Our Book Club read for March was Toni Morrison’s The Source of Self Regard . I was really eager to get into it because of everyone’s reaction when she passed away in 2019, there was such sadness at the loss of a great literary mind YET, I had struggled to really get into her writing. Prior to this read, I had only read God Help The Child and I quite enjoyed it.
- Her command of language and how she uses it to say what she says. I felt like I was in primary school turning to my dictionary for every second word but it was worth it. As a wordsmith she contorts language to do and say exactly what she needs to do and impart the feeling she needs.
- Her writing confirmed that you can’t be such an accomplished writer and not read widely. Girl reads. Widely.
- How she talks about language and what it can and can’t achieve. You feel it and you enjoy the experience of it all.
- What IS African American literature? Is it a separate thing and/or what actually defines it. Also the hoops it has to jump through to be understood or taken seriously. Gave me twice as good as them to get half of what they have vybes. But we the readers are so much richer for this because the writing is so much better.
- I enjoyed her talking about her writing process and how she thinks of it / approaches it.
Now to some specific themes and quotes that I loved from each of them.
The Foreign / Being Foreign
- In the second essay she talks through Camara Laye’s book of how a white man would migrate back to Africa and how he prepares himself. Even then, there is still some caucasity.
- The idea of home and how layered it is. No one knows this more than me, what is home and what makes it home?
- She refers to James Baldwin in her tribute to him as follows: “your life refuses summation … and invites contemplation.”
- Frederick Douglass talking about his grandmother, and James Baldwin talking about his father, and Simone de Beauvoir talking about her mother, these people are my access to me; they are my entrance into my own interior life. And that is so true, we understand ourselves best by looking at our families and those nearest and dearest to us.
- Writers, like water, have perfect memory.
- But writing is not simply recollecting or reminiscing or even epiphany. It is doing, creating a narrative infused [ …] with legitimate and authentic characteristics of the culture.
the Afro-American presence in American literature
- The so called every day life of black people is certainly lovely to live, but whoever is living it must know that each day of his “everyday” black life is a triumph of matter over mind and sentiment over common sense. And if he doesn’t know that, then he doesn’t know anything at all.
- I simply wanted to write literature that was irrevocably, indisputably black not because its characters were, or because I was, but because it took as its creative task and sought as it’s credentials those recognised and verifiable principles of black art.
- Others are “raced” – whites are not. Or so the conventional wisdom goes. The truth of course, is that we are all “raced”.
- … when language dies, out of carelessness, disuse, and abuse of esteem, indifference or killed by fiat, not only she herself, but all users and makers are accountable for its demise.
Other themes, she covers but I did not get any specific quotes on, include, female empowerment, the press, money, human rights, and the artist in society,
- Racism and Fascism
- The Slavebody and the blackbody
- Hard, True and Lasting
It is not an easy read at all but certainly worth the time and energy (and dictionary checking). Get it, this is a 5* from me.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, life
Tagged Afro-american, American literature, Being Foreign, books, fascism, Foreign, home, language, racism, racism and fascism, reading, The Slavebody, The Source of Self Regard, Toni Morrison, war, writing
Today I am grateful for:
- BSF and the brilliant notes they have been preparing for this years study.
- Great friends.
- Our home and all that it means to us in this season.
- My family and for WhatsApp that allows us to be in touch.
- Beautiful Johannesburg weather.
- Oranges, pawpaw and yoghurt.
- The freedom that my car provides me.
- Work and the ability to earn an income.
- A great cup of tea.
- Flavoured sparkling water.
For what are you grateful for?
Posted in Heart matters, home, working
Tagged Book of Joshua, BSF, BSF International, driving, family, food, friendship, home, Johannesburg, thanksgiving
I read this book over the December holidays and was sooo excited, I am not sure what happened and it’s almost four months later that I am here gushing about it. Urgggh!! Please see below my thoughts under the different themes, page numbers are provided in brackets for you to follow.
- This is a book for us women, refugees, blacks (6) and I totally totally agree.
- I love that our time in Nairobi overlap – when she returns from Canada. I know all the landmarks she mentions of Nairobi. It felt so good to read a book about a place that I knew and know of so intimately. Double yay!!
- I thought it was odd that she kept referring to her folks as Mummy and Baba??? So odd coz those are two different languages in my head and I would have gone with either Mummy and Daddy or Mama and Baba.
- I wondered also why she protects the names of her own kids but not Simon’s eldest two. Not sure what that’s about is it maybe that they are adults and the other two are minors?
- The things said to them about a male child being preferred to daughters. And how this is often blamed on the mother in a way that gives the husband carte blanche to stray in the name of looking for a son (pp 7 – 27). I know this reality all too well and all I think is Biology lessons are important for all.
