Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Mummy.

My mother is my real definition of a full woman.

She is the woman who left work every day at lunch time so she could breast feed each and every one of her children. She is also the one who held the fort down when my father was away for one scientific escapade or the other, in one country or another. She is the one who, when asked what he could bring her each time he was away, always answered with either a certain set of saucepans or a particular brand of cutlery. I personally would have asked for shoes or something... My mother is the woman who supported my father when he was running some crazy experiment in one of the bedrooms, she supported him even when she didn’t get it. My mother is the woman who still believes in true love.

My mother is the woman who smuggled a pack of sausages for us in her handbag during school visitation days when home-cooked food was not allowed. She is the same person who always called relatives to tell them of an abrupt plan that needed me to return to Kampala whenever I was upcountry visiting, felt home sick and needed an excuse to end the visit so abruptly. She is the one who made me throw away my first black nail polish. She is also the one who told me my name was from the first woman professor in the world just to inspire me (I googled it, big lie).

My mother contacted our long lost baby sitter over twenty years later just because the baby sitter had the right type of popcorn seeds she wanted to plant in our backyard, just so we could have home grown popcorn. My mother makes her own jam. She also forced us to learn how to cook everything, and I mean everything, whether you ate it or not. She bathed me when I was too weak. I mean being bathed by your mother as a child is one thing, but try it when you’re over twenty, conscious and sober!! She is the kind that shows up to watch me in my adult pantomimes, even if she has to stifle some yawns. My mother turned our house into a home.

My mother is the woman who oozes strength. I have never seen her beg, never seen her give up, and never seen her defeated. She is the one who still sees the world in black and white, a clear line between right and wrong. She is a hard worker, who can’t stay home for more than a day doing nothing; she would rather start digging or something. She is the woman who will give away her last coin. She is the one who has taught us to learn huge life lessons from things as small as a burnt cookie to those as big as death. She is the kind that will physically dodge the bullets while watching a 3D movie in the cinema. She will also drink a full glass of wine even though she knows all she needs is two sips to get her drunk. She is also the kind that made up new ways for us to cram the periodic table in chemistry and spell really long complicated words.

My mother is a believer. She gave us the privilege of growing up in a spiritual environment; gave me the greatest gift anyone could give; salvation. She is a philosopher; her psychological mind games are second to none. My mother loves us; you can see it in the way she smiles to herself when she imitates one of us. She is also the only one who can call me fat, or tell me I’ve put on more than enough kilos and still get away with it. I would say when I grow up I want to be like her, but I’m already grown. I don’t have any children yet so I can’t expertly talk about being a mother and all, but as my mother always says about my father, I have known true love.

My mother is my hero.


Happy birthday mum.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Can you see me?




That’s me at the back over there. No, not the one holding the large blue umbrella, further back… Yes, that one, the one with the knowing smile and a few drops of rain on my face from standing just slightly outside the umbrella. It’s okay if you don’t notice me at first, that’s how it usually is, and that’s how I’ve come to like it.

I walked about ten kilometers to be at school today, but that’s okay because other than that, I may have had to go without lunch again. I was happy to come today; it’s been five long days at home. Five days without lunch. Five days of no movement because it was that time of the month and I could not afford those fancy sanitary towels that I saw in the television commercial through the window of the brick house that’s just on my way as I walk home every evening. My friends have warned me about passing by that brick house. They say that if one of the older boys catches you there after dark, you have to become his wife. I’m among the lucky ones; I’m turning fourteen and my father has not yet spoken of marrying me off. Sister Mena was not so lucky; she had to go with the rich man from the town even if she did not want to.

My best friend advised me to get pregnant. She says if I do, I would not have to deal with the monthly mess for nine whole months. I won’t have to miss out on the lunch at school either, but I don’t know. I rather like the mathematics we are learning in class now. I like to sit on the floor next to Omiya, cross my legs and write numbers from 1 to 100. Usually, I have to squeeze in between Omiya and Abwoc, and the dust from the floor affects my breathing. Sometimes it’s so dark and there is no electricity to see what I’m scribbling but I want to become like Nurse Maureen. She says if I too want to own the white clean uniform one day, I have to write all the time. I’m smiling today because I have written three sets of multiplication tables today and not one of them was incorrect.




Can you see me?

That’s me seated on the brown wooden chair, in front of almost all the elders in my community. What do you see when you look at me? Can you tell that my back aches from carrying this seven months old pregnancy? Can you tell that I’m in pain, physically and emotionally? Do you see that when my father died, and my mother ran mad, I had to do what I thought best in order to survive?

Can you tell that I dropped out of school and found me a man that I thought would provide for me?
I bet you cannot see that this man has since disappeared from the village, leaving me to fend not only for myself now, but for my baby as well. I bet you would never tell by looking at me that I’m too ashamed to return to school even after the baby is born. I feel like it’s been way too long, and I feel I would be too old. I’ll bet too that you cannot tell that I’m only fifteen.


