GIRLS DRESSING TO BLAME, AFRICANS?
The Norwegian text picture above was posted on a friend’s Facebook timeline a few days ago. It reads:
- When Africans say that it’s the girls to blame for rape because they dress up too lightly/ revealingly, is it okay then to drive over a nigger because it is dark outside?
I commented, “Why should a nigger be punished for Africans’ opinions on things? By the way, what is a nigger, really?”
Her daughter responded, “Whether it’s an African or Asian has nothing to say, Simon… it’s the point which is important to grasp… not what nationality is being referred to!”
My response to the girl (NB: My language tone, style, and presentation format would have been different had I been addressing myself to an adult, and stranger), “I hear what you say. But an important and actual message is lost in translation due to poor/ bad, and in my opinion, racist statement formulation. This is a global problem (for example)… :
… Because my opinion is that the message is presented in a racist fashion, I’d like to mention that which ought to be common knowledge in our days: Africans consist of people from many different parts of the world, with all that that entails of the people’s varying skin colours/ tones. Africans also consist of men and women, boys and girls, as well as children of both sexes. In Norway, the term ‘nigger’ is considered as insulting by many Africans with Black (and variable grades/ tones/ shades of ‘Blackness’) skin colour. I can help to formulate the message in such a way that it has a (racially) neutral and global appeal. But now I must (go to) work; 3 beautiful and sexy half-naked women are waiting to be Chi massasjed by me. Mmm, are these women risking to be raped by me, the darkest Black African (then)? Well, It’s worked out fine the last 15 years…” End of dialogue so far.
Some of the best moments in my work are when I receive a patient/ client for the first time, especially so a woman or a girl. The 3 half-naked ladies mentioned above were first-timers, all three as different as people can be in all aspects of being.
- LADY 1: My body is stiff and painful everywhere from my toes to my head. I work hard for everybody but nobody cares about me. I am wife, mother, daughter, sister, worker, … I feel like I am everybody’s slave bitch!
SIMON: Madame, please, in my space here at ENERVITAL, YOU are The Queen!
LADY 1: Nnno-o-o! Nobody ever says things like that to me!
SIMON: But I-I-I say it, Madame!!!
In a flash, LADY 1 looked 20 years younger, and I still don’t understand how anybody cannot be nice and loving to this very, very beautiful and sweet woman. I gave her the best Chi massasje/ Reflexology session she ever had.
- LADY 2: Big, powerfully built woman. After her treatment, “Look, I’m also a trained health professional working at a major hospital. You are definitely the best therapist in town. But, please, you needn’t be nice next appointment; I want it harder!” Wow, my kinda patient! Chi massasje is a powerful, rhythmic, deep-tissue Therapeutic Massage technique.
- LADY 3: Prominent public figure. Youth. Almost swept me off my feet with her charm. Super Nature light filled up ENERVITAL. “SUPERB!” she said after her treatment. Gave me a mean thank-you-so-much-hug. I’m still singing loud in my head: HOW I WISH I WERE YOUNG…. HOW I WISH I WERE YOUNG… HOW I WISH I WERE YOUNG!!!
April 24, 2013
Tel.: +47 97000488/ +27 717 454 115 (South Africa)
I am inclined to believe that my mother was never prepared for what was to come out of her initial conjugations with my father. Compared to the overly protective manner of many mothers over their sons, I understood very early in my life that I have a very special relationship with my mother. I’ve seen her watch me fall into the deep end more than once before, without her doing anything about it. Just watching, waiting to see how I’ll deal with it. I have never at any one point felt any sense of neglect though. There’s something about the look in my mother’s eyes, which has always given me Samson-like strength when it seems the darkness of the deep end is about to swallow me up completely. She is my first best friend, my number one confidant.
My mother has always openly declared her love and admiration for me. She adores me. I’ve heard her many times tell other fellow mothers how proud she is of me, “… this man who felled my breasts”, because of my generousity and kindness as a son, and big brother to my two younger siblings. Thoughts of my mother make me very strong always in this regard. She listens to me, even if she may not agree with what I have to say. I owe much of my strong sense of independence and self-reliance to her. She taught me very early to be proud of myself. Much of my need and love to excel in the things I do, and thrive in, I got from her. “O motle, ngana’ka! O a utlwa!/ You are beautiful, my child! You hear?” She tells me she used to sing these words to me when I was a baby. Not that she’s much of a singer, though.
