyan Tree As The Monks Meditated

The Tradition Continued. One Day The Head Monk Died. As Per Tradition The Senior Most Monk Was Chosen As Head Monk And All Other Traditions Including Tying The CAT To The Banyan Tree Was Continued.

One Day The Cat Died. The Whole Monastery Plunged Into Chaos.

A Committee Was Formed To Find A Solution And It Was Unanimously Decided That A Cat Be Bought From The Nearby Market And Tied To The Banyan Tree Before Starting The Meditation Each Day.

This Tradition Is Still Followed In The Monastery Even Today. UNCHALLENGED. UNQUESTIONED.”

The gist of both these stories is the same, there are many instances in which we follow the accepted and expected practice without asking why. Are your habits still adding the value to your life that they did initially? Are the reasons why the habit was formed still relevant?

A simple example from my own life is the fact that I have always had my hair done the weekend following my monthly payday. Most businesses in South Africa pay salaries on a monthly basis. (I know a lot of businesses in America and other places pay salaries weekly.) I started doing this because when I started working;

  • that was the time of the month that I had the  extra cash to do it;
  • my old hairstyle would be in dire need of a change by then; and
  • if I didn’t do it immediately, the money would inevitably be spent on something else.

Of course, this is true for many people so salons are always packed on pay day weekend. We all go anyway because “we have no choice.”

Long after I can now afford to do my hair at any time during the month or more than once a month, I asked myself the other day, why am I still beholden to this habit? Why do I still feel guilty about breaking out of the habit of doing hair monthly? Why do I not do my hair on an “as-needed” basis? Why do I insist on going to the salon on the busiest weekend when salons are practically ghost towns during weekend 2 and 3 of the month? Long after the rationale has become redundant, why am I holding on to an obsolete habit so tightly?

How many other obsolete habits am I (or are you) holding on to?




Black on Black Racism: The Black Elephant in the Room

race card


‘Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. Its the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out.’ – Pierre Berton

Racism. It’s a very topical issue in South Africa at the moment. There is no denying that it’s a huge problem. What concerns me is the fact that most people seem to wholeheartedly believe that the only form of racism that requires attention and push-back is white on black racism.

My personal experiences with racism tell a different story. I have experienced white on black racism but it is spectacularly matched and, in some instances dwarfed, by the racist vitriol I have heard some black people utter against white people. Even greater than black/white racism in my eyes, is black on black racism. I can count my encounters with black/white racism on my ten fingers and toes. I have lost count of the number of times I have personally experienced or witnessed black on black racism.

It’s the black people who think that when a white person does something out of the ordinary, that particular person is quirky and when a black person does it, it’s the ignorance of the race. Like that waiter who couldn’t understand that I came into the restaurant with a hankering for something sweet so I wanted dessert wine before I had my meal. It’s his repeated attempt to tell me I shouldn’t have it because I’m not supposed to.  According to who? Because I am the paying customer and I know what I want to drink right now. It’s my fiance’s friend who subsequently told me with genuine concern, “You shouldn’t do such things. You give black people a bad name.” Why does my dining choice impact an entire race of people who are each unique in their own way. Is a quirky white/Indian/Chinese person a representation of all white/Indian/Chinese people?

It’s that moment when the car guard lets go of my trolley mid-push and rushes off to help the white shopper who has just exited the store behind me.

It’s the new tea lady at my previous place of work who, finding herself without clean drinking glasses soon after I had walked out with the last one full of water for myself, chose to follow me to my desk and ask if she can have the glass back because another manager (at the same level as me but white) wants water. I was the only black manager on her floor. “Sorry neh Chuwe? I will bring you another one when I get more.” By this she meant when the other managers had finished and returned the ones they had and she could wash them. What was amusing was how genuinely apologetic she was.

It’s that moment when I stuck my hand out to tip the car guard for his assistance and I looked in the rearview mirror to see that he had rushed off mid-assist to assist a white gentleman who had just walked into the parking lot. He wasn’t even at his car yet.

