Monday Blues …

It is currently 17 degrees in Cape Town, with 100 percent chance of showers from now until the wee hours of tomorrow morning. So the weather is a bit dreary but, I have been listening to some lovely tunes this morning.

 

Enjoy and thank me later!!

 

Sunday Reads

  1. Books to inspire healthy eating.
  2. Taking care of your knives. I got so many knives as a wedding gift, so this is personally meaningful.
  3. Imagine finding out that what you think of your parents is not so.
  4. Considering all the stuff on HONY the past two weeks, this is so painful to imagine.
  5. Like her blog and this post because it had products that I could probably use.
  6. Probably the only review of Lemonade that resonates.
  7. Learnt a new word this week: syndemic!
  8. It is so true that children have to be taught to hate.
  9. This portrayal of beauty in Kenya over the last 100 years is NOT really representative in my eyes.
  10. I used to advocate for the death penalty.Not anymore.
  11. I really miss living in the same town as my best best friends. I said it!
  12. Love the show Blackish, very interesting to listen to the interview with the shows creator.
  13. Different recipes

Belated Sunday Reads

  1. On yearning for love in your 20s, in a positive and factual way.
  2. My dad gave us little sips of alcohol when my sisters and I were little and we turned out fine.
  3. Yummy!! Vegetarian Lo Mein.
  4. On how to arrive at your calling or passion.
  5. How revolutionary, women in Saudi Arabia now get copies of their marriage certificateūüėģ
  6. The effects of intra-uterine shocks on the cognitive development of children.

Reviews of Books I have Recently Read

I had a few books that I needed to get through and here are my thoughts on some of them.

Coconut by Kopano Matlwa

  • The story talks about identify, self expression¬†and family¬†as well as issues of class and wealth and post-colonial African societies.
  • Made me ask myself what makes me African. Is it my dreadlocks, my clothing style, the language I speak or not speak. My race perhaps? Africans come in many moulds and it is fine because we build up each other and our environment.
  • It’s critically acclaimed and I agree that it’s¬†definitely an important piece of literature for our time.
  • The writing style is not great and it was very confusing to know when it was a thought or the actual storyline and a good editor would have helped with this. But its a few pages so you could quickly get past that.

Spilt Milk – Kopano Matlwa

  • I quite liked this book, slightly better written but it definitely had more promise than it finally delivered because it just ended abruptly. To be honest, it also started just as abruptly so maybe this is a stylistic feature?
  • Can’t really say much about the other themes but the theme of education and a School that influences young African minds and philosophy personally appealed to me.
  • I also loved that she paid homage to all the (black) African greats and it was very encouraging to see this greatness that has gone before us. Led me to ask myself, who is writing the African story? My story, your story?
  • Loved the story and would definitely recommend it.

Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta

  • I love, love, love this book. Love the author and her previous collection of short stories. So before you ask, I will recommend this book.
  • Themes: love, marriage/ relationships, family, homosexuality, loss, identity.
  • I love here writing style and the language she uses also how she develops her characters. You get to really understand them and start to root for them.
  • The novel is extremely complex and multi-layered and is not something you read casually.
  • I have shared before my thoughts on homosexuality and fully stand by the fact that the action is sinful but the individuals are beloved of God and so I read the story more for the literature but not because I stand by or believe in it.
  • Nigeria has the Biafran War that has been included in a lot of literature. This made me think of what contemporary Kenyan or Ugandan writers talk about as that definining moment of our history.

Dust – Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

  • This book is a historical account of Kenya as a novel. It takes us through the history of a nation through the story of a house and a family from 1963 to 2007/8 when the post-election violence happened.
  • If I had to give any criticism, its that the¬†book has two very distinct parts and only the very patient will see it to the end and enjoy it. It starts slow and seems patchy and disjointed in certain places then it picks momentum and takes off. Beautiful work!!
  • There are a lot of characters, yes, but they are all interconnected so its quite easy to lace through them.
  • The books themes include: nationalism/ identity, love, passion, corruption, leadership, art/ creativity.
  • Must read to anyone wishing to understand Kenya or planning a visit there.

Have you read anything interesting recently?

 

Note to self …

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I read this a couple of weeks back and it made me feel something. Not sure what, but as a Black Women, I felt something and so I shared it.

Sunday Reads

Tonnes of baby/mama related reads because a close pal is having a baby!!

