More than one kind of love

As I take a drive on a Saturday afternoon, I find myself humming to a melody of a song that’s very familiar, yet I can’t quite remember what it is, until another song sparks my memory; that melody playing in my head was of a song by the incredible Joan Armatrading. To my dismay, I find that I do not have that song in my collection, and so I begin my quest to find it.

It’s really incredible how the power of music shifts one’s emotions, and puts things into perspective. As I listen to the remarkable lyrics, I recognise their meaning in my life. The opening of the song goes “there’s a lot of things you should hold dear, keep in your heart, never let go.” I quickly understand what this means; I see what I should be holding in my heart. The song continues “pride and dignity, a sense of self, hold on” and these are the things I strongly believe as young people, we are quick to forget. We compromise them to gain acceptance from others. Quite often we lose a sense of self, so we can be seen in a light that pleases others, yet we should be seen for who we are, because ultimately that is what matters and that is the essence of us.

Joan Armatrading

With her authentic voice, Joan continues with the melody, and she repeats, “There is more than one kind of love.” Yes, it’s important to have love from a partner, but remember that self-love should take precedence. The love of friends, family – that is what makes us. Because when you feel lost, when you have no one to turn to, family and friends will be there for you. She says when you are alone, you will know you are not alone, and if you’ve been true to all who are true to you, you’ll make it.

The melody and the lyrics continue to put me at ease, as I enjoy this timeless classic of note. I remember that I ‘am’ because someone else is; it’s imperative to remain cognisant of the fact that, we are, because our family and our friends are. Love is really the thread that carries all of us through, it gives us acceptance, it draws strength from others, and though it can be painful, it is a gift that towers above every adversity.

“If you remember your friends, just remember you can call; just remember that passion fades, good friendships seldom die. Go ahead have your fun, but don’t turn your back on everyone. Though the body needs love, there is more than one, more than one kind of love.”

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The reality of dreams!

I recently got a rather unpleasant awakening of the unpleasant reality of dreams. I went about in pursuit of a particular dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember. It often seems so easy when in the moment of that fantasy that you place in your head, where you see the dream come true and the immeasurable pleasure one gets in the hope that it will come true.

The unpleasant reality of the blissful dream is that it does not come easy. There is immense difference from reality and the actual fantasy, and that is the hard work that comes with achieving the dream. I’m probably a hopeless dreamer, with a “dreams come true attitude.” But it’s important to realise that, with the dreams, come the responsibility of hard work, to make them come true. Be it a dream job, a dream house, a dream partner, I could go on, but the fact is, these remain dreams unless we do something about them.

And while we may be aware of the hard work bit, there’s that little part of being knocked down while on your way to achieving your dream. Now this is the other unpleasant reality of the dream, which at this stage brings nothing but discouragement.  The irony here is, if the dream is strong, realistic and powerful enough, we always find a way. I once read a book and it said, “We live on dreams. Of course we would shrivel to dried weeds without them; they nourish us and keep us in harmony, with the universe itself a web of dreams. Awake and asleep, we dream. We merge with the ages to become what was and what will be. We strive to become the invisible future.”

I quickly realised, our strength lies in the depth of our dreams. They give us hope, they build our future, and they carry us through our darkest times. As I write this, I find renewed hope, and the will becomes even stronger, and I promise myself, however long it takes, I will work on the dream until I make it a reality, my sanity depends on it.

- By Fred-Arthur Fish

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My Take on Human Rights Day

It’s that time of year again where public holidays are upon us, with one fast approaching, March 21st. Now this is a day that is meant to be a one of celebration – where South Africans found solace in the knowledge that they have all become equals under the new South African government.

I can’t help but wonder if we all understand the depth of the meaning of this day. The truth is, for many of us, this is just another day of the week, where we get to rest, and not to wake up early to go to work or school. This calls for another session of a good braai and fun times. The other day at the office, a colleague sent an email alerting us that he will be going around with a digital camera asking us what Human Rights Day means to us. My first reaction, along with my other young colleagues was, “oh gosh really” and we went on with our business. It’s not that we weren’t interested, but we just thought, ‘Not this again! Do we have to go on about the struggle, and how people fought for us and so on?”

The truth is, no matter how much we have moved on, these significant events of the past are what define the life we are able to live today. As young people we tend to be too focused on the now, and we intentionally forget where we came from, or those who came before us. March 21 marks the day of the Sharpeville Massacre – back in 1960, where black people were protesting at a police station against the pass laws that were enforced by the apartheid government. These laws restricted the movements of black people and they were harassed and arrested for not carrying their pass books. It is reported that on this day about 5000 to 7000 people gathered at Sharpeville Police Station offering themselves up for arrest for not carrying their pass books. This was as a result of a campaign launched by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). After the situation became hostile, the police opened fire, killing about 69 people and leaving 180 injured.  This is said to have been one of the catalysts of change inSouth Africa, with many countries showing their disapproval of the apartheid regime.

