Going From Good To Awesome!

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Dear Sheepish Shulamite subscribers,

I haven’t blogged here in a while because at the beginning of this year I migrated to a different part of the blogosphere. The blog is called Mukoko and it’s where I’m using my voice these days. Check it out here: http://realmukoko.wordpress.com/

For a while I tried to run two blogs at the same time but I’ve finally decided to go all in! Mukoko is a blog about relationships, faith, sexuality and culture and we’ve already had some great conversations.

I’m really excited to connect with you more so please subscribe! Subscribers will also get access to some exclusive content, freebies and

If you liked this blog then you’ll enjoy Mukoko, have a quick looksy and tell me what you think. Here’s the link again: http://realmukoko.wordpress.com/

Do you have any comments or questions? Email Zola at realmukoko[at]gmail[dot]com

The #1 Reason Why You Are Undateable

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Occasionally, someone will send me a Facebook message with a question that’s been bugging them. Why do bad things happen to good people? Are traditional African beliefs incompatible with Christianity? How come I’mstillsingle?

That last question is the toughest one so far and people ask it in different ways but they’re all asking the same thing: is there something that I’m doing that makes me undateable? After suffering a painful rejection (unrequited love y’all) I asked myself that same question. And this post is the fruit of some observations I made about myself and my friends.

There are many reasons why people stay single for a really long time or for all of their lives, many of which are out if their control, I don’t dispute that. But in my process of deep introspection, peer reviewed academic research and statistical analysis, I’ve found that the number one thing that makes people undateable is

Over- spiritualising the process.

You could be doing it without even realising it; maybe you don’t see it because you surround yourself with people who are doing the same thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a guy or girl tell me that they believe that God brought Eve to Adam so they’re waiting on God to do the same thing for them. Taken to its logical conclusion, we should all be wearing fig leaves and waiting for God to bring us clothes made of animal skin.

That’s just silly.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the dating process is a very spiritual thing. And I believe that God should be at the centre of all that we do, including dating. But just as no one expects God to deliver an Economics degree into their lap, knowledge of financial markets included; you shouldn’t expect God to drop off a boyfriend to your doorstep, with roses in hand.

Today, I want to bring the process down to earth and apply some practical wisdom to the process. I think there are things that we’re all doing that may be hindering our dateability, do you see yourself in any of these?

1. You’re a serial friendzoner.

This is you if you have a friend that your friends say is just perfect for you but you insist that he’s "just a friend" or "just a brother". Well, hello, great marriages are built on a foundation of friendship!

2. You can’t relate with the opposite sex.

If you’re a man and the closest you’ve come to relating to a woman is asking the till operator for cash back, then you’ve got serious problems. You need to start getting comfortable with relating to people of the opposite sex.

3. You’re waiting for Idris Elba/ Ryan Gosling to propose.

I used to have a ridiculous list of things that I applied when I was considering a guy. I was always weighing a guy up against the mental picture I had in my mind. Eventually, I had to let go of him because he didn’t exist and he never would.

4. You’re still nursing a broken heart.

If you’re still recovering from a break up or a rejection, you’re going to struggle to be open to pursuing a new relationship, probably because you’re not over the other guy or girl. Your focus should be on getting healing.

5. You have a fear of rejection.

This fear manifests in different ways. Maybe you project a false persona because you’re afraid that people won’t like the real you. Or you avoid getting close to people because it never ends well. At the root of this fear is an identity issue.

Do you agree with my observations? Which one of these have you identified in yourself? I know that I’ve only scratched the surface and probably brought up many questions. That’s great, leave a comment and we can start a conversation!

Thanks for reading.

Shula.

Girls, Guns & How To Solve the Problem of Dangerous Guys

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On Thursday 26 April this story about an alleged shooting that took place on the Rhodes University (RU) campus was reported. Two lives were lost in the deadly incident, including that of a 21 year old female RU student. 