Can you see me?

You look, yes, but you don’t really see me. You don’t see the responsibility I carry on my shoulders. You don’t see that underneath my threadbare white shirt with red stripes, underneath that steady gaze, is the weight of the world. You don’t see that after my midday meal at school, I have a family to care for. You don’t see that all we have left is each other, my brothers and I. You don’t really see that if I don’t bring back some food tonight, if I don’t find some firewood that I can sell for money, we will not be eating. 
You do not see that I sleep with one eye open, looking at the door-less entrance of the grass thatched hut our parents built before they died, watching for snakes as well as people. You do not see that this very same white shirt with red stripes is what keeps me warm at night. You do not see that I am nine years old.




I see you.

I see the pity in your eyes. I see how you nod and shake your head with concern when you learn that 11% of us are orphans, and that all 300 or so of us share one latrine. I see you writing these things down with a fierce determination. I see you wondering how I can smile so genuinely when I have been through so much, when I have so little…

You should instead see that I’m beating the odds. You should see that I’m among the few 6% of children here in my village that have seen the inside of a classroom. You should see that I’m a role model; that if I can make it, then so can many others. You should see that my situation is not final at all; with the right effort and time, I could look very different. You should see the future in me. 

You should see hope.

#InvestInUGchildren



Wednesday, 9 December 2015

I don't want to know

I'm in awe of this poetry... so the few custom made pieces I have, I intend to share sparingly. 
Enjoy :-)


I don't want to know about you,
About those boys you talk with, on your phone,
Or the girls,
The ones you flash your heart to, and they laugh and you laugh,
The ones you like to try and taste
The ones who come and leave
Empty tins, rolling Stones
While I sit here waiting for you
Gathering moss,
Those running waters pouring where everyone pours
As I quietly wait, running deep for your soul.

I don't want to know.

You're piercing my midnight thoughts
While you and your boys, and girls
Exchange morning thoughts each time you meet.
You're the sack I poured into
Which had holes,
The shoes I sought to fill
Which had no soles.

I loved you deliberately
Yours was whenever you felt like it
So perhaps I don't want to know how you are
And I'm okay with it.

But am I okay with it?
This bittersweet when you leave
And come back when you like
A revolving door in your life
Always walking in and out.

I despise the feelings I've grown since I met you.
They neither heal
Nor completely destroy
I'm a walking effigy

In love with you.


The writer of this article, Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa is a blogger. He loves literature, African literature, and is reading more of it lately even participating in the Africa Reading Challenge. He has experience in Social Media, Content Management, and graphics ….He writes about his experience with see(k)ing God, creative fictional prose and poetry,  and on numerous topical issues at nevender.wordpress.com

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Thoughts on a humid Sunday midnight

Images of you race across my mind, and then quickly run off to hide, like a shy girl from unknown guests. ‘It’s been long enough’, they say, but what do they know? How can they know when knowing was only ours?

A narrow tarmac road, twisting slightly to the left as it slopes, only to straighten out and show the way home; home for a while, home forever; Home. Silence, friendly silence. All sounds combining at once to match the music in my head, or is it in my heart?

A mouth with a wide smile, lips that tell of dreams long forgotten and yet coming alive once again, a heart with such kindness, hands that accept, embrace and give. Warmth from every pore. Hands that hold. Hands that work. Hands that lead, gentle hands. A gentle soul.

Night lights, of every color; yellow, orange, blue, green; speed by like a man on a mission, a man blown away by strong winds that squeeze through small spaces looking for the quickest smoothest way out. Eyes that stare at the lights, eyes full of excitement, awe, trust. Still, hands that hold.

Paths that cross, cross borders, cross decades, cross time zones, cross infinity, cross the line of possibilities. ‘It’s dangerous to change the way things work, there’s a way for everything, a reason’, they say, but what do they know? How can they know when knowing was only ours?

A sting that won’t be soothed, that fights against the healing effects of time, with the strength of a soldier fighting for his life, a soldier that will not wave the white flag even to his last breath. that sweet sting; that tells a story of evenings by the lake and mornings on the couch. That sting that stays.


Images of you race across my mind, like a nocturnal being, suddenly exposed by light, dashing from one side of a room to another, looking for the nearest crevice to crawl into. ‘It’s been long enough’. It’s been too long. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Anything but ordinary

As a writer, you pride yourself in the fact that you are able, on a higher level than the ordinary man, to put into words what exactly it is that you are feeling, what it is that you see, smell, hear, name it. Whether it is a terribly scrumptious heaped plate of spaghetti with a slightly orange tinge that tastes like ocean waves at sunset or a large tree with red and brown leaves that bends slightly to the right whenever the wind blows and has endless trails of tiny black insects harvesting sweet cold nectar up from its pale pink flowers down to its partially hidden roots...you get the picture. That was not the case with the writer’s retreat on Bulago Island over the Independence Day weekend.This retreat was organised by Jackee Batanda of SuccessSpark Brand and Nyana Kakooma of Sooo Many Stories. Don't let the fact that this was the first of it's kind fool you...