21 March, has been commemorated as Human Rights Day since 1994. Sharpeville is where Tata Nelson Mandela signed into law the Constitution of South Africa in 1996. An unknown author says, “We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colours, but they all have to learn to live in the same box.” In essence this is what the protesters wanted – a chance to live an equal life under the South African sun. Carlos P. Romulo, a Filipino diplomat who became President of the United Nations General Assembly from 1949 to 1950, once said, “Nations will rise and fall, but equality remains ideal. The universal aim is to achieve respect for the entire human race, not just for the dominant few.”

So you and I are who we are today, largely because of the 7000 people who gathered at Sharpeville. We don’t have to carry a pass book to prove our equality or our right to walk into a shop or a place of entertainment. So this year, I am celebrating Human Rights Day, with nothing but satisfaction and gratitude.


By Fred-Arthur Fish


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A Tribute to a Legend: Whitney Houston

As we woke up to the shuttering news of the passing of Ms Whitney Elizabeth Houston, born on the 9th of August 1963, daughter to the gospel starlet Cissy Houston and Dion Warwick’s cousin, we look back at the life and times of the legend.

We celebrate the music she will forever live through. Whitney is a true example of what music is about; she redefined the essence of music, gave meaning to soul and reached notes no one could reach. She inspired many who came after her and those who were there long before her. Quincy Jones named her “a true original, a talent beyond compare.”

We take a look at her career, the ups and downs, her peaks and her lows. Her life should not be looked at as unfortunate, or perhaps the mistakes she made should not be frowned upon, but a lesson to us all. Fame, fortune and misfortune are clearly closely related. She lived to tell a story of what happens when one forgets what purpose you are brought here to serve. Realise that she made her mistakes for us all to learn from; remember she was human after all. Many of us cannot understand how she ruined the blessings she received, the incomparable voice she had, and the astonishing talent she possessed. I strongly believe that when it’s written, it is meant to play out like that. If it were meant to be any different, then it would have been.

Whitney lived her life the best way she knew how to. She characterised technique, drama and strength in her vocals and made history when she was named America’s highest earning black female entertainer. She wowed the world in a sterling performance alongside Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, and serenaded us with impeccable vocals in The Preacher’s Wife starring alongside Denzel Washington. Nineteen years later, the chat topping soundtrack “I Will Always Love you” a timeless classic of note, remains an international anthem for lovers across all races, it continues to blow many away with the effortless tone and strength of what once was, a voice that set the bar very high.

Her life took a direction no one expected after a marriage to bad boy Bobby Brown, who received much blame for the trouble in Whitney’s life. Bobby  was believed to have introduced her to drugs. Their toxic love carried them through to over a decade of marriage, in that time saw her endure his abuse with alleged rumours of his jealousy of her accelerated success. After much needed intervention from her mother, Whitney was able to regain her strength, went to rehab and left Bobby Brown. The pair was blessed with a daughter Bobbie Kristina Brown, who has been rumoured to have indulged in drugs herself.

In her 2009 comeback she Read the full story

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Am I Where I am Supposed to Be?

Often we find ourselves wondering about the outcome of the future we had hoped for, be it work life in general, or career-wise. Growing up we have dreams of how we want to live, the work we want to do, the kind of individual we wish to become and mostly, the lifestyle we wish to live.

I remember when I first started varsity. I read a booklet that said 80 percent of the people in the world are in jobs they don’t like. I remember thinking that I refuse to be part of that statistic. Yet today I question my choices. I believe we all have a path we want to take in life, yet circumstances have led us from what we imagined.  I believe life is ultimately controlled by the choices you make. One can have the best job in the world, but fulfilment is the main driver of having a job you love. As life would have it, we spend a large portion of our lifetime at work and so it really makes no sense to be unhappy, because in essence, it means one would spend a significant part of one’s life unhappy.

I am at a place where I have come to realise that passion is truly an important factor in everything that one does. I grew up a dreamer of note, believing in every possibility – I find I still do – but without taking initiative and going after your dreams, you will fall victim of a future defined for you. You will find yourself stuck in a life you do not recognise.

We all have the ability to make things happen for ourselves, it really is your choice. A sporting legend, Jesse Owens, once said “We all have dreams, but in order to make dreams into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication and discipline.”

