Josiane

Josiane is the name of the african girl l met at the train station the yesterday.

We had arrived in the same train it seems and had both got off to change to our next connection. The only difference being l knew my route, was on familiar territory and going about my usual business. she on the other hand was living another episode of her journey to Europe as a refugee.

I am still ashamed of the attitude l displayed in the first 10 minutes of our encounter. See i had not reckoned with the fact she might be a refugee in transit. To me she was just another young african lady going about her business. She had a decent hairstyle, decent dress and a heavy winter jacket, nothing out of the ordinary at a first glimpse.

I caught her eye as l was getting off the train and i gave her my don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, let me be- face, which l usually wear on my way back home from work.

A few seconds later l felt some eyes on me, you know like how your body automatically alerts you if somebody is staring at you. Looking up, i caught her stare and this time even more annoyed i gave her my just because am black doesn’t mean i know you or have to converse with you face. Sad l know, i wasn’t like this when i first moved to Germany. But somehow those ridiculously annoying encounters with my “so called” african brothers who always used that as an excuse to talk to me left their mark.

Anyway, my look did nothing to defer Josiane. To her at that moment l represented hope. She saw in me a similarity, our skin color and for her it was enough to seek my help out. And so even as i muttered underneath my breath, please don’t approach me- she walked hastily over.
Her first words, “French?” only added salt to the injury. I was through the ceiling with anger, “of course, just because am black means l can speak French” l thought.

With a blank stare l said “No, only Ndebele, Shona, English and German.” I thought this was enough for her to leave me to myself and me time. My train rides are reserved for this with priority level one. So yea i was almost exploding.
Just as l was backing away from her, she shoved a bunch of papers into my hands. With such irritation i looked at them, the first two where a connection to some Kamen village, which i had never even heard of before yesterday. She still had two changes ahead of her. I calmed down and explained to her, showed her the platforms and advised her to use time as her guide for her changes. Her last stop, an applied university brought back the friendly me to life. And l warmed up thinking she is here to study. Seconds later the thought made no sense because i asked myself but how will she study here if she speaks no German or English. And so i asked her where she was going. She responded but of course l understood nothing.

So l took out my phone, went to google translate and phrased my question. At this point i would like to give Google a bow, though your app sometimes translates out of the context things, yesterday it saved a life. Josiane and l communicated for the next 2 hours via this app, and am grateful to the mastermind behind.

A few translations later and a shuffle through the pile of papers on my hands. I established that Josiane is from Gabon. She flew to Turkey and from there proceeded to France with a boat and was transferred to Germany from there. She just completed one of these journeys l have been seeing on TV.

One of the papers she had said she has applied for Asylum in Germany and must report at the given address before 20 September. The police had printed this connection for her, bought her a train ticket and put her in the train. Quite a difficult challenge if you ask me, when in her position. No phone, no watch, no language, just some papers in a language you don’t understand and a trip with 3 changes plus a walk to your final address. I couldn’t believe it.

My mind raced to my time as an aupair, where l myself struggled for months. I was going to take here there. It meant another 4 hours for me before i get home but how else was i supposed to let somebody go off just like that. Long story short we made it and l left her there and it was but just another reminder for me that my Life is good. I have nothing to complain about.

Later as l lay in bed, l despised myself for my anti social behaviors, i could have really messed up today.

I pray for the strength to stay humble and be a little more kind, you can never tell a book by its cover and by that l mean i must not judge people at first sight because just like Josiane they maybe in need.

She sent me a french text today and l caught myself rolling my eyes…
I do wish to be kind but so help me God.

Looks like l still have a long way to go.

Facebook the Toxicbook

Two years ago from today l started my blog, and to celebrate it might as well let the ink run. Especially today were l woke up waked up by Facebook!!!Facebook the Toxicbook!!!

A few days ago as l was going down my timeline, l came across a video of soldiers executing two women and their kids. The other must have been four or so, and the other was on the mothers back and still looking around curiously when the endless tirade of bullets hit them. For quite some time l lay paralyzed in bed, I was totally taken aback and shocked. Nothing had prepared me for that inhumane act of violence.

Several days pass but finally my scrolling addiction takes its toll on me and l find myself back on Facebook. This time around a friend had shared a video and it popped on my timeline. Unsuspecting l tapped on the uncover video button, mostly it is nudity or strong language that lays behind. Nothing that my 28-year-old self can’t take, but lo and behold, that day it was a woman beating her two infants almost to the point of death because the husband had left her. Even though l immediately closed the page, it stung straight to my heart and the eyes and screams of that child stuck in my head. I even had nightmares that night.

