Category: people


My friend Nkosi has written for me a number of times on this blog and so it was a great privilege to have him around for a special meal on Friday night with some friends, that i wrote about over here, and i asked him to share some of his impressions from the evening: 

nkosi

Conversation is an integral part of transformation. It was for this reason that I went to Brett's house together with Monde Nonabe. It was a very short notice that I invited Monde to come with me and I was so happy and glad that he responded to my short notice invite. I was glad because I respect Monde's heart and passion for change in the black people's situation. I have only known Monde not for a very long time but one thing I knew is his heart for the Lord and his heart for transformation in the lives of the majority of this country. 

During the story telling, I was moved by Monde's story of course because mostly I could identify with his story. Our conversation with Monde began on our way to Wynberg which I was already learning a lot from his knowledge about our fallen heroes in Biko and Prof Sobukhwe. Monde has a speacial ability of linking today's problems with yesterdays happenings and hopes (should haves). 

When I listened to stories from the white brothers and sisters who were there I must say that I came to realisation that they themselves are victims to a system that even though they may not necessarily love but they are beneficiaries of. I listened to one white brother with teary eyes who said that he is aware of his white previlege yet he doesn't know what to do with it. Even though I myself was moved by that sincere heart but I knew that I can't lie about the fact that there is nothing much this brother could necessarily do except to join hands with blacks in dismantling and destroying the white power structure which is the cause of every pain in South Afrika and Afrika in general. 

I was moved about the story of Jan who has been living at a black township Kayamandi in Stellenbosch for many years. He is the only white in that area. As moving this story is but it had to be made clear that for him it was a choice that he went to live and stay in Khayamnandi unlike the blacks living in that area. 

I was also moved by the story of a brother from England who moved in to Mannenberg which is one of the hardcore areas in the Cape flats. I was moved that this brother was making moves and courageous, intentional actions that were to bring about change in Mannenberg. This brother told us a story about privilege on how he managed to raise up funds from contacting few friends in a short space of time for him to be able to own a house in Manenberg. It went more touching when he told a story about how was he a victim of robbery and his house being broke into and still he had a choice to either stay in Mannenberg or to live in a white surburb. This still proves that privilege gives one choice which the black majority of this country don't have. 

Conversation that was in Bretts house was so transforming. I think it was a safe space for such a conversation rather than the social networks. It was in that conversation that I was able to look into peoples' eyes and allow them to be broken and hopeless and hopeful with all the roller coast of emotions. I think these kind of conversations can be more progressive if they could be happening all around the country. These conversations could be more progressive if they could be taking place in the workplace. I do think that conversation like prophecy did to Israel in bring about God's view to the people, conversation puts the different world views into one. The Western Worldview which is most likely to be found amongst the whites and the Afrikan worldview which could possibly be found amongst blacks. 

I must thank tbV for her delicious spaghetti and mince and I would also like to thank Brett and tbV for opening their house for such hard and uncomfortable talk.

[For another post by Nkosi where he speaks about first steps for South Africa, click here]

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spag

i do not have adequate words to describe last nite.

i am scared that the ones i use will do it injustice as there is no adequate way to capture what went down at our home as some friends from Sybrand Park, Khayelitsha, Kayamandi, Wynberg, Nyanga, Manenberg and Southfield came together for a meal and some intense conversation.

Spaghetti is a contradiction food all in itself. It is NOT good first date food. It is messy and at some point in the evening someone is going to have to catch your eye and give a nervous cough and indicate that you have some food on your face, or your clothes, or lap.

And that’s kind of how the conversation went. It was messy. And this is probably one of the greatest things that we as South Africans need to learn. MESSY IS OKAY. Messy is necessary and so is uncomfortable and awkward and even angry and confused and devastated. We will not move forwards until we can start having those conversations comfortably, or uncomfortably, so to speak. Both at a political leadership level but also maybe more importantly at a grass roots, neighbour level.

messi

Step one was the phone basket. As you arrive to have a meal with us, you turn your phone off and add it to the basket as a symbol of your commitment to be unplugged and engaged with us for the evening.

Step two was a simple meal. i mean a really delicious and amazing meal that tbV put together including garlic bread and delicious salad and tasty spaghetti, but nothing crazy fancy beyond that. People brought drinks if they could and we shared a meal together.