I recognise today as I take a look in retrospect, that I know I have dreamt of a future crafted by my aspirations. I recognise my reluctance to pursue my dreams, to focus on my true passion, and yet allowed circumstances to take control of a future I always hoped for. I read with acceptance a statement by Oprah Winfrey when she said “When you are doing the work you were meant to do, it feels right and every day is a bonus regardless of what you are getting paid.”

How often do you ask yourself, “Am I where I am supposed to be?”

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Lessons Learnt!

Am sure we’ve all heard many times, when people say, each mistake is an opportunity to learn, that none of us is perfect and we are bound to make mistake as we go by. As I write this, I am engulfed by feelings of content, as I remember the week I just had, how one day can just make a person’s life so unpleasant.

I found myself in an unfortunate situation of discomfort and uncertainty, and this is because I made a mistake that could have possibly cost me my career. And me being the person I am, always cautious, striving always for excellence and trying to be meticulous at all times, I could not understand how I could do something so unprofessional. Following all this, I went on a path of paranoia, imagining the worst possible scenarios, me being fired from my job, losing everything I’ve worked for. I seem to have made a big deal out of a situation that was handled very well. It seems the only mistake I made in this situation, is that of thinking that I don’t make such mistakes.

I look back now and realise the support I had from my colleagues, and most surprisingly from the client, whose reputation I could have compromised. I recognise the faith they all have in me, because I do try to give the best I can in everything I do. I take from this situation that Read the full story

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My Purpose, My Direction

I sat and watched the 9th Nelson Mandela lecture, where great men and women of our times come to give insight about issues that concern you and me; a platform for them to give their take about the state of the world. Beyond this, they aim to inspire us, to instil a sense of action, to change the world. Great names like the esteemed Thabo Mbeki, the honourable Bishop Desmond Tutu, the admirable Kofi Anan, the incredible head of State in Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and now recently, the learned Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, have all come to our country in support of a man we all regard as a force to be reckoned with. A man we have been fortunate to share time with, Nelson Mandela. These are individuals who have dedicated their lives to making a contribution, to how people live today, they stood defiant in the face of social injustice, claiming and fighting for what they believed was right and just. Serageldin’s lecture of this year was focused on the themes of diversity, cohesion and social justice, issues that affect us all.

The common thread amongst these people is their genuine simplicity, they are people who care about the next person, and they wish only the best for anyone and everyone. I found myself recognising the purpose that these people are here for, they have served humanity and they continue to do so with grace and absolute dedication. It is then that I asked myself what my purpose in this world is, what is it that I am doing to better myself and those around me. I mean I am not a Mandela, or a Ghandi, but I am certainly capable of anything I put my mind to. For as long as I have been around, I have lived my life with a belief, that in everything I do, I must leave a mark behind, something that will make my name memorable.  It is a trait that I recognise from these people, they have worked their entire lives to promote self development, peace, equality and justice. The question remains however Read the full story

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Starting Over

My failure, my opportunity!

Many times when we fail, we decide, “That’s it! I am not going to humiliate myself again!” We give up. But the trick in that is the opportunity to prove to yourself that you are capable, that you are more than what others think you are. We all have a past that we wish to forget. We all have our failures, and the one thing they are not is less tough than the next person’s failure. We fail our Matric, a test for a driver’s licence; we relapse from our addiction-free lives. Perhaps we just disappoint ourselves and people around us, that job that I’d been yearning for but just didn’t crack the interview. I have been taught that failure is an opportunity to reinvent myself.

Through the years I have come to understand that there is nothing more exhilarating than surprising people, but more so, surprising yourself. Quitters are not winners. Today is a new opportunity to do what I couldn’t do yesterday and while at it, do it better! Tomorrow means a new possibility, but I have to start over.  A wise man once said: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.  And if I may borrow a line from the movie Maid in Manhattan, starring Jennifer Lopez as a hotel maid, where an elderly butler says to her “What we do, Miss Ventura, does not define us. What defines us is how well we rise after we fall.”

Yes people will remember my failure, but what they will define it by, is how well I improved from it. Our lives are documented in the books of history. Our failure determines our triumph. We are remembered by our ability to rise above, because failure presents a chance to look over and redefine our path. We write the story of our lives as we go by, we make our history. Our failure often helps build our character. Shame and fear are the results that failure subjects us to, because we allow it. I refuse to believe that anyone chooses to fail, unless of course we are mislead and ill advised.

So it happens that life is a challenge that many of us have faced. Within our spaces the fear of starting over is rife and very powerful. I say this because I have had my fair share of this unforgiving friend of ours. He literally takes over our lives and convinces us that we cannot do it, and the only way to get over it, is to give up. That is what fear is about, holding us back.

