Saturday, 21 December 2013

Summer Lovin'

When it comes to Christmas in the mother city, 'tis definitely the season to be jolly especially when you're sexy, single and so ho-ho ready to mingle. Whether you've just come out of a long-term relationship or whether you are just over the suck-fest that has been 2013, the festive season is the most wonderful time of  the year to let go of inhibitions and do something completely out of character. The summer heat, the beach parties that last for days, the frenzy of local and international talent gracing our shores, an actual reason to drink before 12pm. So many brilliant excuses to have a Merry X-mas and what better place to find some summer loving than the ultimate one-stop party central that is C -Town, ZA!

They say you should always strike while the iron's hot which is why the sweltering heatwave of summer provides the perfect opportunity to flirt up a storm without expecting too much from the opposite (or same) sex. Too many times, we forget that the summer fling is a short-term fix designed to make us think less and live more. That's not to say we should become total prostitutes, but we do need to lower our expectations if we wish to have ourselves a merry little Christmas time. But just how low do we go? Should our standards drop as well? And what do we do when we find ourselves becoming obsessed or jealous over our summer lovers? Do all good flings eventually come to an end? What are the rules and regulations for having the perfect summer fling...

"All my single ladies are getting double-strength condoms in their Christmas stockings this year. Contrary to Justine Sacco's idiotic beliefs, Africa is not the only continent where you can catch an STD." Sam, a former clap survivor herself, was back from London for the holiday season and as tongue-in-cheek about sexuality as ever. Having once reigned as the supreme of summer flings and having had more international arrivals on her belt than O.R Tambo, Sam was the official guru when it came to explaining the t's and c's of summer romance.

"Listen sweetie, take it from someone who literally had mistletoe hanging over her vagina every festive season since the early nineties. If you're going to leave your milk and cookies out in the open, Santa Claus is going to come, and probably go before you get the chance to open your eyes." It was no secret that Sam loved sex and encouraged as many summer flings and pre-commitment relationships as possible before settling down with someone you genuinely care about. She was trying to explain this analogy to Carla who had become obsessed with a Spanish tourist she slept with a few weeks ago at a Christmas staff after-party.

"You need to get over it immediately and find another helper to hump. He told you he was here on ho-liday only. What did you expect? A marriage proposal? You've completely missed the point of a summer fling. Shame on him for not being open about it but shame on you for not keeping it short and casual. This fling business is NSA at its best where the conventional rules of dating no longer apply, where two people can have the same passion and romance of a relationship without the expectation of lifelong commitment. It's supposed to have an expiration date."

'Twas the night before Christmas when Sam had met her fiancee, a summer fling that had gone horribly wrong in the summer of 2009. "I would never have met Pete if I did not put myself out there as much as I did and even after we met, I carried on cavorting for another season until we both agreed to make it official. The rules to having a successful summer fling is that there are no rules. You have to have fun! If it works in the long-run great, but if it doesn't don't waste your time pining over someone that has an itinerary and a confirmed departure date."

Once you get past the sudden spike in daytime traffic caused mainly by Gauteng holidaymakers and the tedious frenzy of buying gifts for four when your return on investment is only one - and a shitty one at that - you'll soon realise that being single during the festive season is actually quite fun. If you see a handsome stranger catching your eye, stop thinking with your heart and go with your heat. Smile back and coyly sip upon that Pina Colada as if your sex-life depended on it. He might think you're a total loon or he might just come across and buy you another drink. Either way, you've got his attention.

When it comes to summer loving, why aren't more and more singles having a blast?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

My Father, Madiba

We often underestimate the importance of father figures in our lives and the impact they have on our personal and social development. Long gone are the days where patriarchs were solely seen as providers and protectors, with little to no involvement in their child's emotional and psychological well-being. These days, a father figure has just as much responsibility in nurturing and shaping the lives of their children as mothers do, especially when it comes to building one's values and self-esteem. While each father-child relationship differs from son to daughter, the lessons we learn along the way are exactly the same. It's the paternal legacy we carry that makes us part of who we are and part of what we hope to become. 

