Heritage

Heritage day is around the corner, and as we prepare to light our braai fires and enjoy the time with family and friends, I can’t help but reminisce over the legacy I carry within me. I have a rich history of forefathers with substance, vision, and diligence.  My colleagues could not believe how excited I was to wear my sport t-shirt for the Department of Education. It also caught me off guard, how much it means to me. How one glance in the mirror this morning took me back to a grandmother who was one of the first of her generation to become a qualified social worker of colour, a grandfather who was a teacher and later became a principal. A paternal grandfather who was one of the first coloured people to attend UCT, and for a long time I believed he was the most intelligent person I knew. A paternal grandmother who did everything she did, with excellence and working for years nursing at the old age home.

I am reminded of how my educator parents took me on marches to protest against the separate schooling system. I think I was 12. And the message was, you have to march for your own future. Today I salute them. All three of their children where brought up with the best education a child in this country can ask for.

I am reminded that I am the oldest grandchild of two bloodlines filled with success stories. A foundation laid by fishermen, a social worker, a priest, a politician, missionary worker, a doctor, an accountant, a nurse, teachers and principals. People who lived to serve others. I am proud to add my name to this lineage. After my father’s passing I wrote a poem, and the phrase that brought healing was: “Want jou bloed vloei in my”. I have the blood of many great people flowing inside me.

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The colour of excellence

I did not get up  to watch Wayde run, but the minute I woke up, I reached for my phone. I woke my husband up with extreme excitement and joy. Wayde van Niekerk broke the world record!!!  Our  hearts were beating with the rest of South Africa. Nothing but pride for our boy Wayde van Niekerk.  And then there was Akani Simbine, “ran alongside titans and held his own”, as DJ Fresh tweeted. Our hearts were touched by Luvo Manyonga story, about overcoming a drug addiction.

This morning #ColouredExcellence dominated social media. And I really enjoyed reading the piece by Carla Bernado on why Wayde’s gold is a win for coloured identity. Immediately the question is raised on whether it is appropriate to bring race into this? Can’t race be overlooked, and why can’t this be like the Springbok game of  1995, uniting us as South Africans? Why, for a matter of fact, is the race of any of these athletes important?

It is important because of the big role these athletes will play in the construction of identity of the young boys growing up in neighbourhoods similar to the ones they grew up in. Identity construction can never be divorced from environment and culture. And when I think about Wayde as coloured, orginally from a neighbourhood  most coloured people in Cape Town know and can identify with, I get excited. Here is someone bridging the gap between what a young boy experiences in his daily reality and what he aspires to be.

I conducted research on identity construction. The participants were young primary school boys from a low socio-economic coloured community in the Western Cape. The aim of the study was to understand the construction of male identity in young primary school boys, who grew up in a context where few positive role models might be, and where society might play a bigger role in shaping their identities.

In the abstract I state the following:

The findings showed that the type of masculinity these boys aspire to is admirable. However, they are caught within a context where there is a lack of physical space, an absence of facilities, a high unemployment rate and are surrounded by community dis-organisation. The boys are confronted with many male examples in their community who are not providing for their families, and they see substances such as alcohol and drugs being abused daily by adult members of their community. Despite a constant presence of a mother, there is a lack of meaningful relationships with their fathers. They cannot easily identify positive role models within their community and do not have the ability to search for such traits in others. The themes arising from the data presented a contrast between the experiences of the participants and the kind of men they seek to be. There are very few men in their community who could help them to achieve their ideals and who could provide them with guidance or support. In the absence of suitable male role models to emulate, these boys are likely to comply with a model of masculinity that demonstrates dominance and power through violence and abuse.”

I conclude my thesis with the awareness that I am of the same racial classification as that of the participants. I used to live close to the neighbourhood they are growing up in, now deprived of positive role models. I found myself reflecting on the role that people like myself can play in guiding boys, similar to the above participants, towards the construction of a healthy male identity.

So yes, Wayde being an admirable young man, with a good value system, makes him a positive role model for all boys. And yes, being coloured isn’t the only part of his identity that defines him. But him being coloured, makes it special for a community deprived of heroes. A community where many past heroes were left unsung. Breaking the spirit of those still to come. Deterring them from even trying. But Wayde’s success brings our role models a little bit closer to our doorsteps, and it makes us feel like we can reach out and touch that success ourselves. It gives us  hope, that although our identity is shaped by our context, it is not cast in stone. It can change. It is determined by the choices we make.

