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.
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The Lifestyle Choice of an immigrant

This week I am in Manchester, spending some much needed family time with my sister and  niece. Something happened though this afternoon and again i found myself perched in a corner zooming out and pondering on the topic that had been thrown at me.

The lifestyle choice of an immigrant.

We had driven down to visit this older Zimbabwean lady, who has lived and worked in England for years now. She has a great home, spacious, modern and tasteful and she was unapologetically Zimbabwean. From the minute we walked in, she spoke our Mother language in its original tone, no alterations whatsoever. She handled herself in an original manner, like a woman still at home. In a nutshell she has not allowed her geographical location to change her, she has adapted yes, but she is who she is. It got me thinking.

While l was still in awe of such strength to be unapologetically you, they started to talk about the behaviour of fellow immigrants who choose to isolate themselves from everything Zimbabwean and of how those individuals tend to fall prey to drug addiction, depression and all that mess which is considered a white people’s thing in our culture. Even though I don’t share the same sentiments, it got me thinking. It got me thinking of where I stand as a person.

So basically there is two lifestyle choice extremes for most immigrants and everything in between. You either get to a foreign land, adapt and integrate into the society and have your “white friends” ” white habits” and bury everything and anything that links you to your roots. I will call this extreme end one. At extreme end one you will find those individuals that take it to the deep end and are embarrassed and nauseated by being linked to their background in any way. And then there is the other extreme end, extreme end two, the one with immigrants who get to a foreign land but stick to their own, speak only their language, buy only from their shops and basically live in a foreign land as if they are still in their own country.

Both extremes have their positives and negatives, and I try not to judge either although I have my strong feelings towards both. I believe you should maintain a balance, be open-minded enough to adapt and integrate into your new environment but at the same time not lose your identity and uphold your roots. Or maybe that’s just a libra trait, always wanting to keep the balance.

Today though as they spoke, I wondered, so where do we draw the line. Where is the cut off point of the perfect lifestyle choice of an immigrant.

I perused through my immigrant chapters. During my time in South Africa, I never hid my identity but people always assumed I was a local, and this meant no control stops from the police for me. This even played in my favor as a safety net during the xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans at the time.  So yea i noticed i was mistaken for something i was not and i let it be because it played out in my favor. And i am also aware of the hate speech given to individuals who act this way by my people and at that time i was willing to take the punch.

Fast forward to Germany… I would love to believe the years of dating my German ex were viewed as leaning more towards extreme end one. But yet again for me, the person in the situation, all I noticed was me adjusting my lifestyle to the compromise levels of a relationship needed to make it work. Everything had to be neutral enough for both of us not to be exposed to any dominant extreme. And after the breakup when I reverted to my habits at no compromise level, my connections from end one believed i had flipped to extreme end two. So it’s all a matter of perspective really.

So even though what people say is not relevant, because you live for yourself and not for people. For me, the question still stands, where does the perfect point lie on this curve?

How much of a foreign culture can I incorporate before diluting my own culture?

Up to what level do I mix in my indigenous flair?

Where is the perfect equilibrium? lf only there was an equation for this.

I havent found the answer yet, but hopefully one day I will strike the balance.

Blogversary

Exactly a year ago from today l started my Blog and it has been quite a journey.

Why blog?
1. Paper listens. Paper is patient. Paper is dynamic. Paper offers an escape. Hence l always pen my heart out on here.

2. As the very opinionated petty individual that l am, who is always lost in thought, l figured l should let the world into a figment of my mind.

3. Talking to paper is quite therapeutic for me, and if you know me then you know how eventful my life always is. Hence time and again l need to detox.

4. If you have grumpy for a nickname, sharing your opinions will mostly be painted with that brush. Paper on the other hand doesn't stick labels on you.

5. There is just something about words.

How has it been?
When l started l imagined l would write a blog every week. Fast forward to a year later, this will be entry number twenty. I have so much l want to talk about but believe me you l have deleted so many drafts. It is not easy putting yourself and your emotions out there like that. l am not as brave as l thought l am. Maybe l should have gone with ghost mode, but yet again maybe this keeps me human.