- It’s so subtle but her talking about not participating in the street games and fights as much as the local kids do coz it could turn on you:
“I had to choose how I would distinguish myself and I knew that it had to be safe.”(9)
- The plight of house girls and domestic workers – all too relatable ( 50).
- Having read Pumla’s Rape, it resonated with me how she spoke about the incident of being sexually attacked: her response and that of the adults around her (52 -55). Also, in the light of #MeToo, I thought it quite bold that she opened up about this incident.
- The urgency for them to receive their citizenship. Yeah, I get that (67 – 68).
- I remember the following events but was probably too young to consider their true impact on history: Chris Hani, Mandelas release, the IFP-sponsored murders and the election.
Growing up Foreign
- Being called an African monkey. While that did not happen to me, I know about being called a refugee almost as though it was a dirty swear word.
- And the rules that their mom had them follow because growing up in another country with parents working full time, there is not a big social infrastructure to support the parents. So rules are key or in young people speak, rules are bae.
“… the immigrant child knows that outside is one thing but home is another country.” (83)
“The immigrant child knows that the key to survival is in the inflection points. … The key to survival is in blending in first, in learning how to be just like else as a first step to freedom. You have to know how the inside works before you can stand outside and make everybody laugh.” (90)
“The immigrant child doesn’t make any noise. … She is preparing for the day when she will have mastered the art of being normal so that she can stand out.” (90)
- How she always talks of her sisters, so beautiful and in some way the story is as much about them as it is her. Yay sisterhood.
- I understand when she talks of her discovery of her race in the States. The same thing happened to me in RSA.
- Being foreign in South Africa has shown me that White ones are still preferred to Black ones. Sad but fact!
- On discovering that your mom is not just a role – mom, wife, friend, daughter – but actually a woman with dreams, feelings and thoughts quite apart from me even. GASP, SHOCKING.
- How their mom almost became like an older fourth sister but their dad remained a dad. I find this to be the truth with us too.
“To know your mother as an adult is to finally see that she has lived many more years as a woman than you have been alive. To be a grown woman who loves her mother is to understand that it is no easy thing to raise children so beautifully that they don’t worry about you until they are grown up and ready to carry the complex burden of that anxiety.” (304)
- Class: I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her nanny especially when they were both pregnant. I thought it was the most honest tale by a middle class Black woman that I could totally relate to.
So please go out, buy the book read, it, share it and enjoy it.
Now, to make friends with her in real life?
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, Motherhood/ Parenting
Tagged about me, Books reading, foreigners, growing up., home, Kenya, life, love, motherhood, Nairobi, race, Sisonke Msimang, sister love, South Africa
Love the style but I keep thinking of the strain on the hairline and the overall weight.
I love her ear rings and her overall attitude
Such a dreamy bathroom
Against the backdrop of the political shenanigans in Kenya, I read this very interesting book on Kenya by a Kenyan Indian author.
About the Book.
Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still unwilling or unable to let go of the past; and her brother spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When Leena meets a local Kikuyu artist whose past is linked to her own, the two begin a secret affair—one that forces Leena to again question her place in a country she once called home.
Interlinked with Leena’s story is that of Jeffery: a corrupt policeman burdened with his own angers and regrets, and whose questionable actions have unexpected and catastrophic consequences for those closest to him. Who Will Catch Us As We Fall is an epic look at the politics and people of Kenya.
So my general thoughts:
- The book had quite a slow start, I mean you could tell she is hinting at something that happened in the past but she wasn’t going to give away anything quite so quickly.
- I thought it was a good attempt for the author to include Kiswahili phrases but it probably needed an editor who also spoke Kiswahili as in the absence of that the book had basic editorial mistakes like the police moto: Utumishi kwa wote, not utamishi kwa wote; Jogoo House not Jogo House.
- I thought that the city of Nairobi could have been more prominent unless the narrow lens through which it was presented was necessary to present how insular the Indian community in Kenya is?
The book had a few major themes that were particularly meaningful to me.
- Love that she talks about the race/tribe relations between Indians and Africans in Kenya. How there is a sense of mistrust and almost antagonistic hate or resentment. This was best played out by the employer – employee relations by the Indian mama and her Kikuyu/ African maid.
- I thought the discussion between Jai and Ivy at the SONU meeting about what makes a Kenyan Kenyan quite insightful. It made me wonder whether by the same reckoning I would be classified as one because though by birth and upbringing I am one, then again, am I actually one? Will Indians ever be viewed as Kenyan?
- My surprise at Jai choosing to study at UoN instead of going to England which as the mom confirms is the better option and generally the done thing among this sub population.
- It was interesting to read about Pio Gama Pinto because he is one person who history has not represented very well even all these years later.
- Jai could play outside but Leena couldn’t.
- Jeffrey just “took over” his friends wife like she was a spare item and no one questioned that.