The end of the academic year was ever such fun for those who had done well in the final exams. This was at my schools in Lesotho and South Africa in the 1960s/ 70s. The last day would be a day of song, dance, and other forms of cultural entertainment prior to the formal announcement of the results from all classes, Grades 1-7. Announcement of the results, accompanied by calling out those who had passed to parade themselves on stage, was one hell of a show on its own.
I remember the proceedings of end of year 1973 especially. For once, my mother had taken time to come and witness the event; this had previously been Ouma’s (Grandmother) job. I was so happy and proud because my mother would for the first time see me perform on stage, I playing one of the three wise men who followed the star of baby Jesus on Christmas eve. Of course, ours was the best performance of the day, receiving standing ovation and all! But my mother just sat there, staring at the stage with that special look of power in her eyes. I knew that, yes, I’m still on track.
Then came time for announcement of the results, calling out to take centre stage first, those who had scored the highest Grade Point Average in each class. There would be momentary mad jubilation each time the No. 1 was called. When my turn came, I recall the Principal saying something like, “And now, next is a young man we do not know what to do about. He has done it again, passing with distinction. Our future doctor, Simon Similo!!!” I catapulted onto the stage with tremendous joy and pride. When I looked down into the audience, though, I was met with a wall of dead silence for what felt like an eternity. Almost everyone’s mouth was agape, and their eyes were like marbles mosaicked onto this wall of silence. In a state of total confusion, I looked at my mother sitting in the front row. She was sitting more upright, on the edge of her chair.
Because I knew her, and perhaps because of our special connection, particularly in emotionally charged situations, her apparently stone-hard face radiated a special kind of light and warmth I have never experienced again since. Power Look of a rare kind. She smiled gently, tears poured down her face. She sat back onto her chair, wiping off the tears. Then all went crazy, dancing and singing songs of praise around my mother; and she just sat there, looking most pleased with herself. She could have been a Queen. But then again, to some close family friends in South Africa I’m called Morena/ King. That day, then, my mother looked like Mma Morena/ Queen Mother. When it was all over, the Queen Mother and I walked home in satisfied silence. Later in the evening we had a nice family celebratory dinner. And this chapter was closed. The road ahead is still so long, and bumpy.
I often wonder what kind of relationship I would have had with my mother, had she known that her initial conjugations with my father would bring out a boy child like me. Assuming that she would have allowed herself to get pregnant in the first place.
Although, she tells me, it did not occur to her immediately because she was just too engrossed in her awesome happiness to be mother of a healthy and robust cute little baby, it hit her like a bombshell when it first came forth. She says I must have been about 3 months old when she was baby-sitting in a then Whites Only park in my hometown, Welkom, another baby a few months older than me. An old White lady comes to greet my mother, asking to peek into the pram so as to greet the sleeping baby as well. Guess the old lady’s consternation upon finding not only two babies sleeping side-by-side in the pram, but that one of the babies was Black! My mother tells me that the old lady in no uncertain terms mentioned that it was okay to look after children, but Black children must never be brought close to White children in this manner. Could my mother return the Black baby to its mother right away, please, before the police are called? My mother tells the old lady that she, my mother, is the mother of the Black baby. Things begin to get even more confusing for the White old lady, “But how on earth can it be possible that a very pretty young girl like you can have such a black and ugly baby?” The old lady walked away in total frustration, leaving my mother with her own thorough bewilderment, and a set of new worries and challenges.
Queen Mother was not more than 20 years old when she gave birth to me. She was, indeed, a very, very pretty light-skinned South African Coloured girl. My father was a pitch Black, raw African; such are my people in Zambia. I have taken much after my father and our people on his side of the family: Black, beautiful, and proud.