Imagine a big orange house, with large glass windows that cover almost fifty percent of the walls. Imagine that this house is on a cliff, overlooking the lake in every direction that you face. Imagine large spacious rooms with an old-fashioned feel and every bit of furniture made from carefully recycled material. Imagine sitting at a large dining table, with a wooden base and a heavy marble glass top the color of the ocean, and sipping on a cup of freshly ground coffee and some freshly baked date muffins.



Imagine your heart beating faster each and every time you look out your front door, because you cannot believe that such beauty still exists in Uganda. Imagine this happening thirty times a day, because that’s how often you absent-mindedly turn your face to the front door. Imagine being left speechless each and every one of these thirty times. Imagine being speechless, and yet you are also a writer.

Imagine absolute silence.



The kind where you can hear the wings of a butterfly flap. The kind where your mind is so clear, you are actually afraid it might be transparent.

Now imagine laughter; the now-you’re-home kind, the kind that starts from the bottom of your belly, comes out through your eyes and fills the room with warmth. The kind that makes you throw your head back and hold your stomach.




Imagine knowledge; the in-depth profound kind that opens you up to a whole new way of thinking. The kind that is tailor-made to fit you like a glove. You know those things you know but actually you don’t really know; this is where you find that out. Imagine learning the ancient secrets of the trade, sitting cross-legged on the floor, knee to knee with five or so people with similar interests. Imagine brain-storming at 8pm in the night, under an orangish yellow light, in a bedroom where the only sound you can hear is the chirping of crickets.

Imagine food! Your very own resident chef! Food of all kinds of shapes, colors and sizes. Imagine baby-bum soft and warm muffins, mouth watering desserts that you have only ever seen on Food network, a barbecue on the beach by a roaring fire, the aroma of which leaves you feeling dizzy, coupled with wine, and presents and books.


Imagine hugging the sun, imagine old fireplaces, a swimming pool with an out-door shower, night lights on the lake, reading autographed novels on beach beds, guided nature walks around the island. Imagine clear air that smells of…nothing.


I’m not one to be at a loss for words often, but this retreat left me speechless. It went over and beyond my greatest expectations. I gained knowledge, I made friends, I found peace and through it all, I was at home.





Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Dear Social Media Star, I have Every Right to Share My Life too.


 I want you to imagine a person who has everything that you are currently working towards in your life. Imagine that they have the dream house, the dream relationship, the dream job, the dream friends, the dream life and a perfect personal brand and reputation. Picture the kind of person that has over 5000 friends on Facebook and each time they post a simple selfie, within an hour they get over 300 likes and 100 comments .

Visualize a person who is always dressed impeccably, and speaks so eloquently, even when caught off guard in an office meeting. They are always seen at the hippest events, and let’s not forget to add the fact that they have  a feature column in the national newspaper to share their latest escapades.  Imagine this person is always posting pictures of themselves and ‘bae’ on some paradise island trip, while you are busy sunbathing at home in your garden reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘ Eat Pray Love’.
They have told people that “bae” is amazing and fulfills all their dreams and expectations, so poor ‘bae’ joins the perfectionist bandwagon by focusing on making the kind of money that maintains their lifestyle. ‘Bae’ has no time to post perfect selfies. You are not jealous of this person, rather you admire their tenacity to  reach  their goals and really succeed  life.

Now let’s add a little twist to the story. Imagine discovering that the person is obsessed with your life.  This person would like to know every detail of your life, from the house you live in, to the friends you have, to the person that you are dating. Immediately upon befriending them online, this person went and studied every Facebook post you’d ever made and every tweet you’d sent out.  When you realized this, you  decided to alter your name on Instagram, because you were tired of the online trolling. All this time, you were quite content to share your simple life with your 150 Facebook friends, until this person, started making sly comments about how boring your life was.  Eventually, after while you find yourself questioning your mundane existence, and you stopped posting your life events and stuck to the regular bible and inspirational quotes.
One day after this person had thrown a full blown public tantrum in my face because I’d subtly blocked them on Facebook , I found some time to reflect on the way home about the kind life that would create such behavior. I wonder whether some Social Media Stars unknowingly set a claustrophobic trap for themselves by the life they create online.
They set the bar high and make it impossible for themselves to appear human and flawed.  I am a picture of flaws so I am not surprised when people point them out.  My experience in this particular case was that, anyone who didn’t bow in adoration was  bullied and manipulated to help the star maintain their status and reputation.
Although it makes me giggle, one has to admit it’s hard work taking the perfect selfie. You have to think of the background, the prefect angle for your face, all the while balancing the phone at the right height so that you can catch the right light! I feel sorry that some social media stars have made everyone believe they don’t make mistakes. That bad days don’t happen and, that acne breakouts consider their skin an inhabitable foreign planet.