As young people we face many challenges, where we can’t imagine getting through them, we get comfortable with our situations, because we simply believe that we are not capable of moving forward and getting trough them. And the last thing you want to hear is someone telling you that you can get through it, because we don’t want to accept what happened. I know this for sure because in my 24 years of being in this world, I’ve had my struggles.  Being young comes with many challenges, many pressures from life and we are not always all fortunate enough to make the right decisions for ourselves at that time.

Failure isn’t a good thing, but until we view it as an opportunity we will not be able to start over.

A very good friend of mine once said to me, “If you fail the first time, start over, and this time push two times harder. Don’t be afraid of failure, because it is an opportunity to learn again; when you fail it is an experience that you learn from.”

We often say that we learn from the best but remember we can also learn even more from the worst.  So today I make a choice to learn from my failure and draw positive results. Because I am young, I am gifted, I might fail, but I am not a failure, I am simply caught in unfortunate circumstances from which I will rise. Because I now know that I am greater than my circumstances. So here is my pledge, what went wrong in my life, is not the end of it, but an opportunity that shows me what I can correct, and therefore today I will start over, however difficult it maybe, my life begins now. I am starting over!

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A Letter of Recognition to an African Woman

So this month of August we celebrate the women of our country. Every year, we pull all the stops to have fun in this time of month. But then I sit and wonder, do we really celebrate women, or is it just another excuse for a day off? And trust me, I am not trying to say we shouldn’t do what we all do, which is partying and having a braai all in claims of Women’s day.

It hits me as I sit with my family, surrounded by women whom I hold in high regard. I question myself, about this day; do I really know why it is set aside just so we can celebrate women? And then I remember this is the day that 50 000 women marched to the Union Buildings inPretoria, in protest of the apartheid laws, where women, and not just women but black women where oppressed and not respected. I find that mind boggling, how on earth no one could see the value of a woman. The courage that a woman has, in Tswana that courage is compared to that of a Lion. Setswana se re “Mosadi o tshwara thipa ka fa bogaleng”, loosely translated, it means a woman holds a knife where it’s sharper.

Women are the reason men and women of this world are who they are today, they give birth to life, literally giving it to their children. That large number of women who wanted their voices to be heard, set a standard for many generations to come, they displayed a spirit of courage, resilience, and self emancipation. This is a letter of thanks to those women.

This is a letter of thanks to the women who continue to uplift our communities, who care for those in need. This is a letter of thanks to my mother, to your mother, for always being a mother, in the face of adversity; she covered her children in protection. A mother who plays many roles when the need arises, she is a father when she has to be one, she is a nurturer, she is the light when it’s dark. And then I remember, she is a woman before she is a mother. This is a letter of thanks to a sister, who knows her role as a sister. A grandmother who remembers always, to instil the spirit of ubuntu in her grandchildren. She carries wisdom, which she shares with her family. This is a letter of thanks to the strength of a woman, a woman who carries the burdens of the world, a woman who can never be defeated by the troubles of this world. When the storms come, she stands firm on the ground, and the wind blows past her. This letter serves to recognise the value of a woman, in a nation struck by many adversities, but with her around, adversities do not last.

But beyond the recognition to the great women who have come before us, this is a letter to the women of our times, a letter that reminds them to define their place in this world. Ask yourself, what is it, that you would like to be remembered for? How the world should celebrate you? Now is your time, to show the world your value, believe in your worth. Remember that by virtue of being a woman, you are a force to be reckoned with. You have the power to change the face of the world today, to influence change, to drive our generation to a future brighter than our wildest imagination. You are a woman who possesses character, charisma, elegance; you are a woman of strength. Recognise your magnificence, your divinity, and remember the world is your play ground, use it wisely, plant now the seeds of wisdom so you can busk in their shade when the time comes. This is your chance to bring a whole new definition to the African proverb “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”.

This is a letter, to celebrate the women who have made me who I am today, women who have taught me, respect, compassion and indeed love. This is a letter to celebrate, my mother, my grandmother, my aunt, my sister, and how can I not mentioned my good friends. This is a letter of thanks. This is a letter of recognition to an African woman.

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It’s My Choice, Right?

So  we were in our final year of high school, excitement buzzing in the air, as we were all looking forward to finishing off years and years of being in a classroom, wearing uniform, and being told what to do. This was a time when we had to decide where we were headed.

