Showing posts from October, 2010

The First Time I Wanted to Love Differently From My Mother-from the first time blog

I know a dangerous kind of love. A crazy kind of love that causes some people to empty out their own souls for those they love, a Jesus kind of love. Mama’s love.

Like all mother-daughter relationships, my mother and I have a tense relationship as though we are both walking on a tightrope. The tension is framed by my fear of becoming like my mother and her fear of me becoming myself and unrecognisable to her. In her eyes, it makes sense that I should be in her image because that’s safe and know-able for her. Somehow we are both aware of this tension even though we do not speak about it directly, it always emerges in the stories she tells me about her childhood.

Every time I came home from school with an award or an extra badge or scroll on my blazer she would reminisce about her school days and the awards she received. Once she came home from school with an award recognising her diligence at school and her sister responded with a jest that I battle translating into English “Le ithi uyaz…

What literacy means in a multilingual SA

“IT ALL starts with literacy” was the theme of the conference that launched the Reading Association of South Africa in the Eastern Cape. This is an association, already based in other South African provinces, that seeks to be a voice to the challenges we face in literacy and the language question in schools and universities.
We often think of literacy as reading and writing, an activity in classrooms where teachers are the only people who can influence this, but conversations held at this conference opened up the idea that literacy is more than what happens at school, it is a daily activity that also occurs in homes and communities. Central to the question of literacy is language. Living in a multilingual society with a past that used language for control and discrimination, South Africans often think we have a language crisis. This does not need to be the case. We have 11 official languages although they are not all equal in status or value.

Many parents want their children to be tau…

Whiteness in my world

Recently I was asked to speak at my former school’s prizegiving. This obviously led me to a reflection about my 12 year education and amongst many issues that came up race become central. I went to a former white model C school. The irony about this label is that when I was there between 1994 and 2005 it was still a predominantly white school demographically, especially the teacher profile. In grade 1 I was the only Black learner (though there was an Indian, Coloured and Taiwanese as well) in a class of 20-something. The defining factor was that I only discovered black women could teach when I was in primary school and she was the least respected teacher in the school. The rest of the teachers were white women.

The influence of my teachers in relation to the influence my mother had on me while growing up has been overwhelming. School obviously became more powerful than home seeing as my identity was hardly formed when I was thrust into a white school at the age of 6 and expected to swi…

Love, marriage and suburban bliss

My first boyfriend approached me not because he liked me, but because it was a bet. He was dared by his mates to see if he could get the girl that played hard to get, and he won the bet. This was in primary school. The nature of boyfriends and girlfriends was different back then: a boyfriend meant that I would have someone to dance with at the disco we had once a term; if we interacted with our brother school, he would be the boy I would sit with most of the time. It was mickey mouse stuff, just to keep our curious minds thinking that boys were relevant in our world. Although this was a mickey mouse relationship, it somehow painted my experience with the opposite sex: a love-hate relationship. My interactions with boys in school was further complicated by what I saw in the Bold and the Beautiful, magazines, popular culture and more importantly my parent’s marriage.

The history of failed marriages and fatherless (or rather absent fathers) the women in my family have had to contend with …