Since the story broke many have expressed their views on Facebook and Twitter, most expressing shock and disbelief. I’ve also come across photos of the student and although I don’t know her personally, I recognise her face and I know many reading this do too (RU is a small enough university).

This incident highlights so many issues that have been raised recently. Particularly the issue of violence against women as well as the prevalence of gun violence in South Africa. All of these are conversations that must be had! In the midst of all the debate and commentary, I’ve been trying to figure out what the right response is. Have you been trying to make sense of it too?

Right now, my response is grief.

Because she was a daughter, a sister and a friend to someone
Because she had her whole future ahead of her
Because she is more than a criminal investigation or a trending topic.

Someone out there feels her absence in a non-intellectual, non-political way. And I just want to take a moment to honour that and this woman who is gone too soon.

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Photo taken in Grahamstown, South Africa

Shula.

TCT :: 8 things that make a man hot.

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“SOS please someone help me, it’s not healthy for me to feel this way.” Rihanna, SOS

It is Trench Coat Thursday! Here is a list of 8 things that a woman will find hot in a man. Or, better put, things women ought to find hot in a guy. Every one of these is taken from Song of Songs (SoS), the most romantic book in the Bible ever written. Coming up with this list was fun, let me know if you agree!

1. He smells good.
“The fragrance of your perfume is intoxicating; your name is like perfume poured out.” SoS 1:3

Like the scent he is wearing, a man’s reputation precedes him, and like a cheap cologne, a bad reputation is not something that escapes a woman’s notice. Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is to be chosen over great wealth.” Long before she knew him well, one of the things that attracted my friend to her boyfriend was that everyone spoke well of him – his kindness, love for people and generosity.  Your reputation is evidence of your character and there are few things more attractive than a man who is known by everyone for the right reasons!

2. He leads.
“My beloved is fair and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand.” SoS 5:10

Men who distinguish themselves from other men are super attractive! But what if the tall, dark and handsome guy isn’t really the kind of above averageness that women long for? The truth is, a super attractive man is a man who leads. Not the domineering know-it-all who has an opinion on everything, but a man who distinguishes himself among his peers and does not just follow the crowd. In a society of passive and irresponsible men, he takes the initiative proactively and handles his business.

3. He knows stuff.
“His head is of the purest gold…” SoS 10:11

I have a friend who once described herself as a sapiosexual. That bizarre term refers to someone who is physically attracted to people they find intelligent. Guys who have something other than Kim Kadarshian going on in their head are like gold. Men whose thoughts are pure and full of wisdom are hard to find and really attractive. Like Proverbs says, wisdom is supreme.

4. He has beautiful eyes.
“His eyes are like doves besides streams of water, washed in milk and set like jewels.” SoS 5:12

Season 20 of America’s Next Top Model featured a guy named Don whose one stand out characteristic was his beautiful eyes – those eyes! His eyes may catch a woman’s attention for a moment but the kind of eyes that will hold her gaze forever are those that look at her purely and tenderly. Eyes that see her as more than an object of his desire. Eyes that reflect emotion, passion and compassion.

5. His mouth is gorgeous.
“His lips are like lilies, dripping with flowing myrrh.” SoS 5:13

In my first year of university, one of my friends had an intense crush on a guy whose lips she went on and on about. He also had a beautiful voice – an irresistible combination for her. But what about what passes through those lips? Proverbs 12:18 talks about how “the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Men who are careless or cruel with their words are turn offs but a man who speaks encouragement and healing has serious game. This is not just about being charming, it’s about using your words to build and not to tear down.

6. He’s strong.
“His arms are rods of gold… his body is an ivory panel covered with sapphires.” SoS 5:13

Maybe it is all the knight in shining armour fairy tales we’ve been fed as children but there is something really attractive about a strong looking man whose arms look like they could carry you across that threshold! Ultimately though, the kind of irresistible strength is not the kind that Samson had but the kind that Jesus demonstrates. A strength that can bear burdens not his own and carry her through the difficult times in her life. The kind of strength that is not intimidated by hers.