Now, maybe some of you are unphased by violence but does anyone else realise the nasty turn Facebook has taken. Where are the silly innocent honest status updates?  Facebook was a place where l could keep in touch with my extended circle of friends and family. Then the endless features came, some desirable than others, then the manipulation and addiction came, then the marketeers took over, and now Facebook is just this world, almost like a departmental store where you can find anything and everything.

A few days ago I came so close to deleting my account but a few things stopped me, mainly

  • Our Next Step Page: a movement we started to make information accessible, inspire, advise and mentor. That vision is bigger than me, hence l cannot exit the Toxicbook.
  • Free Marketing Tool: toxic as it may, Facebook is still the fastest free way of sharing information and reaching many people simultaneously. Being a creative myself l cannot deny myself of this necessity.

Other than that l am so over Facebook. It is has become so toxic and one has to be very careful about what content they expose themselves to. Two weeks later l am still fighting the trauma of those posts.

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Netflix and Learn

Have you all noticed how Netflix is not only Netflix and chill but Netflix and Learn.

So whenever l watch something on Netflix, my phone is always in my hand and l am googling away. A few examples of shows l have watched while researching more are, The Crown, Unsolved, Making a Murderer, My Next Guest is.

l for sure know that with The Crown l was not the only one, Wikipedia reported an influx of people looking up the Queens and her husbands page. And when l saw that, l was like yup, am one of those.

Are you all part of the Netflix learners? l sure wont be stopping anytime soon because it makes me feel less guilty about time wasted watching tv.

Who were you before they broke you?

Like most of you, l have my routines, and my morning ones which l have even come to term rituals play an important role as to how my day will shape up. Hence l always try to start the day on a positive note.

Reading is part of my transit ritual, but l only pick up my kindle once l am in the train. My 10 minute bus ride is dedicated to you alls status updates, mainly WhatsApp Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook is now so ancient to me and only comes as a last resort if l still have to time to kill.

So yesterday one of my friends had a status that caught my attention. l mean its always the usual verse of the day, quotes, memes, your smiling faces etc. l always race through them at lighting speed. l don’t even understand how l do it, its like an automated scroll tap tap tap process, l am quite detached from it but my brain absorbs the information. Nevertheless once in a while l pause,,,, the deep stuff holds my attention.

And so it was yesterday when l read that first line,…

who were you before they broke you?

l didn’t even bother with the rest of the text she had written, but that line alone was enough for me to stow my phone away, pick up my shovel and dig away into the archives and boy oh boy, was that a question.

who was l before they broke me?

…who was l before they broke me? You know what l cant even tell you guys anymore at this moment, because the person l am now wont allow it.

But this has stuck with me all night and l find myself taking steps to find that girl again, for l can not allow it.

So you all think about it will you.

How pilots (I to be precise) behave as passengers.

I thought this was a very insightful piece and l would share because the curious George in me is always asking these questions.

AviaConnect - cleared for takeoff

Ever noticed how hard and at times irritating it is driving a car with a driver on the passenger seat. It literary takes you back to driving school or gives you that feeling that you are not driving your own car lol.

Fortunately its a different experience in aeroplanes as a pilot who is flying as a passenger is always tucked away in the passenger cabin, not in the cockpit in full view of the flight crew. This however does not stop pilots exhibiting some interesting or maybe rather annoying behavior at times. Pilots fly as passengers for various reasons such as going on holiday, positioning flight or home flight after their shift.

pilot repo Image – Pilots journals

I have to admit I was pretty bad at the beginning as well. I remember after just completing my training for my private pilot licence, whenever I flew as a passenger I just…

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Are Zimbabwean School policies counter productive?

I had a conversation with my mother yesterday in which l was left speechless. Apparently a cousin of mine who just wrote her O’ levels in December is unable to collect her results as the school said she lost books, and she must first replace them before she can get her results.

This is nothing new to me, l grew up with those policies as well. Policies whereby we were sent home if we had not yet paid our fees. Results and certificates were withheld until we had cleared our arrears.

But for the first time yesterday, maybe hearing it from a different timezone, culture and mindset gave me a different perspective, and l thought l will share my thoughts with you all.

Are these school policies in an economically dilapidated country like Zimbabwe where most families are even struggling to put their next meal on the table, reasonable or counterproductive?

So l had made plans for my cousin to move to the city for her A’ levels, as she is quite gifted academically. But guess what the process of finding a place for her and initiating her studies is now being delayed.

She will be lucky because l will pull hook line and sinker to make sure l motivate her to still continue her studies, but what of the other kids?