 We have all been made authors and artists because of the way we can narrate our lives on social media.  I believe that we all have a right to share the good, the bad and the ugly of our story as we choose.   Is it too much to ask that anyone who wishes to part take in any social media discussion try and use some social media etiquette too? 



The writer of this article, Maria Juliet Rose Nabatanzi can be described as "A curious creative". Twitter @UgGirlMaria and on Instagram @UgGirlMaria

 



Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Prologue...



I sat across the table rubbernecking at the couple that had strolled into the Cafe; to everyone who cared to watch, the lady was deep in love while the gentleman seemed just a knee in. He appeared not to pay attention to what she was saying but afforded an occasional laugh to keep her going. He had a lot on his mind and time was no longer his ally. The lady was elegantly dressed, a blue dress top; vogue they called it, black leggings and a cream sweater,and for the cold weather; the scarf sufficed. Temperatures were dropping by the hour and a few days later winter would be knocking at our doors. The ring on her finger was definitely aesthetic; to match her jewelry and the watch on her arm, it must have been bought for her as a gesture of his “love”.

Dressed in a white polo shirt tucked into white khaki pants with a white kangaroo cape and white moccasins; the young seemingly corporate and averagely tall gentleman strolled majestically with his lady, arm in arm, across the cafe. He had been playing golf in the earlier stretch of the day with his workmates from one of the top investment firms in the country, something many young men would die to have at such an early age. His ‘3-40’ 4 wheel drive auto transmission range rover evoque parked across the street complemented his guise and probably any lies he had told the lady. The lies were however coming to an end and it was time to have him complete the task he had been tasked to do.

A decade ago, Donald had graduated top of his class at The Academy. Having aced all the modules to set the third best record ever at the CMD Academy, no obstacle stood in his way. Given he was an outstanding performer in the field, he had been handpicked by the head of covert operations to watch over the daughter of the President, an opportunity he had turned down. He had opted to get rid of the threat rather than play nanny to the P.D. The term “nanny to the P.D” had been coined by an agent who felt he was being unappreciated by offering him that role forty four years ago, he was long gone but the phrase had caught on.

Klein had on the other hand been adopted at early age and trained by her “father” a rogue assassin. Her unprecedented record 13 head shots were exceptional, 1 bullet, 1 body was the code she lived by,and she had never missed. She had trained with various academies, been contracted by different companies and her price was highest of all assassins to have lived. Her next assignment was the president’s daughter.  She was to pull the trigger, Kund, a former war lord and now a criminal master mind was to call the shot. The resources she had at her disposal were unlimited; all she awaited was the instruction. Donald was to see to it that he got to her before she did get to the president’s daughter. However, he still had a lot of information to gather before executing his mission. “Keep your enemies closer” was the approach he was using and now he was in bed with the villain.

Having affirmed the table where the couple was seated and a thorough survey of the restaurant for any other potential members of the criminal gang turning out negative, I resumed reading my newspapers. The article about the speaker of parliament who had pardoned himself and a few other ministers of corruption charges while standing in for a traveling president did capture my attention. I missed the dictatorial days, none of this nonsense would be happening, systems were in place and they worked, the continued out cry for human rights by organizations and humanitarians was root of such deeds. The papers were characterized by a lot of baloney, a waste of any ones time if you asked me.

My job here was to remind Donald that he had a task to complete and the time was now, he had to take out Klein and failure to do so would necessitate me taking both of them out. I for one knew how the system worked, if he failed and I failed, there was someone assigned to make all happen. If there was a person best placed to deliver the final task, Dave (also known as the ghost) would be around watching our every move. We called him the ghost because of the stealth with which he executed his missions, we had never seen him and yet his reputations preceded him. Having slit a man’s throne in the presence of 11 agents and no one realizing this till the man had fallen to the floor dead without saying a word or making a gesture, he had made his mark. This was seventeen years ago, and the scene was still clear in my mind. Our best chance at life was therefore wiping Klein off the face of the earth. Dave had the best record at The Academy, I had the second, and Donald had the third, I had learnt this a few weeks ago because of the nature of the task I was being assigned, messing up this wasn’t part of my plans.


The writer of this article prefers to remain anonymous.

Monday, 26 October 2015

So I fall in love...