Step three was introductions. Not even tbV and i knew everyone as one of our friends brought a mate with him, but each person at the meal knew at least one other person. We had an even mix of black and white but from all kinds of backgrounds and current story situations. With this particular meal, we were looking at diving a little more deeply into the idea of race and location and boundary and so you were invited to tell us a little bit about yourself and where you live and why you live there.

As that process happened, people interrupted with questions and clarifications and we got joyfully sidetracked on to deeper conversations of different aspects of race and privilege and prejudice. A lot of laughter. Some silence – a moment after one of our friends stopped talking and tbV wisely said that, ‘The white in me wants to respond and fix and make sense and explain and speak to what you have just said. But I think I just need to listen and let it sink in and really hear and sit with it for a while.’ And so as a room we sat with it for a while. And it was a little awkward and a little uncomfortable [for me, maybe not at all for everyone else or maybe even more so, i don’t know] And then we continued.

There was a lot of passion that erupted. It definitely felt like there were some ‘I have a dream’ speech moments where heart just completely overflowed and it was intense but beautiful. And challenging. There was a strong moment of one participant saying, ‘I feel the same way as you’ and being challenged boldly back. “Where did your children go to school? Oh really, well then they had that choice. How can you possibly feel like me?” Privilege exposed and named in a powerfully tense but amazing moment. At the end of the evening the two of them ended up in a car together as the one gave the other a ride home.

i definitely learnt some things. One of the things i learnt was that for many years the line “Education is the answer” has been held as the carrot before the proverbial horse as if black people just need to educate themselves and get a university degree and then everything will be okay. Apartheid put them on the educational back foot and so one of the ways of overturning that part of the past was through education and lifting oneself out of it. But last night we heard stories of people with masters degrees manning petrol pumps, unable to find work. And that is the story for a large number of people. Education alone has proved to not be the answer. There are much bigger things in play.

i felt hugely uncomfortable. One thing that made me feel uncomfortable was the moment i drove into our driveway with Nkosi and his friend Monde who i had picked up at the taxi rank. Having visited Nkosi and understanding a little of his home situation in Khayelitsha, the thought of him seeing the absolute luxury i live in, was a difficult thought. But it was later on during the story telling when one of our friends shared how 32 of them [not a typo!] lived in a three bedroom house, that i was just blown away. i feel like i have had an idea of poverty and the idea that a lot of people are squeezed into small space so maybe 6, 7, 8 people in a room. 32 people in three rooms. i cannot get my head around that. There are reasons why we live where we live right now which are completely valid. But there are also some inherent contradictions that are part of it as well. At the moment, while we live here, there is the absolute commitment to use the space we have for life-changing transformative conversations like we believe happened last night.

Step four was really just picking up threads that had come out of the introductions and conversation that preceded. But to be honest, the richness of last night was in hearing peoples’ stories and challenges and ideas about where the country needed to go. By the time we got past introductions, i think it must have been 11pm [four hours since starting the meal] and we wrapped up just around 12. One of my highlights of the evening was our one friend who had to be somewhere at 8 and then just got so completely invested that he skipped his other function and was one of the last two people helping clean up after midnight, when i returned from giving someone a ride home.

What’s next is more of these dinners. Having done two now [both going for more than four hours of intense conversation, the previous one being conversations around church] tbV and i have realised that as amazing as they are, they are also really tiring and so probably won’t be moving them to once a week happenings just yet. But once a month feels manageable. We want to have one around money/economics and we are thinking about doing one around marriage. And then we’ll see from there. The next one will happen after we get back from the USA which will be July so maybe end July. If you’re interested in being part of one, let us know. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will be, but it’s good to know who is interested.

i also chatted to Nkosi this morning and he was saying how last night was great and the next step is to get a black church and a white church together and host a conversation like that. i am super amped to do that. So that is something we will chat about and hopefully look to doing later on in the year. If you’re a church leader and interested, let me know. That could really be ultimately country-changing.

These dinners are not the solution to anything. But they are an incredible catalyst for change. i was sitting there last night thinking, ‘This does not happen naturally. Not a lot anyways.’ It needs to be a little intentional and it is likely to always start off a little bit awkwardly. But what if more and more South Africans [because one of our participants from last night is going to be doing something similar with his mates tonite] decided to be more intentional about Deeper Conversation meal times [on whatever topics] and started hosting meals and bringing different people together?

