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Confident in a language not my own and that’s a shame…

Something really interesting happened whilst we were having a family meeting. So I was sharing something in my language and my mum corrected me for pronouncing a word incorrectly. I was born and bred in the Province of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, which makes me a Zulu and my language is isiZulu. So in my conversation with my family, I was making an example of some Kings. Now, in IsiZulu when you referring to one King you say Inkosi”. When you referring to more than one King you say “Amakhosi”

I accidently said “Izinkosi” because I assumed that since in IsiZulu we add “izi” when we referring to things in the plural for most things, then that should automatically apply to the word King/s as well. But of course I was wrong and mum corrected me. Now I knew the word “Amakhosi” but I think subconsciously I didn’t pay attention or didn’t care to pay attention because maybe I figured as long as I know English nothing else matters. I think of the many times I made silly mistakes in public whilst speaking in my own language but I didn’t get embarrassed as much as I get when I make a mistake whilst speaking the English language.

One of the missions of the British Empire was to conquer most of the world and create a mighty empire through influencing cultures, languages, nations etc. The days of an active and mighty British Empire are long past but the product of their influence remains through the English language. English no longer belongs to just a small country in Europe; English is a global culture print. Language influences not only the tongue but the customs and behaviours of the conquered begin to reflect those of the conquering nation.

I know a lot of people undermine and don’t even understand why certain institutions or professions that seek to preserve indigenous cultures exist. These institutions and professions ensure that the language and culture is preserved despite the insurmountable influences of globalisation thereby entrenching a sense of identity.

When we lose a sense of our identity we lose ourselves and a sense of our future. I always marvelled when I was younger watching the FIFA soccer world cup or Olympic Games or any other major event. I noticed that when the various leaders of the host countries would address the crowds they spoke in their own languages. This was a contradictory observation to me because, through the shaping of society especially in South Africa, we were made to believe that it was inappropriate to address crowds in your native language. I obviously understand some of the context around that, because if you have a mixture of different languages its best to speak a common language. But if the option of interpreters, sub-titles and other forms are available, then maybe we shouldn’t limit someone to express themselves in a language they most comfortable with and if that happens to be their native language, then so be it!

Now I know I have been told that this over focus on ‘isolated’ cultures, languages and people, causes a rift in society and fuels things such as tribalism and racism. I have heard commentary that says; actually we all just one big human race and that it’s society that created these various classifications of language, race, gender, culture, nation etc. Others say for goodness sake, let’s just get over this thing and just speak one unified language, what do you think?

Spontaneous, where art thou?

I was attending an event on Saturday and as anticipated the event was nothing short of transformational. There were lots of nuggets of wisdom that the speaker shared and I found myself constantly saying a quiet prayer to the Lord, thanking him for the opportunity to hear truth and liberating teachings.

One of the things that really got my attention was when the speaker was sharing his life journey with us. He mentioned how he had grown up in environments that attempted to control him. By his very nature he is very spontaneous, but he found that for most of his life, he was reprimanded for his outbursts of spontaneity in many social settings. That obviously led to him living a chained life until; of course a time where his thinking began to shift and he understood the power of living as his “free” best self. Now being your best self has many variations but if one variation is being spontaneous then why not express that!

I felt such freedom when I heard him say that because all my life in many contexts and even till today some people frown over my spontaneous nature. I have been reprimanded a few times; I have been made to feel like I’m insubordinate; I have been made to feel like a bad person and the list is endless. But if I am truly honest with myself, I thrive on being free and being able to be spontaneous in whatever I am doing. I say the speaker freed my thinking when he shared this but I don’t think my behaviour has completely shifted yet. And I guess that will obviously take time. I have suppressed expressions of myself because I try and make everyone else comfortable around me. And I remember when 2017 began I wrote a piece titled ‘Back to basics’. That piece was my cry to God and to humanity, and I was merely saying that in order for me to live the purpose I was created for, I am going back to the heart of the matter, i.e. doing the things that are truthful to me and those aligned with the Lord’s will.

We can be so ritualistic and overly guarded because of the layers that society places upon us. I have even noticed that the corporate world has a tremendous impact in stripping away one’s spontaneous nature. Even environments which supposedly should stand for liberating the human heart; like churches and even our very homes can really do a great job at stifling a person’s spontaneous nature.

My enjoy life tip is this: Allow others to be themselves and allow yourself to be you. You may look foolish to some, but I believe God created us to fully enjoy the various expressions of our human nature as long as they glorify him and impact our humanity positively.