“So I fall in love,
With the ones that run me through,
When all along all I need is you.”
Switchfoot
“Poets that rhyme together
Stay together”
At least that should be in the rule book
But the book has no specifics
No special instructions based on
Vocation, location or temperament.
It even says nothing about disease
Or disability.

She is no poet
And I’m no rock star;
I love the quiet getaways
Where the waters crush on the rocks
And the silence that speaks with my soul
She loves the wild water
Where birds make noise in a flock
Where her voice must get to the top.

I’m in love with her sunshine
She’s in love with my rain
And it doesn’t cause rainbows
Just cats whose spots won’t change;
I want more for the cold
She wants more for the heat
There’s not yet been a place
Where we travel at peace.

And the book has no specifics
No special instructions,
Doesn’t care for exceptional languages
Or self-immolation
There is a man that must die
And one that must live
If you’re reading right
Love’s the man that lives.


The writer of this article, Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa is a blogger. He loves literature, African literature, and is reading more of it lately even participating in the Africa Reading Challenge. He has experience in Social Media, Content Management, and graphics ….He writes about his experience with see(k)ing God, creative fictional prose and poetry,  and on numerous topical issues at nevender.wordpress.com

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Oh darling, why the constant frown?



Young girl, why are you so sad?
Why are your shoulders stooping so low? Is it the burden that you carry, the one that you guard so fiercely from the prying eyes of those around you? Is it because you think needing others is a sign of weakness, an invitation to pain? Does it feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Does it feel like you’re walking this road alone? Remember the days when you had a skip in your step and a smile on your face? Remember when you would dance by yourself in the middle of a crowded or empty room? Remember when you believed that a problem shared was a problem halved? When you winced at phrases like ‘Every man for himself, and God for us all’? Remember when you trusted enough to share that load with your nearest and dearest? When you believed in holding hands?

Dear love, why is your heart so heavy? 
Why are you so detached and guarded? Why have you put up walls as high as the sky, and as wide as the ocean? Is it because you know now that nothing lasts forever? Is it because you’ve had your fragile heart stomped on, and you will do everything in your power to let nobody in, into the deepest realest part of it? Remember when you believed in doing whatever you’re doing with heart? Remember when you believed in the process of healing? Remember when you believed that all people needed was love? When you believed that genuine love was all we needed to make a difference in this world? Remember when you believed in forgiving seventy seven times seven times?

Sweet child, why the darkness in your eyes?
What happened to the light that shone like the Manhattan Skyline? Is it because the grays in this world have dimmed your sensitivity? Is it because whatever you shine a light on seems to disappoint? Is it because it’s easier to hide your imperfections in the dark? Why do you wander around as if encircled in darkness? Remember when you use to live life in full saturated color? Remember when you were moved by the blue of the sky and the yellow of the sun? Remember you believed in the lamp at the top of the hill, in being the light so darkness wouldn’t exist?



Oh darling, why the constant frown?
Why so angry at the world? Is it because life is not fair? Has the suffering around you drained all the joy from your soul? Remember the days when you laughed the most, the loudest and the last? Remember when you threw your head back and raised your feet in the air? Remember when you believed it’s was never too serious for it not to be humorous? Remember the days when you believed that as long as you were laughing you were healing? Remember when you said that your joy had nothing to do with what was happening around you, but instead with what you knew and had on the inside? Remember when you went out of your way to put a smile on another’s face, because you believed that others’ happiness mattered as well?


Young girl, what happened to your dreams?
Why is your hope non-existent, why have you stopped believing? Why so much doubt about good overcoming evil? Is it because nothing in this world is as clear cut as black and white, as good and evil? Is it because bad things happen to good people? Remember when you believed that everything happened for a reason? When you believed that everything works out for your good? Remember when you saw the light at the end of each tunnel and wanted to play your part?  Remember when you knew that in the end, it was all going to be OK?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Trolley Dash


Hebrews 12:1 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…’

For starters, I’m really not a believer when it comes to lucky wins. Either I’m not so lucky or the system is completely corrupted; all I know is I would never spend a single dime on a lottery ticket or take the time to purposely take part in any sort of draw unless I had no choice. However I must say that my faith in these systems has been given a positive nudge this weekend (Thanks Colin).
A friend of mine won a shopping voucher in a draw organised by one of the banks here in Uganda. Since he was not going to be able to use it, it was passed down to me (Yey! Thanks again Colin). It was a trolley dash, where you’re given a very VERY little amount of time (think less than 2/3 of a minute) to dash through a supermarket and pick anything of your choice without exceeding a given amount of money. I would post a picture but I feel that might be free advertising for both the bank and the supermarket.

On second thought, what the heck. There you go. (Spot me if you can)



It was such an experience. The adrenaline rush just before you start, the bundle of nerves that you become and the speed at which it all goes by was memorable. I don’t know if it’s because it was the first time I was doing something like this; mind you I had many doubts, even contemplated just going back home at some point, but I do know I learnt a few good life lessons from it.

