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Showing posts from 2014

A good makoti doesn't sleep in

I first become conscious of what it means to be umakoti when I was in high school. I had finally been asked to be a bridesmaid by a young woman who sang in the church choir. Being a bridesmaid meant more than looking pretty on the wedding day. We were also part of the traditional wedding where the bride is officially introduced to the groom’s family. There isn't an English equivalent for the word makoti; perhaps "new bride" comes close.
The most illuminating part of the wedding for black women is the traditional wedding. Most black couples have two weddings: the white wedding and the traditional wedding. For amaXhosa the introduction takes on many forms but it involves the bride getting a new name (igama lasemzini), she wears a new outfit and uyayalwa: she is given advice by the groom’s family, mostly a list of expectationsand sometimes rules about the home that she needs to abide by as the new bride in the home. She is expected to sit demurely, making no eye contact as h…

Moving to Joburg and leaving Cape Town

The year is coming to an end. I have a few weeks left in Cape Town before I do the unthinkable: move to Joburg. People have been asking me how I feel about moving to Jozi. I’m not sure. My standard answer has been “I’m just trying to get to the end of the year, pack and move things across the country and then think about what it all means”. It sounds as though I’m in survival mode and trying to get through to the end of the year with all my wits intact. Some days are better than others. My wits keep leaving me from time to time and I have a sleeplessness night plagued by endless worries.
I’ve had a few teary moments when thinking about the trek up North. Not because I have any major attachments to Cape Town (I wish I did). Sometimes I feel like I’ve let myself down by not giving this place a chance to seep into my bones and psyche (when I moved here in 2012 I knew I wouldn't think of Cape Town as home. I wasn't settling here). I’m sad to be leaving my school. I’m sad there are …

When “-isms” collide: racism vs classism vs ageism vc sexism (thinking out aloud)

Recently a colleague made a jibe “not everything is about race” while we were in conversation. I would mention her race except that would perpetuate the label that’s been lumped on to me: the angry black woman. I realised that as one of the few black staff members, race talk is always awkward in the staff room. We usually play it safe by making jibes at each other by talking about the weird things Coloured people say (“You’re gonna learn…who learn you English?”) or the most recent one, why do white (often English-speaking) people think it’s okay to call older people by their name? My Coloured colleagues and I stick to titles (Mr, Mrs, sisi, bhuti etc) unless the white person insists I use their first name, even when they are old enough to be my mother (which is very awkward).

These conversations can be fun and light-hearted and we feel like we are the rainbow nation and we’re all getting along in spite of the differences we hold onto. That’s until one of my white colleagues say they do…

On giving into adult peer pressure and buying a car

My worst nightmare came true. When I decided I would move to a bigger city with a “kak” public transport system, I had to make peace with the fact that I had to buy a car. I had always hoped I would stay in a small town that didn’t really require a car (only just as a luxuary) or I could be anti-establishment and try to live without a car: shun consumerism and save the environment one taxi ride at a time. But my plans were thwarted and I took the plunge and decided to buy a car.
When I look around, it seems everyone approaches this part of their life with much ease. I envy people who inherited cars from their mom, dad or grandparents. My girlfriends and I always spoke about getting cars but in a casual non-committal sort of way. It's the adult thing to do. And I don’t know what it’s like for guys but I’ve decided that it’s way easier; the same way there isn’t much anxiety about getting a drivers license. Cars aren’t a mystery for men. Growing up, I knew few women who actually drove…

On being let down by a strong, black woman