Arguments on Facebook [with the lack of tone that being online robs you of] can only go so far. tbV and i have decided that if you have a strong argument against something that we say or do then sit across from us at a dinner table and let’s talk about it face to face. If we are truly grappling about something [church, race, money, marriage] then let’s commit to an evening together with people who think differently and see what can be learned. Let’s learn to listen together and let’s encourage each other to speak boldly and honestly.

Let’s eat spaghetti on our first date and let’s be bold and realise that we need Messi in our team.

i want to have a positive influence on the state of our nation. This feels like one good way to get started.

Read Nkosi Gola’s reflections on the meal…

Read Brian van Zuydam’s reflections on the meal…

Take in my wife, Val’s thoughts about the evening…

Some related thoughts from my mate, Portal Pete…

Babalwa Nyangeni adds some of her reflections…

Who else is up for giving this a try? i would LOVE to hear how it goes…

flag[For some more ideas of how to move towards progress in South Africa, click here]

Avuyile

Hi, my name is Avuyile Tu, I hail from Khayelitsha, originally from the Eastern Cape from a small town called Lady Frere. I studied a B Com degree from the University of the Western Cape, majored in Economics and management. Currently I am employed as an assistant finance manager here in Cape Town. I am the first born son at home; I am a Christian, passionate about Christ and serving my people. I write poetry on the side for relaxation and trying to voice out the pain of the nation.

In today’s South Africa, everyone is deemed to be free and lives in a democratic society. To be free means freedom of speech, one can enter places which were specifically classified for different races under the regime of apartheid.

Now that is all said and done, but the real question is, are we all really free? This now presents a challenging and very sensitive topic to many, who assume if one brings this topic up; they push an agenda of violence and racism. Put bluntly, South Africa today is a free country as compared to the apartheid era and that is a commendable achievement, however, the disheartening factor is that a large majority of the population still live in sub-standard and poor conditions.

It is a phenomenon which one cannot easily miss as it is a big problem for the country. After two decades of freedom and democracy, many of the country’s residents (mainly black), still live in poor conditions. Everywhere around the country you will find people living in unhygienic conditions, without electricity, proper housing, water and sanitation. They struggle to make ends meet and they live in informal settlements so as to be closer to their places of employment.

This brings us to a statement that may seem biased, however, to many it may ring true (many referring to the majority of the people in question). While the whole world may see South Africa as a free country, not all its citizens are free entirely free. Freedom is no freedom if one is inhibited and limited to only certain and few choices and liberties in life. It is commendable that today people from all races are able to mix; it is commendable that we all have access to the same institutions of higher learning but for some it requires more sacrifice to just gain access to such liberties. While the South African constitution lists a whole lot of human rights, many can barely enjoy benefits to basic health, proper housing and sanitation. If one could take a tour through Khayelitsha, one can really begin to understand and to experience the atrocities left behind by the apartheid legacy.

Furthermore, some parts around Khayelitsha still have no proper houses; service delivery is so slow that these areas are prone to violent service delivery protest all year round. Now others may view this as hooliganism but if one would take a moment so as to understand the heart and pain felt by the black living in these conditions, one cannot help but feel their pain. The plight of the people living in these conditions is so dire it can be likened to those suffered and experienced by the people of Zimbabwe during their recent economic recession. (No offence to Zim citizens)

In contrast to the standard of living and the conditions in which the people of Khayelitsha are facing, one would find that the residents of a place like Camps Bay for example, live in a world totally different to that of Khayelitsha. Now the question arises, why would you make a comparison between these two areas? The answer is simple; one is “predominantly” a white area and the other a black area. According to Poswa (2008), “it is estimated that the proportion of people living in poverty in South Africa has not changed significantly between 1996 and 2001. In fact, households living in poverty and the gap between rich and poor have widened.” We all know that the majority of the country’s race is black (about 72% and about 6% white, check stassa) which then translate to a large proportion of the country’s poor. So the above said further encapsulates the main focal point, that white people and black people are still not equal, especially when it comes to economic freedom.

If one could conduct a quick study of the richest people in the country, you will notice that list of those people is dominated by white people. We do acknowledge the growth in the number of black people climbing out of poverty, but what about the vast majority that still has to go through the vicious cycle left behind by the apartheid legacy? Now whether we choose to be ignorant and say that black South Africans are lazy or look at the real factor, that one can never attain total freedom without economic freedom. Furthermore, with the current government, it does not help in the plight of the black nation as it acts in ways that further entrench the legacy and the institutions left behind by the apartheid legacy.