1.       You can’t plan everything.

Matthew 6:25-34 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, what you will eat or about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more important than food and the body more than clothing? ...do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’

And don’t think it’s for lack of trying. I’m a meticulous planner so I tried to plan for everything and I mean EVERYTHING. From the route I would take with the trolley, to what items I would put in and which ones I would leave out, to which aisles I would go through and which ones I would not, to the last pit stop. I had sufficient time to go through the store and look around beforehand. I did rehearsals with the timer on my phone, I practiced moving around with the trolley, and I even got tips from those that had been there for the event that had taken place the day before…but nothing! It still didn’t go the same way when it came to the actual thing. How many times do we plan out our lives, or the lives of our children, or every single minute of a day only to have it go haywire when the time comes? How do you react when things don’t go according to plan; do you spend the rest of your life in regret mourning your losses? Do you dedicate your life to making sure the world pays for your disappointments? Or do you dust yourself off and try again?


2.       It’s never as easy as it seems
It could be either easier or harder… You know how when you watch Amazing Race, you’re always secretly looking to see if you would be able to do the different tasks the competitors are given? I usually see some of the pairs going about their duties and I’m thinking ‘why didn’t they do it like this’ or ‘why did they go that direction’ or ‘if it were me, I would definitely have done it like this’ ? Let’s just say I won’t be saying anything of that sort anytime soon, I have a new found respect for those guys. I mean we were divided into five pairs and would go a pair at a time but even after I had seen many pairs doing the trolley dash with my very own eyes, or even after I had noted their mistakes and tried to see how to avoid making the same ones, it still wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I didn’t make all the same mistakes the pairs before me did, but I made some new ones of my own. How easy it is to judge those that have gone before us, to dismiss their work as poorly executed until we walk a quarter mile in their shoes? Have you taken the time to try it out before you claim superiority? And after the realization that it is indeed not as easy, have you taken the initiative to apologize to those whose work you undermined?


3.       Prioritize
Right around the 20th second, I realized I was actually not going to be able to get everything I planned to get. I also did not really have time to contemplate which items on my list were more ideal than the rest; I barely had time to breathe! It all boiled down to either getting the items closest to you or getting the items most important to you, and even then, there still wasn’t much time to decide that either. I later settled for a bit of both ( and by one later, I literally mean one second later) but it got me thinking how it’s just the same with life. Sometimes you have to sit carefully and make hard choices/decisions. Other times, you don’t have the luxury of time so you just wing it…but don’t be deceived. Even as you ‘wing it’, you are subconsciously making a choice; you have prioritized, whether you realize or not. Are your priorities right? If you ever had to wing it, are you confident that you wouldn’t regret that decision later on?


4.       Life goes on
I couldn’t possibly emphasize this enough. After we got home with our spoils, it was not even an hour later before we had moved on to a whole other issue. All the excitement, the non-stop talk immediately after, the jokes about blunders made and the recall of the whole thing just stopped. You do not even realize it until it pops up in your mind at a later time that it is already in your past. While there are those things that stay with you forever (usually as a choice of your own), life does go on, from both the good and bad. So what is it that you are holding onto that should actually be in your past? What is that thing you’re so afraid of losing, and why? Have you thought about how your life going to go on after it?


5.       Enjoy the ride!
I can honestly say that by the time it was my turn to do the trolley dash, all my anxiety had evaporated and I was having a good time. Don’t get me wrong, I gave it my best, as should you, but at the end of the day, it was more of a fun time than anything else. We were laughing, and panting, and sweating and shouting over each other, each person trying to narrate their ordeal… and we were winners! Isn’t that what it’s all about? I’m sure we have all heard paraphrased versions of how life isn’t about arriving at a destination, but the journey there, I couldn’t agree more! Are you enjoying this ride they call life? What are your excuses for not? And what are you going to do about them?

Ps: Enjoy responsibly…




Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Taking the 'high' road

When I was younger,I was always one of the children who just shriveled and died whenever there was a long exchange of not-so-nice words. Because of having been brought up in a rather conservative family(to put it nicely), I never really had a come-back ready whenever the neighborhood bully/ cool kids threw a rather mean word(s) my way. It always bothered me and I'd stand rooted in one spot, still at a loss for words but shaking with anger because somewhere deep down, I believed I had to be better than that. I would then lay awake in my bed later than night thinking up of all the possible come-backs I could have used, but in the end dismissing them all as not good enough. At around 3:00am, it would finally come to me: the perfect come-back. I'd barely be able to sleep and all day the next day, I would wait for the cool kid to try and pull another fast one on me. Talk about too little too late; I would never get the chance to use my perfect come-back because he/she would have already moved on to tackle new challenges, leaving me behind with the rest of the victims in their 'Been there, totally burned that to the ground" category.

