Tag Archives: war

#2 ~ Get Your Ish Together

Getting your ish together is the foundation to passing finals (and not dying in the attempt). Your ish can be a variety of things, in the same way that it can come out in a variety of textures. For some people, their time management skills are as haphazard as diarrhoea, it’s all over the place. For others it’s commitment, they just can’t commit to the time needed to get it all out. Some people might be so full of themselves they’re just gassed wherever they go and coming down a few pegs will help them see and feel better, I don’t know what yours is (i’m only just working out my own), but whatever it is, getting it together means every other part of your daily existence runs just that bit more smoothly.

Earlier this summer my sister and I met up with a friend in Brixton. We were on our way to an LBoogie concert and figured we might as well go the whole hipster way and check out the gentrified ends of former ‘Riot Central’. The set time was 3pm with the standard contingency time of 30mins just in case ( because, obviously, we had already planned to be late). 3.30 came and we weren’t even on the train. My sister turned to me, and said quite simply

‘K, we need to get our s*** together. We are grown women, this is not ok.’

Having graduated earlier that summer and found a job, my sister had taken on the mantle of a YOPRO a.k.a young professional (about town), and that meant an overhaul of her already pretty nifty wardrobe and a sense of ‘responsibility’. I, still an undergraduate who spent her summer doing the pre-production work for her last theatrical venture was, quite gladly, a chaotic mess that didn’t even try to be artistic.

4pm came and we had only just got underground. Our ish was definitely not together. And the most disconcerting part about it was that, yes, one was partially embarrassed for being late, but at the same time – we had planned to be late, hence contingency time??! Our ish was so over the place we’d bought a pack of diapers, not just in case, but for when our time keeping spilled over the bathroom floor and soaked the carpet. And in the back of our minds that was…normal, to be expected.

But that is some messy ish, and I realised, if I want to BOSS this year, as in totally dominate and walk out of this university city with my head high up in the clouds because, I came, I saw and I conquered, then how I use my time needed to be a top priority.

But linked into that awareness that I needed to be punctual (and therefore not miss lectures and run around all day like a maniac who then needed to purchase Mitcham ’cause normal deodorant was just not going to cover all that stressful sweating), was also presentation.

I’ve always been fond of the hobo look – it takes minimal effort. I also like the idea that people find my mind and my actions fascinating and not my body (there’s good value in this, but I also know i’m speaking from a small hole of insecurity too). But presentation is important. Last year, after one of my friends had graduated I went to meet her. She looked sharp. Black polo neck, big gold chain and earrings, dark bottoms and healed boots, she was suited, booted and graduated. When I asked her about the get up, she turned to me, and said gravely (but in a very animated fashion)

“This is war! We have work to do. I needed to face my final exam with my game face ON (she literally capitalised her speech). Do NOT get it twisted, rocking up in your PJ’s does not put you in the zone. I needed to dress like a Queen so I could dominate the exam like one. Nuff said’.

She had her ish together.

So yesterday, I went shopping. I was on time having made a checklist. I took the small money I’d been saving in the summer, looked at my empty cupboards with the lone secondary school jumper with its holey sleeves waving at me and was like

K – get your ish together. Get dressed for battle, because the war is coming.

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#366 ~ 2012 was a Leap Year!

Yes, it was a leap year. I didn’t forget that. But this is a final post in the 365 journey to help new comers navigate the blog.

Introduction: The opening and closing posts which give you an understanding of the reason for the blog and it’s journey are found in the About section, so click on there to begin and get stuck in.

Psalms: A series of meditative poetry posts based on Psalm 119, the longest of the Psalms. It takes a few verses from each ‘stanza’ and ruminates on what they mean or challenges them. An insight into my faith, or at least the ‘faith journey,’ that occurred towards the end of the blog. So click PsalmSeries, they are in reverse order, so the last post (which appears first) is from the first stanza….it makes sense, just read it as you see it, scroll down.

IthembaMini Blog of my time during the summer of 2012 working with the phenomenal charity Ithemba Projects in Durban, South Africa. It’s an incredible journey that looks at what it means to serve, to love, to loose, to create a family, and also confronts issues with poverty tourism and issues prevalent in South Africa. A succinct, uplifting journey, I taught as an English teacher in the community of Sweetwaters, so you can see some of the videos and poems we created. Enjoy and check out the charity as well.