It took my mother many months to come to terms with the reality that I was different from other normal light-skinned children on her side of the family in South Africa. I guess she at the same time saw that my differentness would create social problems for me later on in life. So, she started that early to sing to me about how beautiful, smart, and strong I was. This was reinforced by the fact that, fortunately, both my parents were resourceful, and so as a family we had a good life by South African standards going among Black people in the 1960s/ 70s. I grew up knowing that even if I was Black and different, no one could break me for that. It was also important for me to be, and stay, handsome, smart, and strong in order to protect my mother. It was one thing, I reasoned, to have a different Black child; and another if that child is dumb and weak as well. Until after my younger brothers and sisters were born, my mother had her own share of torments for having given birth to a strange child like me.
How then, I wonder, would my mother have answered the question, “What would you do if your children turned out to be Black?” before I was born? I never had a good reason for detesting talcum powder all my life until a few years ago. This is when the Queen Mother revealed that in her immediate anguish after being made aware of my differentness, she would empty bottle after bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder all over my body, cover me up completely in my baby blankets, and wait a minute or two. She got shattered so many times when each time she uncovered me I’d still be Black and special. Poor Mother.
It infuriates me when half a century later I hear mothers being asked stuff like, “What would you do if your sons turned out to be gay?” Although in the last setting I saw this question being posed it was clear that it was with good intentions, the lady answered in a strained way that she’d of course love and support her children’s alternative lifestyles, etc.
I think it’s unfair and non-respectful to ask mothers defensive questions about their future progeny. Those children who get to be born shall be born as they are, be what and how they are, become what they become, and do what they do with their lives. Mothers and fathers are obliged to help, guide, and nurture these children to be decent and responsible value-adding citizens as grown-ups; acknowledging and respecting the children’s talents, abilities, skills, tastes and preferences within the confines of established social cohesion parameters in a modern and forward looking global society.
Through being compassionate themselves, parents can and will teach their children how to love. But they cannot teach the children whom to love. The sentiment and expression of love are just like my skin colour, they are a given. No one can do anything about them, they are as they are. Natural. In the name of love, my mother helped me grow up and thrive as I am. I have reason to believe that Queen Mother would still have been the same kind, loving, and supportive mother she has always been had I turned out to be gay as well.
For goodness’ sake, leave Mothers alone. Let the children be!
April 05, 2013
Tel.: +47 97000488/ +27 717 454 115 (South Africa)
WAR IS WAR
Without being judgemental, and whether or not the poor, weak, and vulnerable are so by choice or by circumstances beyond their own control, they are everywhere, like sand. Fronted by women and children, they are prolific like the stars of the universe. Every explosion collapses them into themselves, only to re-emerge with greater force by way of numbers, condition, and distribution. Poverty sucks; like a black hole.
They are by design, conscious or otherwise, ever on the frontline. Be it in times of natural catastrophes, epidemics, or wars. They are hurt before, hurt more, and die before anyone else. In hard times, only the strong, good and/ bad depending on the eye of the beholder, survive. However, the strong who are fools tend to fall in extreme disgrace in the end. That’s the way of the world.
A Tai Chi Grandmaster, emphasizing the crucial importance of minimizing as much as possible one’s own vulnerability in either or both defence and attack, once said to me, “You gonna fight, you gonna get hit!” I like reminding my Karate students that when armies go to war, they carry with them their own body bags too. Everyone dies in war; it’s only a question of time. That’s just the way it is. On either side of the warring parties, it’s invariably the innocent weak, women, and children who bear the brunt of war: Collateral damage.
To the extent that wars are typically bilateral processes once set in motion, carried out in either specific zones, or spread over several geographic locations, the warring parties on either side are equally responsible for the sufferings and deaths of the innocent weak, poor, women, and children. This is regardless of the causes of, or reasons for, the wars. The moment choices and decisions are made such that military engagement becomes the last way out in efforts to solve major national, or regional conflicts, the innocent weak, poor, women, and children are already sentenced to inhuman suffering, and ultimately, genocide: Necropower.
Wars are inherently ugly. And for them to be maximally effective, they are designed to make their executors as cold-hearted, as brutal as possible. The job and intention are, more often than not, to eliminate or annihilate the enemy in order to change the status quo, depending on what each opposing force demands of the other.