Maybe it was a bit of a prophetic word because come high school, I took all that flipped it and reversed it! I don't even know where the words would come from, if maybe there was an auto-spring in some part of my brain that just always knew when I might need a mean sentence or two and made sure to have it ready each and every time, some times even when it was not necessary. Yes, I was a mean girl.(But I'm reformed now, promise). I guess in defense of all the meanies out there, there were times I did not know I was being mean, It was just something that had to be said or done. Now I was the one keeping people awake at night, looking for come-backs... Being on the serving end was not as much fun as I thought it would be but if any one had dared to talk to me about taking the high road, I would have straight out punched them in the mouth. Where was the high road when I was having three-hour nights all because I could not come up with a good come-back fast enough?

Come adulthood; where people don't just throw a few mean words your way. Human beings do mean things, really really REALLY mean things, sometimes on purpose, sometimes right to your face, and sometimes things that are down right cruel and actually affect your whole life. Sometimes I want to go back to the receiving end, and other times I'm thinking enough is enough and two can play this game, time to give the son of a gun a taste of their own medicine, and I have honestly tried out both sides of the coin if I'm being perfectly honest. Right now though, I have learned (and I'm still learning) to just stand back, relax and enjoy the show. It took me a good while to get here but you will almost never find me in any sort of power play or exchange driven only by the motive to humiliate or prove that I too can play the game.

So when I say take the high road, It's my honest advise from experience. Of course the word 'high' here in no way implies that you, person x, who is taking the high road is a better individual than person y, the one who is making you have to choose in the first place. Good things happen to bad people all the time, and even bad people have some good manners but here is why you should take the high road anyway. The Webster dictionary defines the high road as 'The most ethical and honest method'.  I like to think of it as stepping out of Karma's circle, the one that keeps going and coming round. We all know Karma,right?  The nice lady that goes around evening out the score, making sure you pay your dues and bringing your actions right back to your doorstep? The one who each and every one of us must bump into one or more times in our lives no matter how hard we try to cover up our tracks? Here's you when you decide to join the fight and get down and dirty.





I'm not saying that what you are doing is necessarily wrong, but the fact is you're still in it,and you better hope and pray that you really were doing the right thing. Now here is you, when you take the high road.


It's like walking into a game reserve knowing full well there are tigers in there. I'm not saying you can not out run the tiger, but why would you even want to find out if you can or can not? It's like hearing about a reality show that went horribly wrong and you were meant to be a part of it, but instead you get to sit down on your comfy couch, in your comfy clothes and watch it in HD as you enjoy some yummy popcorn. Isn't that just the life?

I know it's never as easy as it sounds. I know it hurts to watch someone supposedly get away with doing something basically criminal especially to you, or someone you care about. I also know its a rather humbling process to watch them do it over and over while you just zip your mouth and do nothing about it even when you actually can. Jesus was not high on anything when He said turn the other cheek( Matt 5:39). By doing nothing, you are actually doing everything, because then you have not narrowed the vengeance down to only what you are capable of. By saying nothing, you are actually saying everything. If you do not believe me, (or Jesus for that matter), then just do it because it rounds out your character.

Take that high road, not because you want to, but because karma is one bad b****!






Friday, 29 May 2015

Three secrets about growing up

As you grow up, everything about you becomes more defined and clear cut. It’s no longer easy to be undecided, in the gray or to switch from one side to another. Every move you make seems to have consequences ten times its size. 
I’m not talking about turning sweet sixteen or finally being able to legally take alcohol or have a driver’s license. The kind of growth I’m talking about is less of an event and more of a realization, epiphany you could say.  It’s the kind of growth where you finally see the world for what it was, not the movie you imagined it to be. You finally realize that your parents might have had a point and maybe you should have considered their opinions more regularly. You realize that most of the time, you’ve got to take care of you because no one is willing to drop all they are doing to come and bail you out of a rut anymore.

Mostly you realize that life is unfair, it’s not a straight path where if you follow steps A, B and C then you will definitely get to point D. We are not living in a perfect world and while you win some, you will surely lose some along the way.
I’m a pretty optimistic person. I believe that good things are always coming my way and that I don’t ever have to be down for too long and so far, I’ve landed on my feet each time.  But lately so many things have been happening, one after another and I found myself battling with feelings of anxiety, guilt, bitterness and inadequacy sometimes.  I was beginning to lose faith, and I am nothing without my faith (In Jesus Christ, just to be clear). So I decided I needed to take a second and get to the bottom of this, find out what was causing all these alien feelings to rise up from the dark pit where they belonged and yup, you guessed it. I blame growing up 100% for all that’s happening to and around me!!

