Revenge is a Dish Best Served Rational

Have you ever been hurt by someone? And no, the guy in the flashy car who stole your parking space doesn’t count. Neither does the mama who took up the entire taxi seat and deliberately dug her fleshy elbow into your kidneys.

I’m talking about the real deal. I’m talking about the kind of hurt where someone purposefully set out to make a fool of you. The hurt of being dumped on your birthday or finding out he/she was only with you for your money, body or as a dare.

 Whatever the case may be, while you seethe in frustration and humiliation and plot his/her downfall, the voices of reason in your life will – hopefully – stop you from doing anything that will land you in jail.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been very good at listening to reason. Add to that a mean streak a mile wide and an inherent belief in just desserts, and you have a good old-fashioned recipe for disaster. My mistakes, however, should be good for a cautionary tale if nothing else. Right?

This article should, by rights, be called ‘Things I learned while trying (and failing) to get revenge.’ And what I learned is that revenge is a funny thing. Or rather, thinking about revenge is a funny thing. It starts off slow with thoughts like, “Why should he be allowed to get away with it?” No doubt you’re thinking this is a very good question.

The truth is, why should people who do bad things get away without facing the consequences? From childhood, we are taught that every action has an opposite and equal reaction; for example, if I put my hand on a hot stove, I will get burnt. Equally, if I hurt someone deliberately I should expect to be hurt in return.

Here’s the first thing I learned. Yes, there are people who set out to hurt you but most people don’t wake up in the morning with the express intention of hurting you in particular. Life is a painful thing. It is also a complex, complicated and above all, messy thing. So when you’re plotting revenge ask yourself, “How did I contribute to what happened?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the victim. On the contrary, I’m merely saying that people treat us the way we expect to be treated. And in healthy relationships, it is very rare to find one partner completely at fault and another completely blameless.

Another thing about revenge is you realise – as you’re pouring bleach on his favourite shirts (don’t ask) – you might be going a little too far because revenge, like a shack fire, is very hard to stop once it starts. You have to keep going because your wounded pride demands that you do not Read the full story

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Why Men Hate Women

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you’ll remember how serial bad boy radio jock Gareth Cliff got the whole country riled up with his observation that “22 year old girls do nothing but lie on their backs with their legs open!”

Pic from Women24

Gareth Cliff

The comment followed from an interview with 22 year old AIDS activist Angela Larken, who started working with charities from the age of 19. When taken in context, the comment isn’t too terrible – if you’re completely soul-less – and, considering it’s Gareth Cliff we’re talking about, the comment is almost PC.

It’s no secret that Cliff is a misogynist – he clearly hates women – but compared to some of the comments I’ve read online and heard casually uttered by acquaintances, Cliff positively adores women.

I remember the first time I read ‘The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court’ by Mmatshilo Motsei about the Jacob Zuma rape trail and how people just demonised the alleged victim. She went from being a rape victim to being this gold-digging, psycho witch who had ask for it and deserved what she got.

This response shocked me because for the first time, I realised that this was what real sexism is. Sexism sometimes wears a clown mask, but no matter how funny the joke about the midget and the receptionist, the truth is that the male of the species has a real hate-love-hate relationship with women.

I once dated this guy, we’ll call him X (see what I did there?) and we were at that stage in our relationship where everything is cute to no one but the people in the relationship.

X would put his friends on speaker when he was with me and I thought it was the most adorable thing ever (don’t judge me, I was young), until the day he told one of his friends about me and the friend replied, “Okay, she’s smart. But is she pretty?”

Pretty women sell things, be it fried chicken, skin lightening cream or cars, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem starts when women are seen as nothing beyond background decoration for men, even powerful women whose looks have absolutely nothing to do with their job description.

An online comment thread about some of our female politicians had this to say Read the full story

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The High Cost of Being an Entrepreneur in SA

female entrepreneur

I read an article some time back that put forward the notion that South Africans are lazy, always waiting for government to hand out jobs. The article claimed that we are content to work for a pittance because we lack the spirit to create jobs for ourselves or others.

Naturally, I was outraged. Who were these people that the article was talking about? I, for one, have always been surrounded by entrepreneurs; from the lady down the street who started out selling ice-blocks and skopas then finally branching out to magwinya and s’phatlho, to my sister who does consulting work in her spare time.

In order to understand the point that the articles’ author was trying to make, I decided to dedicate a few weeks of my life to starting my own business and it is no exaggeration to describe my experiences as harrowing and painful.

