Archive for the ‘Just trendi’ Category

Be kind

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You may have heard that saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” This is so true – and some battles are bigger than others. I am currently going through a bad patch myself, and I’ve sought ways to make my world better and brighter, and how to try to affect those around me positively. Here are some “happiness” tips from yours truly:

1. Say something. If you see something that pleases you – someone’s hairstyle, noticing somebody doing something good (like picking up a piece of litter, or holding the door open for someone) – SAY SOMETHING! Kindness begets kindness. Say to that person, “Hey, that was so cool, I saw you throw away that litter – thank you!” It will make them smile, I assure you. Or saying something to someone who’s made an effort in their appearance, “Wow, you look fabulous!” It may get a funny look coming from a stranger, but HEY! I promise you they will not forget your kind words in a hurry.

2. Be friendly. If we’re ALL standing in a queue at the shop or the bank or the ATM, make conversation. You’ll quickly learn if the person isn’t up for a chat, but I feel like, when someone starts talking to me, that I’ve been noticed. It’s like, hello why yes, I AM a human being and thank you for recognising that and taking the time to speak to me. You may just find they’re that handy plumber you’ve been meaning to call, or that you’ve started a conversation with them right when they’d lost all hope in the world and your speaking to them has brightened their day.

3. Do things that make you happy. And it doesn’t always have to cost money. Go for a walk, take a swim in the sea, sit outside quietly and feel the sun on your face. Small things go a long way. Contact an old friend, start a new hobby. Meditate – quieten your mind and thoughts and just breathe. READ! Reading is my favourite escape – it helps to have the fundza.mobi app at my fingertips.

4. LET GO. This is a big one. We all have these things that linger and plague us. Start a process of letting go. Personally, what I do, is throw a shell into the ocean. I am lucky enough to live and work right next to the beach and I clap eyes on the ocean every day. I think about the thing/issue that is bothering me and transfer all that negative energy into the shell and launch it into the sea. It’s therapeutic and although it may seem a little airy-fairy, there is a certain satisfaction in catapulting that damned shell into the depths of the raging sea.

5. Don’t do the things that make you feel like crap. Something I am guilty of is over committing and then either letting someone down, or running on empty myself – both not great outcomes! So don’t do the bad habits that give you bad results. Admit your shortcomings, take ownership and don’t do the things that make you feel horrible. This includes things like: looking up people on social media that you know you shouldn’t, and over-indulging – whether it’s junk food or alcohol – try to keep everything in moderation. And surround yourself with people who appreciate you, who want your company.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others. They may be on chapter 10, but you’re only on chapter 5 – it’s not comparing the same thing. Allow yourself to accept your current situation and your current space in time, and be at peace with it. MAKE PEACE with it.

These are just a few daily encouragements I use, to face a new day. Life is a wonderful thing, if you allow it to be. Free yourself, and make your own life a bright and happy one!

And don’t forget to smile, it makes the world wonder what you’ve been up to!

Expectation

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Some say to keep your expectations high, that it will give you a high standard, and you will only get the best. Others say to keep your expectations low; it will help avoid disappointment. I disagree with both of these sentiments. I think it’s best not to expect at all. In my view, expectation is a vehicle to missed experiences. I would like to share a few ideas about why and how you should avoid hasty expectations.

Expectation Keeps You from Experiencing Things as They are

Bob Dylan once said, “I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.” This is how I believe you can appreciate things best. It is a gift to give any person, place, or thing to not define it before encountering it, but rather to let it present itself and be known without expectation. I would love to meet anyone who would greet me without ideas about who I am or should be, and I would love to return that favor.

It does not have to be so big as encountering another person. Even something so small as movies have gotten better since I have stopped expecting something of them. When I was a kid, I went into the theater anticipating something from films. Sometimes, I thought it would blow my mind. Sometimes, I just thought it would maybe have at least seven cowboys. Because of that, the movie couldn’t meet my wishes. Maybe it wasn’t mind blowing, just really good. Maybe it only had six cowboys. It left me disappointed, or, if not disappointed, it took me out of the movie a bit, because instead of appreciating the six cowboys, all I could do was wonder where the seventh was. Now, I don’t even read the back of DVD cases before watching a movie. I just let them be as they are, and inevitably, they’re not always great, but, overall, I like movies a lot better now.