As the dark cloud lifts back into the sky, more and more children of Mzanzi are coming to terms with the sudden loss of our nation's most celebrated father. Although Tata Madiba's death wasn't entirely unexpected, news of his passing still came as a shock to many, bringing forth a sense of global mourning that goes beyond South Africa. Tributes. Memorial services. Decorative shrines. When an international parent of peace as significant as Mandela is taken away from us, it's our duty to honour his life in the most respectful way possible; by resonating his teachings in our own lives and future lives of generations to come. Love, forgiveness, tolerance and equality. This is what he stood for. The freedom to be yourself  regardless of your political and cultural background. To end hatred and discrimination against others based on race, gender and religion.

While I have never been one to wax lyrical about anything pious, what Madiba did for this country - and subsequently the world - was most definitely the work of God. Flicking through the river of radio stations broadcasting hour-long specials covering the life that he lived, I came across a DJ who compared Nelson Mandela to Jesus Christ. I can only imagine how this must have offended the Christian minority tuning in at the time, but to be completely honest, I couldn't think of a better contrast. While he may not have been able to walk on water, Madiba pioneered the art of turning the other cheek. He lived his life an example of love and forgiveness, teaching his followers to let go of the hurt from the past and move forward towards the light of a brighter future. Just like Jesus, Madiba sacrificed his life for the greater good of his people when he could have easily resented the system that locked him away for all those years. Was Madiba South Africa's own personal saviour or was he just an angel on earth disguised as a humble human being? 

The first thing I thought about on Friday morning as the Twitterverse spun out of control about Mandela's death was my best friend Shabumi. My soul sister from another mister who was smiles away in a foreign country. I thought about how we probably would not have been able to be friends if Mandela hadn't fought for the change this country so desperately needed. Fortunately I came from a fairly liberal family where the colour of one's skin didn't really matter providing you believed in some kind of God and went to church at least twice a week. Coming from a co-ed mixed race primary school made me ignorant to most things in life including the African struggle for equality which is why I could not understand the reactions of my peers when I decided to integrate Shabumi into my circle of friends.

"We can't sit with her. She's black!" This was actually the reaction they had. Quote unquote. I was so pissed off at their intolerance and racism that I decided to abandon the White Power Bill Gang in exchange for a more progressive duo of awesomeness. What blossomed was a lifetime friendship full of misdemeanours and exciting adventures. A cultural mash up between traditional Zulu and Portuguese flavours. I taught her about Fado's, festa's and espetada while Shab's taught me everything you had to know about umngqusho, Ella Fitzgerald and hair extensions. If it weren't for Shabumi, I'd still believe that the members of Destiny's Child had their own hair.

I thank Madiba for my own biological father, who echoed Tata's open mind about my life choices and the people I brought into my life. For accepting me the way I am. For teaching us both to tolerate one another and our indifference towards each other. I thank him for teaching us that good things are totally worth the struggle. To fight for what you believe in without compromising the beliefs of others. To not judge by the cover but instead browse through the pages of diversity before making an informed decision. To live and not exist.

Whether spiritual or biological in nature, the role of any parent is to want what's best for your child whether it's through tough love or lending a helping hand. To protect them against the harshness of the world through wisdom at the same time allowing them the confidence and freedom to explore and make their own mistakes based on the choices that so many youngsters take for granted. His role is to nurture and encourage our interests, to motivate beyond our dreams, to teach us respect for one another as well as respect for ourselves. These are the lessons Mandela taught us along his long, long walk to freedom and the best way to honour such an incredibly inspirational man is to walk with the same grace and dignity that he did through our own personal struggles.

Hamba Kahle, Tata Madiba. You will always be my father and my hero.  