Yes l understand that the schools hardly have enough resources and have to take desperate measures to maintain them, but is this the best way to do it?

Can we not come up with better ideas? The textbook struggle, why can we not invest in E-books and make print outs?

The fees situation, we cannot continue to deprive children their basic right to education. We cannot blame their parents and guardians for not being able to provide.

We need better solutions!

This act of sending kids home because they do not have the correct uniform must stop!

This is our future generation, and instead of us equipping them with knowledge to run the future, we are pulling them back.

The Zimbabwean government and Ministry of Education needs to realize that our current situation is not the yellow of an egg and do away with these self inflicted stumbling blocks.

We need better solutions!!!

Today for a minute or two l doubted myself and l must admit it was not a lovely feeling.

So l found myself in the train with an old classmate. Just as you would expect, the prospect of catching up on each others lives since we last saw each other, in our 6th semester that is, had been an exciting one for me, but boy or boy five minutes into it, l was in a solemn state and putting up a happy act as my mind raced a thousand directions.

All it took was one simple question for the wind to leave beneath my wings. But why are you still here? they had asked. Why are you still here, everybody is gone, everybody is working now and they have their lives.

l reached for straws and mumbled some explanation . They didn’t sound convinced and as desperate as l was to be understood l went on and on trying to paint myself in a positive light, which only made me sound more ridiculous of course and it didn’t cut it. So we moved onto other things. An inquiry thereafter into an incomplete project of mine hardly did any good too. We survived the rest of the hour by turning our attention to some sociopolitical issues, but the arrow had hit.

I walked out of that train feeling like crap, and had to give myself some major prep talk before the colleagues arrived. Luckily for me, work came to the rescue . By lunch time l had recollected my emotions a bit and  thrown a casual question at my boss about the foolish path l chose for my life and career. He of course gave me the are you crazy look and patiently explained how people go down different paths in life.

l have since recovered a bit, but today l have learnt how doubt can utterly put you off-course. As sensitive as l am, chances are if l had withstood this little encounter on my way back home l would have spent the whole of this week brooding and adrift. l am still feeling a bit skeptical but l am learning to accept such hard reality slap moments, and remember that doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

And with this in mind, l will hold onto Benjamin Franklin’s words untill the light shines,

When in doubt, don’t!

 

“When in Doubt, dont.” Benjamin Franklin

Hypocrisy- a look in the mirror!

Hallo all,

its been a while l know. Well I have been struggling with penning stuff out lately, not that l didn’t have anything to say but just because l could not find the right words to say it. See writing for me comes naturally. On days like these, the words just tumble out and l type like a woman  possessed and in some kind of typing frenzy. Anyway enough of that, let’s get to the matter at hand. Today l want to talk about Hypocrisy, my hypocrisy to be exact.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, Hypocrisy is

 situation in which someone pretends to believe something that they do not really believe, or that is the opposite of what they do or say at another time:

There’s one rule for her and another rule for everyone else and it’s sheer hypocrisy.

 

As the new year begins, l like everybody else am trying to be a better version of myself. Built on the positives from 2017 and equally so, correct myself and learn from the negatives. So in the pursuit of that, l caught myself being a hypocrite on the following points. And l have decided to share these with you as l stare at this young woman in the mirror, hopefully it will be enlightening.

Perhaps a side note before we jump in, luckily for me l have a key trait which allows me to pinpoint my hypocrisy moments, and that is eye rolling. Oh honey l am the queen of eye rolling, it is so bad that l now actually do it even without noticing. It is now a normal reflex in the life of Cleo. I do it all the time, either out of boredom, sarcasm, irritation, ridicule, exasperation etc. In fact it is so bad such that my friends even joke about how one day my eyes will not roll back and l have this recurring nightmare where my eyeballs are just white.

So back to the matter at hand, l took time to analyse the moments when l do the eye roll, and l am so disappointed in myself because l found out that most of the times when l do it l am being a hypocrite. So here we go,