Listen to Music Like a Friend Made It

One of the best ways I have found to appreciate something like art more is to imagine a friend made it. It seems people so often view art and hear music with the expectation that it will be good, because they’re used to seeing good art and hearing good music. I can’t say that that’s unfair, because when you listen to music, you are often listening to professionals, and, yes, professionals are probably good. However, I think this expectation hurts the viewing/listening experience and is unfair to the artist. It’s so easy to push art into the abstract, to expect it to be good, and then to move along without really appreciating it. But when I sit down and really listen to music, as though a good friend made it, I give it special attention. I hear the emotion put into it, because it seems so much more real, and it breaks that distancing expectation that the song has to be good or that it has to be anything. All of a sudden, it gets to be what it really is: art crafted in hardship or love or nostalgia by a person with emotions as deep and intimate as my own. When my best friend sings, “And they’ll kiss as if they know/ a baby sleeps in all our bones, so scared to be alone,” it simply hits me harder than when Iron & Wine does, because I understand what it means for my best friend, and I can see them putting the effort into making it.

Expectation Leads to Taking Things for Granted

Expectation is tricky, because it doesn’t just appear when you are going into something new and have expectations of what it will be like. It also appears in what is so familiar that it loses its magnificence. I grew up in a beautiful city, country roads meeting a lively downtown. However, I could not appreciate the vibrancy surrounding me for so many years, because it was simply what I expected. I saw sunshine through the leaves, or bouncing off the backs of horses, or gleaming in the streams every day, but what was it to me? It was taken for granted, and that was not fair to nature. I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights, but if I saw them every day, would they lose their shine? They wouldn’t, but I would lose the fresh eyes to see them. So, when I leave my house, I try to no longer expect the beauty of a vast blue sky, but I try to see the sky with fresh eyes, as though I had been dreaming of seeing it my whole life.

Practice Looking for Beauty

It might seem kind of cheesy or ridiculous to go outside and say, “Oh wow! A sky! I have never seen that before. Incredible! !! ! !” That is because it would be ridiculous. There’s no way to fool yourself into thinking you’ve never seen a sky, and I’m not encouraging lying to yourself. What I am encouraging you to do is to practice looking for beauty. Practice breaking your expectations. Look at the waters, the stars, the mountains. Acknowledge that they are just as beautiful as what travelers trek hundreds of miles to see. They are just more generously given. Nowadays, I always stop to see the sunshine through the leaves. I knew a girl in my hometown who told me it was her favorite color, and I have to give her credit. It’s really quite stunning if you have a moment to look.

Alright, so, now to contradict myself a bit. I know you must have expectations sometimes. Expectation may keep you safe or prepare you for an interview. It is impossible not to have any expectations. So, maybe do expect a bit, but look around, look at your life, find where expectations are holding you back, and take a step away. It’s refreshing to let things be as they are.

#being21

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So the big birthday of 21 arrived. And the most common question I got asked was, “How does it feel to be 21?” My response: the same as being 20.

But in all honesty, I guess being 21 does indeed feel different, a sense of adulthood suddenly thrown on me. What I can say is I learned quite a lot through the years. Being 21 was just a year added to that growth, and just another year of more learning about myself, people and life.

What I learned is that not everyone that smiles at you is your friend. I learned that people can easily pretend to have your back, but as soon you turn your back they’re speaking behind it…

I thus learned that true friendship is not measured by the amount of followers you have or by the amount of text messages you receive, it’s not about who’s around when you’re out having fun, but it’s about who sees every part of your dark side and hears every part of your cries, yet chooses to stay. It’s the ones who help you when you’ve fallen, the ones who see what you don’t see, cause you’re too blinded by a false perception of a made-up reality.

I know all about the pressure of trying to be perfect and trying to measure up, but with such high expectations, once you mess up it can result in tremendous amounts of insecurity and inadequacy. I did not deserve the appreciation that my family wanted to show me and certainly did not deserve a key. But I was told that, “Your worth and your value are not measured by your past failures, but they’re measured by what you’re doing now. And what you’re doing now is enough.” So I accept the 21st key, not because I’ve been a good perfect girl (cause I have not at all, nope, not even close) but I accept the key as a symbol of unlimited possibilities. We all have the chance to start new, to start fresh and to be extraordinary.