It says a lot about the multitude of South Africans who have successfully started and maintained businesses, because the conclusion I have come to is that South Africa doesn’t encourage entrepreneurship.

So You Have an Idea?

Congratulations in even getting this far when we live in a world where it sometimes feels as if everything has been said, done and invented. Unfortunately, this is where the hard work really begins if a friendly little website like www.sabusinesswarrior.com is to be believed.

The process begins with asking yourself a few questions calibrated to gauge whether you have the correct temperament to even think of becoming an entrepreneur. If you can answer YES to questions ranging from ‘Are you a self-starter?’ to ‘Do you have a network that would provide additional financing?’ then you’re better off than most South Africans who cannot.

Richard Branson once said that a business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts, but Read the full story

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Honouring Our Heroes: Soldiers of the SS Mendi

They say we don’t have heroes. I say how can we have heroes when we write them out of the history books?

Let me tell you a story that you probably won’t find in the retelling of World War I or in any high school text book. I will tell you about real heroes. I will tell you about 607 brave sons of Africa who gave their lives on the morning of 21 February 1917 when the SS Darro - travelling at full speed and failing to emit any warning – rammed into the much smaller SS Mendi.

Within minutes the sea had swallowed the Mendi, leaving her sailors stranded in the roiling water. The crew of the Darro stood by, happy to let them drown – and drown they would have were it not for brisk action from the crew of the HMS Brisk who rowed among the survivors, rescuing as many as possible.

A total of 616 South Africans, including 607 black troops serving in the South African Native Labour Contingent, gave up their lives that glorious day and they dare say we don’t have heroes.

Stories were told of the troops’ bravery as the ship sank. One is that of Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dyobha, who cried out, “Be quiet and calm, my countrymen. What is happening now is what you came to do… you are going to die, but that is what you came to do… I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers… Swazis, Pondos, Basotho… so let us die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa.”

They say we don’t have heroes, even while the sons of Africa danced barefoot on the tilting deck of the doomed Mendi before she plunged beneath the ocean. Even while Joseph Tshite, a schoolmaster from near Pretoria encouraged the drowning men in the waters around him with hymns and prayers until he too met his watery death.

The story of the SS Mendi is a story of courage in the face of death and valour between brothers in dire circumstances. The courage displayed by these men has remained a legend in South African military history. Read the full story

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Girl Fight: Why Females Can’t Stand Each Other

First, let me qualify that statement: this article is not referring to women but to girls. And, to quote a friend, “Girls hate each other and women compete with each other.” This is a very fine distinction at the best of times but it’s an important distinction nonetheless.

Right, now that that’s been said, back to my girl-hating girls.

A while ago, I was with a mixed group of friends (girls and boys) when we were joined by a second – equally mixed group. The guys immediately started chatting to each other about all kinds of things, from soccer to the best car wash to who had the best gadgets. They argued, laughed and generally behaved like boys.

The girls, on the other hand, simply refused to so much as look at each other, and when they did, the tension grew until it was – as they say – thick enough to cut with a blunt knife. One could almost feel the judgements and the unspoken comments in the air between the two groups of females.

This uncomfortable situation naturally got me thinking about why girls don’t get along.

After exhaustive research and a lot of denial from my female friends, I was close to giving up when the answer – strangely enough – came from a guy. His theory is that females can’t stand each other because they don’t have a healthy outlet for their natural competitive instincts.

Historically, society has expected us to be good and polite and sweet. A lady doesn’t fight in the street or speak loudly, and if you weren’t a ‘lady’ you were, by default, a ‘straatmate’. And believe me when I tell you, no one wants to be a straatmate!

So we are expected to be nice but then we are thrust into competition with other girls. From who’s the prettiest baby in the hospital to who had the best-looking boyfriend in high school; a girl’s life is an endless gladiator blood sport and the one who can smile the widest while wishing you’d drop dead is the winner!

Guys are encouraged to Read the full story

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The Cheating Game: Why Men Lie and Women Lie Better

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine asked why, when women cheat, they feel the need to confess everything to their boyfriends.

This, for obvious reasons, got me thinking. Not about cheating itself, but about the various ways cheating manifests in relationships. One thing women seem to accept as inevitable is the fact that their men will cheat on them at some point.

