I have come to accept that the human brain will always search for a definition. It is in our faulted design. We can not see without speculating, taste without comparing, feel without assimilating. We are faulted and have clever but sadly logical minds. Therefore it is our responsibility to allow the mind to have more to connect to when needing to connect the dots and see logic.
As women, we are defined by our beauty, our breasts and bums and skins. The way we dress, our shoes and hair and lip colour. We are compared to a picture, a doll, an image created in someones imagination. We are continuously being cast for a role. As South Africans we are defined by our history, the cruelty, the suffering and the mending or re-opening of our wounds.
I have always been proud of the fact that I could not be connected to anything. But as I age I realise that I have been deceiving myself. No matter how perfect my imperfections, how original my genetic make up, I will be defined by these simple things, black, South African, Woman. The human brain will box me as it does with everyone else in the world. So I have decided to expand. The bigger my box, the less of it you can see all at one time
People will spend their whole lives confined to a comfortable state of paralysing fear. I have noticed this in myself and many people around me. I make excuses, tell myself that change is time-consuming and difficult. All lies. Take a walk through your neighbourhood, take the train, say hello to a stranger. Eat with your fingers. Have a bath if you normally shower, or shower If you normally bath. Drink tea without sugar. Learn to say hello in someone else’s language, do a language swop. We have 11 or is it 14 official languages? My memory. We are an incredible country. Buy a loaf of bread for a bergie. Look at people as you walk past them, what is so fascinating about the dirty street? Drive your help home, like to the actual door of their house. Buy booze from a shabeen, go to a foreign club. Try and dance like someone else. Listen to music in a different South African language to your own. Try and reply to the Xhosa people who randomly call your phone. Cook supper naked. Bake your own bread, give half the loaf to a person who is less fortunate than you.
For those of you who are more fearful, try a different style of jeans, don’t blow dry your hair. Leave the curl, kink, swirl in your beautiful locks ad own it. Moisturiser your lips, don’t paint them some foreign colour. Take off your panties. Dance in the mirror. Smile at a stranger that is a different colour to you.Give your old clothes to a charity. Go wine tasting in a township. Stop drunk-fighting. Take your sunglasses off indoors. Stop looking to see if we are seeing you. We see you. We are human and have eyes. I promise that you are being seen. Tell someone that they are beautiful, it can be your reflection, mean it.
Try something that makes you nervous but can not hurt you. Eat something that you have never tasted before. Buy a meal from a street vendor. Eat like no one is watching. It tastes better when it drips from your chin and nose. Laugh from deep inside your stomach. Throw your head back. Take the train. Start a conversation with someone who is more afraid than you. Give your leftovers to a person who looks hungry. Volunteer, help, try. Change the way that you complain.
I am often overwhelmed by all the things that are wrong in our country, wrong in my communities but I am an able-bodied individual. I am not a sheep or a machine. I am a part of this place just like all of you. It is my responsibility to do something, to make something, to change something. Do not let responsibility weigh you down. So many of us do. We feel so incredibly responsible and guilty that eventually we build huge houses with huge walls, buy huge cars, with dark windows so that responsibility can no longer stare us in the face.
Do not let your fear define you. We are South Africans. Let us start being proud of ourselves. Be proud of your efforts no matter how big or small. You are a part of a community that is supporting you. Talk about the changes that you have made. Tell people, tell me. We can only be proud. All we have is each other. Do not let your fear define you.
I am not fearless but I’m now a lot less fearful. Join me.