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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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.

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.

Its not a sprint, but rather a marathon

“it’s not a sprint , but rather a marathon.”

Said a friend to me this morning, and the minute he said it, l knew l had to record these words, repeat them over and  over again, until they were embedded in my very soul.

It was a much needed reminder for each and every one of us as we go along this life. How cool would life be for all of us, if we kept this in mind. Many at times we are kept awake at night, troubled about our lagging progress, worried about how our counterparts seem to be progressing steadily in this race called life, but alas, remember it’s a marathon.

We all have different strengths, different abilities, different lanes and more often different start times. Hence it is important to keep our eyes on the finish line and neither look left nor right, for life is an individual race.

Comparison is a thief of joy! Never make the mistake of comparing yourself, for we are all not the same. We are all destined for different things and the sooner you realize that the better life will be for you.

As for me, l will continue to strive to be

  • patient, gentle and kind to myself
  • not compare myself
  • & be the best person l can be

#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.