If The Teacher Only Knew!

During my school days, the teachers used to beat us like crazy. Many kids dropped out of school because of corporal punishment. They called this truancy. It was a system inherited from the apartheid era. Teachers ruled by fear.

I used to have panic attacks every Sunday evening on the thought of Mr Mabuza alone, the Maths teacher because Maths was not my strength.

I in particular remember this other day when we were doing oral reading. This is where you were required to stand in front of the class and read a story assigned to you by the teacher.

A number of children didn’t know how to read. These were particularly the older kids of the class! Who were known to have repeated every grade. The teacher would then ask, what’s wrong with you? Are you brain damaged? Are you retarded? and the class would laugh at them, HARD.

Those were hostile and dark days, If you would have asked the teachers if they knew about ADHD, ADD, Autism or Dyslexia they would in fact beat you for thinking that you are smarter than them.

Thinking about all of this now I feel very sorry for those poor kids. They are adults now, I’ve seen one of them some couple of weeks back when I went to Nelspruit my home town. He used to sit with me in class and I would deliberately let him copy my work. We never spoke about me letting him copy my work, it was something we both knew I had to do because we both knew his struggle with learning!

This guy is now running one of the biggest shops and butcheries in the township, he also has a tent business, where he hires out tents. He is indeed a very successful business person. A thousand folds better than the teacher who used to make fun of him.

And I’m thinking but this guy couldn’t read in class in fact I’m pretty sure to this day he still can’t read because he dropped out of school because of his struggle to read!

This write up is to say I’m sorry for laughing when the teachers made fun of our friends. THE TEACHERS DIDN’T KNOW THAT THEY DIDN’T KNOW!

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“It’s all in your head.”

Seeing the picture of Rashied Staggie, the (former) leader of the notorious gang “The Hard Livings” from the Cape, reminds me of one of the ferocious killer and criminal we’ve ever had in Pienaar, the township I grew up in.

His name was Skara,

You see, as a kid I was tall and my name????… Let’s just say I was bullied a lot because of my height and name as a kid and so, I tended to be a loner.

Skara on the other hand was one of the most feared criminals in my township, he spent half his life in prison. He was particularly known for his violent temper. You really didn’t want to cross paths with him!

Skara was my neighbour, and the day he was stoned to death by the whole community I was there! Before he died he asked for water from me. And everyone was astonished to hear him mention my name and asked for water because Skara didn’t have any friends and didn’t talk to anyone!

This though was not an accident or came as a surprise to me because I only and only I, was privy to a side of Skara not everyone knew. His softer side.

Skara grew up a tall child like me, and the name “Skara” was a nickname from jail, so he identified with me but didn’t say anything. And me being me as a kid didn’t figure out why the notorious thug liked me so much!

He sure was thinking that I was gonna turn out like him. Full of extreme anger and hate!

Skara didn’t figure out one thing though. That it’s not about how you look or your name, even where you come from or your sexual orientation or what people think of you. It’s about your mindset! It’s all in your brain!

I realised this from an early age!

If only South Africa was hard on drugs, if only!

I’m a seldom overseas traveler. I’m stunned by the stories here. I’ve bumped into this site (lockedup) while looking up for Minister Siyabonga Cwele which eventually led me to his wife’s arrest and I found myself exploring South Africans in foreign jails. It is heart-wrenching to read these stories and eye opening at the same time. In particular because when they give a description of how a drug mule looks like, they simple say ” Just stand in front of the mirror, that’s how a drug mule look like”!

I’ll make do visit South Africans in prisons whenever I go abroad, just to give them emotional and moral support and maybe some financial support as well. Thanks for starting the site, and warning us of the realities out there Belinda West!

Speaking of which!


I lived in Indonesia for a while. The first thing you are constantly reminded of when you’re reading the brochures to go there is “Don’t get yourself in trouble by doing drugs” and when you go for your visa at the embassy they will dedicate some 2 to 3 minutes to warn you about doing drugs in Indonesia!..When you are about to land, the airline hostess will clearly announce in English and Bahasa that drugs have a heavy penalty in this country. When you step in the airport, the first thing you see is a big sign, I remember it well it was all in red and the words ” PENALTY FOR DOING DRUGS IS DEATH SENTENCE” were in white and I thought to myself, these people mean business about this drugs thing! Only to see on the news the very next evening that 4 Nigerians and an Australian were caught with drugs at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport, the very spot I passed through, and they hastily received the death sentence in a much publicized case. I thought to myself if only in South Africa we were this hard on drugs if only!

Zuma is the face of SA, whether we like it or not!

I’m not an ANC member or affiliated to the ruling party in any way, but I am a patriot and my politics are centered around the will of the people, hence I decide which political party to vote for just right before the elections. These videos that are constantly in circulation showing Zuma making a fool of himself however, have really gotten in my nerves. I don’t think they are funny at all

You see, as much as we cannot agree with some of the policies of the ruling party or what Zuma himself has done but I would like to point out that whether we like it or not, Zuma is the face of South Africa. He represents us out there, and when he is making a fool of himself we ought not to laugh, we must in fact ask ourselves, what does that say about us as South Africans to the international community?

We all know that Maths is not our President’s strong point but there’s no one in the ANC with the foresight to see to it that numbers need to be written in words to avoid Zuma embarrassing himself over and over again when making his speeches.