How will it be?
We pen on.
There is such power in words and
am proud to be actively part of a generation involved in a dynamic art of writing.

Above all else it is all about the other blogs l come across on a daily basis. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world and day by day l discover just how vast and magnificent this world is through the eyes of other bloggers.

…we pen on!

Schwarz sein in Deutschland (Being Black in Germany: German Version)

Rasse ist ein sehr sensibles Thema, welches die Menschen oft  vorsichtig und verunsichert reagieren lässt. Aber dennoch müssen wir unbedingt darüber reden!

Ganz oft habe ich versucht, meine Gefühle zu diesem Thema zu äußern, aber die Angst vor kontroversen Reaktionen der Menschen hat mich meist zurückgehalten.

Aber heute, nachdem ich mich im Zug auf einen freien Sitzplatz schräg gegenüber einer älteren Dame hinsetzte, und Sie unmittelbar aufstand, um sich für den Rest der 40min Fahrt lieber zu den Fahrrädern hockte, wurde wieder mal etwas in mir berührt.

Einen Moment dachte ich, einfach weg zugehen. Dann überlegte ich Sie anzusprechen.

Hab ich Sie erschreckt?

Hab ich üblen Körpergeruch vom einen langenTag?

Mag Sie Ausländer nicht?

Oder vielleicht wollte Sie nur alleine Sitzen, warum auch immer.

Genau in diesem Moment, wusste ich, dass dieser Blog ist überfällig.

Schauen wir zurück in die Zeit wo ich mich entschieden habe nach Deutschland zu gehen. In meiner Heimat, verbindet man Deutschland unweigerlich mit der Nazi Geschichte. Umso erstaunter waren meine Mitmenschen über meinen Plan in dieses Land zu gehen.

Ganz ehrlich, mich hat diese Tatsache nicht davon abgehalten in Deutschland zu leben und tut es immer noch nicht. Von außen werden die Deutschen nach ihren ernsten Gesichtern und ihrer korrekten Arbeitsweise beurteilt. Sobald man Sie kennengelernt hat, sind Sie eigentlich auch ohne viel lächeln warmherzige Menschen.

Überall auf der Welt wird es immer  Rassismus, Vorurteile und Diskriminierung von Minderheiten geben, da es immer Fremdheit und Unverständnis geben wird.

Aber ich sehe auch, dass Rassismus gegenüber Farbigen hier in Deutschland anders ist als der Rassismus in Amerika, wo die Polizei uns mit Aufnahmen von Körper-Kameras oder Dashboard-Kameras ständig erschreckt und präsent ist. Hier in Deutschland  kommt mir Rassismus schleichend und unauffällig leiser entgegen.

Viele meiner deutschen Freunde sind ausdrücklich schockiert wenn ich so Etwas sage. Aber ich sag euch, egal ob Sie es glauben oder nicht, Rassismus ist überall.  Man muss erst diskriminiert werden, um es zu spüren und es zu verstehen:

Fahre im Bus oder  Zug und du wirst immer als Erste von der Polizei kontrolliert werden, egal wo du sitzt.

Erlebe eine Fahrkartenkontrolle und du wirst immer im Gesicht des Kontrolleurs die Erwartung sehen: Sie hat keine Fahrkarte.

Setz dich irgendwohin zu anderen Menschen und du wirst erleben wie Sie plötzlich aufstehen, dumme Äußerungen machen und durch ihre Körpersprache wie Beine kreuzen oder Rücken zuwenden deutlich machen, das du nicht willkommen bist.

Besuche ein angesehenes Geschäft und du kannst sicher sein plötzlich und ungefragt einen ständigen Begleiter aus dem Sicherheitsbereich neben dir zu haben.

Checke nach einer Reservierung in einem besseren Hotel ein, und du wirst mit ziemlicher Sicherheit wiederholt nach deiner tatsächlichen Identität gefragt werden.

Try it, try…. Try …..try….

Wir alle behandeln andere Menschen rassistisch- oft ohne es zu bemerken. Ich auch.