  1. Boosting post-partum care.
  2. Article captures how you reconcile a shift in your nationality or what you define yourself as.
  3. Presentation tips that apply to all of us.
  4. Being rich means living longer and therefore positive gains on your pension. (NY Times)
  5. I would still choose to be a kid in the ’90s.
  6. How do you keep up the creativity?
  7. Stylish senior citizens. Yaaaassss!!!
  8. Anyone that knows me knows I have been singing about wanting a four month maternity without a kid. Turns out its called “meternity”.
  9. Some people have very meaningful jobs
  10. Talent, passion or obsession? (YouTube)
  11. I recently got a juicer so i am glad for the different recipes.
  12. Mushrooms and chickpeas on toast.
  13. The many places that salt hides in food we eat.

Long Sunday Reads

  1. Thoughtful cards that recognise the many paths to parenthood.
  2. I would happily co-sign the petition to have all academic research freely distributed. (NY Times link)
  3. The top researchers on RePec (Research Papers in Economics) from a ” Developing Country” are all male and predominantly pale.
  4. Jeez, the ethics and externalities stemming from a privately owned city in India.
  5. Decorating together as a couple.
  6. Relationships aren’t always exciting or glamorous. And that’s fine. These 24 comics celebrate the more mundane bits of things #7, 12,16,17,19 and especially 22.
  7. I’m already so iffy about eating eggs, not sure it was wise to read this egg on whether to wash eggs or not, whether to keep them in the fridge or not.
  8. Daily life in a major Accra slum. Very riveting (but could be gross) read.
  9. Imagine if your hotel owner knowingly spied on you while you visited their hotel?
  10. Don’t let fear dictate how your life should be / the pressures that women face regarding marriage.
  11. Data sources for researchers, many free and easily available.
  12. No more boy only OR girl only books.
  13. Wearable baby tech marketed to parents based on fear mongering.So shameful and morally horrid.
  14. What will happen when African leaders take their election rigging online? I cannot even imagine!
  15. I am sometimes guilty of not taking my job THIS seriously!!
  16. Various recipes this week.

What never to say your partner

This Hippo advert provides serious fodder for a pre-marital class. Husbands never want to hear they are nothing like your father or wives that you wish she could be more like your mom.

Hilarious ad though that captures the message adequately!

Other adverts available here and here. 

Take your pick – which version do you prefer better?

OR

 

It’s a really tough call for me because I totally love Mary J Blige but I also love the second version!!

Sunday Reads

  1. Quick lunch/snack recipe:¬†Chickpea “tuna” salad¬†
  2. Cooking with lentils & beans
  3. Don’t really like vegetarian burgers but these lentil meatballs sure look yum!
  4. This article made me realise why people do not share the names of their babys before birth, but clearly once they are born, the name is not safe either!!
  5. Pics of the beautiful Cape Town.
  6. Beautiful pics of the Festima Festival in Burkina Faso.
  7. Some non-traditional baby gift ideas.
  8. Breaking up is hard. Breaking up in the day of Facebook, is something else altogether.(NY Times Article)
  9. A better way to think of your to-do list.
  10. Get Tested. Be Faithful. Remain Faithful. Otherwise, always use protection.
  11. On buying friendship in Japan. Read this and thanked God for my genuine (free) friendships.
  12. This lady did what I always say to my single pals about putting themselves out there in order to meet a guy!
  13. Sad that the recently legalised Marijuana business in the states has a colour preference.
  14. How do you feel about motherhood?

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If I Was Having Coffee With My Younger Self

If we were having coffee, I would tell you of the different moments when I knew I was grown and I was OK with it. Minute 5:22 of this video.

‚ÄúAs you start to get older it‚Äôs about reconciling the fantasy with reality and still maintaining the vision for your life. So that you are going towards what you want but still incorporating the reality of life‚Äôs experience and reconciling that certain things you don‚Äôt have control over.‚ÄĚ Tracee Ellis Ross

We all have this age when it hits us that some of the plans we made as young people will not take the single format we had envisioned.

When I was young, I knew that I would one day be married, never really planned the wedding but knew that I would be married. In my head, I was going to meet my husband at 24 get married at 26 and have my first child at 28 like my mom. Well, when at 23 I enrolled to do my Masters, I knew that this was never going to happen. Also, when I started working and realised the cost of weddings, I knew I had to push it out.

Or the dream to join the World Bank Young Professional Programme? Slowly and painfully letting this one go as I approach 32 and resting on the fact that hopefully I can join the Bank at a later stage in my career.

Similarly, how quickly I dropped the dream to go to the London School of Economics and do my Masters – one day I looked at their prospectus and realised that I was not interested in their course offering.

The dream to live alone before I was married. Things changed and it was fine.

I guess at different stages I learnt that the dream does not have to come in only one format and that you know what, it’s OK to reconfigure, to rediscover to restart or redo. It’s OK. My new thing is to keep it moving and to keep trying forward.