7. He’s taller than me.
“His legs are alabaster pillars set on pedestals of pure gold.” SoS 5:15

When we were in high school the tall boys were always the hot boys, regardless of their facial appearance. And that’s because most boys were late bloomers and all of us wanted the tall ones who were few and far between. A man who stands tall is attractive. But a man who takes a stand for what is right is irresistible. Courage and conviction is what makes a man cut above the rest.

8. He has presence.
“His presence is like Lebanon, as majestic as cedars.” SoS 5:15

Some people can walk into a room and immediately own that room. They are sure of themselves, they have authority. Yes, women love that! But the source of one’s confidence is key. Proverbs 14:20 says “in the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence” and a man whose presence and confidence comes from knowing His presence is hard to resist.

Which explains why people fall for worship leaders.

Often, we get really caught up in the physical characteristics of a person and we forget that people are like candy. The outside may look really good (and of course we want it to) but what really counts is what’s inside!

I’d love to hear what makes a woman hot from a man’s perspective, any takers?

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

Thanks for reading.
Shula.

TCT:: To the (honey)moon and back, unrealistic expectations

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“Close your eyes, make a wish
And blow out the candlelight,
For tonight is just your night…”
Boys II Men

This is one that even I am having difficulty writing right now- so awkward! March on my soul be strong!

Do you remember what it was like the first time you got onto a bicycle? After years of begging for one I got a pink BMX bike for my 7th birthday. My sister Annie would take me outside on my bike every day after school. It was a painful process. I cannot tell you how many times I cycled into my mother’s flower beds because I could not find the brakes. A few weeks after the first time, with a lot of practice, I finally got the hang of coordinating all my limbs.

My first time was my hardest day on that bike, I still have the scars but it looked so easy from a distance!

Hollywood sells us a dream

Let us exercise our imagination a little bit. Imagine two people, let’s call them Anna and Sipho, sitting in beautifully decorated hall with everyone they love all around them. It’s their wedding reception, the ceremony was everything Anna always dreamed it would be and Sipho can’t believe that he’s finally hitched to the girl of his dreams.

It is getting late so Anna and Sipho say their goodbyes and hop into their marital automobile. The guests wave until the car lights disappear from sight.

[Fast forward 20 minutes later.]

Anna and Sipho arrive at the cute apartment they’ll be sharing as newlyweds.

What happens next?

[PAUSE]

Don’t go too far! If you are like me then you have probably filled in the gap with scenes from your favourite romantic drama. Everything goes perfectly and it’s all so beautiful! You seamlessly go from standing in front of each other (cue piano) to breakfast in bed.

Abracadabra!

But is that really what it’s like? I’ve eavesdropped on a few married women’s and men’s conversations about their first time (cause I couldn’t bring myself to ask!) and I want to share some of the thoughts that I have gathered from them. These are things we would normally only talk about in private amongst friends, but hey, it’s Trench Coat Thursday!

I will call each issue a “hump” that might stand in the way of a mind blowing destiny altering record breaking. beautiful wedding night and in answer to each, there is a hope. Do consider each hump and share what you think the hope is:

I) Hump: Even young men grow weary. I’m always so tired after a wedding and I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be for the bride and groom – both physically and emotionally! You’ve been on an emotional high all day, and between the photoshoots and tens of people coming to congratulate, hug and kiss you, everything must be a whirlwind!

Can you imagine having to get it on after all of that?

A few weeks before he got married, a guy friend of mine told me that he did not care how tired they were, he had waited for 28 years and he would not wait one day longer! So while the exhaustion may be a factor, for a lot of us I think that may won’t be a deterrent!

The hope: “But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength.” 😉

2. Hump: Nakedness is really scary. Blame it on Eve and Adam, they made it awkward for us. Sex was obviously designed by God to be a picture of what vulnerability looks like. There is a physical, spiritual and emotional dimension to nakedness and I imagine that it must be hard to trust someone enough to see all of you, especially if it’s for the first time.