I had my family eagerly awaiting my results, which would determine if I was going to get into varsity to further my studies in Geology. But wait a minute, GEOLOGY? Isn’t that the study of rocks and mines and stuff like that? How on earth was I going to survive this? I was not at all interested in working with metals or anything related to that. That was not what I wanted to do; that’s what my family wanted me to do. But surely, it was supposed to be my decision, my choice. Wouldn’t I be the one who would live that life, and do the work?

So I finally plucked up the courage to tell them what I wanted to do with my life. I began, “I want to be an actor. I want to study drama, not geology.” The next thing I heard was my sister, with a very serious look of genuine concern, saying, “Do you honestly believe you are going to be in Generations?”

Lost for words, I thought Generations was not the only television programme in the country, and yes, I would love to be in it! My family was only concerned by how I was going to make a living from acting. It’s not perceived as a ‘reliable’ profession. I had to “have something to fall back on.”


To cut the long story short, I never got to study what I wanted. That is the unfortunate position that many of us young black people find ourselves in. Our lives are often decided by our families. Of course this is all from a good place of love, but my happiness should be what matters. I understand fully that happiness will not bring food to my table, but through happiness I can strive for excellence. I will pursue my dreams, my goals with nothing but passion.

I remember reading a quote back then, and it said that 80 percent of people around the world are in jobs they don’t want or love, and I’d thought to myself that I didn’t want to be part of that statistic. But, as fate would have it, I seemed to have landed right there!

There is an African proverb that comes to mind that says: If we stand tall, it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.

Another African proverb says: Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.’

An American novelist of the 18th century Louisa May Alcott said: Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead.’

As young people we are entitled to dream beyond our wildest imaginations. Our responsibility is to ensure that we understand what that means; to be certain of what we want from our future, and today is the perfect time to make that decision. What we need from our families is their support. Yes, their advice will be taken into consideration, but the ultimate decision is ours. We spend a great part of lives working, pursuing a career. I would imagine it’s only fair that if I am going to pursue a career, it should be one that will bring me joy, because the last thing I want is to live with regret.

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My Entitlement…

Growing up in a country like South Africa where the present is strongly built on a past so painful yet so thrilling, we all feel entitled to so many things. We are entitled to a better education system, a better job, a decent home; we are simply entitled to everything. But you see I think that’s where we lose focus of what should be. Especially as young people, it is so tiring to see people who wait for things to come to them simply because they are entitled to them or because they feel they are not afforded the opportunity.

I had a chat with an acquaintance recently and I was so confused by how strongly this person felt about what he deserves and what he should get. I mean let’s be honest, many of us want that fancy car, we want to be famous, and we want to be seen with the who’s who of SA. The one thing we are not prepared to do is work hard for it. We are so consumed with the idea of entitlement we forget that we have to do a little bit of hard work to get what we are entitled to. Being young in this country is in my eyes an absolute privilege; it is an opportunity to define our course and to claim our future right now. I have learned that I am entitled to a better tomorrow, but it will not come to me, I have to go get it. And there is no method of doing that except by trying. Let’s accept that not all of us are born with a silver spoon, not all of us have the same privileges, but out in the real world whoever you are, wherever you come from, we have the same struggles, we have the same rules to play by.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with some colleagues about our schooling, some went to private schools and some went to public schools Read the full story

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I Belong Here!

There I was on my way to work listening to the radio and it played the song Desiredata by Les Crane, well I prefer to call it: ‘you are a child of the universe.’ I remember thinking ‘you know what, enough already!’ I am here, I am visible too, and if you see me it means I matter. I may not be from the posh Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg or better yet I may not be the president’s son, but I tell you this I do matter and I am here to stay.

I listened to these remarkably powerful words of the song and I thought to myself how true and resonant to many people’s lives they are. I know so many people who feel they need validation from others for their presence. And that’s okay, we all have stages in life when we need to be reassured that we are here because we belong here, we don’t owe anyone an explanation of why we are here. Whether we are in high school, varsity, work, at a party with friends, sometimes it’s hard to define your place. It’s hard to identify where you belong, to find people who will be in the same space of life as you are. That’s when we find ourselves with a false identity, because we want to fit in, we are trying to find our voice, and we do what everyone does.

Often we walk around seeing people who are confident, proud and on top of the world. And we wonder how someone can walk around in sync with the world, totally in control and so self-assured. We figure those people know exactly where they belong, while we are still trying to figure out what we are about, where we would like to go. Some people are superior to us, we are threatened by their presence, they are worthy of more things in life than we are. We somehow manage to convince ourselves of all this, with no help from anyone. I remember going out with colleagues to a fancy restaurant for some function, and we sat with all these people with big titles, and I have to say I have never felt so small, so out of place. I am a very talkative person, well usually, but somehow that evening I found myself lost for words. Read the full story

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