About this blogging challenge!

“Ship before you are ready, because you will never be ready”

I love Seth Godin and look forward to his daily blogs. Below, a recent one that totally challenged my work ethic, copied word for word from his blog here.

Show your work

It’s tempting to sit in the corner and then, voila, to amaze us all with your perfect answer.

But of course, that’s not what ever works.

What works is evolving in public, with the team. Showing your work. Thinking out loud. Failing on the way to succeeding, imperfecting on your way to better than good enough.

Do people want to be stuck with the first version of the iPhone, the Ford, the Chanel dress? Do they want to read the first draft of that novel, see the rough cut of that film? Of course not.

Ship before you’re ready, because you will never be ready. Ready implies you know it’s going to work, and you can’t know that. You should ship when you’re prepared, when it’s time to show your work, but not a minute later.

The purpose isn’t to please the critics. The purpose is to make your work better.

Polish with your peers, your true fans, the market. Because when we polish together, we make better work.

I tend to wait until I have the perfect answer, or I have the perfect report/ proposal or I have prepared the perfect meal before I speak up and sometimes what is required is that you give a suggestion or you show that you are engaging with the material.

I will now ship before I am ready because unlike the common saying, I will never be ready!!

Book Review: Happiness is a Four Letter Word v Men of the South

Following this summary of what is currently on my to-read bookshelf I have a couple of books that I would like to review.

Happiness is a Four Letter Word – Cynthia Jele

I loved this book, it deals with two things that I am particularly passionate about: Johannesburg and female relationships.

  • The book is what would happen if Sex and the City had been cast in a cosmopolitan African city. If you would love to see that, check out the YouTube series, An African City.
  • The themes are easily recognisable: love, family, beauty, work/ career advancement, marriage, female friendships.
  • The book is a really easy read, I started on Friday at 7 and finished the next day by 12.
  • Having said that,¬†it is definitely a conversation starter and will have you thinking deeply about some of the issues dealt with for instance, what would I tell a dear friend that was cheating on her husband because she did not exactly marry him for love? Or a friend that rekindles communication with an old ex?
  • Only concern and I guess because of my personal views, I feel like the author¬†portrays a very negative view of (Black) relationships and someone that is not acquainted with any¬†Black people might take it as a given that this is how our love dynamics play out. Yes it’s a novel, but their portrayal is definitely very one-sided, what happened to “normal“?
  • Would I recommend it? Definitely yes!! I actually cannot wait for the author to release a second book.

Men of the South – Zukiswa Wanner

A bit of a preliminary disclaimer is that I read this book on the back of Happiness and the after-glow it gave me.

  • The book’s main theme is love and relationships (gender dynamics, hetero- or homosexuality, family and friendships) and it definitely deals with each of these in turn.
  • The book is set in Johannesburg and Cape Town, cities that I can safely say I am familiar with which makes the reading that bit enjoyable when I can understand the¬†physical setting.
  • The book provides an entry point to have some difficult conversations for example, being a Black homosexual in a culture where one is expected to get a wife and settle down or what if I earn more than my husband and can take care of him, should he stay home while I work?
  • However, I think it attempted to do too much in a few pages and¬†fell short. Hence, it was not as memorable as it could possibly be. I also felt that¬†the first person reportage was not too helpful either.
  • Overall, the book was quite predictable and I would not recommend it unless you maybe had a few hours and did not want to be wowed but wanted to tick a book off your reading list.

Rachel’s Blue – Zakes Mda

I tried to read this book and failed to get into it despite trying. In light of my recent advice on how to read more books, I am giving up and will mark this is a non-read on my part. My biggest issue I suppose is that I love it when he writes about various aspects of South African people and the setting of this book was too different for me to adjust my expectations accordingly.

 

 

 

 

Each one help one

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We all have those days when we need a little boost, each one help one!

Happy Human Rights Day South Africans.

Sunday Reads

  1. This post reminded me that bloggers ARE real people.
  2. Useful apps for the travel bunnies in our midst.
  3. Five uses for your Baseline Survey.
  4. Imagine the impact on the enviroment if all take away coffee/tea mugs were recyclable?
  5. An old friend from home released a song recently, check it out!
  6. I suppose writing a cookery book is like any other project – emotional, time-consuming and involving.
  7. BUT WE are not here for THEM.
  8. Interesting article on food and the Vatican. (Aside: read the comments, ridiculous!)
  9. On travelling while Black IN AFRICA. One. Two. AfDB Report on the same.
  10. A beautiful conspiracy.
  11. Down with small talk or, how to do it better.