The struggle of compromise

I was talking to my sister about our younger brother’s room. Besides it being a typical guy’s room with things all over the place, over the past weekend it had a very weird pungent odour. You could swear the smell was conjured up in some big pot with ingredients including stinky shoes; stinky socks; banana peels; meat bones and I don’t know what else. My three brothers are very close and they decided to cuddle up in my younger brother’s room this weekend and binge on movies.

What’s funny is that when I first entered the room the smell was so strong and so overpowering that you couldn’t ignore it. I kept complaining to them to a point that they got a bit irritated and gave me the ultimatum to either go or stay. But because I am a sucker for family time…I decided to just chill for a few minutes. Guess what? After about an hour of chill time, I found that the smell didn’t bother me anymore. What’s worse is that I couldn’t even smell that there was something wrong. When I narrated this to my sister, she called it the “immune syndrome” which simply means in our own words- “you have become unaffected”… and just laughed about it.

It’s a scary thing and this actually made me think about life. Isn’t it funny how we can be so passionate about certain injustices happening around us, when we looking from the outside…but as soon as we become part of that “environment” we become unaffected and we compromise far worse. I see this happening all the time; we see it with some politicians. How it can be that for someone who once stood tall and risked his/her life for human rights, turns around and becomes part of the very fabric that undermines human rights through corruption. I see it happening in organisations, you can have so much zeal when you take on a new role, passionate about making a difference. But because everyone around you “slacks”, gossips about the boss, you begin to lose your drive and find yourself part of the passion draining cliques.

I see it happening in churches, we witness Pastor’s consistently manipulate people and abuse them and they all use the name of God to do this. Yet we remain silent at some of these injustices for the sake of “peace”. Tell me, when people are stripped of their human respect and dignity; is that peace?

The compromise narrative is an interesting one. In the context of relationship building, we often hear that for human relationships’ to be healthy there has got to be a compromise. You have to do your part to ensure things run smoothly. But I’ve since learnt that sometimes compromise is not what you do, but what you don’t do. Every time we choose to turn a blind eye and don’t speak up against certain injustices we are perverting justice and the truth is not in us. I am distraught at how people in authority within the various factions of our society abuse people. Yet at the same time, I am not of the opinion that change solely lies with those in power. But we as a society united and taking action can influence change.

To be honest, I’ve lived with some level of guilt about not speaking up about certain things and this article is part of my contribution in kindling a debate around some of the social ills we witness all around us.

Truly, one man’s meat is another man’s poison…

My parents are just really amusing in their own very different and unique ways. But I am particularly intrigued at my dad’s patterns as he ages gracefully. So one of the things we have come to notice is how much my dad loves sweet things. But he is particularly very fond of cakes. It’s so funny; he always hints every time we go grocery shopping or if someone goes to the supermarket, that they should bring a cake.

Recently he was at the supermarket and of course he walked willingly to the bakery area and spotted a flavour, in the cake section, he had not seen before. So he decided to buy this cake to taste the flavour. He bought a burfee flavoured cake. Burfee is an Indian flavour. When I took a small slice of the cake it reminded me of the Diwali cakes we would eat at school. My sister also shared the same sentiments. The cake flavour was okay to me, but I am still a diehard carrot and cheese cake fan. My dad and sister also felt that the cake was okay but they still remain loyal to carrot and velvet flavours.

My younger brother, the last born however had never tasted this burfee flavour and to him it was unconditional love at first bite. He absolutely loved it and I can safely say he had 70% of it by himself.  My mom also took a slice and couldn’t even finish it. She felt nauseous after eating it and loathed it. I laughed as I witnessed the different reactions that this burfee flavoured cake bought to our home and I was reminded of the phrase that ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’.

Of course over the years this phrase has evolved into different kinds, to name just a few; One’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure; one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor; one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain; one man’s loss is another man’s profit and one man’s fault is another man’s lesson. It doesn’t matter which of the above phrases you use really, the meaning is the same. The meaning of this is everything is relative, what one person values, another may think worthless.

Okay so the point that I am trying to make in this piece is that, we are increasingly in a period where you have to be very clear about what your meat is!

I am saying this because I was having a conversation with someone and they made it seem like what I valued “my meat” was not something worth pursuing. They indicated how they had tried to pursue that and many others and failed dismally. But here’s the thing, it works for me, I am at peace and that’s all that matters.

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