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Unemployment, a great teacher!

Three months ago, my employment contract came to an end and I have been unemployed since then. Between brokenness and ample free time, I learnt a few lessons I would like to share in this article.

Firstly, I realized that most of us identify ourselves by our job. Think about it, when the statement “tell us about yourself?” is posed, most people respond with their name and straight after that, their occupation. Perhaps it is inevitable that we would include our jobs when describing ourselves considering that we spend most of our time working, but this lead to me asking myself the following question, ‘When your job is taken away, what is left of you?’ Although it is important that we do something and do it to the best of our ability as Ecclesiastes 9:10 states,“Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom”.  I think what is more important is that we find our identity in Christ rather than in our occupation.

Secondly, every time I tell someone that I no longer work, the immediate response is always “Don’t worry, you will find a job soon”. I am yet to meet someone who will say “Maybe in this time you will come up with a great innovative idea or start a business”. It became evident to me how linear our education system is and how it has, as a result, crippled the potential of many. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate people’s responses because I know they mean well and before my unemployment phase I would have probably responded the same way. As I reflect deeply, I realize that the system has ingrained in us that our jobs define who we are. I am aware that it would be insensitive to assume that entrepreneurship is for everyone, but I think as a society we need to think differently about employment.

Lastly, we need to stop romanticizing the idea of self-employment and actively incorporate entrepreneurship as part of our education system. Our schools need to start harnessing the gifts and talents of students instead of only equipping them to be great employees.

So, where am I at right now? Well, for the past three months I have been exposed to various events where the reoccurring theme has been ‘Be real’. These words became as loud as a church bell and impossible to ignore. I looked closely at myself and realized that there are so many dreams I have incarcerated because I thought “well I am already here doing this, so I might as well”. But life is too precious of a gift to just live with the “might as well” kind of attitude.  I should also mention that unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, when you do a self-introspection, your weaknesses are laid bare. These weaknesses are uncomfortable to accept but you can only work on your weaknesses once you have identified them. In a powerful interview between Bishop TD Jakes and Pastor Steven Furtick (https://youtu.be/QVGk_jwyBXI), Bishop Jakes put it like this, “You are at your best when you are authentic to your core”.

This journey has by no means been all ‘hunky-dory’. Vodacom still sends those unpleasant “You have less than 5MB of data remaining” messages and I still have to fight thoughts that creep in and tell me I am useless. The lessons, however, have been worth it and deep down inside, there is a knowing that ‘All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.’

Image courtesy: https://shanegarrison.org/2016/08/30/new-lessons-in-transitional-ministry/

 

 

About Writer:

Lesedi Marumo is a fun loving, confident, opinionated, young women on a journey to self-discovery. At the center of her life is Christ and she hopes to live a purpose filled life that is pleasing to him.

Why I think culture is a choice, and heritage is not…

One of the benefits of democratic South Africa, is the recognition of the vast diversity in our nation. Every year on the 24thof September, since its first inception in 1995 we commemorate Heritage Day.

The officiating of Heritage Day was not just about adding an additional public holiday on the calendar, but it was strategically placed to cement the message around total inclusivity and appreciation for the diverse people of the land.

The official government definition for  “heritage” is “things people inherit, such as culture, history, wildlife, monuments, artwork, literature, music, folklore, languages, culinary traditions, and more” (https://publicholidays.net.za/heritage-day/)

Based on the above definition, the word ‘inherit’ stands out for me most. I think we need to look broadly at how we commemorate Heritage Day. Usually when we celebrate Heritage Day, we dress up in our various traditional attires, eat traditional/cultural food and listen to traditional/cultural music. In this “woke” generation where everyone wants to live their truth, I have witnessed that more and more people are “going back” to their roots and attempting to live out more cultural practices than western practices.

But there is another layer to culture, which can get controversial and that feeds into things such as belief systems and spiritual/cultural practices.

The ongoing controversy can come from traditionalists who oppose the fusion of cultural practices with modernity. Spiritually, there can also be some controversy in that, while there are certain cultural elements we embrace in Christianity, there are others we don’t embrace. To some people being a believer means you have abandoned one’s culture.

I am a believer who happens to love her Zulu heritage and I think I am very ‘cultured’  just perhaps not in the way we have traditionally defined what it means to be  ‘cultured’.

A definition that wraps up the differences beautifully for me, reads as follows: “Heritage refers to the things that we inherit, while culture is about what we create.” (https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-difference-culture-heritage-393504).

Culturally people are always doing things differently, culture is not cast in stone and how we define our contributions to our culture will vary.

Heritage gets given to us without much of a choice, (example- heritage of being Zulu-I was born Zulu and I can’t change that). Being Zulu, I have also inherited my language, the incredible Zulu history and the land of course… 🙂

In a nutshell, what I am saying is Culture is a choice and Heritage is not. Don’t allow people to impose on you how you should show up “culturally” in the world.