Friday Tunes

At my first job, we had a dedicated “DJ” that would send us Friday Tunes to stop us hanging ourselves get us all into the weekend always with the title “Friday Tunes” and this post is definitely meant to be a shout-out to those good old days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJr80jXCepc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f2qkejlPjo

Enjoy and have a super duper weekend!

How to Read More Books

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I agree with most of his recommendations but I find I struggle with Number 4, I tend to finish the book just to whinge about it OR, I keep coming back to it, read a page, struggle and then leave it till next time. BUT for the second time in recent times, I have seen this somewhere, if I am not enjoying a book, quit already, life is too short for this level of bother!!

Also, while I do not schedule a specific reading time, my night time routine is a final cuppa with a good book.

What about you, what’s your reading routine like?

(Fleeting) Female friendships

I often talk about female friendships that are in many parts so fulfilling but sometimes so emotionally frustrating. Just today at lunch I was thinking about how fleeting female friendships can also be. In particular I was thinking of all the people that I am not longer friends with.

Of the friend that is a twin who felt the need to lie about her age. PS: her twin said his age honestly. Also, we were in our early twenties when age was not yet a thing.

Of the childhood friend that went through such a demeaning and embarrassing break-up and because we all knew of it, our friendship could never be the same again. We eventually made up and can talk but things are just not the same. Too much history there.

Of an old time friendship that is hanging on by the skin of its’ teeth because … who knows.

While they have such depth and can be emotionally fulfilling, female friendships can at times also change just as suddenly. Sometimes because we honestly outgrow each other or sometimes for no reason beyond the fact that its time to let go and move.

Today’s post is written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt —->¬†Fleeting

 

 

Late Sunday Reads

  1. Google for kids? Kiddle
  2. Yummy tamarind chicken.
  3. Yummy Lemony Cream Cheese Pancakes with Blueberries.
  4. This colour thesaurus is so beautiful to behold.
  5. On how female friendships change with time.
  6. This is what it means to truly love someone. It’s a verb.
  7. Of the first AIDS patients and how most of them are now are in their late 60s and 70s.
  8. Oatmeal latte, anyone? REALLY not sure.
  9. Carrot cake for two?
  10. Welcome to poaching fruits.
  11. I happen to live with someone that could eat eggs for three main meals and as snacks in between. Here are some lovely dishes to try out.
  12. Sometimes our best motivation is external.

    Often, our best work happens when we’re in a situation we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. The hard part is choosing to be in that sort of situation in the first place, the uncomfortable one where we have no choice but to do better work.

  13. Which would you want in a job, freedom or responsibility?

    Freedom and responsibility aren’t given, they’re taken

  14. I have friends with whom I share goals.

    A common trait among successful people is that they have friends who expect them to move on up.

On my bookshelf

As one of my goals this month is to read more African literature, these are the books on my bookshelf.

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One Day I will Write About This Place – Binyavanga Wainanina (Kenya/Uganda)

Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle-class Kenyan childhod out of kilter with the world around him. This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colourful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother’s beauty parlour, black mamba bicycle bells, mechanics in Nairobi, the music of Michael Jackson – all punctuated by the infectious laughter of his brother and sister, Jimmy and Ciru. He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own. In this vivid and compelling debut, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his failed attempt to study in South Africa, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya. The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood. Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, in 2002, a writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along. A series of fascinating reporting assignments follows in other African countries. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties. Resolutely avoiding stereotype and cliche, Wainaina paints every scene in One Day I Will Write About This Place with a highly distinctive and hugely memorable brush.

 

Men of the South – Zukiswa Wanner (South Africa)

In Johannesburg three men’s lives revolve around one woman. Mfundo is a struggling jazz musician. All hope of ever becoming famous end when he gets into a macho fight with an international R&B artist. No one is keen to employ him any longer, and Mfundo takes the role of house-husband. But his girlfriend Sli is not willing to be the ‘man’ of the house. Mzilikazi is a gay man in a heterosexual marriage. One of the few people in his life who do not question the decision he makes is his best friend, Sli. Tinaye is a Zimbabwean struggling to gain citizenship in South Africa hence his current situation – underpaid and overqualified. The only way to gain citizenship is to marry Grace. But then he meets Sli…

 

Coconut – Kopano Matlwa (South Africa)

An important rumination on youth in modern-day South Africa, this haunting debut novel tells the story of two extraordinary young women who have grown up black in white suburbs and must now struggle to find their identities. The rich and pampered Ofilwe has taken her privileged lifestyle for granted, and must confront her swiftly dwindling sense of culture when her soulless world falls apart. Meanwhile, the hip and sassy Fiks is an ambitious go-getter desperate to leave her vicious past behind for the glossy sophistication of city life, but finds Johannesburg to be more complicated and unforgiving than she expected. These two stories artfully come together to illustrate the weight of history upon a new generation in South Africa.

