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This is one of the reasons why I love being African…

A few weeks ago my two friends’ and I embarked on a short trip to the beautiful Kingdom of Swaziland. Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa and it is a landlocked country. We filled up the tank and drove for about 8 hours, making two stops along the way. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way, we had great conversations, great music going, and yes we did ruffle each other’s feathers here and there but overall our road trip was amazing! We finally arrived in Swaziland late in the evening and we were so tired and hungry. Since we only had a breakfast booking at the lodge and we were on a tight budget, we really couldn’t afford to waste money on restaurant food. But fortunately, one of my friends mum had been so kind and cooked us Breyani to enjoy for supper when we arrived in Swaziland Friday night.

But we encountered a slight problem. We arrived a bit later than planned in Swaziland and the Breyani was cold. When we asked the lodge staff to heat it up for us, they indicated that was against hotel policy. We were obviously irritated by this and one of my friend’s who can be dramatic at times (you know who you are, lol) kept insisting that they will not eat cold food. So, with our Tupperware container filled with Breyani in hand, we decided to go to the nearest shopping centre with the hope of finding a Woolworths food. The strategy was we were going to buy something at Woolworths that we could heat up in the customer microwave. We were going heat that up, and then quickly sneak our Breyani inside the microwave whilst we surveyed the place, making sure none of the staff caught us. Needless to say, we got to that shopping centre, we didn’t know where Woolworths was and we were too tired to go around looking for it. The closest place we could see was Shoprite. We had a bit of a discussion on who would be brave enough to ask the people at Shoprite to heat it up for us, I don’t recall an agreement per se, but all I remember was here I was with the Tupperware container in hand, charged with the responsibility.

So here we were at Shoprite, two of us because the other friend decided this was too embarrassing and she will disappear into the supermarket to get a few cosmetics. So we went by the hot foods section and of course we couldn’t just ask we needed a strategy here as well. Our strategy; first we had to pretend like we were interested in buying some of the hot foods, we looked and the cheapest thing we could buy was ‘vetkoeks’ (doughnut like cakes). We ordered, the lovely lady gave them to us and then she asked, “Anything else?” of course that was our opportunity. I tried to have a poker face as I explained our predicament and asked if she would be so kind as to heat up our food in the microwave. She looked at me and looked around, there was a moment of hesitation in her eyes I could tell, and then she finally gave in – she agreed. She did a rushed job but I suppose she wanted to help but was afraid of what her colleagues might say, so the Breyani was not heated to our liking. We had to have another game plan as I couldn’t ask her to heat up again but thanked her for her kindness.

To cut the long story short, we saw a Mugg & Bean just opposite Shoprite, ordered coffee and hot chocolate and when our waitress asked, “Anything else?” My friend grabbed the opportunity to ask them to heat up the Breyani for us.

We finally enjoyed our Breyani back in our hotel room and laughed about this incident and never in our wildest dreams did we think we will heat up a home cooked meal in a fancy coffee shop in another country at that. But as we laughed about this, I love the lesson my friend shared and she said, “This just proves that there’s still goodness in humanity. Despite the fact that we have crossed the border, we don’t even speak the language well, they don’t know us but they willingly went out of their job duties to satisfy us their customers.”

When I got home and was thinking about the highlights of the trip, from the road trip, to the wonderful hike/workshop we facilitated on Saturday unlocking greatness in Africa’s future leaders. The hospitality at the Saturday afternoon event we attended, and of course the gorgeous boutique hotel we stayed at on Saturday. I just started reflecting generally on the warmth of the Swazi people and the warmth of the people from some of the African countries I have visited. I recalled Mahatma Ghandi words, “The greatness of humanity isn’t in being human, but in being humane”. And as I prepare to enter the global stage, I will parade with great humility and realise that this is one of the reasons why I love being African.

Our love languages transcend every area…

Have you heard of Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love languages? Believe me when I say this is not some cheesy love book. According to Dr. Chapman, there are five universal ways that all people express and interpret love. Dr. Chapman firmly believes that each person has one primary and one secondary love language and he advocates that people tend to give love in the way they prefer to receive love (http://www.sheknows.com). The 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation; Quality time; Receiving gifts; Acts of service and Physical touch.

I know in our world when someone mentions the word “love”, our default mode thinks romance. While it’s true that the word love is predominantly used in that context, however in my journey of maturity I have come to realise that actually, understanding your love language and others love language transcends across every aspect of life.

In light of the revelation of my love language, I was doing a bit of a self-evaluation exercise about some of the leadership roles I have occupied. According to Dr Gary Chapman’s Love Language test, my primary love language is Words of Affirmation.

In my self-evaluation exercise I began to think about most of the missed opportunities in the roles I have occupied. By my very nature I believe that I try my best to exude excellence in whatever I do. Usually when I start something new; be it a new project, new job, new role etc, I am full of excitement and bubbling with creative ideas- ready to implement. So I flourish in environments where I am constantly affirmed through recognition and praise. However, reality is most of the environments and leadership styles I have been exposed to, have not really supported this kind of love language. I have been in environments and had leaders skilled in criticism.