  1. Social media– oh this is a big one. Dear Cleo why do you find yourself rolling your eyes as you scroll down your timeline or people´s stories? Are you under duress to follow those individuals? Do you not post the same nonsensical coffee/ exercise/ Party videos showing what such a good time/life you have, although 99.9 % of the time you are just on the break even mark? I hate to admit it but yea l am the biggest hypocrite when it comes to this. Sad part is l am a social media addict, and l cant seem to separate myself from that very monster l despise at times. l don’t know how many times l have deactivated my account only to log myself in back a few minutes after, or have deleted an app only to download it again within the same day. Social Media Anynonymous, where are you? l need you brav.
  2. The 2018 Friendships Resolutions- oh boy another big one, lets tread now carefully shall we. About 80% of my contacts had a status that had to do with cutting off bad friends and negative vibes in 2018… and lo behold l just rolled my way through all your updates and even skipped some of them the moment l saw the word friend because it is such and old song. But, dear Cleo just because you renounced your freedom to openly declare your 2018 resolutions, simply out fear of failing to meet the sound of your trumpet, which you would have blown so loud as in prior years, does not mean you now get to judge others and the way they choose to express themselves. The friend song is a very old one you all, and try as we may, friendships and life are very complicated. So yea maybe let’s try and be more honest  and upfront with each other and break the cycle of always having friend drama.

l think l will stop here for today, its getting uglier in there, and want as l might to dive in deeper, if there is anything that l have learnt in 2017, it is to never use your podium to talk about things which may destroy rather than build. More often as we sit behind the keyboard, we so clearly see the wrongs of others or injustices that are being done to us and we forget to turn the magnifying glass on ourselves. We destroy with our words, rather than build. Hurt rather than heal.

Hence in a spirit of kindness, dear Cleo there is no one rule that applies to yourself and another one for everybody else. And with that, have a good year everybody!!! Stay true to yourselves and just get started with whatever it is your heart desires.

And as my former president would say,  Asante Sane!!!

 

 

 

 

Radical preaching made me burn my Diary- cry my beloved diary.

“Burn them! Bring them down to ashes and set yourselves free!” he said.

A melachonly mood fell upon me today, and for a second l was imprisoned in the past and felt sad.

A thought had come across my mind, and l struggled to piece together the puzzle of that memory. And then l remembered how l had meticulously written down all the details in my diary, a diary l had owned from the time l was eight right until eighteen or so.

See ever since l was child, the art of writing has always captivated me and l carefully recorded all the major events, believing l would one day draw accurate details from these transcripts for conversations or whatever need may be.

And today as my human mind failed me, l missed my diary and regretted my foolish decision to burn it.

See it was after one Sunday morning when the pastor had taken to the pulpit and talked about how we hold on to pain. How we pen down our sufferings and reflect on them day to day thereby setting ourselves back. Well he had a point, it is not good to hold on to pain… but maybe you might have used a different example Pastor.

“Burn them he said,bring them down to ashes and set yourselves free!”

Having taken a survey by asking those of us who had diaries to raise their hands, the main message that day became our diaries. An alter call commenced and those who had their diaries in their Handbags obediently surrendered them over to the Pastor to be destroyed.

l was one of the few who had theirs at home, but honey l raced home after service, and went straight to that drawer like a woman possessed and put my baby in flames.

How sad. Oh how my heart bleeds for the younger me. Ten years of my well detailed life went up in flames that day. It had everything from birthdays, funerals, first day at school, pets, holidays and so on. Things which now only remain on the circumference of my mind but can never be vividly remembered again.

Ok l will stop now, for my heart is getting heavier with every word l say about this. Nonetheless l will leave you with this,

Africa will surely perish from these radical preachers with falsehoods. Extreme Religion will destroy us.

Cry my beloved Diary.

Things we do for society

I had a work meeting across the border the other day, in the beautiful Netherlands city of Arnhem. On our way back, l decided to  take the train instead and let my boss drive back alone, seeing it was a more direct route to my house.

Unfortunately for me, Murphy´s Law is constantly at play. If anything can go wrong, it will. So there l was waiting for my 18:29 departure, when they suddenly informed us that a goods train had broken down on the rails and no trains could travel to Germany at that moment. The next train would depart at 19:29.

Two hours later we were still stuck in Arnhem Central Station with no other possibility to cross over the border. Finally at around 21:30 they arranged for a bus to take us to the Emmerich city of Germany and from there we could then proceed with the train.

It was at this point that my evening gained momentum and 5 hours later l would still be baffled and confused about society and its norms. A fellow passenger and l struck conversation as we headed out to the bus, giggling on how we both were calm while all around us others were losing their heads in anger. We both saw no point in agitating ourselves really for it was not anybody´s fault nor did we have any other choice but to wait. An alternative route would have meant another four hours of travelling.

By the time we reached the front entrance, another middle-aged man had joined us and we amused ourselves with his statistics of how often this had happened and how accurate the reason given to us was, seeing he was a regular traveler on this route and apparently had worked for a train company before. Our trio soon grew to five, and we  soon set sail through the conversation seas tackling everything and nothing and even my former President and future prospects of Zimbabwe.