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Devious Maids

Whoever said modern day working girls couldn't have it all clearly hadn't discovered the role and relevance of full-time household professionals - nannies, chars, butlers, garden boys and maids. There are literally dozens of domestic drones available at our service, each one willing to perform the hideous tasks that we are either too busy or too privileged to do ourselves. They cook, they clean, they live in to care for children that aren't even theirs. They literally perpetuate the myth that our shit doesn't stink, and while the main purpose of their existence is to serve and cover up the stains of human indiscretion, just how much filth are these women willing to sweep under the rug of picket-fence living?

It's absurd to think that someone like the help could actually pose a physical threat to our relationship, especially in a country like South Africa where Grace, Beauty and Patience are names rather than actual attributes. Don't get me wrong - African women who find themselves in the cleaning profession are just as beautiful as the next and know how to look good both in and outside a uniform. It's the silent supremacist attitude and white guilt towards the previously disadvantaged that make the likelihood of coveting the help about as slim as shady, and while most South African housemaids fall short of his typical "dirty-maid" fantasy, we cannot overlook the alternative sways of seduction a housemaid might use to enslave the imagination of the misogynist mind.

Being an honourary African and everyone's favorite umlungu had granted me exclusive access into a very special club called "Ndiyaku Xelela", a pride of hard working African women employed by the wealthy, white residents of  upper and lower Constantia. For forty-five minutes every day, Vivienne, Monza, Thandeka and Precious took a much needed lunch break to gossip about their husbands, lokshini living and the dirty secrets of their pambene madams.        

"Hai, chomiwam! What she is doing is wrong and when she gets caught, yoh, yoh, yoh! There is going to be some seriaaas fire!" Today's topic of conversation was Innocentia and her apparent lack thereof. Innocentia was the newest kid on the block, a seemingly vindictive 28-year old Brandy look-a-like who started working for the Smith family in Constantia earlier this year. "These young girls know nothing wena! They come with their braids and their make-up and short skirts but they have no respect for the boss or their jobs, Tikonathi (my affectionate nickname), and that one, she is going to lose her life!"

"Xelela!" I said as Vivienne delved into the juicy details of Innocentia's affair with Oubaas Mr. Smith, an Afro-centric middle-aged man who worked as a CFO at an international export company. He did not come from money like his wife, Mrs. Smith, a snooty heiress who spent her days hosting charities and boozy lunches for the girls at book club; Mitzy, Linda and Trish.

Just like the NX Club, one of their favourite pastimes was discussing servitude and the difficulties of finding good help, a topic that Mrs. Smith revelled in for she had found the perfect Innocentia, a cleaning powerhouse that also happened to be most attractive maid on the block. While her silver was always gleaming and her floors always waxed to perfection, Mrs. Smith was blissfully unaware of the other knobs Innocentia had been polishing, including her husband's.  

"It gives us a bad name Tikonathi! How do you think they look at the rest of us? We all want nice things, but not at the expense of another woman's heartbreak, no matter how much of an injakazi she really is. This is the worst kind of stealing anyone can do. We're all women at the end of the day regardless of our profession and skin colour."

While having an affair with the maid was nowhere near as cliched (or as popular) as diddling the secretary, they certainly shared the same appeal? If you think about it, a woman that services a man in any way, shape or form is the kind of woman you swore you'd never be. Submissive, obedient, attentive. Men who find themselves in a position of power enjoy a woman who knows "her place" in life and who rarely questions a man's decisions. Innocentia is the 50's housewife dream. She cooks her master three meals a day without complaint, makes the house he paid for sparkle like the top of the ABSA building, nurses his spawn who are already bathed, fed and ready for bed so that he can relax and enjoy the whiskey she poured and the foot rub she is so willing to cater for. One has to wonder why this sort of behaviour isn't happening more often?

Affairs, filthy habits, squandering money on useless garden furniture. It's amazing how much the other woman knows about us and yet we know absolutely nothing about them. Their morals, desires, ambitions. Are they stealing money and jewellery or is it something far more valuable? What's behind the apron and the feather duster? Is she really just another hard working, under-appreciated gem who's trying to make a living out of the life she was born into or is she just a stereotypical snake in the Garden of Eve-l?

When it comes to dirty laundry, why is good help so terribly hard to find?