It’s that moment when a friend of mine stood in a queue at Midas behind 2 white gentlemen and a black man. The black shop assistant behind the counter greeted the 2 white gentlemen with “Good morning sir. How can I help you?” As soon as they stated what they wanted, he went off to get it and completed the transaction. As one should. The black gentleman customer was met with a stony straight face and no greeting of any sort.  Obviously not phased, he asked “do you have xxx?” Without moving a muscle to go anywhere, the shop assistant responded with a blunt “it’s R350. Do you still want it?”

It’s that moment when I picked up strawberries with no price tag at my local Food Lover’s Market. The teller who was ringing up my groceries picked them up and said “These are R49. Should I put them back?” I wonder why she thought I couldn’t or maybe, shouldn’t, afford them.

It’s that moment when I asked a new manicurist to make my nails shorter because I play hockey and longer ones are more likely to break and damage my actual nail. Her response was, “This is the problem with black people. You make a little money and you want to run around doing things white people do. Why don’t you leave it to the white people who know how to do it? It’s like black people who play golf. Kutitambisira nguva.” Tiger Woods are you listening?

It’s the black director who asked me to take his lunch tray to the kitchen halfway during a meeting.

It’s the black colleague (junior to me) who asks me to make him tea in the morning. Fear not, I refused.

These last two are a mix of our subject here and sexism, though I couldn’t tell you in what proportions.

In any event, I could go on and on. The examples are endless.

How odd all this is. Yet, in the same breath, how normal it all is. Perhaps in the midst of pointing accusing fingers at “other” racists, each of us needs to interrogate our own perception of our own race first. After all, don’t they say you teach people how to treat you. Just a thought.

If I Wrote You A Love Letter…


If I wrote you a love letter, I would labour for hours. It wouldn’t be because I don’t know how I feel. I do. It would be because words seem painfully inadequate to capture the essence of it.

It would be because words seem to limit the magnitude of the things we have been through together. The breathtaking, the perfect, the beautiful, the good, the bad, the awful and the ugly.

All of it comes together to pave a road I would never choose not to walk on.

How could I when you have been strong when I have been weak;

When you have loved me fiercely and passionately;

When you have understood that “broken road has always been [my] home and it’s so hard to forget.”

When you love God;

When we have cried our tears of pain, of shock and of loss together;

When you have held me as my body heaved from the endless tears of grief that I held in for so long because there was no safe place to drop them;

When each time I surfaced from the anesthesia, there you were, sitting right next to my head, waiting quietly for me to come back;

When you fed me patiently even though my semi comatose state meant most of the food fell right back out of my mouth;

When you chased me and brought me home when I tried to run away from myself, my crutches and my pain;

When you make me laugh so effortlessly;

When you notice when my hair changes (and when it doesn’t);

When you have a delightful wanderlust matched only by my own;

When I know you secretly want to be an Instagram style icon who posts OOTDs even though you vehemently deny it;

When you understand why I would never, but never, abseil again;

When you have such passionate love for family (and soccer);

When you have the ability to make me exceptionally angry;

When you find my quirks amusing and, sometimes, even funny; and

When you understand that each time we fall, each morning, each day, each night, “this imperfect love can start over again” and be just as beautiful and as fresh as the first day.

The list is endless…. I could never tell it all and I don’t want to. It will stay in the little safe place where my heart, mind and soul intersect.

But if I captured nothing else, I would want to tell you that even though my “second hand heart” has been broken before, it has been lovingly put back together. I would tell you that it is my most prized possession and I have guarded it jealously. I would tell you that it is yours forever. I would tell you that I love you now and I will consciously love you everyday (even when I am mad at you) for as long as we both shall live. I would tell you that “God blessed the Broken Road” that led me straight to you. I would tell you that I will never get tired of reading our love story because “all love stories are beautiful, but ours is my favourite.”

Finally, I would tell you to kiss me.