Tag Archives: Being Zulu

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.





Guest Post: Why I run

Guest post from Simple Girl blogging over at (Simple Girl Writes) who defines herself as Slightly Neurotic, Cheerful, Blessed, Wants to be a back-up singer in the next lifetime, Sh*t scared of pigeons and chickens, Econometric nerd extraordinaire, Just a simple girl

Let me set the record clear. I am not one of those “born to run” types, or the “I run so I can feel amazing at the end of the race” types nor am I one of those “I run to feel the wind in my hair” types.

No, no, no.

I’m more of the “always picked last in the Physical Education class”; “avoid all sports where I have things flying at my face” types. In fact, I only began to run in my mid-twenties. Sounds like a quarter life crisis right??

And to make matters worse everyone knows how much I hate running.  I hate the sound of my steps on the pavement, I hate how it feels like my knees are about to collapse, and I especially hate the sound of my breath as I gasp for more air. Yet, every week for the past two months, I have (almost – this past Tuesday doesn’t count) religiously put on my sneakers and joined a group of real runners for a weekly 5k time trail.

So why do I do this to myself if no one forces me to do it? Why do I go through all that huffing and puffing just to go around in a big pointless circle ending back where I started? Why do I subject myself to this weekly ritual, especially as I don’t receive a prize at the end? And especially as I always get weird looks and funny comments as I run behind the pack – why do I run? Am I a sucker for pain? Am I crying out for love? Am I coping with abandonment issues?

No, no and a big NO.

So why do I run? I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have compiled a list of reasons explaining this new, weird and torturous activity I put my body through every week:

4. I run to fight the thunder thighs

I was lucky enough to spend a year abroad and not come back home three times larger. To my mother’s dismay and my friends’ surprise -I came home with a new physique and have received a constant flow of compliments because of it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the new bod and I especially love the compliments. I love that I can now wear those cute little dresses which I was always too self-conscious to wear because of my monstrous thunder thighs. But now the problem is that I have to maintain this new physique.

And honestly, it was easy to lose the weight. It didn’t require that much sacrifice on my part as I lived in a country where I could walk everywhere. But now I’m back in wonderful Jo’burg where we drive everywhere. See my dilemma?

Hence I run. I run so that the compliments continue. I run to shut up all those “friends” who said I would gain the weight back after two months (hahaha, look at me now biatches J). And I run because I honestly don’t want to go back to wearing the size 38 pants.

3. and not forgetting the muffin top

  Muffin top

*Cringe moment*

I was fighting the onslaught of a legendary muffin top – so much so, I was even contemplating going back to wearing skirts and dresses only – so that I can hide the overspill that occurred every time I wore a pair of jeans. But here I am, in my favourite pair of skinnies – with no muffin top to worry about.

Sigh. Thank you 5k trail runs.

2. To enjoy my weekly pastry treat from Fournos

I unfortunately work in an office where cake is provided for every single occasion.  When we celebrate a team member’s birthday, we celebrate with cake. When we celebrate a non-team member’s birthday – we eat cake. When we celebrate promotions, we have cake. When we have the Monday morning seminars – we eat cake. When we submit tender proposals in time, when we are highly stressed, when the sun shines too brightly, when it rains too hard – you get it right? We eat cake ALL the time. ALL THE TIME.

 Fournos muffins

I don’t fight it. I don’t ask why we have an unexplainable supply of cake.  I just allow myself one (albeit very thin) slice of cake once a week and enjoy the 5mins of cake heaven in my mouth.

Guilt-free 5 minutes of cake time – thank you 5k trail runs.

1. The great pick –up

I am one of those girls lucky enough to have an incredibly tall boyf – ok, incredibly tall is an exaggeration but as I am only 1.58m, almost everyone is taller than me.  And apart from his charming ways, general incredibleness (is that even a word?) and intelligence to land himself such a great gal, one of the reasons why I’m so smitten with him is that he picks me up when he hugs me. Yes, he picks me up – feet in the air, arms around my waist just to say good night. He does this every time.

I know, I know – it swept me off my feet as well J

Now prior to my weight loss and running tactics, I used to cringe at the anticipation that he would end off the night with the great pick-up. And this was not because he complained about my body size (a tall strong Zulu man would never complain about extra junk in the trunk), this was just me hyperventilating about whether I would break his back or whether we would stumble and fall (and then I break his back!) etc. etc. Needless to say, we never fell. There was no back breaking or any other awkward moment. But I still worried about it every time he did it.

And what about now you ask – post weekly runs?

Well, without giving away too much about my shenanigans, let’s just say that the legendary pick-ups are a firm favourite again for both of us this time. I practically demand them now. J

So there you go. Those are my reasons for the weekly runs – to look fab in THAT dress, to look fab in my skinnies, to enjoy some cake and to make a tall Zulu pick me up. All guilt-free.

Here’s to more running!


Simple girl