It is sad to be stopped by an armed response patrol unit in a white suburb area and asked what is your business in the area but take the very same person you went to visit to a black community that person will not even once be stopped and searched or asked. It is also disturbing that you have a mother of 4, leaving the house every day at 4:30 just to be at the workplace at 7am. She has to contend with muggers along the way, public transport delays just to make it on time and work 8-12 hours just to R100 for the day but the employer is able to pay that same minimum wage for a meal and pay the waiter R50 tip. From that money she has to have transport fare, food for the kids and other household essentials, there is also tuition and school uniform that she also has to factor in.

Poswa (2008) further argues:

In the City of Cape Town, like the rest of South Africa, there are vast disparities between the wealthiest communities comfortable first world conditions and the poorest, who live in conditions similar to the worst found in developing countries mainly determined by broad socio-economic and environmental factors such as income, sanitation, rather than the availability of health services, it is not surprising that there are gross health inequalities resulting from the history of apartheid. (.p.3)

Now the violent service delivery protests that are showed on the news almost every day are a culmination of the black people’s frustrations with regards to their living conditions. If we continue to ignore all the warning signs, if we continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of the black nation, many atrocities will continue to happen. It is much like the West in helping the African nations affected by the Ebola pandemic, no one has moved because it will not benefit them in any way. We may have the majority seats in parliament but that does not to absolute power as the white many still holds economic power. We have inherited a system that supports and drives the ideas of a white, which ensures he lives a life of comfort at the expense of the black nation.

To rectify and eradicate all the inequity between the people, proper justice should be done which is land restitution. In that way we shall fulfil a section of the constitution that says the people of this country shall share in the wealth of this country. Ideas as to how this can be done I have not formulated yet, however, let us give each other true justice. One needs to remember that with true justice there is pain and sacrifice. As the other party gains what was lost, the other lets go of what they gained unfairly. This does not purport violence against the white people but rather that the white man can listen and hear the cry of the black man. It is preconceived ideas and the feeling of superiority that led to this mess, now it is time to enter through the veil of neutrality and level the playing field.

[Other posts looking at First Steps towards a Truly New and United South Africa, click here]

[For other South Africa-related posts on my blog, click here]

amanda1

HIS BANNER OVER ME IS SINGLE

Last month I was supposed to get married.

There was no ring on my finger, no invitations in the mail. But there was a date on a calendar and the seed of a dream that had been planted in my heart many, many months ago. I’d had a plan—we’d had a plan—in a world where I was part of a “we,” in lifetime that doesn’t feel all that long ago. The day came and went and I wondered if it would ever come again. If there would be a day when diamond commercials wouldn’t make my heart sink.

I have been single for all but three years of my life. During those three years I struggled something fierce to figure out what it meant to be me and to be in relationship; to be independent and private, while also being inclusive and self-disclosing; to be strong-willed and passionate, but at the same time open-minded and gentle. I am still learning those things. I have made remarkable progress, but right now there is no relationship in which to test such things and sometimes it feels like wasted effort.

The word banner derives from the French “banniére” and the Latin “bandum,” a cloth out of which a flag is made. The German language developed the word to mean an official edict or proclamation, a rule under which one lives. It is where we get the word “abandon,” which means to change flags, to switch loyalties.

We live under a great many banners in our lives; banners that represent our fidelities and loyalties. There are banners of family, religion, country and corporation. The banner of Apple. The banner of Nike. The banner England. The banner of Christian. There are banners that we stand under by our own choosing, and there are banners that are spread over us, whether we want them or not. We develop certain ideas about people who are associated with particular banners. Sometimes they are true. And sometimes they are not.

I struggle to keep camp under the banner of “single.” It is not a place I really want to be right now, though I don’t really want my single friends to know that. I don’t want them to feel it is a bad place, a lacking place, a grass-is-browner woe-is-me sort of place. But often that is how I feel. I skirt to the outside of the camp. I watch the other members under the banner of single and I see all sorts of responses. I see them weeping and laughing, celebrating and suffering. I see them angry and bitter. I see them resourceful and redemptive. I see them living and loving without reservation. Sometimes I want to be one of them. I want to accept my position and see my singleness as an opportunity rather than a limitation. But most days I want to escape. I sit at the edge of the camp, just so that God knows I am ready to leave at a moment’s notice. But after two years of leaning on that fence, I’m looking for another, better, more trusting position than my post beside the exit.

