I could write a long and lenghty appraisal of the Programme or you can just click here and listen to me talking about it! I will definitely be talking and writing more about the Programme.
French-Canadian singer, Madeline Peyroux sings:
“sticks and stones
may break my bones,
but tears don’t leave any scars
so i’m alright”
these lyrics almost have me flipping to ‘Survivor’ by Destiny’s Child.
And I can’t help but think that
being a survivor
is truly overrated,
if you ask me(i know you didn’t but still, i’m sharing that anyway).
it’s a vain attempt to show the world our supposed strength.
that i-can-beat-anything, false bravado.
what does it even mean to survive?
who determines the degree of resilience?
heck, i’ve been through somethings
and most of the time, i like to fool myself into believing that i have successfully
survived those trying times.
how do i explain to myself
those moments when i simply cannot get up in the morning?
those moments when i simply do not have the strength to enjoy the sunshine?
does that mean i’m not surviving?
is that a sign of weakness?
when your body is so consumed with this mind-pain that is unbearably huge and seems insurmountable..
so really, what does being a survivor mean?
is there a badge one gets to show the world that i have “survived”?
i may walk with my head held high
and laugh with the world
does that mean i have survived?
i’ve never been a victim of sexual abuse as a child, or physical abuse by a partner or any of those things that get people gasping, speechless, fumbling for words of sympathy.
does this make my plight any less heavier?
well i believe it is completely acceptable to concede defeat along the way.
it’s alright to completely miss the mark some times, at the very least it makes life’s twist and turns seem interesting (laughable,almost)..
“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” Tennessee Williams
how we perceive or understand what we read is mostly subjective, right? it follows then that how we write is also subjective. some of us look for good grammar as a yardstick for good writing. others look for phrasing. others look at syntax. others just look for something. and we draw assumptions about the writer based on these filters. preconceived, learnt behaviours we might not even realise we have.
but what really makes good writing?
briefly, here are the basic characteristics of good, effective writing:
- Good writing has a clearly defined purpose.
- It makes a definite point.
- It supports that point with specific information.
- The information is clearly connected and arranged.
- The words are appropriate, and the sentences are concise, emphatic, and correct.
Mike Consol captures this so aptly in his article: Kill the Euphemisms
many companies are recognising that it is essential to invest in good copy, read about How Facebook had to go beyond robospeak
so you can imagine my excitement when i saw a poster for a freedom day concert at the City Hall (Cape Town).. the City Hall is an impressive building, for sure… but what really excited me was that Paul Hanmer and McCoy Mrubata… Had no clue who Amaryoni were… the Moreira Project – somewhat an enigma for me, whenever I’ve been to a festival and Moreira is on the bill, I’ve somehow never managed to see them…
the thought of attending a City Hall Sessions brought memories of the last time I was there, in another wing of the City Hall building… watching Zim Ngqawana playing with Kyle Shepherd – probably his ‘farewell’ performance in Cape Town… a very special performance indeed.. This reminiscing mingled with memories of when I performed as part of an annual my high school used to put on at the City Hall…
i digress, so it’s with all these mixed thoughts that I arrived at the City Hall on Freedom Day…
pondering the fact that it is rather somewhat significant that Hanmer and Mrubata are able to perform in the City Hall on Freedom Day, considering that there was a time when they couldn’t share a stage because of the colour of their skins… never mind the fact that Crawford and Gugulethu are barely a stone throw away from each other… their heartwarming and energetic track, Johannesburg Mountains, a tribute to their working home, Johannesburg. Feya Faku on trumpet was a surprise!
speaking of surprises, Moreira Chonguica, was certainly a surprise… his lyrical saxophone, definitely something that stayed with him long after i’d left the City Hall… his crazy drummer, you had to be there!
of course, every struggle, victory, moments of peace, moments of discord, moments of protest are usually remembered according to the music of that time, Amaryoni, brought back that spirit and filled the Hall with their a cappella sound of songs freedom, of reflection, of remembering, of not forgetting… I was touched… transported to a time when as a little girl, a neighbour and his friends would entertain with renditions of freedom songs (at the time, I had no idea what significance these songs held except that the melodies and harmonies filled the space beautifully)…
so a few years ago, i discovered that moments of inspiration can be fleeting. and that relying on memory to recollect them, is like trying to re-imagine dreams. impossible. at least with dreams, some come back to visit as deja-vu..
i decided to accept the fact that a notebook is a must. i can’t quite recall how many i have gone through. how many are filled with ideas. words. other people’s stuff. flyers, i pick up at events. at people’s offices. at interesting places. etc. etc. often, i make an appointment with myself. open a notebook, write that day’s date. try to write the things that are swirling in my head. a mix of words to be picked up later. a to-do list (almost always!).
what i have noticed lately is that, as per normal, i always have a notebook in my handbag. a great feat for me – i struggle with consistency. however, my biggest bug bear now, is that i am often scared to open my notebook and follow up on words i have written down, ideas that i have sketched roughly, instead it is bulging with bits of paper.
of course this has me wondering why… i can only guess that maybe, i am somehow afraid. afraid to bring most of these ideas to life. scared of the commitment they will require in order for them to come alive. scared of how much i have to give of me in order to give birth to them.
disclaimer: when i initially drafted this post (many weeks ago – writer’s procrastination had me bad that month). now there have been way too many incidents of violence against women, way too many names to remember… however, the words of this poem still echo how i felt a few years ago when i wrote this poem.
the recent uproar (of very minor proportions) about the 2013 AFCON’s statement on women and witching and not being allowed to sit in certain spots in stadiums, reminded me of a poem i wrote many moons ago.
now, this poem was meant for a women’s issue of a poetry anthology on rape. yes, rape, i know… it reminded me of rape because like rape, such statements, speak of far deeper societal problems. the idea of being violated and being told what to do, how to behave, what to wear, what NOT to wear, when to speak, when to sit down…the list goes on and on… does all of this change me? who i am? what i can be?
Of every newspaper article or news clip
I felt my essence as they were mutilating my beautiful body,
Stretching my oven of hope
A passage only the one I love is supposed to possess
Why, my brother, so much anger against your own
Look me straight in the eye so you can see the damage your raging loins are making you do
My soul weeps for my robbed innocence, violence in pursuit of my soul
Antiretrovirals, emergency pills – precautions only after
My bones and skin still ache where they groped
Skirt soiled with your useless seed
What a shame.
Incestuous invasions by father on daughter
Mama where were you
Did I not cry loud enough?
Give me a drug of forgetfulness, of forgiveness
Oh, Jehovah help their empty souls
My heart safely tucked beneath my ribcage,
Far out of their violent reach
They can only scratch the surface of my soul
But they’ll never own it