Under attack, the warlords will use the innocent weak, poor, women, and children as buffers to protect themselves: Human shields. Genocide of the wretched begins. These will either be compelled under duress, or duped to choose apparently willingly, to die for The Great Leaders in the names of some Supreme Beings, The Revolution, ideology, or some other systems of belief.
In war there are friends and allies on both sides. Friendships and alliances are formed and conditioned by shared values and norms, often over time. Solidarity will hold alliances together: You’re either with us, or against us. Formal alliances sign binding accords to protect and defend one another’s, as well as their collective worldviews and including territories. A member of an alliance whose house is on fire is likely to go down with some of the members if no assistance or backup is forthcoming. As a result, members of an alliance will inevitably be drawn into conflicts which do not necessarily directly concern or affect them, but can/ may be a real threat to them by association in the long run: International Relations.
- Interviewer: So, you will agree that you intentionally and cold-heartedly killed poor, helpless, innocent people, women and children in a stupid war that has nothing to do with our far away, peaceful country?
- War executor: Killing or not killing is irrelevant. Misguided question! We had a mission to execute as promulgated by and in our terms of co-operation with our allies. And this we carried out with acute precision, minimizing casualties, satisfying International Humanitarian Law jurisdiction.
- Interviewer: How do you feel about the innocent people, poor women and children who died in the war?
- War executor: Our mission was to go out and protect the civilian population, create and protect corridors for the supply of water, food, and medicines. We accomplished our mission effectively within the stipulated time. No casualties on our side.
- Interviewer: You actively helped the rebels then? Contributing to the inhumane demise of a legitimate head of state?
- War executor: Ours is a small country which did a great job protecting civilians in a very difficult situation. With the war over now, peace, stability, and prosperity will return. A major achievement for democracy…
War is war. People die in wars. The most natural outcome of war is destruction and death. Period. I am never impressed by those who make noise about justification or non-justification of wars that are, or have been.
- “Tjaaa, but, Simon, we make noise so that the same mistakes are never repeated in the future!”
- Cool. Just heal the injured, bring back the dead.
My heroes are those who work tirelessly to prevent wars taking place, to begin with: Diplomacy. But then again, foolishness as a repulsive human trait is ever so rife in the world. We all gonna go someday, no? Ultimately, who cares really? Shame.
March 14, 2013
Tel.: +47 97000488/ +27 717 454 115 (South Africa)
THEY CAN FIGHT BACK
As a child I got fucked my brains out so by older girls I have since found big, strong, and powerful women very sexy indeed. I grew up around strong, beautiful women who, even as a child I understood already, were used and abused only because they themselves allowed it to happen. However, only, it seemed to me, specific men got to treat the women as they chose. The men not favoured by these strong women in my life had it rough and tough indeed.
Beliza never got to do it to me, never seemed interested. One of the most beautiful, most desirable older girls I ever came across. She had her eyes on another, much older guy. Bastard! He used to even send me to go and fetch her from her home for him most evenings they had their dates. They would eventually get married. Coming back home as a grown up man after many years abroad, and feeling good about myself, I go to pay a courtesy call on Beliza’s family. She was even more beautiful, more radiant as a mature woman. Although she was outwardly warm and welcoming, she, without saying it verbally, told me to fuck off. Witch!
In youth street fights I’ve been beaten clean and square only once. It was in my early teens. I had almost overnight become abnormally big physically given my age then, had started to train Karate, and had also started to earn a bit of my own pocket money. So, I was in my neighbourhood a flashy and self-confident young man at that time. This in practice meant that, among other things, I wanted a girl, any girl, I got her. But not Tumi. Shit!
One day a group of neighbourhood girls are quarrelling about me in front of my home. Scandal! It turns out that the other girls were all out against Tumi because it was clear that I was interested in her. Though not especially beautiful, she was a tower of a girl over the rest and, therefore, very sexually attractive to me. I break up the group, and then pull Tumi aside to tell her in a macho way to go away and make noise elsewhere. Embarrassing me in front of my mother! Being the self-assured, over-confident young man I was, I hadn’t registered how furious Tumi actually was. The next thing is that she grabs me by the collars, swings me to the left, the right, and then places me in the centre to deliver the meanest ever head-butt. It’s a miracle I never sustained I broken nose. Witch!