Voice(less): These are a collection of articles, posts and poems about issues I am very passionate about. I am concerned with marginalised and dispossed groups/issues such as sex trafficking, rape, prosititution and conflict. These are a few posts that look at these issues. Often very raw, emotional and challenging, so be prepared for your heart to be ripped.

100 Words and a Photo: An incredible collection of 30 posts, each written at centenary periods in the Blog. They take the form of a photo by my sister and 100 words from me, some are short stories, other commentaries, but if you just want to read something short and creative, this is a beautiful series to get stuck into. Enjoy

Articles: These are all the posts I wrote as articles. Ranging from music reviews, to comments on the social upheaval in Nigeria, to Kony2012 and other more political or even comment pieces, perhaps an insight into a more ‘formal’ style of my writing.

Life Lessons: A collection of one line posts which give out life lessons. From down right stupid and humorous, to philosophical, if you are short on time, there’s some fruit to be snatched here.

Creative: All my poems and creative work. An insight into my heart, raw, bleeding, daydreaming, humorous, hey, I gave it all a go.

Be blessed, here in ends the journey, navigate your way, find that gold.

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#190 ~ Killed It

Why do we cling to life so much? What makes this flesh, riddled with veins and arteries, filled out and given a shape by bones, hemmed into the seems like a tailored bodice, so precious? Why do the follicles of hair that sprout from our skin give us so much pride and anxiety? Why do the nails, trimmed with white, define our health and beauty?

We can watch people being slaughtered aimlessly or die victoriously. Some nights I used to dream about being killed, others about killing – what it would feel like to take someone’s life – how hard or easy it could be. What stops people, what enables them to continue? How far must one go before they are desensitized? Is it possible, that the regime Jason Bourne underwent could so effectively erode the indescribable ‘thing’ that gives us our humanity, that one wouldn’t think twice about shoving ballpoint pens into veins, twisting that neck a degree too far, smothering, with the scarf that was an unwanted birthday present, a mouth, that was once attached to a face that had been loved, admired, noticed – at least.

What possesses us to want to learn how to fight? When we no longer live in a hunter-gather society, when the threat of predators can be thwarted by the CCTV cameras that roam over our bodies, lecherous eyes that are accountable to no-one, except the elusive pursuit of ‘justice’, why should we fear? I used to dream about being a marine, a soldier, part of the cavalry, an expert sword fighter. Xena and her cheese wire frisbee were no match for me; neither was Hercules. John Wayne and his pistols, Indiana and his whip, my fingers had tasted the cuisine of salty blood, cracked jaw and solar plexus thrust. And yet I wondered why? Why teach your son or daughter how to shoot that Glock, that shotgun, the AK47. What for? Just-in-case, she said. You never know – he whispered. Safety-first – we cried.

Yet we live in a shoot first never ask society. We ask our soldiers to shoot first and trust. Trust in what? A God who calls for a cease to bloodshed? In fallible man who is a slave to his wallet or penis? The deranged mother screaming for revenge, so her son’s life was not taken in vain?

Yet every vein that carries blood through this carcass does so in vain. For this is neither the end nor the beginning. Whether by the lead bullet or the slow decay of time, Aragorn will die. The splendour and the glory of Kings will pass into the shadows of history, and we will say to ourselves –

Once upon a time – there was beauty, there was freedom, there was life.

But we killed it.

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#177 ~ Israel

Israel,

This soil upon which you stand

Is greater, stronger, than the dust particles

that hang over your bomb blasted skies

marring the arid land

the Arabs once had.

Israel,

This soil upon which you stand,

is older, richer, than the gouged history

of a war, fought in remembrance

over a promise from a God who has ceased to exist

as Governor of this world.

Why is Adonai relevant when it comes to boundary lines

and reparation rights

But silent in the bullet riddled nights

that cloak the massacres of innocents

housed to the left and right of that elusive green line?

Israel,

a fabricated promise

balancing precariously

on a dual nationality

O Israel

My Israel

A land that has ceased to exist.

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#88 ~ Innocent Voices

Observing their undocumented lives I appreciated the delicate importance of giving a voice to the voiceless, which innovative writing is able to do.