- Also the fact that the wife just rolled over and adjusted to this new reality.
- The dynamics between a maid and her employer were very startling and playing into the perception of race and/or tribe in the book is the difference in treatment for a maid between a white and Indian employer.
- Jeffrey wielded significant power and that was how over time he was able to become as corrupt as he was.
- Who really ran the home between Jai’s parents, the mom or the dad?
- Leena’s characterisation of being in Nairobi vs being in London and how one can reimagine / build it up into something bigger than it really is. (p. 335)
- I loved the following quotes that best typified Nairobi.
“I love this country but I must accept it for what it is. A place where thieves are celebrated and good men die unremarkable deaths.” (p. 357)
“Nairobi is a sly town. It is so small that run-ins with people one is trying to avoid are a common occurrence, yet it is segmented enough to keep two searching individuals apart. (p. 384)
Not as ambitious as Dust but for a contemporary book, it was a great effort and I would certainly recommend it to anyone.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home
Tagged books, Books reading, Dust, gender, home, Iman Verjee, Kenya, Kenyan Indians, Kiswahili, Nairobi, power, race, tribe, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Posted in books, good, Heart matters, home, life, marriage
Tagged African writing, aging, Algeria, anniversaries, baking, faith, friendship, gifts, God, healthy-living, home, India, Kenya decides, Pakistan, racism, recipes, Science, sin, Sunday Reads, tea, The Bachelorette
i’m just incredibly tired of this rhetoric where apparently we have to be super gentle and coddle white children through the shock of realizing they aren’t actually better than everybody else, there’s just been an imbalance in their favor throughout history; that we should be understanding of how hard it is to accept that they may not have earned everything they have
and yet nobody gives a thought to how painful it must be for children of color to be taught that they have to be on guard against prejudice or violence at all times, that sometimes people will treat them badly for no reason and there’s nothing they can do about it
no, no, that’s just the facts of life. just standard growing up stuff. being conditioned to handle constant dehumanization is not as hard to cope with as maybe not being as good at life as you thought you were.
Posted in books, home, life, working
Tagged Africa, babies, books, home, Kenya, Kenyan elections, Kenyan music, music, Nairobi, Obama, race, recipes, Sunday Reads, women and work, women at work
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.
Posted in books, Heart matters, home, life, marriage, working
Tagged being gay, Being Zulu, books, Books reading, Cynthia Jele, female friendship, friendships, Heart matters, home, life, love, marriage, reading, relationships, working, Zakes Mda, Zukiswa Wanner
We all have those days when we need a little boost, each one help one!
Happy Human Rights Day South Africans.
Posted in home
Tagged apps, Being Black, blogging, economics, enviroment, food, home, Kenyan music, recipes, Sunday Reads, travel, women
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.
Enjoy and have a super duper weekend!
- Google for kids? Kiddle
- Yummy tamarind chicken.
- Yummy Lemony Cream Cheese Pancakes with Blueberries.
- This colour thesaurus is so beautiful to behold.
- On how female friendships change with time.
- This is what it means to truly love someone. It’s a verb.
- Of the first AIDS patients and how most of them are now are in their late 60s and 70s.
- Oatmeal latte, anyone? REALLY not sure.
- Carrot cake for two?
- Welcome to poaching fruits.
- 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.
- 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.
- Which would you want in a job, freedom or responsibility?
Freedom and responsibility aren’t given, they’re taken
- 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.
Posted in design, home, life
Tagged AIDS, Chicken, cooking, design, eggs, female friendship, Google, home, kids, life, motivation, pancakes, recipes, Seth Godin
In keeping with my 2016 theme to be more rooted and connected, this is what I hope to do in March.
- Reach out to close friends via calls, emails or messages to talk about what’s really happening in our lives. I mean group communication and Facebook is great but not all the time. Also, to get into the habit of praying for friends and family.
- Do more outdoorsy stuff and enjoy the last of the Cape Town glorious weather.
- Cook more and enjoy that time.
- Get data and finalise topic for school.
- Read more African literature (more on this later).
- Host a high school friend and her family for lunch.
- Hang up more pictures around the house.
Will post at the end of the month how it’s all going.
Posted in books, design, Heart matters, home, school
Tagged 2016 Theme, African writing, books, Books reading, cooking, design, entertainment, friendship, Heart matters, home, home decor, PhD, school
This past Tuesday I attended an event called Pechakucha in Cape Town CBD and I loved it.
PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images. The presentation format was devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture. The first PechaKucha Night was held in Tokyo in their gallery/lounge/bar/club/creative kitchen, SuperDeluxe, in February, 2003. PechaKucha Nights are informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps — just about anything, really — in the PechaKucha 20×20 format.
Check out the global site to see whether your city is hosting an event.
