Month: January 2014

Resolutions Worth Keeping

The first month of 2014 is almost over! (Cue various clichés about how the year is going by so fast).

Judging by the available parking spaces at my gym this morning, I think it’s safe to say that most people have fallen off the New Year’s resolution bandwagon. If you count yourself amongst the fallen – my condolences. Better to have resolved to change and failed than to watch the new year roll idly by, while you get hopelessly drunk on poorly mixed SoCo and lime.

But I digress. My reason for writing this post on the last day of January is to make a public appeal to make two resolutions that I think are worth keeping.

1.       Keep Toppers in your car

Jozi streets are filled with the hustle and bustle of hawkers, entertainers, window washers and beggars trying to get by in the city of endless possibilities and harsh realities. Many are opposed to handing money out, unsure of where it will go. But averaging less than R5 a pack, keeping these non-perishable and filling biscuits in your car is an effortless way to pay it forward.

2.       Be kind to yourself first

Too often, we are distracted by trying to please everyone around us. Be it working 50 hour weeks, harming your own emotional wellbeing in a bid to foster someone else’s, or sacrificing the activity that brings you calm and joy so you can fit in yet another social engagement; putting other people’s needs before your own can easily become habit.  Whatever challenges you face this year, remember to put yourself self. Treat yourself with the same kindness and consideration usually reserved for those around you. Do this, and everything else will fall into place. Promise.

TTFN January!

The Coloured Fallacy

Born out of the Apartheid regime’s desire to construct and classify racial paradigms into neat boxes, “coloured” became the catch-all phrase to describe those whose ambiguous features defied existing racial constructs.  Descendants of slaves and their masters, the khoisan, sailors, merchants, and islanders off the coast of Africa, – we were now the same. Nothing that came before; not our language, not our stories, not our history, mattered anymore.

Our own unique cultural heritage was no longer valid. We were coloured. We were told that this was what coloured people were like, this is how we should behave, and this is the language we should speak. And so a herd identity was constructed by our oppressors, and soon we forgot our individual stories. Our individual identities, our sense of self— were lost to the tide of our newfound colouredness.

Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, and that is what they become.

 – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From a young age I have been confronted with issues of identity, and human nature’s distaste for anyone who does not fit into their preconceived idea of what you should be. Even now, I am often filled with shame when strangers and acquaintances ask bluntly – “What are you?”, seeking confirmation of my ethnic background so that they can attribute characteristics to me that are not my own.

And time and time again, I feel a little less equal, a little less human, as I provide an explanation of WHAT I am rather than WHO I am, replying gently and reluctantly that I am coloured, not believing in the idea of colouredness as the syllables leave my mouth. And neither do they. I don’t look coloured, I don’t speak like a coloured person should speak (according to who I can’t be sure). I don’t resemble a single coloured stereotype. And these strangers, these people who see me as nothing more than something peculiar, enquire – no, demand – an explanation about what I am mixed with, what percentage, how many generations back, what did my ancestors do? And the truth is I don’t know. I don’t why I look the way I look, why any of my family members look the way they look. I don’t know why we speak English and not Afrikaans, why we have all our teeth, why we are well-read despite our relative disadvantage. I don’t know WHAT I am. Does it even matter?

Because as much as it hurts for being judged because of the colour of your skin, your sexual orientation or your gender –  it is a unique, utterly isolating experience being judged because of who you are, when that “who” doesn’t actually exist.

The coloured community is at odds with itself. Never white enough, never black enough, never coloured enough – we want so badly to belong, to be in charge of our own image. We wage a constant battle within ourselves as we contend with our South Africaness in a time where being South African, just South African, is not good enough. So we try our best to live up to our colouredness, although it never feels too authentic. We mock each other for not having affected accents, we dismiss alcoholism and drug use as a “coloured” thing, and we speak of those family members who did make it to university as “play whites”. We try to live up to an image that isn’t our own, that was never our own, partly because we want to belong, and partly because we can’t remember who we were before we were told what we are.   

Being coloured is a fallacy. Popular images of colouredness isn’t real. We don’t all look the same, or even similar. Our accents are regional. We speak different languages. Our cultural heritage is as diverse as South Africa itself.

I often hear people say that once we are all mixed, people will stop being racist, because there won’t be black or white people anymore. Being coloured in the new South Africa is a great irony, isn’t it?

An Introduction to Red Flag Dating

A rite of passage in the dating game is having that “What was I thinking!?” relationship. You know the one – thoughts of him embarrass you, thoughts of you with him ranges from violent conniptions to flat out denial.

In the early stages of getting to know someone it’s easy to be swept off your feet and dismissive about certain behaviour. Are you really going to end things because he mentioned his ex on a date? So you ignore your intuition. Until one day when your suspicions from that first date is confirmed and you realise that yes; he is still hung-up on his ex.

But now it’s too late to walk away because you’re emotionally invested.

Ladies and Gents, welcome to Red Flag dating. Red means STOP AND GET OUT. No excuses. No benefits of the doubt. Learn what your own personal red flags are, and save yourself a screening of Love Actually and that tub ice cream. Diabetes is not cool, okay?

Common red flags include, but are not limited to:


Including disrespecting you (duh), women in general, your family, waiters and beggars. Just everyone okay?

Mentioning exes

…early on in the relationship. Except if you’re looking for a rebound, or a good serving of sex sorbet.

Saying I love you too soon

Love is far too serious a thing to be frivolous about. This is a “mean what I say, and say what I mean only” zone thank-you very much.

Pushing your boundaries

This is a biggie. We all have certain “hard boundaries” – things we are not willing to compromise on. This can include views on infidelity, sex, drugs, religion – whatever. Figure out what your hard boundaries are and when Prince Charming comes along don’t compromise on them. If he oversteps your boundaries (or attempts to repeatedly) he is obviously an icky frog.

But perhaps the most important red flag is feeling uncomfortable. If your spidey senses are flaring up – trust them. You don’t need to justify your feelings to anyone but yourself. Intuition is a real thing.