My reverence for women is not only based on them being powerful sex objects. But the strongest manifestations of women’s strength and resolution to either deter or give in to men’s domination and power abuse, have for me been in the sex-power relations domain. Commenting on my handwriting many years ago, one of my professors at university mentioned that it was clear that I was brought up under strong female influence. True. Although, starting with my father, there have been giants of men who have influenced and inspired me in my life, the giantesses far outnumber and out-class the men.
I was taught to read and write by women. Women taught me how to love and appreciate beautiful things, they taught me how to love life, how to sing. It was my grandmother, she having finally decided to leave a tyrant of an ex-lover, who taught me how to see in the dark, how talk to animals of the night, how to talk to God both in times of trouble, and in good times as well. My mother taught me how to fight my own battles, let God take care of weaker souls.
Weaker souls don’t fight, can’t fight. God is a busy man. So, my strong women fight. They fight for themselves. God help them wicked men.
(Read also: Guns, patriarchy and violence against women , Bert Oliver, Mail & Guardian, March 09, 2013)
March 11, 2013
Tel.: +47 97000488/ (+27 717 454 115, South Africa)
Inspired by: Lynching Black Men
I had first picked it up in his voice on the phone. Calling him from Oslo at his work place in Pretoria about once a week in the latter part of the 1990s, I could hear him sounding ever more tired each time we spoke. He would of course express tremendous delight upon hearing my voice, proudly shouting to his colleagues, “My son is calling from overseas!”
When I last saw him Easter time 1996, he was as charming as ever. But he was beginning to look a little frail. And it seemed he had stopped caring too much about his hair, which he always groomed immaculately before, dying it pitch black constantly. I was just beginning to find my way around in Norway at that time myself, and coming home to Welkom that Easter, I had bought presents for everyone. I even paid for renovation work on the family house, buying some nice furniture for my mother as well. Better times had arrived. Let’s celebrate. Pappa would be fine, I thought. At age 63 then and still working in Pretoria, I felt it was indeed time for him to retire, come home, relax, and enjoy life. I would do every thing possible to ensure that my parents have a good life all their days. But my ever-resilient Pappa went back to work. His work was his life. Little did I know that it would be two years later the next time we meet again after the Easter holidays, 1996. He would be in an abattoir-like city council mortuary, lying supine in a coffin; eyes open wide, staring into oblivion. The autopsy cut sewed up ugly, unbefitting a once most elegant gentleman. In the end we are just things, I thought.
When my father’s corpse was found, after the janitor had forced his apartment door open, he may have laid dead on the cold floor for about 48 hours. The janitor had last seen him going into his apartment during the day on a Monday. Alarm was raised when even by Thursday morning he hadn’t reported for work, and no one had caught any sight of him in his neighbourhood for 2-3 days. My father was a man of the people. I wonder if he cried at all as death came down encircling him. By the look of things, he may have stumbled, and fell on the floor as he came out of his bed. He may have failed to get up again, choking in his own puke. Apparently he had left work on the Monday not feeling too good. He came home to die, in cold solitude. Does it help to cry when dying alone? Or do we cry at birth only, with people around us?
I’ve heard of people who’ve had near-death experiences talk about counting their sins at the realization that the end was imminent. I wonder if Pappa did ever get to count his own as the moment of reckoning struck. Now that I know more, and understand better, I do realize that Pappa led a life of deep emotional suffering. That he went on and on, without breaking down a single day, as a caring, devoted, and responsible father, as well as a respectable member of society, baffles me to this day.
Disenfranchised under colonial rule as a young man in the then Northern Rhodesia, he, soon after World War 2 in 1947, walked from his village in what is now Zambia’s Eastern Province. After many weeks he arrived in South Africa. His father, and numerous others before him, had done the same hazardous trek many times before. Golden South Africa was a land of opportunity, with a promise of a better life. But because Pappa had come alone, outside the then organized labour conscription carried out in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, he moved around the country with ever-changing identities; doing all sorts of menial jobs. He quickly came to speak fluently about all the major Southern African languages. After an adventurous life of a free migrant labourer and street hustler in the major cities of the country, Pappa finally moved to Welkom in the Free State Province in the late 1950s. There he would eventually meet and marry a very beautiful girl with whom he would beget 5 children in a space of 14 years.