Anyway, the bus finally arrived and we hopped on, and of course the friendly man sat next to me with the remark,

Na ja, wir haben uns ja sehr nett Unterhalten, darf ich…?”  (we just had a lovely conversation, may l?)

to which l offered the seat next to me with a smile !!! Little did l know.

The bus had hardly driven off and he had already picked up from where we left.  Soon enough he was on about how the bus was taking a longer route to the highway and how we would not make our connecting train, before l could respond he was on to the history of this lovely city filling me in on all the pre war and post war details, before l could respond he had switched on to NRW German region and how it is badly governed, before l could respond…

This was just the first five minutes.

When we hit the highway, my fellow passenger switched on to full mode and this time around he was unstoppable l tell you. We were now on his court case, and fervently he narrated the events of how he and his friend had started a project and and and… I tried to be attentive at first and follow the story, but gradually my occasional grunts were replaced with nods and eventually nothing. His voice soared above the still night sky and above the hum of the engine. His tone was so emotional like one possessed. He talked and talked and talked, now even oblivious of the people around him and indeed forgetting his bearings.

The over-the-shoulder stares started to attack us from all angles, but oh dear l was now slurped in my seat, totally drained of all energy and l could not even. Throats were cleared, false coughs initiated, the usual grumbled grunts, but my fellow passenger was already in the Cloud. Only Siri could get to him now. My head was spinning, the bus was full and l weighed my options, to speak out or not to? And l found myself having this conversation with myself while fellow P provided the background soundtrack.

It was okay for me to speak out and tell him l was tired right? But the way fellow P was going on, l began to envision him being one of those cat man, just glad to have an audience for once. I could hurt his feelings? Maybe he was sick? Something was definitely not okay because we all can read situations, body language etc. How would he respond? aggressively? In the end l decided to let him be and l endured the forty-five minute ride. At some point a woman called him out and fellow P just acknowledged the disturbance and rumbled on immediately after as if nothing had been said. When l stepped off that train, one lady gave me a pat and said “ du hast was gutes getan!” ( you did some good). But did l really? Did l have to put myself through that?

Recently l have noticed l am beginning to struggle with communication. In the times gone by l have always prided myself in my ability to be blunt and call a spade a spade. But experience has continuously shown me that people say they love a straight talker but in reality nobody likes being on the receiving end and as l have learned the hard way it hurts people’s feelings.

What troubles me the most is, what then is the perfect recipe? l have done trial and error and unfortunately messed up some of the most important relations l had with people l care for very much in the process. l lost someone who mattered to me only because l went with the bottling approach and instead of the situation improving the lava seeped out disguised as anger and bitter sarcasm. Before that l tried the honesty approach but rather than resolve the conflict it set up a wall instead. For years l went with the being me approach, but the history books between mother and l can tell you that didn’t work out smoothly as either.

so how then does this communication thing with society work?

Lord 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Psalm 121.

I am Ndebele first

l am Ndebele first.
Regardless of how far l may evolve, l am and always will be Ndebele first.
A lot has happened in the last few months, but still l kept my pen capped. But now that things have slowed down a bit l would love to share some of the lessons l have been picking up as l go about life. And as l always say l get better at life with each passing day.
My trip to the motherland has of course been the highlight of my year where everything came full circle. I emerged from the Ndebele kraal equipped by the Oracle with wisdom and understanding, l touched ground, became one with the earth and was able to see beyond. Are you dizzy yet? Okay let me stop with the jargon and get on with the business of the day.
In as much as l am tempted to start with the good bits, l will take it slow. Let me pick up from where l left with the reality slap then ease my way through because quite frankly the things l picked up while home are so deep and l feel they can not be gulped down in one big chunk.
So for today l will start with the basics. I have been reminded that l am Ndebele first, before anything else. Though l understand that the time l have spent in Europe would have begun to fade that. I mean you begin to eat healthy,  start to have your routines and be that modern young woman you have always aspired to be. But just like in a steamy hot shower when your image begins to fade behind the mirror, behind the mist, you stand unaltered.
l guess what l am trying to say here is no matter how you much you have evolved, the principles you apply in life are still the basic principles that were instilled within you as a child. And for me those are the Ndebele ones, they are drilled so deep even into my subconscious.
Once l understood this everything began to make sense. I began to understand all my inter cultural relations and the way l resolve conflicts. l began to understand why l communicate the way l do and why l treat people the way l do. l could go on and on, but the essence of the matter is know who you are and how you were raised.
It essentially governs what type of human you are.