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African Rapunzel

black hair as a veil into the African women’s soul

“I have an audition tomorrow, ” Wanda said to Wode,” they asked me to send a picture. I did, but… I haven’t told them I no longer have the hairstyle I had on the picture.

I don’t know, aarph.

I should have just kept it for one more day. You know?

I just don’t think..” *shrugs*

“I just don’t think they’ll think I’m as beautiful with my natural hair.”

Almost to highlight that they wouldn’t think so, but perhaps she might dare to. You know? She might take the risk and think of herself as beautiful.

In the distant future when she believed-it-believed-it she had a list of things she would do with it on. She’d travel to another province or another country with her natural hair. Go to a friends wedding with her natural hair. To her graduation with her natural hair. In the distant future, she might take the risk and walk down the aisle, to the altar to say “I do”  with her natural hair. Continue reading “African Rapunzel”

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Self-preoccupation & Pride: Social Media

"Scrolling, searching, paging, refreshing." Londeka Mkhize

Daily we are confronted with questions of identity.

Who am I?

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With the advent of social media Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube, we have multiple platforms where we can offer people a better sense of who we are and what we care about.

social-media-696x464So we make murals of our lives, like paintings on walls. We take delight praising those whom we love, highlighting our favorite things, “completing the enjoyment.”

We share HD images of our lovers, expressing how beautiful they are and how wholesome the years have been. We read a good book and tell our followers what we’ve discovered. We find funny videos and re-share to bring valuable entertainment to others. We snap a good picture and publicly exhibit our growing creativity with friends of friends.

Our sense of self is consummated in this engagement, in how we believe others perceive us.

 Whether they see us? 

At best social media is a powerful means of communication and connection, at worst an appetizer and refiner of insidious heart evils: pride, greed, need, envy, and self-indulgence.

Continue reading “Self-preoccupation & Pride: Social Media”

Spirituality in Tibet

Tibet leaves a lasting impression on its visitors. I’m almost sure this has to do with its captivating atmosphere. An atmosphere that can only accurately be described as spiritual. The atmosphere in Tibet wields you in, demands that you be present and engages you. Fully evoking your senses.

An atmosphere of prayerfulness floats across the city through the day. Men and women walk in serene quietness. In habitual meditation.

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Walking towards Potala palace, you’re immediately confronted by men and women who are in a mode of worshipful prayer. One here, a group there falling prostrate on the ground. Chanting mantras, in unabashed worship. Continue reading “Spirituality in Tibet”

I sensed that China offered something different, something new, something beautiful: a year of study in China

In 2016 I was one of four Africans selected to attend the first master’s programme in China Studies at the prestigious Yenching Academy of Peking University. My reflections on a year of new experiences and lasting impressions.Alice Fong and Sihle Nontshokweni at Sichuan OperaAlice Fang and Sihle Nontshokweni at Sichuan Opera.

This article was first published on IAPO

Of all the places in the world, why move to China?”

Continue reading “I sensed that China offered something different, something new, something beautiful: a year of study in China”

The Value of Journaling

“There are places like this everywhere,
places you enter as a young girl
from which you never return.”

Whenever grown-ups spoke, I often forgot to whisper or disappear. It took some time before I understood that my mother’s home was not a democracy. That my words were only welcomed upon invitation, particularly when we had guests.

Growing up my two older sisters gave me the confidence to be. I would simply let myself be, either of the two – depending on the day. Though they had lives of their own, it mattered to me that they invited me in, even at the end just so we could all laugh, huddle together – in a shared world. If they shut me out, I mildly hid or looked away to pretend I did not mind this exclusion. Continue reading “The Value of Journaling”

A Woman’s Day Conversation

I spent woman’s day with fabulous women who chose to open up their deep baskets and tenderly share of themselves. Our conversations ranged from body image to our sense of self, to that initial moment it occurred that actually “I’m a woman.” We conversed on our use of time,  and at the end wrote out our eulogies [scripting how on our last day on this earth we would wish to have lived out our lives].

Continue reading “A Woman’s Day Conversation”

Positions of Power toward the Poor

Us who have “…are doomed to think that everything comes from us…”

There I was, in full swing, past Debonairs in Rondebosch, attending to heaps of administrative tasks on Tuesday morning. From certifying documents at the Police station, forced laughter towards the police officers flirtatiousness. Humph, such impositions are the ways of living in a body, a woman’s – body, thus of being in South Africa. I certainly can’t remember the last time I asked for an affidavit or a document to be certified without mildly rolling my eyes beneath that small-mesh talk.

Moving on, I have been living in Cape Town, Southern suburbs for 8 years. Nothing about the landscape is strange to me, the tarred roads, the numerous fast food restaurants lined on either side of the road, the Somalian elderly man who sells cigarets and sweets opposite clicks; I know the faces of the homeless men and women on the street far too well. So well that If I spotted one of them in town or Kenilworth, I’d easily say, “Oh ya, lo bhuti, ngowase Rondebosch neh (he is the guy from Rondebosch right)?!”

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© Johnny Miller/Millefoto

I’m getting things done today, cutting straight past beggars on the street.

Continue reading “Positions of Power toward the Poor”

Review: ‘When breath becomes air,’ Dr. Kalanithi a Præmaturi death

What makes life worth living in the face of death?

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“Proof that the dying have the most to teach us about living.” Atul Gawande, Being Mortal

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There aren’t many words I can conjure to describe the anguish and empathy I felt for 36-year old – neurosurgeon – diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer – faced with the grave reality of death.

This brilliance of this book, the breadth of experiences shared in it and the passionate style of writing by the author prompted an overwhelming response in me.

Continue reading “Review: ‘When breath becomes air,’ Dr. Kalanithi a Præmaturi death”