Part of the reason I’m so reluctant to stay is that I did not choose to be here. I did not leave my last relationship believing that we were poorly matched or destined for destruction. I did not run under the banner of single ready to embrace new freedoms. I did not really realize what was happening when things were falling apart, and by the time it was over, I was left to trudge under the banner of single with heavy feet.

Singleness is not something I feel “called to” or excited about. It is a place I feel I was left when someone ran out from under the banner of relationship with me. When someone who had chosen to love me chose to stop, to leave, to change flags and abandon me, leaving me single.

amanda3

Sometimes the banners we live under are banners that we do not choose. And sometimes they come with messages that they should not retain. I was told a great many things following my last break up, and even more after the change of heart I had the six months later. Among them, that:
“I deserved someone better”
“I had become a better person”
“God must have something else for me”
“If it were meant to be it would happen”
“He [my last boyfriend] was an idiot, a coward, blind, stubborn, etc.”

And though sometimes these things made me feel better (at least momentarily), mostly they made me confused. They encouraged me to view life under the banner of single as a temporary holding pen. Though many have suggested that God has someone else in mind, no one has ever suggested that God might intend for me to be single. No one has suggested that I am under the banner of single on purpose, which leads me to view it as an undesirable place to be.

Here’s another, perhaps bigger problem. Regardless of what other people believe about singleness, there are a lot of judgments and assumptions that I bring into it myself. There are messages and false truths that I associate with living under the banner of single that give voice to my deepest fears about my own worthiness and belonging. These messages do not come from God or love or goodness or grace, but from all that is the opposite of these things. And some of them have been reinforced in very painful ways.

It is one thing to be single and to feel that you are unseen, unheard, and unnoticed. It is one thing to suppose that the reason you are single is because no one has really experienced all that you have to offer. (I want to pause and recognize that this is a really valid place to feel pain, frustration, and even anger. As creatures that crave in our deepest depths to be truly known, to feel unseen is to feel invisible, inconsequential.) It is quite another thing, however, to believe that you were seen, heard, noticed and appreciated, that someone began to know the deepest depths of you, loved the deepest depths of you, and then chose to stop. Of their own will and volition, another person chose to stop seeing you. Decided they’d seen enough and judged you as no longer worth the effort.

I am not sure how to recover from that. As a consequence, I have begun to believe it must be true. That this must be the reason I am single: because despite all of the things that I have been told by my friends and family, despite all of the reassurance that God has done work in my life—has broken and molded and fashioned me into something tender and compassionate and playful and kind—I see my singleness as evidence that I am too difficult to partner. That I am too quirky or damaged or intense or odd.

Just when I am ready to embrace my giftedness, my worthiness, the hard-won wisdom that has come from full nights of wrestling with God’s goodness, I hear the voice of the last man who loved me as he choses, with great effort, to stop. As he tells me there isn’t enough time. There are no more second chances. I am not as special or worthy or deserving as he thought. This, I have begun to believe, is why I am alone.

And because I have associated these judgments with being single, it has become difficult for me to see singleness as good, to see the gift in my unclaimed time and attention, the privilege of having space to freely explore. I sometimes wonder how it is that others thrive under the banner of single, a banner that still brings me such heartache, reminding me that no matter how much I learn or grow or change, it may not be enough.

amanda2

But there are other judgments to be made, truer truths to be spoken over and into my life, and they are not made by people (who are prone to err when it comes to such things), but by the being who made me in the first place, who knows my deepest depths better than I know them myself. Who does not choose to quit on me. Does not run out of time or patience. Does not believe that I am not worth the effort. His banner over me is Chosen. His banner over me is Worthy. His banner over me is Redemption. His banner over me is Love (Song of Songs 2:4).

For some the banner of single is a temporary fidelity, but for others it is not. God has not promised me that I will marry. I wish that He had. I wish I knew that in the end there would be a mate with whom I could share all of my everything, a partner with whom I could envision and build and act a life of restorative grace. But for many that is never the case. God has not promised that I will be married, but God has promised that I will never be alone. God has promised that I will never be abandoned. God has promised that I will never be unworthy. And right now those are the promises that must become the banners I claim. And in time they may even make me bold in living under the banner of single, knowing I am foremost under the banner of Love.