Luvo too chose to change his identity and today can sift through that which defines him. He makes that very clear to the media when he states:

“that’s not me anymore.”

Stedman Graham tells us the following in his book, Identity: Your passport to success,

“…your identity can change, evolve and transform.”

I guess with this piece I want to create a consciousness among those who have been successfull in transforming their identity into something that adds value to this world, to acknowledge our role as a role model, especially for those young ones, who can associate in some way or the other with us. And sometimes we have to acknowledge that that association is due to similar skin colour and growing up in similar communities.

There are little coloured boys, who went to bed last night thinking: “If Wayde could do, I can do it.” And that’s what it’s all about. But Wayde could not do it without the support and guidance of his family and most importantly his coach, who shared all her skill and knowledge to get him to excellence. That’s where we come in. Our children can not make it on their own. We have a responsibility to share our recipes for success. Therefore we should never get to a point in our lives where we disassociate with where we come from.

 

Wa vinaa  kô djy?

Djy sê djy bly nou oppie golfestate

Tussen daai  fênsie hyse

Toegefence

Highly secured.

 

Ek sien djy kap ‘n seven viby die All Pay line

Met daai kwai  SUV van jou.

Djy’t seker ‘n app op jou phone

En genoeg geld om transactions te kan doen

 

Jinne my broer

Dit ga mos goed met djou

 

Onthou djy nog toe ons laaities  was

Lekker stout gewies

Djou pa het sommi vir ôs almal pak gegie

Dwasdeur die bank

 

Die goeie ou dae, daai

En djyt goed uitgedraai, my broe

 

Ma vandag se dae kan djy mossie die laaities slaan nie

Even al doen hulle swak oppie skool

“Slow progress” sê die juffrou

Sy praat van FAS

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

 

Ai my broer

Eks bly dit gaan goed met djou

 

Ekt ha gesê, mens kannie so syp as djy innie anner tyd issie

Nie wat, relax, sê sy . Is net ‘n bierjtie.

Dit voed sommi so bietjie die bybie

En kyk nou

 

Ek sê weer, my broe,

Eks bly dit ga so goed met djou

 

Sorry ek kan djou nie in nooi nie

Die wendy is ma klein

Ôs is al hoe lank oppie waiting list

Ma ôs is mos back yard dwellers, djy sien.

 

Ek doen mar sulke odd djobpies, nou en dan

Ma innie winter ga dit ma swaar

Mens vistaan dan as die manne ma mert en pouch

Djy moet mos kos oppie tafel sit, my broe

 

Dit was lekka om djou weer te sien

Djy moet sê as ek ka kô help met ietsie da oppie estate

 

Go well my friend, Lat dit goed ga met djou

Ek’s bly om te sien  djy othou darrem nog waa vinaa djy kô

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s purpose

children.jpg

I traveled the world to figure out what my purpose in life is. I had to go to Asia to figure out it has to be something in Education. I remember forgetting the time difference, and phoning my dad at 12am ( SA time) from Taipei, to tell him that I know now, I want to become a teacher. I think he nearly fell out of bed. This was after years and years of saying that that would be the last thing I would be. But as we say in Afrikaans, “die appel het toe nie ver van die boom geval nie.

However, when I returned to South Africa, and finished my teacher training at UCT, I first taught in Camps Bay and then in Elim. It took these extreme opposite environments to make me realize that I was not yet at my destiny. As a teacher, I realized there were a lot more than academic teaching that my students needed from me. So many of them, needed to heal. So many of them were broken, in one or other way. Whether rich or poor. One specific child played a big role in my decision to pursue the path I am on now. He would come into my class, pull his hoody over his head and disappear. When I tried to engage him, he would respond with a angry, “Here, God, hier begin sy alweer!” I realized that Maths and Science were the last thing this boy needed, but I was so helpless in the limitations of what I felt I could offer. Moments engraved in my memory are of this boy, and the extreme sadness and joy we shared throughout that year.  I heard that he eventually dropped out of school, but that year, he was the star of our performance at the school concert.

