It’s been an exciting time this; being the recent author of an incredible book, Thinking in Full Colour. I feel so blessed to be a vessel for this body of work. But what no one ever tells you about your dreams coming true is that you will experience what I have termed the “messiah gaze” complex. Ah, the “messiah gaze” complex, what is it? I have come to define it as follows: A tendency to over esteem or worship the opinion and validation of famous people (aka celebrities) towards your purpose and body of work. 

A messiah is considered a saviour who solve problems for a tribe, a country, or a cause. A messiah is someone perceived to be “perfect” and who can do no wrong. I liken the term “messiah” to famous people because we tend to view their opinions as sovereign and perfect. 

It’s 8 am on a weekday, and I am anxiously checking my emails to see if any of the famous people I sent my book to have responded with a favourable message. A favourable message in this instance would go along the lines of “Bravo Bongeka, this book is amazing in so many ways, I want to partner with you…, etc.” hahaha (I know I am a bit weird 🙂 ). I have also been stalking these people on social media, waiting anxiously to see if they will post something about the book. Days and weeks go by, and nothing.

In my reflection time, I realised how ridiculous my expectation was of these people, it had only been two weeks since I sent the books, and honestly, I buy books and only read them months or even years later. I believe books are spiritual messengers; you read a book when you are ready for its message.

One of the most dangerous things we can do is over esteem people’s opinion in our purpose journeyI have been heartbroken many times when I sent a proposal to a famous person or their team, only to have them not be blown away by my idea or ignore me completely. But I will see these same people endorse some other young famous person. I conclude that they endorse them because they are famous, not because their outputs are better than mine. Even in this conviction, I still think I have very unfair expectations of famous people. The truth is even famous people are human too. They have every right to not respond to me and endorse work and people they love. So, the issue is not so much them, but the problem is the lens I use to see famous people. But I am grateful to have found a sense of clarity through the words “messiah gaze”.

I love words, and words help me make better sense of the world. When I am battling with a complex emotion or thoughts, I always go on a journey of finding language for that experience. It always helps. Words are catharsis for me. I heal through words, and I believe I can heal others through words. As part of my weekly reminders, I say to myself, ‘be careful of the messiah gaze Bongeka!’

Even if Oprah Winfrey would say she doesn’t like what I do, it might hurt a little because of the “messiah gaze” complex but knowing that I found the language to deal with it won’t deter me from continuing to live a life of purpose. I’m living from a place of truth, and that is all that matters. My truth is the only thing I need to impress because that is what I go to bed with,

and you cannot cheat the truth!


Pen The Vision | Bongeka Mhlongo | 2021 November

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