The hope?

3. Hump: Coming in like a wrecking ball. I hope you will forgive me for misappropriating Miley’s words here. Most of my friends are either virgins or have become celibate and are waiting until marriage before they are sexually intimate. And all are expecting to have mindblowing sex on their honeymoon night. Especially the guys. I’m a bit worried that they’ll approach it like a game of rugby :-/ Many of us know the mechanics of sex but don’t know the art of it or how to deal with any issues that may come up. Like hygiene. Hollywood has not taught us that. We are not professionals!

The hope?

4. Hump: Baggage. Inevitably, each person will bring baggage into the relationship, it could hinder intimacy. Things like previous sexual partners, porn addiction and sexual abuse.

The hope?

At least we have a lifetime

Fellow future first timers (whether it’s your first first time or your second or third and so on), do yourself a favour and check out boundless.org ‘s Groom’s Guide to the Honeymoon  and something for the bride. Don’t be shy, both articles are tasteful and will not lead you down a dodgy path.

The point of this is not to get you panicking about your wedding night. Obviously, when the time comes, premarital counseling will be necessary. But we must begin to think about ways in which our minds need to be renewed about this and to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading.
Shula

Trench Coat Thursday (TCT):: I see, I like, (s)he’s nice, I strike

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get it“I need a thug that’ll have my back, do-rag, Nike Airs to match
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, that’s how I like it, baby
Where my thugs at? White T-shirt, I love that
Timberland boots, you does that, it’s a fact, that’s how I like it, baby.

Beyonce

I love people watching. I am sitting in MacDonalds watching Johannesburgers go by. Weaves, bald heads, afros, dreadlocks, crew cuts and an inordinate number of men with mohawks. I just spotted a red one go by. Baggy pants, shorts, skirts, summer dresses and lots of lumo. Of course, it is Trench Coat Thursday so we have to venture into some awkward territory, stuff you might call inappropriate topics of conversation. Have you ever heard someone say,

“Hm, he can get it.”?

What is ‘it’?

Beyonce can provide some much needed help here:

“Single Ladies” : If you want it then you should have put a ring on it.

“Check On It” : If you got it, flaunt it, boy I know you want it.

“Party”: I told my girls you can get it.

You get the picture?

I think it’s a pretty crude way of putting things and, admittedly, I would never say it myself. Or think it. When I do encounter someone I consider attractive I think:

“Hm, what a beautiful sample of God’s creation. Jesus, does he belong to you? Because he could definitely get it. Terms and conditions apply, of course.”

See below for terms and conditions.

Having spoken to my friends in relationships (married and dating/ courting), each of them say that ‘attraction’ is important. But what is attraction exactly? And how important is it? And what does God say about it? I want to explore this a little and share a few thoughts about it. I also hope that you will share yours in response and even challenge some of what I have said. Here are my thoughts:

Not my type.

What is your type and where does it come from? At some point in my life I decided that short men were not my type. It did not matter how good looking or smart or godly the guy was – if he was short he was not an option. If my memory serves me correctly, I decided that I did not like short men after a short conversation I had with my mother. On a day that we were out shopping, we bumped into a man who had  a huge crush on my mom when she was a young woman, he still looked at her with stars in his eyes. I remember asking my mom if she ever seriously considered him as a potential mate and she said, “Never! I would never marry a man as short as him.” And true to her word, the man she married was tall, dark and handsome, with a sky-scraping afro.

I think the kind of people we are attracted to is a combination of nature and nurture. But mostly nurture. The distinction is important because it means that who we are attracted to is not set in stone and is subject to change. For example, a guy friend of mine told me about how he was always attracted to very light-skinned girls (what he called yellow-bones) who conformed to a certain ‘look’: a long weave, narrow waist and a big butt . He said that most men have an ideal picture of what an attractive woman looks like and most men have to be broken out of this way of thinking. For him, that meant starting to see ‘real women’ as beautiful and letting go of the false standard of the hip hop video girl.