The amount of learners who struggles with emotional, scholastic and behaviour difficulties, are overwhelming in numbers. The following poems were inspired by such learners:

Van ‘n onderwyser aan ‘n seerkry kind

Kind, wat sê ek vir jou

wanneer jy my kwetsend aanval

wilde kyk in jou oë

vloeke wat oor jou lippe bars

“Here God!” skree jy

Vir my,

Nee

Vir hulle…

 

Hulle wat jou seermaak

uit die huis gooi tot twaalf uur saans

Wat nie kan sê

“Los uit my kind!”

Hulle wat jou nie wil hê

 

Ek hoor jou nood en

ek wil jou vang

Jou teen my bors vasdruk en

jou kwaad wegstreel

Ek wil jou sag brei en

warm vryf,

die wild uit jou oë verdryf

Sodat jy kan voel

Dít, is liefde

Dít, is omgee

Dít, is ‘n kind se lewe

 

Kind

 

Jy stap my klas binne

Gooi jou sak neer

Niks

Die ander skryf

Ek gee jou kleur

Teken maar

Niks

Jy skribbel iets

Skeur die papier

Frommel dit op

Kou en spoeg teen ‘n ander se kop

Absoluut niks

Wat maak jy hier wonder ek

Wat is leer vir jou

Hoe hoor jy wat ek sê

Hoe lyk die versameling in jou kop

Hoekom frustreer jy my

Frustreer jy jouself

 

Of is daar niks?

 

Ek wonder wat jy sou wees

As ek kon terug gaan in tyd

Jou ma gaan haal oppie yard

En haar wys

Kyk!

Dit is wat jou kind gaan wees. 

 

Noodkreet

Ek kan jou nie red

Ek het nie ‘n towerstaf

Al wat ek kan doen

Is dit draagliker maak

Dag

       Vir

            Dag

                  Vir

                        Dag

 

 

Woman of Africa

This is a poem that I’ve posted previously on Facebook. However,  I promised my friend Nyasha an English poem, and thus I find it fitting to post this again today. Nyasha and I were housemates while we were both studying at UCT. We have many stories to share from our stay in Annhouse (Student Residence of the Anglican Church). But what I will always remember about this beautiful and creative lady, is her smile and bubbly personality. Always bringing with her an abundance of positive energy. Nyasha is from Zimbabwe, and as we hear all the reports of unrest this week, my prayers go out to my friend, her family and friends, and our sister country as a whole.  Nyasha, my friend, I wish we could bottle your positive energy, make fairy dust of it, and let it spread with the wind.

Another friend that comes to mind this morning, is Keziah. Kez and I were housemates while living in Taipei. She used to call me “A strong woman of Africa”. She would remind me of this every time I got a little sad, homesick or just a little bit of the blues was trying to take over.  It is a phrase that made me pick myself back up and hold my head high again. It also inspired this poem when I was was going through a rough patch at a point in my life where I felt used and discarded.

We women, born of African soil, have a unique strength in us. We go through, sometimes, unique challenges, which molds us into extraordinary beings. We should never forget it, and never stop reaching for it deep inside of us. And if Africa was a lady, I would say to her: “You possess so much beauty and strength.  You have so much to offer. Do not tolerate the abuse of that which you so generously give.”

 

WOMAN OF AFRICA

woman of africa.jpg

 

 

Dear Person

I am a strong woman of Africa,

with my roots firmly grounded in her soil.

I carry her fruits and they might not be immaculate

but they are deliciously juicy and refreshing

Somewhat exotic and absolutely divine.

I do not feel offended if you do not like them.

But you are not allowed to pick them, bite them and throw them away.

You’re not even allowed to climb my branches or sit in my shade if you do not respect

that what I offer, I offer with love.

I have a lot to offer,

But I will not tolerate the abuse of my kindness and generosity.

Regards

Me

For my husband

IMG_1618[1]

This is a poem I wrote in 2011 when in the process of getting to know the love of my life. Six months into our marriage I read it with so much love in my heart, knowing that all the characteristics I penned down when I first met him, is so true.

Wie is jy? 