We have even gone so far as to categorise the different ways our boyfriends, partners and husbands cheat. For example, Pam could draw the line at him not coming home all weekend, while Nthabi doesn’t mind as long as he doesn’t impregnate his side-chick.

Women, where is your pride? Don’t you believe you deserve better than this? Why do we accept such treatment?

As a black woman living in a village, a kasi or a suburb, we have all heard our elders say things like: “Monna ke selepe wa adimisanwa,” and “Basadi ba feta banna ka palo.”

Loosely, this translates to: “a man is an axe, anyone can use him” and “women outnumber men.” Our mothers, aunts, grandmothers repeat these words and, through repetition, make them self-fulfilling prophecies.

This licentiousness not only normalises the behaviour, it makes cheating positively mandatory. It’s become as much a part of our culture that if a man who doesn’t cheat is somehow less of a man.

The truth is Read the full story

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It’s a Black/White Issue

race

Laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage were in force in many US states until 1967 when they were more or less scraped, thus making Obama possible. In South Africa, the ban on interracial sex was lifted in 1985 and in 1991, Michael Jackson – who had more of a right to tackle this issue than anyone else – sang the deeply meaningful and catchy ‘Black or White.’

Yet, in supposedly progressive 2012 the Democratic Alliance’s Student Organisation felt fully justified in slapping an entwined multiracial couple onto a membership campaign poster and captioning it with a primarily old-fashioned: “In OUR future, you wouldn’t look twice.”

Where do they think this is, the South Africa that was in the grip of apartheid circa Immorality Act of 1957? Who, in this day and age, even looks twice at multi-racial couples? I had always assumed that a same race couple raises more eyebrows than an interracial one.

How wrong I was… and how right DASO was!

Intolerance, ignorance and blind hatred quickly hijacked the conversation as everyone from the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) to that-girl-who-had-her-boyfriend-stolen-by-a-white-chick jumped onto the bandwagon.

The Christian Democratic Party outdid themselves by calling the poster ‘sexually immoral’ and then trying to make it an AIDS-related issue, then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot by linking it to farm murders. That holier-than-thou attitude fooled no one when words like distasteful and insulting were bandied about. Did you find the image itself ‘distasteful’ or was it the concept of a lily-white man sullying himself with a black woman that you found particularly ‘insulting’?

Barely civil and wildly racist theories abounded about this metaphorical representation of a future South Africa. The irony is that, in attempting to imagine a non-racial future, DASO kicked off the mother of all racial arguments. Are we really a society that takes umbrage at two consenting adults, who happen to have different skin colours choosing to be together? Have we lost our minds South Africa? Is this what we are reduced to arguing about?

If nothing else, DASO’s metaphorical poster has once again exposed the hypocrisy and bigotry that always seems to be simmering beneath our façade of rainbow happiness.

Personally, I choose to imagine a beautiful, beige future, where black and white are no longer barriers to communication but form a basis for us to relate to each other because interracial relationships are inevitable. Embrace them.

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To  see more reactions on the DA Youth campaign, read this post: DA Youth Gets Controversial

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5 Non-Fiction Bookshelf Must-Haves

Books are boring. At least that’s what ‘they’ would have you believe, but non-fiction doesn’t have to be all slog and falling asleep halfway through the introduction. Most non-fiction books are actually quite interesting. Empower yourself by reading!

1. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

An outlier is described as ‘an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.’

 

Pretty lame. Right? Wrong.

‘Outliers’ draws on examples as diverse as Bill Gates, the Beatles, airplane pilots and children living in the projects. Gladwell explores how where you come from, who you are and what you can do to contribute to individual success. The wealthy do have more opportunities and not everyone has talent but, to paraphrase Mama Oprah: “Success is preparation meeting opportunity.”

Memorable quote: “…If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.”

 

2.    A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

For me, curiosity wined and dined the cat before making sweet, sweet love to it. And that cat liked it. Thank goodness for Bill Bryson’s Short History!

From the Big Bang to the arbitrary collection of cells that make you, well… you, this book answers your questions in a breezy, informal tone that has more of the tour guide than a boring science lecture tone. The universe is a fascinating place my friends!

Memorable quote: “A chemist named Pilatre de Rozier tested the flammability of hydrogen by gulping a mouthful and blowing across an open flame, proving at a stroke that hydrogen is indeed explosively combustible and that eyebrows are not necessarily a permanent feature of one’s face.”

 

3. Confessions of An Economic Hit Man – John Perkins

What happens when a multinational corporation worth billions of dollars wants something from a poverty-stricken banana republic?