I learned I am valued. It was not actually something I learned, it was something I discovered, a truth that was hidden from my eyes because I chose not to accept it, but I do now. I know now that my value is immeasurable; I’m treasured, precious and one of a kind. Not everyone will treat me like a special jewel, but as long as I believe it I shall walk in it and because I now know who I am, I can choose who stays in my life and who should not.

I learned that life goes on. There is a purpose in everything. Even in the pain. There is always laughter after the tears.

I learned that life is quite short. Therefore, enjoy it and live and most importantly make sure you don’t give a damn about what people think or say about you. I learned that nobody is perfect. I learned to accept my flaws and embrace my talents. I learned that there will be days where you just don’t feel okay, but I now know that despite those days there is still a reason to be thankful and I find those reasons in the little things of life that God shows me, such as the happiness of my little sister when she sees me home, the fact that I still have both my parents living with me and who, might I add, tolerate my nonsense. I have the best gift ever, and that is the gift of being loved.

21 is just an age, but it is a special age because at 21 you discover that life’s direction is controlled by your own choices, and the possibilities are endless.

IG: THEspecialjewel

My June 16

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Every year, on the 16th of June, the whole country commemorates the lives of countless young people who, on a fateful June 16 in 1976, took to the streets to stand up against a cruel government that saw them only as objects to do with whatever they liked, and, every year, on the very same 16th of June, the memory of those brave young people gets drowned in a sea of parties and alcohol. This might be a very harsh and generalizing thing for me to say, but I really believe that young people in South Africa have developed a very bad way of commemorating this important and historic day.

What’s even worse is that it seems as though the same is true for many of the other important, historic days in the event calendar of the country. From Women’s Day to Human Rights Day, it seems as though with every year that goes by, the meaning and significance of each of these days gets reduced to nothing more than just having parties and giving away free T-shirts and a couple of food parcels. It’s a sad and cruel reality, and we need to change it if we are serious about preserving the rich history of the country.

But, even if our ways of commemorating these days might not be perfect, there are some places where the commemorations are a whole lot better, and this past Youth Day proved it to me.

This year, unlike other years, I commemorated June 16 in Bloemfontein, and it was the first time I commemorated this day outside of my hometown of Jouberton. Now, I’ve been to a lot of these June 16 events before but, to be honest with you guys, I was amazed at how the young people this side decided to mark this day. Unlike the commemorative events I’ve been to before, the young people in Bloemfontein decided to commemorate the memory of the youth of 1976 with a poetry slam (or competition): it was a new way for me to commemorate the day, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The event began with an open mic session where any poet or performer was allowed to get on stage and perform whatever it is they wanted to. This resulted in different poets performing poems they had written especially for the event. The poems they performed were diverse and ranged from the very simple and easy to follow ones (well, at least for me), to ones that were harder to follow and even harder to understand (again, for me). The open mic session then ended with a brilliant writer called Ace Moloi from Qwaqwa reading one of the short stories that will be coming out in his upcoming short shorty collection. It was a wonderful beginning to what would end up as one of my favorite nights in Bloemfontein.

We then moved on to the poetry competition itself. Four poets had signed up for the competition and were set to go head to head in two rounds: each one of them had to perform a single poem per round. They each performed their best poetry and the judges chose the two that would go to the finals. In the finals, the two contestants who made it each performed another single poem and, at the end of the final round, one poet, a lovely poet by the name Black Soul, was crowned the winner of the night. Straight after the poetry slam the audience was treated to wonder sets of live music performances by different bands, and the night ended with us having enjoyed beautiful art dedicated to commemorating the lives of the young people who made sure we would be where we are today.

All in all, what this event showed me is that we as young people need to rethink the way we commemorate the lives of the young people who paved the way that will lead to our success. And that we, as an entire country, also need to rethink how we commemorate our fallen heroes. Look, it might be all nice and well to have a party and dance, but the real question we need to ask ourselves is this: is all the partying we’re doing really what we would like to reduce our history to?

What’s in a language?

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A few months ago I went to Limpopo for a week. We visited schools that were part of FunDza’s online courses to inspire and motivate the students to read the stories and participate. The courses are to help improve their comprehension and develop their vocabulary and language skills. The visit was marvellous and the kids very excited and willing to learn (it had nothing to do with our fabulousness as facilitators). We also got to learn about the challenges that the schools faced and one of them, apart from the large sizes of the classes, was the language issue.