Jy sê jy dink ek dink te veel, 
Maar soos ek maar is, 
Wonder ek steeds 
  
Wie is jy? 
  
Die omgee-mens 
Wat die diepe hartseer van ander raak sien 
En die trane afvee in die reën 
  
Die pligsgetroue steunpilaar, wat stewig staan 
Sodat almal op hom kan leun 
  
Die diepe denker, wat versigtig oorweeg 
Met die masker van sommer maar net daar wees 
  
Die spieël, wat weerkaats wat ek soms nie wil sien 
Maar tog geensins  probeer om dit te verander nie 
  
Die lekker lag, al-my-sorge-vergete-mens 
Wat my oë laat glimlag tot diep in my gees 
  
Die gelowige, wat sy Maker ken en 
Wat my elke keer leer hoe wonderlik daardie verhouding kan wees 
  
Die strewer na sukses, doelgerig, passievol, gerespekteerd 
  
Die prater 
  
Die oor 
  
Die begrip 
  
Die wysheid 
  
Die dromer 
  
Die verkenner 
  
Die seevaarder 
  
Die veilige hawe 
  
Die anker 
  
Die kalmte 
  
  
Die jy 
           wat net jy kan wees 
  
En by wie ek is 
                    wie ek wil wees 
  
  
By wie ek kan droom en lag 
En giggel en grap 
By wie ek veilig en gemaklik is 
en sommer net ek kan wees 
  
By wie ek kan kla en huil 
Bekommerd is 
Vrees 
By wie ek kalmte soek 
En slim kan wees 
  
Jy laat my oë glinster 
My hartjie klop 
Skoenlappers fladder 
En my kop is vol idees 
  
Ek hoop jy laat my toe om vir jou lief te wees.

Gaynor (Benjamin) Janeke

 

 

 

In Honour of Adam Small (1936-2016)

Ek rou vir Adam……..

 

Vandag is ek in swart geklee

Verbloemend van die diepe pyn wat soos pangas in my in sny

Die legend is dood, en met elke traan wat drup moet ek vra, “Jirre, is dit wat ons nou doen genoeg?”

O Adam, uit jou ribbes is ‘n taal kind gebaar

Deur jou pen, het ons ‘n stem gekry

Maar my kop hang laag as ek dink hoe groot ons jou gefail het.

Waar is ons stemme wat in koorgesang moet echo wat jy as een man in stilte, so hard kon sê

Nee, ons sukses het ons gesilence

So silent is ons, dat  ons soms vergeet van die wat nog steeds dra aan ‘n burden van coloured wees.

Ons draai ons rug, want ons is mossie ons brother se keeper nie.

O Adam, soos Kain vir Abel is jou kinners besig om mekaar uit te moor.

Want uit onse ribbes word die tronke vol en die tikkoppe meer.

Die all pay lyn is lank en die keffie se stoepe is vol.

Die bullets fly en onse vroue word soos Aneen Booysen uit mekaar geskeer.

O Adam, my hart is seer.

Vandag, in die stilte van jou dood, weergalm jou stem klip  hard hier in my consciousness

Ek wil my coloured baadjie reg trek en skree, “Kô djulle, stiek yt!”

Kô wies ‘n rolemodel vir die oukie wat nooit sy pa ga kennie

Kô  sê vir die meisiekind, djyt nou ‘n kind, maar djy wietie hoe om ‘n ma te wiesie.

Kô gee hulle net ‘n kleine bietjie hope

Kô wys hulle hoe.

shape die future van ‘n coloured kind

O Adam, djy’t jou purpose fulfil, nou’s dit ôse turn.

(deur Gaynor Janeke)

Fulfillment/Fulfilment

According to the Oxford Dictionary, fulfilment (British spelling) is:

“The achievement of something desired, promised or predicted”

No matter which spelling you prefer the meaning stays the same. Fulfillment is a quest. It is a journey to contentment.

This is my first attempt to blog, and already I’ve discovered, that together with so many other things in my life, I’ve chosen something that is not straight forward. Being South African I’ve now come to realize that I’ve been using the North American spelling of this word. But, which ever way we chose to pen this down, fulfillment is a personal journey. And with this blog, I hope to take you along on mine.

 

” It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.”

Denis Waitley