On a much lighter note, let me just say-Happy Heritage Day!  🙂 Enjoy…

 

Image courtesy: https://www.portfoliocollection.com 

We need to dig deeper into the 99% germs…

I was in my friend’s bathroom yesterday and my eyes spotted a particular bar soap next to the sink. Now, there was nothing particularly extraordinary about this observation because this soap has been around since my childhood and I have seen it in almost all homes growing up in the township.

But for some reason, yesterday I was drawn anew to the words “Kills 99% of germs”. I have seen these words many times both written and splashed on TV commercials for disinfectants products, as part of their winning tag lines. Re-looking at the statement made me pose the following questions to myself:

  • Why are we okay with the 1% of germs not killed?
  • Is it impossible for a disinfectant to remove all germs?
  • Is it true that 1% of germs might actually be very good for us?
  • Why do we trust brands when they make the 99% claim?
  • How do we even measure to see if this claim is true in our households?

I looked at the ingredients on the bar soap and there were 18 ingredients in total that made that bar. Of all those, I only recognized 1 yet this is a brand we have trusted for years.

I can’t recall how many times I’ve caught the flu and cold virus and I know many people who have as well. Yet, in our homes we have two or more disinfectants with this 99% germ claim. I have heard that there are many types of germs and not all of them may be flu and cold causing. So, could it be that these disinfectants are not necessarily killing the germs that affect us severely?

I am by no means attacking the manufactures of these disinfectant products, but as an advocate for Human Rights, I want to challenge us to dig deeper into the 99% claims.

In digging deeper into the 99%, we need to…

  • Be a bit more educated about germs that cause flu and cold viruses and use our buying power to purchase products that best serve us as opposed to taking the marketing messages of some of these organizations at face value.

My final thoughts– brands need to be held with a bit more accountability. We can’t just consume things blindly, by placing our complete trust in profit making corporations. We are in a period where our voice as consumers is powerful.

I advocate that we dig deeper into claims brands make and recognize that our (brand and consumers) relationship is actually symbiotic.  We have needs, they have the services/products we need. The word “need” suggests a co-dependence, that fully serves both parties fairly.

 

Image courtesy: https://healevate.com/microbiome-explained-plain-english/

The back to you Revolution

I fondly remember growing up in the township and attending various social gatherings. In these gatherings, our greetings will go along the lines of “Sawubona mtanami/ sis wami, unjan kodwa? Kukuphi ekhaya? Or uZalwa kabani?” Loosely translated this means,“Greetings my child or sister (former used by the elderly and latter by peers) how are you? Where is home and to which family do you belong to?”

I used the word fondly in my opening statement because the greetings we exchange nowadays are not so fond. I loved the greetings we exchanged in our communities in my early years because they centered so much on who you are and your family roots.

I have noticed a trend in our current society and how the more “sophisticated” we become, the more we complicate life. Nowadays introductions are shallow and superficial assignments just to tick the ‘Yey, I greeted a human today box’ and thereby feeling good about ourselves.

In my opinion, we have lost the ability to connect on a truly human level. I’m so exhausted by social and business gatherings because greetings go along the lines of “Hello, how are you?” Then there is this unwritten expectation to always say we are good or we are fine even if we not. I once said “I am not good” just to test the waters and the person asking me, didn’t know how to deal with that and changed the subject. That’s why I stand on the assumption that, this has become a tick box exercise.

But the most interesting and now bordering on annoying for me, is the obsessive question of “So, what do you do?”. There is nothing wrong with that question per se, the only challenge I have with it, is that depending on the response you give, people will begin to treat you based on that. I don’t like this because people begin to define us by WHAT we do as opposed to WHO we are.

I love how author Rick Warren in his New York times best-selling book (The Purpose Driven Life) wraps up the thought beautifully when he says, “we are human beings not human doings”.  

The back to you revolution I’m advocating for, sees life through the lens of God, it embraces people for who they are; not what they can do for you. It is a revolution that encourages people to simply be themselves and enjoy life to the fullest.

I’ve termed my revolution “Back to Bongeka” and I am in a period where I am rewriting some rules, bending some and even breaking some 🙂 . I live with the peaceful conviction that Almighty God, who is my Father, is far more interested in WHO I am than WHAT I do.

As I pen my final thoughts on this, I am reminded of Whitney’s Houston documentary “Can I be me?”. In the documentary they interviewed those who were close to her.  They shared that throughout her life she struggled with living out who she was versus what people wanted her to be. So, she would constantly be heard saying “Can I be me?”.This was a cry out for her to be herself. To me, she was the greatest voice we were blessed with, but society robbed her of her true life for many years. I always wonder what would have happened to her if she had “been herself” in the early years of her fame and whether that would have influenced her to make different decisions. We may never know, but we can always take a page from her life and recognize that the cry to be ‘ourselves’ cannot just end on the lips but as the word revolution holds, we have to forcibly overthrow things in our culture that undermine the very essence of who we are.

 

Image courtesy: http://sivinkit.net/2008/07/08/one-life-revolution-is-back/

 

 
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