Mit dem was mir begegnet, habe ich meinen persönlichen Weg gefunden damit umzugehen. Ich versuche so unauffällig wie möglich aufzutreten und keine Aufmerksamkeit zu erregen. Trete ich aus dem Haus, nehme ich die Rolle einer Schauspielerin ein. Ich mache es Harry Potter nach, ziehe eine Decke über den Kopf und wandle unsichtbar wie ein Geist durch den Tag.

Deshalb ganz wichtig: mein Motto, wenn in Rom, tue wie die Römer.

Manchmal frage ich mich, ob der lautstarke Rassismus im Vergleich zu dieser subtilen stillen Art leichter zu ertragen ist. Aber das ist eine Frage für einen anderen Tag,  und einen anderen Blog,

Für Heute, soviel zu meinem Leben als Schwarze in Deutschland.

Being Grateful

My last week has been one of those filled with moments that allowed me to slow down, ponder for a bit and put things into perspective.

Gosh we have to be grateful!

So it all started as l was taking a walk down by the Dublin canal. Being the hopeless romantic that l am, l am a sucker for such tranquil moments. And it was during such a moment as l basked on a bench, coffee in one hand, watching the people go about their busines, that l had a serious flashback.

Suddenly l was in my room, in our four roomed house in Nkulumane, a location in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Perched on my bed with my diary in one hand and a book l had just finished reading next to me on the bed. l cant remember which one as such because l read anything and everything l could get my hands on back then, lf only my diary had survived l would have checked my read list. But thats a story for another day.

Anyway l suddenly remembered how at that point, studying abroad, going for adventures in different countries, having the luxury to sit on a bench and watch people or read a book, cycling through a forest, going for jogs, participating in color runs or marathons, indulging in healthy diets, having my own unshared space, etc. The list is endless. All these things used to be but just a dream at some point in my life. They used to be things l desired and which l wished to grow into.
Fast forward to ten fifteen years later, and here l am. l have all of that and more. But why then am l so miserable. Complaining about the weather, no sleep, the food, being overworked, etc. Like really though. 

I think at times, we as humans are responsible for our misery with our unending hunger. It is wonderful to aim higher, It is important to tap into ones potential until we have exhausted our limits, but let us not let that keep us from being grateful. 

Because each time we achieve a step, our eyes automatically look higher and we begin yet again to ascend to that which we have seen beyond. But let it not keep us from being grateful for what we have achieved. 

l choose to be grateful, yes l am only human l will always complain, but looking down the road l have come. l should take several seats, stop making much ado about nothing, let go and let God.

#Thosehands

l do not know how to talk about this without coming off as arrogant and highly opinionated. But then again this is me and l cannot hold silence anymore.

The issue at hand is of the hands of my fellow Africans, specifically those from this one particular country in the West. *Big sigh

I need answers guys. Those hands speak volumes. What are they subjected to that hardens their hands to that extent? Maybe let me put a little disclaimer upfront for my sensitive folk, ´not all of them okay, just a few individuals here and there´.

Its as if they are made to grow up digging graves with their bare hands l swear.

Growing up in Zimbabwe, l did a lot of manual work too, and l definitely knew the contrast between my hands and those of a higher class child who did not do much work. I also knew my place in comparison to that village child who had to labor from sunrise to sunset. But alas, these hands are on another level.

Most at times l will be in the train minding my own business when my fellow brother or sister from another mother takes a sit across me, and believe me not, those hands are always the first thing l notice. Sometimes, they are so dry l almost want to reach for my hand-cream and offer it to them, but then again the thought of being embarrassed or put in my place as a miss too goody two shoes restrains me. On one particular day it happened when l was with my friend, and astonishingly enough when we left the tram,the first words we exchanged were, “did you see those hands?”

Gosh l need answers, somebody, anybody, please!!!

What is the story behind?

l need answers.

Life as a Coffeeholic

Hello, my name is Cleo and l am a coffeeholic.

Caffeine completes me l swear.

Today l experienced that Aha moment, not that l did not know this already, but today was just special.

Being a lover of my own company l spent half of the day in bed with my kindle. I only stood up once for a cup of tea and a sandwich. Around five however, l suddenly remembered the shops were about to close and l still needed extensions fr my hair. So in the shower l hopped, slipped on my comfy leggings a blouse and my all-weather sweater.