[You can follow more of Amanda’s writing on a variety of topics over at her blog by clicking here]

[For some other epic stories on Singleness, click here]

So HAPPY 5 YEARS BLOG POSTING ANNIVERSARY…

To me… and more specifically, Irresistibly Fish…

For those of you who have journeyed with me for some or most of that time, thank you. As much as this is the online diary of my general musings, it has also been a place where i have hoped to challenge and wrestle and encourage and entertain others and every time you show up and read and especially when you engage through commenting or sharing pieces you particularly like it starts to feel like a community is growing.

The ultimate aim of having this blog is as stated in my tagline – Chewing the marrow out of life – you know the hard to reach but completely tasty bits – life to the absolute fullest in terms of God and Relationships and Humour and just general life and being people who Love well – i hope that you have experienced that over the years and will continue to.

LOOKING BACK

Without a doubt the two sections i enjoy most on this blog [and which have seemed to have the highest popularity again and again] are:

Taboo Topics – This has been a place to mostly invite people to share their stories on topics rarely spoken about both in church and often in general life. Particularly some harder experiences [like losing a baby, infertility, being a parent of a child when it’s not been that easy and even singleness for some people] but also areas such as Adoption and Race which are not bad things in themselves, but which may have painful aspects linked to them. So many incredible stories and it has been so great to see the encouragement this has often been to people who might be going through the same thing but have not had a safe place to share their stories.

Relationships – From Single to Dating to Married as well as other aspects of relationship such as Mixed Race or Culture and of course Sex, these have been posts that have obviously related to so many different people in a variety of different ways and again it has largely been through inviting people to share their stories and things they have learnt along the way that have tended to be the most helpful.

In the Fun section, it is the Pearls before Swine strips that i share from time to time [my favourite comic strip by Stephan Pastis] and the absolutely ridiculous Dangerous Things You Can Least Expect videos my alter ego, brad Fish, puts out from time to time, that deserve special mention, although hands down my absolute funnest [to me] picture that i possess is this one of Cloud Man which makes me literally outloud laugh [or at least nose-snort] every single time:

cloudman

AND THE WINNER GOES TO…

Okay, so there is no winner – hopefully different posts resonate with different people and i really love it when people engage with posts and some great conversation happens in the comments section, which often leads to follow-up posts and inspiration for series and so on.

But there are posts which have proved popular than others and after 5 years of blogging, according to the WordPress stats, the Top 10 blogs in order of views are the following:

[1o] How much Sex in Marriage? [2500 views]

[9] Taboo Topics: Sex Before Marriage [Intro] [2673 views]

[8] Taboo Topics: Living with Disabilities – Meet Uel Maree [Spinal Cord Injury – Unfortunate diving accident] [2950 views]

[7] Taboo Topics: Sex in Marriage [Intro] [3143 views]

[6] Married People [and how to maybe do it even better] [3462 views]

[5] i kissed dating: the parts [4049 views]

[4]  Marriage through the years… part Intro [4424 views]

[3] How to raise your children as world changers: Meet Nigel and Trish Branken and their family [4770 views]

[2] How to save a marriage [before you need to] – the parts [4838 views]

So you guys are all about Sex and Marriage for the most part it seems?

Although in 5 years of blogging the absolute number one most visited, shared and popular post has been:

[1] Taboo Topics: Singleness [Intro] [5057 views]

i wonder what this list will look like five years from now as the blog continues to gain more traction and as our base of subscribers grows – i hope we will move to a time when this feels  a lot more like a community of friends and travellers trying to do the best thing with this life thing that we can.

i really do want to thank all of you who made it down this far and are a part of the community – every time you like and share and comment it ups the chances of an article or series being seen by more people and hopefully encouraging, challenging, humouring and more the people who you really care about.

MY FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY PRESENT

If there is something you can give me as a gift for this moment of celebrating five years, i would like to ask you for a SHARE. If there was a post on the top ten popular posts that particularly resonated with you then please stick it on your Facebook, Pinterest or Google + page or Twitterer it to all your followers. If there was a particular Taboo Topic that you found meaningful, then post that link and tag the people you think it will encourage. And if there was a relationship post or series, then stick a link on the page of three or four people you think might appreciate it. If you’re just here cos you’re a Brad Fish fan then choose your favourite ‘Dangerous Things You Can Least Expect’ video [which is probably this one!] and post it on your page and tag your friends who appreciate ridiculous to check it out.