That was the clinching, award-winning, we-will-give-you-a-place-at-University  line of my personal statement. It became my tag-line, my mantra, the focus point upon which all my energies turned after spending 10 days working with orphaned HIV children in the township of Sweetwaters in Durban. Giving a voice to the voiceless. Why? Because, I said gallantly with my ‘i love english literature’ cap screwed tightly over my growing-afro: Everyone has a story that should be heard. Knowledge is power, by educating people we bring about a real change in the world. If we cannot speak then we cannot be heard etc etc – wow, you should win the Noble Peace Prize and get an immediate job at the UN.

But I sit here, after just watching a film on the El Salvador civil war, and i ask myself – what does that mean?!  That drivel up there [insert vertical arrow]! That mindless, ignorant, optimism. What does it mean to give a voice to the voiceless? Who are the voiceless? Why are they voiceless, what are you  saying?! If you check my tag cloud it becomes very clear very quickly that I am verging on if not having fallen off, the cliff of obsession when it comes to the ‘Voice’ as a concept. It consumes me. I say, I want to speak for people who cannot vocalise their feelings, their experiences, the world through their eyes, because they are oppressed, uneducated, they have neither the means nor the strength nor the opportunities not just to speak  but to be heard by the right people. And I look at my life, I look at the potential I have and I think, instead of being an English graduate who eats baked beans, or rather, ‘eats cereal with her fork to save the milk’ (thank you Kanye and the Broke-phi-Broke fraternity), I’ll do something useful, I’ll be a game changer, a world changer.

Yet I am silenced. Censored by the disgusting, vile, insane madness that lives inside of me that is called humanity. The malice, the blind, consuming, ravishing and destructive potency of bloodlust and power that sits so smoothly within the cold steel held in childrens hands. I watched as children younger than my nieces huddled under beds as bullets shredded their homes into swiss cheese –  then got up, went to school and watched fire-lights glide through the prematurely silent night. As they knelt in the mud and felt the bullets pass through their neighbours heads, or lay on scalding-hot corrugated iron roofs to avoid conscription…and the innocence of childhood was replaced by fear, anxiety, that gluttonous presence of hatred.

My God, how can we live in a world like this? And it’s not the first time. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced this, I’ve watched, read, cried over things such as this. I revel in finding out about this information, it sets me on fire and as I said before, gives me a focus.

But tonight, tonight, i am vilified and lost. How do we navigate a world that has no rules, that is so alien from anything I could comprehend? I can’t imagine myself running through the forest snapping photos of guerrilla fighters, interviewing and screaming down a tape recorder as the mud beneath my feet blows up into shrapnel decorated geysers. I would be shitting myself, my urine coating the insides of my thighs like liquid cocoa-butter as I watched rifle butts press into the heads of eight year old children, punching holes the way I punch printed essays before placing them in my lovingly made book-themed wallpaper wrapped folders. Except the holes that remain in their heads get filled with the squiggling bodies of worms, maggots, oozing-decay-eutrophication-sprinkled river water, the iron of their blood merging with the alloy bullets that fall like man-made raindrops creating the most glamorous hailstorm you could imagine.

We hear the cry of their innocent voices, we are galvanised to fight the good fight, but how the hell do we do it? How do you write about something like that? How do you incarnate their reality into words that not only strike the hearts of an apathetic world, but light an all-consuming fire for justice that effects change? When our own governments are perpetuating it, when the miry, filthy corruption that masks any sense of ‘truth’ can barely filter onto our TV screens, when we just don’t understand.

That’s the problem. I have never experienced war. I’ve never seen or held a gun that doesn’t shoot anything more than paint-pellets. I do not know what it’s like to smell fear when I’m not at Thorpe Park. I don’t know what it means to love enough that you run screaming onto the streets waving a white handkerchief, crying – don’t shoot, there are children in the school – as snipers shatter the windows that your children, your siblings, that kid you don’t even know the name of, gaze out from instead of writing down their poetry assignment.

How do you do it? How do you give, not a delicate, but an authentic voice? How do you capture that innocence that slipped out the same time the consistency of their stomach melted into fast-flowing diarrhoea – that was when the first gunshot sliced through their mattress as they said good night. And then when you’ve done it once, twice, El Salvador, Congo, China, Russia – how do you go back? How do you write that story, from that other perspective, the smell of someonelse’s fear clogging your mouth, another language screaming for the mercy of God. How do you keep on writing? How do you maintain that concept of a ‘delicate importance’. When do you become apathetic, so sick of the bestiality of human nature, that you become one. A beast. Hating the victims and the perpetrators.

How, I cry, can innovative writing do that? How can I? How can mankind do that?!

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