I went all alone, new city = few friends and the Mr had another engagement. It’s OK to go alone, you still have tonnes of fun but it’s definitely better with someone or better yet with a crowd. This past we listened to the following 9 talks as shown in the poster below.
My reactions? (Numbers below coincide to the numbered listing above)
- Given by Macio, Lloyd and Karien (VDMMA Architects). I never knew that architecture could be so sexy. They are re-purposing an old agricultural silo into the largest museum of modern art on the African continent. The presentation was very detailed but between their presentation style and the beautiful pics we have to look forward to, it was a very interesting talk.
- Presented by Sarah Joanna Kennan whose love for tequila saw her visit Mexico and start to grow the agave plant in the Karoo. I loved her talk because it dealt a lot with passion and life being a journey that helps you answer questions you didn’t know you had. Isn’t that beautiful? Other lesson: agave can be spun into fabric that can be used to make surfboards.
- Presented by Lawrence Batchelor who based his presentation on the Bates Method that helps people back to normal site. What I learnt from him is that, your eyes do get tired and that you should blink often and breathe. Blink. Blink. Blink.
- Kris Steyn managed to link his love for sailing with the creation of leaders. It seems that there is a shortage of young sailors and if you do know anyone interested, have them email him.
- Sarita van der Walt introduced us to biomimicry and how we can learn all these lessons from nature. Definitely learnt a lot and it was interesting to see how this philosophy is being applied in furniture design, software designs and other areas of our lives.
- Delroy Guzha urged us to think past exercise and fitness and look at introducing new habits into our current lives. I heard this talk in light of all the stuff around how sitting is the new (insert whatever morbid thought here). Little things, not slouching at your desk, sitting on a fitness ball to urge your lower back to kick in, walking and not sitting around all day.
- If I had met Dr Sahal Yacoob before I gladly dropped Physics 16 years ago, I might have kept at it. Imagine listening to an intense Physics talk at about half 8 in the evening and still feel captivated by his presentation. All I remember in case you are interested, Higgs Bisson, The Atlas Experiment, neutrons collide.
- Teagan Philips captured our imagination with her combined love for cycling and drawing cartoons. Great talk but you know how I do not know how to cycle,right?
- Zara Vorwek talked about positive psychology. I took away from her talk that she encourages one to be mindful and practice gratitude which is something that I am trying to inculcate into my life this year.
Overall, definitely go if they have it in your city. The next one in Cape Town will be held on the 3rd of May.
Posted in home
Tagged 20X20, architecture, Atlas, Bates Method, biomimcry, Cape Town, cartoons, healthy-living, home, mindfulness, movement, passion, PechaKucha, Physics, sailing, tequila, thanksgiving, travel, vision
Went to a fancy Stellenbosch restaurant for lunch with the Mr this past weekend and this is what I had.
Posted in home
Tagged blanket, conception, crotcheting, Donors, education, hair, home, home decor, investment, Johannesburg, men, money, No, Sunday Reads, wealth, women and work
Below see some pins that have been getting some love on my different Pinterest boards.
I love their glasses first of all and then the beautiful locs styles – low maintenance but stylish!
I loved the curls and the size of the locs.
This actually challenged me to colour coordinate my bookshelf. So beautiful!
I would cut my hair this short if I got bored of my locs.
I love Nidhi’s cartoons and I love how she expresses love between herself and her husband. ❤
Posted in design, Heart matters
Tagged about us, design, dreadlocks, dreads, hair, Heart matters, home, home decor, love, Pinterest
Adulting never gets any easier the longer you keep at it. I recently got thinking on three things in my life where I certainly needed my parents to come through and tell me what to do or how to do it.
- Finishing high school and having to decide what career I wanted to pursue thereafter. Then having to visit the different Universities and make my application and everything else. Coming on the back of completing high school and being told everything I needed to do, this freedom was quite sudden and frankly overwhelming. However, I oddly always knew what I wanted to do and so all I had to work on was finding a school to study Economics.
- Dealing with my first job. So many different things. One, I put in an application for a Work permit and this took over seven months to finalise and eventually I had to decide whether to stop working while I await my permit or go back home and either look for a job or start the application all over again to come back and coninue with my old job. Two, dealing with a difficult boss and having to decipher honest feedback against being bullied. The hardest lesson ever that I had to go through. Three, deciding to quit and wishing I could ask my folks to take care of me again.
- Moving house across cities. Urgggh!! I thought of my mom for months in the build up to it and for weeks after and secretly begged that she would offer to come help me.
And this is only up until now. I cannot imagine having a first baby, bringing up kids, losing loved ones, sickness, marriage stuff. Oh dear me, please can I just go back to being twelve!
Posted in Heart matters, home, life, marriage, working
Tagged adulting, Cape Town, careers, growing up., Heart matters, home, life, life lessons, marriage, parenting, working