Otherwise SUBSCRIBE to the blog and have each post link emailed to you directly, so you can choose which posts to check out and which to leave.

With 300 plus subscribers at the moment, if each one of you shared a post or series in your social media field, it would invite a lot of new people to come and check this out.

Finally… you might be wondering, why ‘Irresistibly Fish’?

Well FISH which has been my nickname since 1993 [i’m THAT old!] stands for Faithful In Serving Him [which is something i really do try to do with my life]

The ‘Him’ in there is Jesus. God. The One who gives my life meaning and fills me with the capacity to Love [which, yes, i can and need to do a whole lot better]

I try to live my life for Him and believe that it is the best way to really experience life to it’s absolute full. It is not always easy or straightforward. But it is always good. Even when it doesn’t seem to be.

That’s my experience anyways.

Happy 5 years to me. I hope you’ll be around for the next 5… and bring your friends! 

Tutu and No_bob

So former Archbishop Desmond Tutu [or present Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, whatever an Emeritus might be] must be the most famous purple-dress-wearing man in the whole of Africa.

No_bob the yellow-and-white [yes, he’s still not nor ever has been blue] stuffed dolphin, is the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin [largely because the competition in that particular field is highly limited] and called No_bob because he doesn’t, well, bob.

It was inevitable that one day the two would meet. And by ‘inevitable’ i mean ‘highly unlikely’.

Yet, somehow they did.

And it really was one of the smallest and least significant moments of the last two days [but still quite fun, especially when you look at the panic’d GET-ME-OUT-OF-HERE look on his face]

WHAT WAS IT ALL ABOUT THEN?

For the last two days i was really privileged to be a witness to a meeting that was titled, ‘Revisiting The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Faith Community Hearing’ which was ‘a Consultation presented by the Beyers Naude Centre for Public Theology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University in collaboration with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.’

The original TRC, according to Wikipedia, ‘was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.’

A seeking out of Truth and Reconciliation after the tragic years of apartheid and following the miracle of the peaceful release of Nelson Mandela, the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations and the first free and fair elections that the majority of South Africans were for the first time eligible to take part in.

At the same time there was a TRC that happened specifically with the Faith Communities in mind in 1997, and this particular meeting was revisiting that in some way, giving Faith community representatives the opportunity to remember the testimony they had given then, as well as share where their community found themselves now in the process.

According to the Faculty of Theology in Stellenbosch website,

The aims of the re-enactment hearing are:

  • To put the process of reconciliation back on the main agenda of all faith communities in South Africa;
  • To make a significant contribution to reconciliation and national unity in the current South African context;
  • To contribute to the development of responsible and realistic reconciliation strategies for the faith communities, and offer practical suggestions on how to address the challenges of reconciliation and nation building in our land.

A VERY BASIC OVERVIEW

There is no way i can effectively put into words even a good summary of the last two day’s events, but i felt i needed to write something and so hopefully i can give some small glimpses and highlights or key points that came out.

The format, sandwiched between and introduction and closing remarks by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu [who i will refer to from now as ‘The Arch’ as everyone else seems to – he’s held No_bob so we should pretty much be on a nickname basis] and a time of reflection and audience participation at the end, was a large number of sections of different church denominational representatives, other faith representatives and one or two denominational network representatives sharing their thoughts both on the past meeting and where their group was now.

Each group was given thirty minutes which was meant to comprise 15 minutes of sharing and then some engagement and Q and A with the panel which was made up of Ms Yasmin Sooka, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, Ms Glenda Wildschut and Prof Piet Meiring, asking some questions and a time of response. Putting ministers and church leaders in front of a mic in a South African context meant that didn’t always happen to the program, but we did get through most of what was planned with some creativity and improvisational tea breaks.

As far as denominations went, among those who shared were the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Congregational, AFM and a number of the more traditionally Afrikaans churches like the NGK, NHK and more.  Then both TEASA [The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa] and SACC [The South African Council of Churches] shared as well as representatives from the Muslim, Hindu and Jewish communities. There were a few foreign representatives from Germany, Holland and Americaland who also played a smaller role in the program as well as some special guests who were invited to be witnesses and then comment towards the end.