Please don’t make me marry an ugly person.

I know, I know, you do not want to marry an ugly person. Neither do I. But have you not been surprised at the kind of people that you find attractive? It is weird how I will meet a guy and think: “Hm, no he’s a nice guy but… nah.” and then I get to know them and one day I find myself thinking “Hm, I never realised how beautiful his eyes were.” It works the other way too- sometimes really beautiful people turn into not-so hot, mean people when you get to know them. The point is, attraction is not a static thing.

Keeping up appearances.

There is a Bible verse that says ‘Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.” This is not a saying, it is an actual Bible verse. It provides a comparison between the way that people see things and the way that God sees things. So, on the the one hand, people are more concerned about the way that things look on the outside, rather than what is on the inside. We spend thousands on hair cuts and extensions, new outfits and make-up – all just to make the outside look more attractive. I will admit it, the better looking you are, the more likely you are to get my attention, my number, my add on Facebook.

But God looks at the heart. I think it would be wrong to say that God does not czre about the outside. He, in His wisdom, created beautiful things and gave us the ability to appreciate beauty and to be drawn to it. The difference is that God prioritises it differently. When God looks at Naomi Campbell, his first concern is not “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.” but what state her heart is in. And Jesus modelled (see what I did there?) this perfectly. He was always upsetting the rich, beautiful and well dressed. The hotties. Because He chose to make friends with the notties.

That ought to challenge us in two ways: are you more concerned with the way you look on the outside than the way your heart is? And: if you are honest, when you think of someone you could be with for the rest of your life, have you prioritised the way they look over whether they have character and a healthy heart?

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.

shula.

*Terms and Conditions, who can get it.*
1. He must belong to Jesus. Like, fully. Church going or ‘curious about spiritual things’ is not enough.
2. He must not be a lone wolf. It is important that he has friends. People who can vouch for his character and hold him accountable.
3.He must put a ring on it and sign on the dotted line before he gets it.
4. My girls need to think he can get it (from me. Not them. Don’t get it twisted. Sharing is not caring!)

TCT :: #TheThirst – finding the ‘no’ in pornography [a few resources to help you along the way]

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TCT :: #TheThirst - finding the 'no' in pornography [a few resources to help you along the way]

I was going to do a whole post on how to get out of a porn addiction/ habit but I found some people who explain it better. For an entire website dedicated to this and to get started on a recovery programme, click on my photo. For more resources, look below.

Highly recommended:

Mark Driscoll, The Porn Path (text document, mp3 download, video content and related resources): http://marshill.com/media/real-marriage/the-porn-path

Anne Marie Miller Sexual Abuse and Pornography(her story) : http://www.annemariemiller.com/2013/08/28/my-story-part-1-the-preachers-daughter-the-youth-pastor-my-introduction-to-sexual-abuse-and-pornography/

Anne Marie Miller, Fighting and Addiction to Pornography (focus on women): http://www.annemariemiller.com/2013/08/28/my-story-part-1-the-preachers-daughter-the-youth-pastor-my-introduction-to-sexual-abuse-and-pornography/

Overcoming the Porn Trap: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/porn-pride-and-praise

Articles that will make you think:

“Truths” that porn teaches about women : http://www.focusonthefamily.me/english/default.aspx?cat=166&anum=0

Russell Moore’s talk on tempation, sexual immorality and porn: http://www.swbts.edu/campus-news/news-releases/moore-discusses-temptation-sexual-immorality-pornography-with-seminary-students/

When children view pornography: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/sexuality/when_children_use_pornography.aspx

Thanks for clicking.
shula.

Why I Call Myself the Sheepish Shulamite :: this is my 100th post!

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“I’m bad, I’m bad! You know it!”