English is still the medium of instruction and examination in our schools. It is the language of communication in the world, depending on where you are, and it is still the language of business. The teachers told of how the students struggled with reading and communicating in English, and these were grade 9 learners. I can also testify to this as the students struggled to string sentences together to engage in the discussions we had, or just to answer questions. This made it difficult for them to speak up and therefore some would end up not participating because they were uncomfortable. These kids became part of the trouble makers as they were not really engaged (understandable feeling of being left out) and would make comments in Venda that would get the class laughing. These kids carry a stigma of being the dumb ones in the classes because they can’t speak English.

Now this is in 2017, after our education systems have been changed so many times to better suit and equip the students. Even though this is such, the pass rates are as low as ever. Which makes me ask the question: What are we doing wrong?

I was educated under the Bantu Education system and at the time saw or knew nothing wrong with it. It was only after I leaned about this system and where it came from and why it was implemented that I saw how wrong it was. But the system has changed a couple of times since then. However, when I compare my education and the outcomes of it, to that of today, I worry about our youth and wonder how much has changed…

Working in the literacy space, I’m shocked at the level of literacy our youth have today. It saddens me that the majority, especially those in the rural areas, can’t read well. The medium of instruction in these schools is English, as it was for us. But learners struggle so much that the teacher must then revert to their mother tongue to be understood. This is good: teach a child in a language that they understand so they can do better. But these kids have to write their exams in English and spend the rest of their lives trying to be part of a society that will never really accept them, no matter how well they do.

I’ll unpack this and maybe you’ll understand.

I’m a kid of the 80s who matriculated in 2002. I went to a township school with township kids. All our subjects were taught in English, except for the languages, Afrikaans and Xhosa. As I’ve said before, I saw nothing wrong with this.

I loved school. Because everything was taught in English and I loved the language, I spoke it even outside of class. This didn’t get me many friends as I was then ‘the weird kid who always speaks English’ when people referred to me; my birthmark had lost to this description of me. My classmates were not that different from those learners from Limpopo. English was difficult, and it wasn’t fashionable to do well. But for me, even to this day, I speak more English than I do Xhosa, my home language, and I still see nothing wrong with this.

What bothers me is when people applaud my way of speaking and ask where I went to school. When I tell them to a township school they have never heard of their reactions are priceless. “Noooo, really? You don’t sound it? You must have had a great background then and some great influences,” they say.

This, to me, implies that this is not natural for a black, Xhosa kid from Motherwell. That I’m supposed to speak broken English and not be so well versed and articulated. I find this insulting, though I never say anything. Am I supposed to be less than great, excellent and special, just because I’m black? Or is there more to this and I just don’t know?

Although I didn’t consciously decide to be a coconut, I became one and was part of a society that spoke like I did and read what I read. But even though I think I am part of this society, I’m still an outsider. I still have to work twice as hard to become barely comfortable in life. It’s something hard to accept.

But why is it still like this? That even though we need English as much as we did before to succeed, being good at English (English teaching hasn’t improved so this is hard) is still seen as losing your roots, or becoming a ‘cheese girl’? Why can’t we be both – excellent in English, and our mother tongue? Why aren’t our schools managing to achieve this?

Our schools, unlike the multiracial or so-called Model C schools, don’t even have extracurricular activities anymore: no sports, no athletics, no drama, no choir, nothing. Our classrooms are packed to the brim and teachers are meant to cope with it and push the syllabus. Our kids are meant to learn these subjects that might not help them in future, because let’s face it, the majority will not make it to tertiary anyway. And then they must become adults and find jobs and contribute to society.

Deep sigh.

The system is meant to have changed but it still is the same system used in the days of old, and so is keeping the African child in service jobs. For this, I blame our elders that were entrusted with our democracy and freedom. They chose for themselves and their houses, and nobody cared to ask the African child what she needed or wanted.

There are many debates about language. There is research that shows that young children who learn in their mother tongue for longer, and slowly add English, actually end up with better English language skills in the long run than those who get little instruction in their mother tongue.

So perhaps it would it be better if the language of instruction was the mother tongue spoken in schools? But would that not discriminate against some – as our classrooms are reflective of our ‘rainbow nation’, containing multiple cultures and languages?

I don’t know what the answers are. But it feels to me as if we are still feeding our kids a language they can’t help resenting and that we are losing them. The question is – what can we do about it?

Tell us what you think: What languages should be used in schools?