They send in their economic hit men – they’re like the other kind – who use payoffs, rigged elections, extortion, murder and fraud to kill developing economies.

Perkins’ book is a chilling reminder that the world doesn’t really like brown people and capitalism won’t work for you if you don’t know the rules. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man will give you a new perspective on international news headlines.

Memorable quote: “I’ve never met anyone who wanted to be a terrorist. They are desperate people.”

 

4. God is Not a Christian: and other provocations – Desmond Tutu

You know those intolerant people who don’t like gays, blacks, Muslims and anyone who isn’t exactly like them because the Bible said not to? Yeah well, this book is not for them.

This collection of essays and speeches by Tutu urges us to find God at the centre of religion, celebrate the differences and appreciate the difference. This book might as well be about racial issues, sexual preferences or any one of the thousand reasons we find to hate each other.

God’s Deputy doesn’t like it when we fight. Amen.

Memorable quote: “I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.”

 

5. The Wolf of Wall Street – Jordan Belfort

Crime pays.

Let me rephrase that, white collar crime pays – especially if you’re Jordan Belfort and you don’t mind going to jail for fraud and money laundering.

Described as the ‘biggest Wall Street crook you’ve ever heard of’, Belfort takes you into a life of crime that lives on in the spirit of our very own so-called tenderpreneurs. An unflinching look at what happens when morals and integrity fall by the way side in the never-ending paper chase.

Memorable quote: “You look like a kid, and Wall Street’s no place for kids. It’s a place for killers. A place for mercenaries.”

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The Bad Girl Effect: Why We Love Bad Girls

Khanyi Mbau pic from SowetanLive

South Africa loves its bad girls.

We pretend to be outraged, saddened, disgusted by their behaviour. But secretly we love them and all the accompanying drama and chaos in their lives.

Of course, being the conservative society we are, the whiff of impropriety that seems to hover over our bad girls makes us shrink back in horror. Unfortunately it is rarely enough to stop us from obsessively cataloguing all their faults and playing pseudo-psychologists to explain why these poor souls deserve sympathy not censure.

Khanyi Mbau has been SA’s bad girl since her debut on the small screen and our fascination with her peaked this weekend when naked pictures of her were allegedly leaked over Twitter.

Those who have appointed themselves custodians of our moral lives and immortal souls were immediately up in arms denouncing her scandalous behaviour. All the while making sure we all see the pictures by tweeting and retweeting the links.

This rabid denouement ensured the la Mbau trended well into the night in a way that would make any PR savvy media figure salivate. What interests me, however, is not Ms. Mbau’s second debut in her birthday suit. Far from it.

What caught my attention was the Twitter frenzy surrounding the eponymous #boobgirl. Yes, Boobgirl (The strangely appropriate name that a young lady was immediately christened with upon her debut on Twitter). If I need to explain the name, you are too young and should stop reading right now.

My point – and yes I do have a point – is that even as we reacted with shock and awe, even as we discussed ad nauseam our revulsion and pity… we clicked the follow button.

The upshot is that within a few short hours, this young lady had reached over a thousand new followers, a feat that many of us view not with a little envy. All she did was flash her admittedly impressive mammaries and South Africa was spellbound. Captivated. Tit-illated.

Let me say it again. South Africa loves its bad girls.

Admittedly, it’s more a love/hate relationship than any healthy fascination. In public we tut disapprovingly at their stunts but in private, we cheer them on because the world loves non-conformity; we like it when they score and watch gleefully as they crash and burn.

From Brenda Fassie to Vinolia Mashego to Nonhle Thema, our ‘love-to-hate-em’ relationship with bad girls is well-documented. We cheered for Ntsiki in the popular soapie Generations and picked Brooke over the sugar sweet Taylor in the Bold & The Beautiful, despite (or because of) her outrageous behaviour.

And why shouldn’t we? Bad girls are cheeky and arrogant and their stars burn bright while they are in the public eye. And maybe that’s why we love them. They say what we wish we could say, do all the crazy things we wish we could do and – more importantly – they appear to get away with it.

Think about that the next time you are tempted to turn your nose up at a bad girl, ask yourself one question: will my disapproval influence this bad girls’ behaviour in any way? The answer probably won’t surprise you and it just might stop you from pressing that retweet button and ensuring she gets all the attention she craves.

Take that, bad girls!

 

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