I don’t like to dwell too much on the negative. If there is a problem, then you can be sure there is a solution. These are the three things we are going to have to embrace to live a happy life as grown ups:

You choose what you want to do with your life
Forget the career your parents wanted you to have. Forget the pact you made with your best friend at the end of High School to go to the same college, have the same major and go on to live next door to each other for the rest of your lives. Chances are you haven’t seen the ‘bestie’ in months because she moved to another continent to pursue her dream of being a Hollywood actress and you’re over here studying till sunrise to become a lawyer. One thing you learn pretty fast is that no one is going to tell you what to do anymore. No one is going to check on you to see if you’re skipping your classes at postgraduate school or showing up late to work every morning. You decide what direction you want your life to take and you decide how much effort you are going to put in to ensure that you realize your goals. You’ve got to have self drive, and you’ve got to be motivated from within. So, decide right now what it is you want to do with your life, who you would want to be five years from now, and begin TODAY to take steps toward becoming that person.

You choose who is in it with you
As you grow up, your circle becomes smaller and smaller and within that circle is another even smaller circle and another inside of that one. People are going to disappoint you, stab you in the back, let you down, abuse your trust, take you for granted, kick you when you’re down, name it. Even those in your most inner most circle will shock you when you least expected. Your friend’s nastiest character traits will be brought out into the open and I can assure you its going to be ugly. And painful. And you’re going to wonder if there is even one single soul that you can actually trust in this world.  But guess what; we are all human, we all make mistakes (yourself included) and no one is perfect. We all need people in our lives, one way or the other. You can’t go deleting the numbers of everyone who let you down just once from your contacts. Although your tolerance will dwindle almost to non-existence, you have to be willing to forgive, to give people second chances. You’re on a journey, and you will need a person or people to pick you up when you’re down and to celebrate your achievements with. You will have to be willing to put effort into maintaining friendships in spite of your crazy busy schedule, and to show up for the deaths, births, weddings etc. You’re going to have to choose who is going to go the actual journey with you, and then you’re going to have to let them in.

You’ve got to keep on moving
Change is the only constant in life. Things will go pretty well. Things will go pretty badly. Friends are going to let you down, someone else might get that promotion, and maybe you’re not as popular as you once were. Or maybe you will get your dream house way sooner than you ever thought, your children will all be top of their class and you are the employee of the month. Either way, NEVER ever get complacent. Take time to enjoy your achievements, and grieve your losses, enjoy the journey but you’ve got to keep on moving. The sky is no longer the limit. After you’ve achieved your goal, move on to the next one. Go on to become even better than you ever thought you would be, to do greater than you thought you would do. Don’t ever stop; not until you’ve breathed your last.


Sunday, 8 March 2015

The stronger sex!



I had never really taken the time to wonder why there is so much hype about women. It was just one of those facts that I was indifferent about. I mean I liked it,I appreciate the appreciation, but I just wasn't interested enough to ponder further on an issue such as that. The various songs about women, the various holidays, it was like the wind to me; its a mystery where it comes from and where its going but you're not curious enough to find out more. Women's day was just a public holiday I was grateful for because I did not have to go to work.

Honestly speaking, for a long time, I thought it was a stroke of bad luck that I am a woman, a disadvantage of sorts. We are supposedly the emotional ones, we are the ones supposed to step aside and put others before self, and no matter what they tell you, there is still a heck load of gender based discrimination going on everywhere. Being a woman in a working environment where men still do not categorize your ideas and input as equally sound as theirs is the story of many women's lives. We are still fighting for our rights along side the African Americans, homosexuals and every other minority group you can think of, albeit on a smaller more subtle scale. 

Women are strong

Today more than ever, this truth is extremely clear to me. I have realized that the strength, the well known and well talked-about strength of a woman has got absolutely nothing to do with the physical ability to lift a heavy bag of cement or run fifty kilometers or invent life changing home appliances ( although there is a good number of women doing this). The strength of a woman lies on the inside; it's the way she thinks, reasons, perseveres, sacrifices, forgives, loves, cares. It's the way she handles the pressure of her day to day life. Is the way she recovers when life pushes her to the ground, while still wearing a smile, and the way she is always reinventing herself, making sure to always meet and beat the constant expectations of those around her in an ever changing world. Its in the way she balances the many roles thrown at her, the way she rebuilds after a storm has destroyed everything she had, and its the way she continues to rebuild storm after storm. 

Yes, there are moments of irrationality, times when they blow things out of proportion, even times when their demands seem absurd, but the one thing you will never find is a woman who has completely given up. They harness that inner strength and fight until the end, and if you took a second to look just a little more closely at the women you know, you will see that every single woman has got it in her, yes, even that one that just popped into your mind right now; she too has got it going on.

Never in my life have I ever been this proud to be a woman.