A TWO BY TWO BY ANY OTHER NAME…

As i said, it is hard to even give a summary of the event, but it was an incredible one to be a part of. I went to both days and the beautiful Val [tbV] accompanied me on the second day , which was great as she got to meet the Arch who is one of her heroes and get a picture taken with him. But Desmond Tutu’s presence was definitely a highlight to proceedings. From the moment he grabbed the mic, he invoked a sort of stand-up comedy routine but had the abaility toimmediately became significantly serious, often in a moment, when he needed to.

From his opening line of, “I think God is very clever sometimes'”which had everyone in stitches, to the poignantcy of,“Sometimes we do have a nostalgia for when it was simple and you knew who your enemies were”.

From the comedy of, “I don’t know how many of you watched Special Assignment on Sunday night? No? Probably because you don’t like SABC very much” to an absolute room-stopping moment of silence and recognition of the various tragedies taking place around the world, “Our God is standing there crying. (Lists places with conflict around world) Because His children are so terrible sometimes.” The Arch knew how to use silences and pauses to really allow the truth to hit home and for that truth to be allowed to impact you deeply.

And finishing off his opening address with the question and invitation of: Can we try to find a way to wipe the tears from His eyes?

From creating moments of outright mirth during the middle of serious testimonies as someone says something slightly funny or perhaps ironic and suddenly a loud high-pitched ‘Hee Hee Hee’ breaks the silence from the front row where he sat watching… to standing up to go and hug the Afrikaans pastor who has broken down in tears after sharing a hectic testimony on behalf of a church who refused to take part in the 1997 meetings and would only allow him to attend the meetings in his personal capacity… to bringing the meeting full circle by announcing towards the end, that as the man who has ‘a hotline to God’, “I can see God smiling through the tears.” Conveying a sense of absolute hope without reducing the significance of the  huge walls and immense work that still needs to be done.

And of course agreeing to pose with a yellow-and-white stuffed dolphin for this strange white dreadlocked guy who managed to corner him.

[To continue to some of the live tweets that i composed that give a glimpse into some of the ideas that were shared, click here]

 

Lachlan new 1

I’m a quadriplegic, not an inspiration

By Lachlan Nicholson

Fresh off of my twenty-fourth birthday and living with a condition known as spastic cerebral palsy, I consider most things in my life to be causes for joy and gratitude. After all, I have a full-time job, several good friends and though severe, my disability is not in any way degenerative.

However, one thing which has become a major annoyance, particularly since entering adulthood is constantly being labelled “courageous” or “inspirational”. Considering that I’ve been disabled from birth (brain-damage due to complications during labour), you might think I’d be used to it by now. The fact is that I’m not. You see, calling someone courageous tends to imply that they had a choice in their situation, like a fireman running into a burning building or a police officer taking a bullet to save a civilian.

Well, I hate to break it to you (no, not really) but had I actually been given the choice, I doubt very much that I would willingly have confined myself to a wheelchair for my entire sojourn on this little blue planet.

As for being an inspiration, people who say this to the disabled – usually with a quiver of sentimental reverence in their voices – are undeniably well-meaning, but none of them seem to realise the pressure such a statement carries.

If I were to attempt to live up to this classification, I would be unable to admit that there are days when I’m painfully reminded of my limitations and trust me, at times like those, my attitude is anything but “inspirational”.

This may seem stupidly obvious, but the most important thing to remember about people with disabilities is that even though some of us may look like human-vehicle hybrids, we are human and our personalities comprise far more than the challenges we face.

As a simple example, think about the following scenario; you head to a restaurant one night to enjoy a meal with some friends. Among those gathered is the new girlfriend of one of your mates. This is your first time meeting her; she’s smart, bubbly and attractive, except for a large, unsightly mole on her cheek. Now, unless you’re a complete social cave-dweller, it’s highly unlikely that the first words from your mouth would be, “Hey, nice to meet you. I’m really sorry about that awful thing on your face.”

So, what’s the point of this little rant? I guess it is my humble effort to remind anyone who happens to read it that disabled people are ordinary folks just trying to get by like our bipedal counterparts, perhaps just a little more slowly.

[To meet Uel Maree who had an unfortunate diving accident, click here]

[To return to the start of this series, click here]

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