Now stuck in Welkom, disenfranchisement would hit Pappa even harder, living with big personal secrets, lying his way through life about the story of his life to keep himself, his wife, and children alive. I understood early that he was ever so vulnerable. Used. Abused by almost all around him: Black, White, Yellow, Blue, Purple, Cheese, Gulagulatimbuktumadamdamba, etc., people, by dogs and cats, in variable settings and circumstances. But he took it all in with dignity. Honour is in never exposing the hurt and the bruises to the world. Hold your head high. Keep your back straight. Move on and on, and on. Make impossible things happen. Never, never any storms, no waves. Move with grace, like a duck in water. Be good. Look good. Create wealth; sustain wealth. Let your wife blossom; let her be queen bee. Be a pillar of strength for your children. Make them believe they are the most beautiful, the most intelligent children in the world because you are their father.
On two occasions only have I seen my father show a very dark and extremely scary side. On either occasion, he in his characteristic calm and gentle manner went to the one man, and then the other, who each had offended him most vilely. Greeted softly. And then he unexpectedly unleashed a verbal onslaught lasting a minute or two perhaps. I recall watching him, thinking he looked like a village hut on fire in stormy weather. Wondered if these two men didn’t pee in their pants as a reaction to such extreme wrath manifestation.
One afternoon in 1974 Pappa comes home from work looking tired like a man who had just run the Comrades Marathon, or some other similarly extreme physical exertion endeavour. As was customary, my siblings and I flew at him in joy. Usually he would first ask us about how our days at school had been, and then everything would roll from there. This day, however, he told us first about how terrible his day had been at one of his 3 daily jobs. His Italian boss’ 5 year-old son had earlier on in the day called Pappa “Boy”. When Pappa politely asked the boss to teach his little son not to call grown-ups “Boy”, he was told heaven and earth about how White people could call Black people anything they wanted to call them. Although the boss, his wife, and two other male friends of theirs present did not get physical, Pappa told us that they shouted at, and insulted him so much it felt like every word they said became a physical strike on his body. I never saw my father looking so hurt, and helpless. Pappa was in my eyes the hardest and toughest man alive. So, it was too difficult for me to fathom this state of despair I was witnessing. I recall weeping silently for my father, for our sufferings at the hands of racist Apartheid White people in South Africa. It was time to leave the country.
Acquisition of some very interesting family travel documents, and our subsequent nearly 4 months’ train and bus trip to Zambia via Botswana, Rhodesia, Mozambique, and Malawi, from the beginning of 1975 are a full adventure on their own. The culture shock of living in Zambia, meeting for the first time our paternal relatives, whom we had never known existed before, is another separate adventure. We had been made to believe all along that my father came from a different country originally. However, after several years our family life in Zambia had stabilized somewhat, with Pappa and his wife rocking the world as usual, each in their own special ways. Good times were back. Let’s do it again!
We probably had been in Zambia 10 years when one happy family evening we are reviewing the things we had gone through in life as a family that far. It’s worth noting that my mother is also one hard and mean, demanding lady. She, together with us, their spoilt and at least equally demanding children, would make life a living hell for Pappa when things were going tough for us as a family. So, this particular happy evening I ask Pappa what his source of strength was. What was it about him that made him withstand and survive extreme pressures, always finding solutions, and moving on? How come he never seemed to cry when the going got tough, no matter what it was? He replied something like, “Crying produces tears. Tears blind your eyes. When you can’t see things happening around you, you cannot think properly… And, please, my children, when I die, don’t cry. Keep your eyes open! That way you will do things right … ”
I cried 5 years after my father’s death. Unlike him, I cry all the time. I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m angry. I cry because I feel ever so small and humble in the face of sorrow, joy, and rage. In these states it’s okay not to think. Tears temporarily detach me from the trappings of reflections on the right and/ or wrongs of/ in life’s things. I’m dynamite after the tears have dried on my face; their salty taste still lingering on my tongue. Who wants to lynch me now? Lo, watch me raise my father from the dead!
March 08, 2013
Tel.: +47 97000488/ (+27 717 454 115, South Africa)