Help Me #Move4Food

 

I ran my first 5km trail run today.

Ok fine.  I wanted to run my first 5k, but I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was. So I ended up walking most of the way.

The only reason I signed up for the trail run in the first place was to prepare for the 10k that I’ve signed up for in September’s Cape Town Marathon. I needed something to challenge me to push past my fitness plateau. Although I’ve been working regularly with a personal trainer, my eating habits were sabotaging my results.

Admittedly, getting “in shape” is one of my lifetime battles.

As I study the value of whole person living (creating harmony in the areas of relationships, careers and finances) I am beginning to see how profoundly one aspect of life affects another.

I’ve lived as a victim for most of my life.

I didn’t choose that way of life. One could say that it was thrust onto me.

And I live in a country where we’d had deep trauma inflicted upon us by violence and hatred. (Not that we’re really that different from other countries – our social fractures are just closer to the surface.)

As a first generation professional (the first person in my immediate family to get a university qualification and enter into white collar work), the negativity, lack of resources, violence and fear I’d faced for years severely impeded  my success in life. I didn’t know how much until I participated in the Race of Life exercise. Twice.

The first time you do it, as the questions are asked, and you see the white people continually take steps forward, it makes you embarrassed. And then, it makes you sad. At the end, you are left holding anger that has no place to go.

And that’s how my country men live – walking around with invisible hand grenades, waiting to lay waste to the unfairness of inequality as if that is going to ensure restoration of a utopian state.

I’m tired of holding that hand grenade.

That feeling of “not enough and too much” has imploded too many times in my life, has left me voiceless and feeling powerless.

So now I want to move ahead, leaving the past behind and claiming my true personal power.

The truth is that the race of life involves so much MORE than race! The complexities of how success is defined, a person’s accountability for their lives, social capital (or the lack of it), the impending impact of the fourth industrial revolution, talent versus emotional intelligence… etc – there are too many factors contributing to how one navigates life. It is way more than the black and white divides that government agendas are forcing national thinking into.

All the political rhetoric is choking the hope of the current generation just trying to figure out what their future is going to look like.

Signing up for a 10km run was sparked by the passion I felt for others like me. The children of the disenfranchised who are trying to find their way in the forest of new freedoms.

Being the first in your family to get a university degree comes with a new frame of responsibility that no one has taught us how to navigate. Working within higher education over the past ten years, I have met resilient and phenomenal young people who are nothing short of heroes, based on everything they’ve overcome.

Their race is not over once they get their degree though. The hard-earned piece of paper is not a magic wand that transforms first generation white collar workers into confident professionals overnight.

The race goes on – there is more ground to gain from those already far ahead.

But what if we can help someone on one leg of their race?

Students on university campuses across the country are still struggling to have basic necessities like food and toiletries because most people are not aware of the funding shortfalls that still exist.

It’s not fair. But we can do something to help.

I can do something to help.

And so I’m going to #move4food so that I can help someone else run their race while I’m running mine.

Will you join me?

 

This Is My Country Too


I write this letter to all who will listen to a South African woman who wishes to let her voice be heard amongst the dissenting clamour threatening the purity and promise of our hard won  freedom.

I wonder what people think about when they look at me. Perhaps they see just another ‘Indian’ and unconsciously wrap the string of stereotypes that come along with that descriptor around my neck.

Yet when I look in the mirror, I see ‘South African’.

I don’t know what the rest of the Indian population (yes the largest outside of India) in this country are thinking and feeling right at this minute. I can only speak for myself. And this speaking, this articulating, this daring to let my voice be heard, this rising up of courage… has been many years in the making.

I’m not sure whether it was something I gave up, something that was taken away from me or something I never took ownership in the first place.

Partly the reason for the self-censorship of my voice has been that I too have been a victim of the ‘old oppressive system.’ And no we can’t just ‘stop talking about apartheid’ because if we forget where we came from, then we will forget just where it is that we want this country to go to.

And yes I too want to see the national socio-political discourse shift towards a more progressive, action orientated agenda. But maybe we are stuck in a moment of national intransigence because all of its citizens are not leaning on the same side of the ship. Maybe all the voices haven’t been heard yet, so we don’t quite know how to take the next step of progress.

So now that I am finally letting my voice be heard, I am determined that it will not just be another angry shout that adds to the pervading negativity. Instead, I hope that my voice will be a heralding call to action to stop making war with our words and rather to be brave enough to open our lives to personify love in action.

Yes I know many will dismiss my voice as being naïve and overly optimistic, but it is a voice calling out to ‘true South Africans’ nonetheless.

A true South African?

Since this is the first time that I am articulating my South African voice, there is a probability that it will be lost in translation. I am trying to make you understand that maybe, just maybe, we need to reform our understanding of what it means to be South African.

No one has ever bothered to ask me what it feels like to be a South African. I may not be able to give you a succinct definition, but I can tell you how being a South African makes me feel.

I may not have been one of those who took to the streets to protest unjust laws. Neither am I tormented with memories of loved ones who placed their lives on the line for my political freedom.

But when I visit the apartheid museum, I don’t have to be black to feel the anger of righteous indignation. I don’t have to be black to read Solomon Mahlangu’s last words and feel the indelible weight of responsibility fall on my shoulders.

I don’t have to be white to feel the confusion, false guilt and loss of place that dominates everyday conversations. I don’t have to be brown to feel frustrated at the defeatist attitude prevailing in aforementioned minority groups.

In fact, I don’t have to be a colour at all.

My identity as a true South African is not tied to my colour – it is tied to my character.

My fellow South Africans are people, and stripped away of all the political codes, they are individuals who are just like me, trying to find a way to find their place in this country, trying to find a way to move past all of the pain and injustice, all of the burdens and the pressures of what we are facing.

A true South African dares to hope, dares to dream, and it is not problems that are tied to our country but if we can find a way to learn to see each other as South Africans in the core of our identities… then maybe, as we make an attempt to chart a different course, we will be able to teach the countries of the world, about reconciliation that comes from forming real and true relationship.

A true South African is a mosaic of beauty, culture, love, integrity, freedom, hope and joy.

And I wouldn’t want to change that for the world.

This is my country too.