Michael Jackson

My blog stats tell me that this is my 100th post – hurray! It has been a long time coming (since 9 August 2011) and I feel like my dogged determination to publish every week has payed off. So I have decided to celebrate this moment with a new look for the blog- I hope you like it! Also thought I would share some other stats:

All time views:

3, 106

Most popular topics (based on views):

Sex

Jesus/ Bible

Relationships

Marriage

Country with the most views:

South Africa

Cool countries I have received views from:

Iraq, Nepal and Brazil (moving there next year!)

About the name.  A few of you have asked me what the story is behind the blog name. Firstly, ‘the shulamite woman’ is the female character in what is one of my favourite pieces of writing – the Song of Songs. Read it, it is beautiful! Theologians have different ideas about who the woman is and she is quite a mysterious character. My friends began to call me The Shulamite as a joke because I could not stop talking about the book, so I owned the name! I am sheepish for two reasons. Firstly, because I often find myself feeling “[slightly] embarrassed defiant embarrassed because [I] know that [I] have done something wrong or silly”, I make a lot of mistakes. I am also sheepish because I follow the Good Shepherd and even though (like a sheep) I am not really smart and I lose my way sometimes, He’s always there to grab me by the feet and drag me back to the sheep pen.

Baa.

Thanks for reading.

shula.

 

#RedOctober:: and the right to be wrong

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My previous post was on how upon hearing about Red October, I was surprised by my own reaction to the initiative. I also shared on how it exposed my own racial prejudice.

As I walked home on Monday I asked the five people I met on the way what they thought about Red October. I recorded a few quotes that I somehow failed to save, so some of the profound things I heard from people are lost forever- citizen journalism fail! But soon after I did jot down some views into my notebook that I want  to share with you. While this is not intended to be an accurate and statistically correct representation of what people think across the ‘races’ think, I did try and spread things out. I chatted to five people – two white people and three black people. Of those people, three of them were female and two were male. All the people I spoke to are South African students.

Here are the thoughts I gathered:

What do you think of Red October?
Initially, the general view of Red October was negative but as the respondents explored the issue more, their answers became more balanced and they conceded that some of the issues raised by the cause are legitimate. One of the things that I found interesting was that both the white respondents I spoke to were very much against the campaign, whereas the black respondents were more open and balanced in their view.

Two of the respondents were of the view that this was just about a few white people who were upset at seeing their privilege taken away. One was upset about the fact that white people were being represented as not progressive, selfish and as people who see South Africa through a narrow and sheltered viewpoint.

When I asked her what her first reaction to this campaign was, a black female respondent said that she was angered and echoed the sentiments that I expressed in my previous post about how her own prejudices came to light.

One point that was raised was that while the concern about the prevalence of violent crime in the country is legitimate, this is an issue that all South Africans face – White, Black, Coloured, Indian, Chinese – and the campaign should have been an inclusive and collective one. I read an article online where one of the protestors commented and said that they were not only protesting for the protection of white people against violent crime but they were being a voice for all South Africans and wanted to urge all South Africans to stand up. Unfortunately, amongst all the reports and interviews with those at the forefront, this was a lone voice. A casual look at their website will tell you what this campaign is really about. At the bottom of the Home page is a photograph- all white men, women and children. It is clear in both the petition and the memorandum to the President that this is about the protection of “our rights”; “our people”; “our infrastructure”… Not that of all South Africans but of white South Africans!

The problem with this campaign is that it reeks of exclusivity. Is there anything wrong with exclusivity? There may be nothing wrong with it per se but in a country with a recent history of racial segregation and exclusion along colour lines, a cause that does the same thing will be seen as reinforcing the very thing that the Constitution, that this nation is trying to move away from. The impression is that this cause is being pursued by people who are either completely oblivious or deliberately insensitive to the economic and social circumstances that the majority of South Africans face.