NOOO man this is really not on!

Can someone reading this article from the ANC do something about this!.. I’m Swati and we have this saying– Tibi Tendlu– which literally translates to “Dirty Laundry”. Zuma is our dirty laundry, as patriots let’s all agree that we’ve made a mistake to have elected this man to that position and let’s acknowledge that we have learned from this but most importantly let’s try and hide our dirty laundry to protect ourselves from this kind of shame!

I had first hand experience of how Antisemitism feels like. Thanks to my height !

I’m tall….However I’ve never measured myself or have any interest in doing so in future but people I meet say I’m 6.6 or 6.7. Most of the time people don’t see me but they see my height first before they can see me. This was so true today when I met this elderly couple while queuing to pay for my lunch at the supermarket. They were behind me and exclaimed “gees, you are tall”. Then they went on and on with the usual narrative that I have to deal with everyday from complete strangers like:

Do you know you are this tall?

What’s your height, It must be cold up there !

Tell me is it from your mom side or your dad side?

Who’s the tallest in your family?

Do you play basket ball? ( as if all tall people need to play basket ball, worse I don’t like basket ball)

And to tell you the truth I don’t know how one can answer these questions because they are weird and uncomfortable. Well the man then said something I certainly didn’t anticipate.. He said ” if you were Jew in an extermination camp, you were certainly gonna be one of the first people to be executed” . And I thought to myself isn’t that rude !! I mean I know I’m black and tall but Isn’t that some kind of antisemitism !!.

Other experiences…

At one point I had an interview at a restaurant and in the middle of the interview I excused myself and went to the bathroom, when I returned back the interviewer said God you are tall. Why didn’t you tell me that you were this tall ? and I replied you didn’t tell me the prerequisite of the Job entails that I need to be short, he laughed (I didn’t), he never hired me.

All this is nothing compared to when I got a scholarship to study in Indonesia. Nothing prepared me for what was coming my way.

I didn’t choose to go to Bali which is a tourist Island because I knew that I really won’t experience the real Indonesian lifestyle and culture. I knew that if I wanted to achieve such I needed to be with the real Indonesian people on the ground so that I can learn as much as I can about the culture and the Bahasa language since English is not an official language of Indonesia.  I chose a college in Sumatera. The first six months was hell. The food was different. There weather was different, There were earthquakes ( something which we only saw on TV in my part of the world) and one more thing I was the only black and the tallest person than all the people in that Island. The people have never seen a black person and especially a tall one like me. So you can Imagine how that must have been like….. I digress

This experience with the couple brought me close to experience how hard it was for Jews, Gays and Lesbians, Gypsies, Disabled people in Nazi Germany. Worse how hard they still have to deal with the discrimination to this day !!!.

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite… Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never explained.”…. Nelson Mandela

My experience on the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

Yesterday we marked the release of one of the greatest statesman in the world. To most people he was an icon, to others he was God. Most of the white section in our society viewed him as the biggest terrorist and a devil while most if not all blacks viewed him as a freedom fighter.

I was 10 years old. My mom, my sister and I were gathered around our small black and white TV at home. There was great anticipation and tension in the air. All of a sudden for the first time I saw this man I’ve always heard about since I was a baby. No one knew how he looked like, for showing his picture was a crime carrying the death sentence.

Behold, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela !!

As we were watching him on TV coming out of prison it was as if he was coming to us. There was great jubilation from every house hold in my village. People were singing, dancing and shouting songs of freedom . It was amazing how all our freedom was tied in one individual.

I had mixed emotions as I helplessly watched my mom weeping uncontrollable at the sight of Mandela. I did not comprehend the gravity of the situation at the time. My mom hugged and kissed both my sister and I and she exclaimed “It’s a watershed moment we are coming far”.

The impact the release of Mandela had on my family was great !

A few years before the release of Mandela we just lost an uncle who was abducted and killed by the apartheid security forces. Although through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) his killers came forward and admitted to his murder. They however refused to show us where his remains were because his death involved higher ranking government officials who refused to come to the TRC.

I digress…

It was not until I saw Mandela in person at Chris Hani’s funeral 36 months later that I grasped how important his release was. How important it was to forgive.

I love you South Afrika.

I was sexually harassed yesterday…

PrettyTraining

Yesterday while eating at a restaurant, there comes this guy and acted like he was loosing balance while passing by my table then landed with a grip on my thigh. I was wearing shorts and I felt so disgusted and angry because I could see that he was gay and he enjoyed that touch.

I feel different and I turn to do things differently hence I would like to believe that I lead a bohemian lifestyle of some sort. So believe it or not, I don’t have anything against gay people. In fact I distance myself from people who discriminate against gay people.

This thing however made me realize how devastating and serious sexual harassment is. Many women endure this kind of harassment daily at work, schools and other social environments. From men (married ones too) making comments on a passing woman, to simple calling someone who is not your girlfriend baby, to forcing yourself to a woman you clearly see that she’s not into you. I’m sorry but I think that has some elements of harassment.

Stop-Sexual-Harassment

Well I know there are countless number of sexual harassment out there, some come very subtle. But what I’ve learned yesterday is that another man can only touch me on my hands. That’s when he gives me a hand shake. Beyond that I’m suing for sexual harassment.

Hash tag I’m aware of cultural differences where people kiss as a way of greeting.