ASIDE: Claim to fame, the husband went to school with her Husband and we attended their wedding.

 

Happiness is a Four Letter Word – Cynthia Jele (South Africa)

Nandi, Zaza, Tumi and Princess are four ordinary friends living life in the fast and fabulous lanes of Joburg. Suddenly, no amount of cocktails can cure the stress that simultaneously unsettles their lives. Nandi’s final wedding arrangements are nearly in place so why is she feeling on edge?
Zaza, the ‚Äútrophy wife‚ÄĚ, waits for the day her affair comes to light and her husband gives her a one-way ticket back to the township; Tumi has only one wish to complete her perfect life ‚Äď a child. But when her wish is granted, it‚Äôs not exactly how she pictured it. And Princess? For the first time ever, she has fallen in love ‚Äď with Leo, a painter who seems to press all the right buttons. But soon she discovers ‚Äď like her friends already have ‚Äď that life is not a bed of roses, and happiness never comes with a manual . . .

ASIDE: Please read the book and/or watch the movie currently at the Cinemas.

 

Dust – Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya)

Kenya, 2007. Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His sister, Ajany, and their father bring his body back home, to a crumbling colonial house in northern Kenya. But the peace they seek is hard to find: the murder has stirred deeply buried memories of colonial violence, of the killing-sprees of the Mau Mau uprising, and the shocking political assassination of Tom Mboya in 1969. When a young Englishman appears, searching for his missing father, another story, of love, or at least a connection, begins.

This is a spellbinding state of the nation novel about Kenya, showing how the violence of the past informs the violence and disorder of the present. Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s memorable characters; Ajany’s mother, deranged with grief and past violations, the Trader, embodying the timeless nomadic traders of Sudan, and Odidi himself, who transcended his past, came to success, and then a tragic end, are enchanting. Owuor reveals to us a new Kenya, a Kenya of bloodshed but also of modernity, suffused with a spirit world only half-remembered. This is a country where the characters listen so acutely for what is not said, and for the voices from the distant and recent past.

 

Rachel’s Blue – Zakes Mda (South Africa)

After a few stalls of beets, kale and zucchinis, and of candles made from beeswax and shaped into angels by a beekeeper who is also selling bottled honey, Jason stops to listen to yet another busker . . . He concludes that it is not for her voice ‚Äď rather airy and desperate ‚Äď that her open guitar case is bristling with greenbacks. It is for her strawberry blonde bangs peeping out from under her hat, and her deep blue eyes, and her willowy stature, and her brown prairie skirt of plaid gingham, and her bare feet with tan lines drawn by sandals, and her black T with ‚ÄúAppalachia Active‚ÄĚ in big white letters across her breasts ‚Äď the entire wholesome package that stands before him. She is trying hard to make her voice sound full-bodied and round, but she was not born for singing. She loses a beat to say ‚Äúthank you‚ÄĚ after Jason deposits a single, and then she tries hard to catch up with the song before it goes out of control.

At that moment Jason recognises her. Rachel. Rachel Boucher from Jensen Township . . .
Athens County, Ohio, USA. When Rachel Boucher and Jason de Klerk meet again ‚Äď five years after high school ‚Äď they immediately renew their friendship. But for Jason their friendship is just a stepping stone to something more ‚Äď a romantic union that seems to have the blessing of the whole community. That is until Rachel becomes involved with Skye Riley.
As Skye and Rachel grow ever closer, Jason’s anger at the relationship boils over into violence, violence that turns the community on its head, setting old friends and neighbours against one another. But this is just a taste of things to come as, it turns out, Rachel is pregnant . . .

 

The Texture of Shadows – Mandla Langa (South Africa).

It is 1989, a high point of hope in South Africa’s political history. The nation is abuzz with rumours of Nelson Mandela’s imminent release, the dismantling of guerrilla camps and the possibility of peace.
A band of exiled People’s Army soldiers returns to South Africa. After years in Angola they think the change they have been fighting for is finally about to become a reality. They have been ordered to carry and deliver a sealed trunk to an unspecified destination. It is a mission that makes them a target as different parties set out to separate the men from the trunk and its mysterious contents, setting the stage for several fierce conflicts.
The Texture of Shadows explores a world of hardened guerrilla fighters, corrupt police officers, ex-political prisoners and the victims of abuse of a system of bannings and beatings. But there are also cracks in this steel-edged world that hope, love and beauty can fill as the reader is swept up in the story of Chaplain Nerissa Rodrigues and her fellow soldiers.

Will post reviews as I read them!