One of the respondents made an important point about how Red October, while he disagrees with what it stands for, may be an indication of the general dissatisfaction of the people of South Africa and the a sign of the crisis that the country is in. While some may want to debate the question of whether the ANC government has failed or not, I want to focus on the truth of the notion that, in general, there is a spirit of dissatisfaction with where South Africa is. The labour strikes, the Marikana incident and even this morning’s SABC News report on illegal occupation of RDP housing all go to showing this. The organisers of Red October have failed to contextualise its ideals and place them in a conversation that is already going on, it falls short of the higher, unifying cause: that of justice for all mankind who are made in the image of God and are entitled to freedom, equality and dignity.

Do you think that white people are being oppressed?
All the respondents answered the question either by referring to the BBBEE (economic empowerment) policy and affirmative action policy or the violent crime against white people in South Africa, with specific reference to the farm murders that have taken place.

Two of the black respondents acknowledged the truth of the reports of the brutal murders on farms recently and in the past. One noted that South Africa has a serious problem with violent crime but questioned the notion that violence was being meted out along racial lines. A point that was repeated was that violence in South Africa was something all were being faced with – black on white violence, white on white, black on black, indian on black, and so on. In sum, white people are suffering under violent crime, but everyone else is too. The difference is the circumstances in which that violence plays out.

With regards to the economic question, all respondents expressed the view that, overall, white people are in a position of privilege as compared to the majority. Both of the white respondents I spoke to referred to the colonial and Apartheid legacy and how it had privileged white people over “non-whites”, particularly with regards to beneficial participation in the economy. One respondent rubbished the idea that white people are being oppressed economically and said that white people as a whole have enjoyed and continue to enjoy undeserved economic privileges, the fruit of which was the oppression and exploitation of the majority of the population.

On the question of whether the BBBEE policies were a form of reverse apartheid, one respondent said that white people have to recognise the inequalities that apartheid entrenched and the need to create a system by which a more fair distribution of resources can be achieved. She acknowledged that these policies did place white people at a disadvantage and that it was a form of discrimination but it was fair in that it served a legitimate purpose.

One respondent expressed the fact that the campaigners are of the view that their interests are being being ignored is an indication that some people are feeling marginalised and this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the government. I thought this was an important point, a point that I think goes to the crux of the issue.

My take on all of this

Having followed the Red October story one thing that is clear is that there are white South Africans who are frustrated with where South Africa is and are fearful about their future prospects in South Africa. The use of words like “white genocide” express this fear – the fear that white people will one day be completely excluded and will lose their voice, either through the having their lives taken away or their economic rights taken away.

It may be that because this cause is driven by fear and not hope that some of the points are illogical. An example of this is the misinterpretation of statistics which outline the murder rate in South Africa. A correct interpretation makes it clear that, in fact, more black people are killed per capita. Read this News24 article where this point is discussed.

I do think that there is evidence of some racially motivated violent incidents by black people on white people, particularly on farms – brutal, disgusting, inhumane and unjustifiable. And, in my opinion, the empowerment policies have empowered a few at the cost of many. But black people are paying the price for the corruption too. And this is not reverse apartheid. Lest we forget, we need to remind ourselves that apartheid involved the systematic degrading of human beings –

don’t sit here, sit there; this is your curfew, be indoors when the tower light comes on, never mind the fact that you’re 45 years old; this is where you can eat, here’s the plate you can eat out of, don’t touch the boss’s stuff; this is where you can hang out, you may drink this alcohol and not that one;

go to school here with people like you… how dare you speak that devil language in my presence?

look at the pretty 3 roomed house we’ve built for you,with a patch of lawn at the front, be grateful; use the outside toilet or better still, use a bucket;

walk on this side of the road and I’ll walk there; I’ll call you Doris because Nqobisile is too hard for me to say; and we’ll call you Jonathan now that you’re baptised – wear this and not that, walk, talk, look like a respectable young white man (although we both know you’ll never amount to that).

These things did not just affect people’s material or physical circumstances but they were like weapons, sometimes cutting through the heart like a sharp knife, quickly, leaving an open wound. But most often like a bludgeon, daily beating at one’s core, dulling one’s sense of self until you were numb, until you finally forgot and submitted. Until you forgot what it means to be a woman, a man, an African – what it means to be human.