PS* you need one believe me if you live under the German weather. Mine is an olive-green, neutral all-rounder color, suitable for all seasons. Light enough fr me to cope when its warm and warm enough for when the going gets cold.

Anyway, back to my coffee moment.

l made it to the city in thirty minutes max, got the extensions and fell victim as always to the Zara and H&M sale signs. Having spent a few bucks on some skinny jeans, one can never have enough of those now can they, l was ready to hit home.

It was at this moment that l spotted Backwerk across the street and remembered l had not had my coffee cut for the day. The minutes which then followed were bliss l swear.

Coffee in one hand, wind blowing through my hair, sun on my face. Gosh life has never been so perfect as that moment. Suddenly l swapped my resting bitch face with a big bright smile.  A spring came to my step and l was so happy.

This is the exact feeling l get when l sit at Starbucks, and take a sip on my coffee. Occasionally my eyes will close and l just linger on that high. l don’t mind the price, l am willing to fork out all my hard-earned cash for that Starbucks moment, and indeed l do.

Same feeling l get from that first cup at the train station while waiting for my connection. The world immediately goes still l swear, and for those few minutes l am at my happiest.

I don’t care if it is insane, l dont care if it is an addiction that has me licking out of the palms of its hands. I just know that l love my coffee.

When it hits close to home

It is now way after midday, but l am still in bed trying to find the strength to get up and face the day. It has been a rough night. Between my insomnia, upcoming exams and horrendous events of yesterday, l am totally drained.

  1. Yesterday night, a man randomly attacked people with an axe at Düsseldorf central station. Am always there, always. It is by the grace of God that my friends and l were not there yesterday.
  2. The 19-year-old who killed a 9 yr old on Monday evening, by stabbing him 40 times, finally apprehended himself to the police yesterday after having killed another 2 victims. The audio tape he released on the Darknet after killing the boy was on Facebook yesterday, and my gut went cold listening to it.

When it hits close to home, you cant help but ponder. It is different when you watch it on the news, when it happens on your turf, on the streets you know so well, on the platforms you walk on day in day out, it suddenly becomes real.

It is a crazy world we live in, it scares the s*** out of me when l think of the people you rub shoulders with on a daily basis out there. They could be anything. They could be the next victim me included.

Nonetheless the sun will always rise.

So, when it hits close to home, take cover, recoup, re- strategize and go after life twice as hard. For you cannot let them win.

Good will always triumph over evil.

 

 

 

Cries of a Daughter 

My dear African family, just because l am in the diaspora does not mean my life is the yellow of an egg, in fact if l knew what l know now, l would have chosen to pursue my life goals in Bulawayo, a place called home, surrounded by family and friends.
Stop judging my life through the lens of my profile picture, it is but just a picture, taken from the best angle possible with the best lighting possible brushed off with the best filter possible to give the best illusion possible. Did l mention the makeup? Or how about the fake smile or pout l quickly erase as soon as the camera is out of focus.
Lets talk about finance. Just because l currently live in an economically sound country does not necessarily mean that my finances are in order. As a matter of fact l have to work twice as hard to have half of what my peers have. So stop sending the money requests because quite frankly between my bills and l, l have none.
Dear family, when was the last time you genuinely inquired on my being? I can now sing our telephone conversation like a bad jingle, because they are always the same, always. The usual how am l question which l can hardly finish answering before you have fired your next questions. The when am l finally finishing Uni question, or the most loved am l now working alternative. And last but not least, the when are you coming home question which is usually followed up by your amazingly expensive wish list. For starters l do not work at the Santa factory, and if l ever do get employed in the North pole rest assured l will hand deliver your wish list to Santa personally, how about that?
How about a genuine how am l question for once? How about a simple conversation for once with you indulging me in the details of your new finger licking recipe, sharing details on that new dance sending the youngsters on a frenzy, why don´t you tell me about that plan of yours? About that upcoming trip of yours?
Where is the love?
Where is the care?
Where is the Compassion?
Nonetheless, when it’s all said and done, we are still family, l will always love you dearly and put your first.