I recall the many great ideas and action plans I would come up with that never got off the ground or failed dismally because of negative words. When I am not affirmed I become complacent and I end up disappearing with the crowd. I think of all the inadequate things I witnessed and inside of me I would cringe because I knew I could do something to improve the situation, but I wouldn’t do it because I couldn’t get pass the horrible words spoken. Now don’t get me wrong, the work still got done, but inside of me I didn’t really care. I really tried to speak myself out of the negative words and carry on to do the work, but it was a difficult journey. I have also been in environments and had leadership styles that encouraged my creativity; gave me authority and ultimately consistently affirmed me through recognition and praise. I must say these were the times I really flourished. When I am in this kind of environment I really give it my all.

So when I got a hold of Dr Gary Chapman’s book and began to understand my love language, I had an Aha moment! And came to the conviction that this love language concept is true and it cuts across every area of one’s life. What was more powerful for me was I began to understand the love languages of others around me and I must say that has made my interactions more meaningful. I really think everyone needs to know their own love language and also come to a point of understanding others. Love is powerful and it cuts across every era; every nation, every business and history tells us that the people, who do great things and are remembered, are people who have, understood and appreciated the love languages of the humanity they serve.

I still believe in love…

I am by no means trying to be cheesy by writing an article on love in the month of February. Thanks to mass media…we have been bombarded with red and white flowers, chocolates and all things romance. I am also enjoying reading insights on love in Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love languages for singles. This month I also witnessed the marriage union of one of my very close buddies.

Love is a beautiful thing… so much has been said and written about this topic for centuries and centuries and as the cliche goes…not only money but love also makes the world go round…

So pardon me, I am not even going to attempt to write a piece on love, what it is, its various types and all the amazing things we know about it.

I am actually writing this piece as a confession to myself…so you dear friend, will get a snippet as to what sometimes goes on in my very interesting heart. As I mentioned one of my buddies got married over the last week. I have been to numerous weddings in my lifetime and have watched them on TV countless times. But there was something about this wedding that awakened something in me that I didn’t even know was becoming dormant.

The depth of the love the couple had for each other not only shown in their words but there was a pureness, a light that was so evident in their eyes that for a moment it was like I was allowed to see the very depths of their spirits. It was real, it was unconditional, it was selfless and it was God-like. I don’t recall the exact moment…but during the course of the festivities I fell in love…a love that was always there but due to the stress of my current journey was seemingly decreasing. A love that once liberated me from the shackles of my past, a love that I knew was birth before the very foundations of this world…I actually fell in love with Bongeka again…

I realized that the world over embraces the notion of being in a romantic relationship but my “aha” moment was further cemented when I realized that a great marriage can never be built until you come to a point where you truly and I MEAN truly love yourself. It is this love that makes me wake up and even despite the many mistakes I make and still say I love you Bongeka. You can never love God and your neighbor as yourself if you don’t really love who you are. I woke up with this thought this morning…”there can never be another Bongeka just like me…sure we may share the same name and surname, even birth day even nationality and other things”…but I am unique and there is no one else like me.

It is this love that gives me strength even when I feel like all my dreams are not coming into reality…it is this love that gives me the energy to begin writing even when I don’t have inspiration…I still believe in love…I still believe in God.

Singleness is not a waiting room to get hitched!(Married)

Recently I was hanging with one of my girlfriends and of course the “man talk” came up… We were going on and on about the kind of men we would want in our lives when our singleness journey come to an end. We had some interesting similarities and differences. When I got home though I started asking myself honestly, why should the singleness journey end? There is such an expectation from society and it comes at different angles that when you single you not complete and that you just waiting for someone to sweep you of your feet if you are a woman or someone to fulfill your fantasies if you are a man.

I started thinking about how many people always seem to be eagerly awaiting their perfect “better half” as it’s commonly known. I’ve heard so many women expressing a list of things they need in this “better half”. You hear them say, “I need a man who’s successful, good looking, romantic, great sense of humour, God fearing, etc. the list is exhaustive. I’ve heard men say, “I need a woman who “can cook, be hot, respect me, God-fearing, do what I need her to do, love me etc.” the list is exhaustive here also.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting these things from someone you want to do life with. But I do think we should really zoom into people feeling that until they meet people with these qualities, they feel a sense of not being complete.

When someone says I will only be completely happy with life until I find my “better half”, you already saying that you are not complete as a woman/man and that someone else possesses what you need to complete you.

What you bring to a relationship should not be your “half” but your completion.

Here’s the truth my friend- no human being can and will ever complete you. Only God can complete a person.

I really love this definition of what it means to be Single… Single means that you are alone but not lonely. SINGLENESS is the Most IMPORTANT Asset whether your are Married or Single” – Dr. Myles Munroe

My enjoy life tip is this: love being single and enjoy it. Love every moment and develop yourself to become a better woman/man. Your “singleness” journey will and should never end even when you do get hitched (married). Singleness is about you being a complete and whole person. You not just living life because you are anticipating a “spouse” but you living life because you realize that you have a greater God given purpose and by pursing that you will make this world a better place…

 
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