One of the people I spoke to made a point about democracy that really struck me. He talked about how the fact that Red October could even happen was a testimony to how far South Africa has come. He drew a comparison between the June 16 images of the police shooting into unarmed masses of children, dogs tearing through flesh; and the images we saw last week: of people standing peacefully, releasing red balloons into the air as police stood watch, keeping the peace, protecting the protestors. This time around there were no arrests made after speeches or forced detentions or covered up police murders or censorship – people’s voices were heard on every side, conversations were started, Twitter wars and Facebook rants.

Freedom comes when we know what is right and we have the power to do it. In the pursuit of freedom, we will often find ourselves in the wrong, but we must reserve the right to be wrong, if only to bring us to a place where we are able to recognise truth when we see it. We will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

My hope was renewed once again, as well as my conviction that while all of mankind still have a long way to go – we have the promise of freedom, equality and dignity as beacons lighting the way.

And a just and loving God who wrote these on our hearts.

Thanks for reading.
shula

The Art of Saying What You Need To Say

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People like to say that things are easier said than done but that’s not always true is it? Sometimes saying something is so much scarier than demonstrating it. And many of us tend towards keeping silent when we really ought to speak up and say something. I am believer in the idea that

Words speak louder than actions.

You read right. Words are powerful. Yes, there is are times when we need to show people how we feel or what we think but there are also times when we need to tell them!

I know that a lot of us struggle to put things into words, especially when it comes to saying things like “I love you”, “I’m hurt” or “I need your help”. We are afraid of saying things the wrong way or being misunderstood, or putting ourselves out there. Words have a way of awkwardly hanging in the air once they are out.

But the power of words is something we all need to harness, particularly in relationships – personal and professional. We need to learn to express ourselves in words, how to say what we need to say. I want to paint some broad strokes on how you can get started on developing your conversation skills. Later, I will share some ideas on how to actually say what you need to say.

Here are my thoughts:

Start small (talk).
People often say that they hate small talk but it is such a good conversation skill developer!  Seriously, it takes a great conversationalist to chat about the weather or why the airline needs to improve its checking-in system. Practise expressing your views on every day things to strangers and friends. It will teach you to express your thoughts and feelings in words. Get comfortable with starting conversations about small issues as a starting and build your confidence there.

The two Rs: Read and Write
This may seem odd to you but for someone who struggles to find the words to say things, reading is an important way of building up a storehouse of ways of saying things. How many times have you read a quote that sums up exactly how you feel? Or read an opinion piece and thought “I couldn’t have put it better myself!” I have found that I internalize more of what I read than what I watch on TV.  Get reading! And start writing. I often write letters or cards to my friends. Some of which I have given to them, or trashed or kept in my draft folder. Writing helps us process our thoughts while expressing them. When was the last time you sat down and wrote down how your day went. Start there. Writing is especially important when it comes to expressing things that are really hard to say. A number of times before I have a hard conversation with someone I will sit down and write down what I want to say to them. I then leave it (usually to pray, think or talk to someone else about it) and return a few days later and review what I have written. It is a helpful process because it helps me understand my own thoughts on the matter and it gives me enough time to really weigh up what I want to say.

Chill out.
Yes, putting things into words is hard and there is always the danger of putting your foot in your mouth, offending or hurting the person you’re speaking to or just getting lost in what you are saying. But you will live. And you will learn. You will learn that feet can be retrieved from the proverbial mouth, that sometimes the truth does hurt and that a sincere apology can go a long way. You will also learn that the people in your life want to hear your thoughts, feelings and opinions and that they value them, you will discover the power of your words to build and tear down.

These are some really brief notes on how you can practise speaking out. Some other issues that are relevant are the importance of timing, how to be honest without crushing another person’s spirit and how not to let your fear or shyness short circuit a conversation. But that’s for another day!

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.
shula.