A letter to God – Feelings

Dear God,

To acknowledge your feelings hurts. When they hit you, you can’t do anything about it, even the things you did in the past to numb the pain you are feeling are not helping at all. 

This is what I am going through right now.

The counsellor likes to say “What I am about to say is going to sound bad but I am glad you are going through this.”

I would sit there and ask myself what is good about feeling this way?

She would continue “All I want you to do is to feel and to stop trying to avoid  your feelings”

My other question is, what do I do after I acknowledge my feelings?

What is the next step to take?

I think that is bothering me more than anything else. I cannot see myself going through this again and not knowing where to go from here.

1. What are the triggers?

As I was trying to explain why I was feeling so much anger, she stopped me from talking and asked what the trigger was for my anger?

I snapped at her because I was tired of these questions during our sessions. I did not want to think about it or entertain this line of questioning that I apologised and told her I did not know.

As I think about it now, the trigger of my anger is the treatment I receive from other people. I give and give but I am not getting anything in return.

Almost every time in our session she tries to get me to accept that people are selfish and I will never get what I need from other people. I think that hurts the most,the disappointment I feel from that truth.

2. What is the point of having relationship with people in your life if they will only disappoint you?

I have heard people in my life say how kind I am and how they like the way I think. 

How is it then, they use the person I am against me? 

Why can’t they accept me for who I am and let our relationship grow stronger?

Am I supposed to let go of the people I know, to ease the pain?

I am stuck with these questions that need answers.

The answer she had for me was to accepts that people will not always give you what you want and to stop having such high expectations of people that will eventually disappoint you.

How do I change so that I do not feel so much pain?

How do I protect myself from being hurt?

How do I learn to accept that people will not treat me the way I treat them?

“It comes with practice.” 

 

A letter to God

Dear God,

I woke up feeling tired today.

I went to the monthly session with the counsellor this morning. It was a terrible session. I thought by now I would have made progress and feeling better about myself. It seems like I still have a lot of work to do.

The main thing we spoke about was how unhappy I have been feeling lately and caught up with what was happening in my life since our last session.

Even though I have stepped out of my comfort zone and doing new things, none of these things have brought me joy.

I am still unhappy in my life.

I am struggling to stand on my own and I feel lost.

I feel alone and do not know where to go from here.

I feel stuck.

Remembering Sharpeville – 21 March 1960

Human Rights Day in South Africa is historically linked with 21 March 1960, and the events of Sharpeville. On that day 69 people died and 180 wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the Pass laws. This day marked affirmation by ordinary people, rising in unison to proclaim their rights. It became an iconic date in our country’s history that today we commemorate as Human Rights Day as a reminder of our rights and the cost paid for our treasured human rights.

The man behind the film: Kalushi

Kalushi – The story of Solomon Mahlangu

South African history is full of heroes whose stories were never told. One of the stories I am talking about is the story of Solomon Mahlangu. I have never heard of Solomon or knew who he was. The only time I heard about him was when there was an opening of the movie Kalushi – the story about his short life and his courage under the severity of the apartheid regime.

My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight. Solomon Mahlangu 

Who is Solomon Mahlangu?

Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu was born in Pretoria on 10 July in 1956. He was the second son of Martha Mahlangu. His father left him in 1962, and from then on only saw him infrequently. His mother was a domestic worker and took sole responsibility for his upbringing. He attended Mamelodi High School up to Standard 8, but did not complete his schooling as a result of the school’s closure due to ongoing riots.

He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in September 1976, and left the country to be trained as an Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) “The Spear of the Nation” soldier. The training was received in Angola and Mozambique and on 11 June 1977 he returned to South Africa as a cadre, heavily armed, through Swaziland to assist with student protests.

On 13 June 1977, Mahlangu and his companions, Mondy Johannes Motloung and George “Lucky” Mahlangu, were accosted by police in Goch Street, Johannesburg. “Lucky” Mahlangu managed to escape, however, in the ensuing gun battle two civilian men were killed and two wounded. Solomon Mahlangu and Motloung were arrested.

Solomon Mahlangu was tried from the 7th of November 1977 to the 1st of March 1978, for charges associated with the attacks in Goch Street in June 1977. He was therefore charged with two counts of murder and several charges under the Terrorism Act. Mahlangu pleaded not guilty to the charges. His council stated that he entered South Africa in June 1977 as part of a group of ten, bringing arms, ammunition, explosives and ANC pamphlets into the country.

The judge accepted that Motloung was responsible for the actual killings, but since he had been so brutally beaten during the course of his capture, he had suffered severe brain damage and was unfit to stand trial. However, as common purpose had been formed, Mahlangu was therefore found guilty on two counts of murder and three charges under the Terrorism Act. He was sentenced to death by hanging on 2 March 1978.

On 15 June 1978 Solomon Mahlangu was refused leave to appeal his sentence by the Rand Supreme Court, and on 24 July 1978 he was refused again in the Bloemfontein Appeal Court. Although various governments, the United Nations, international organizations, groups and prominent individuals attempted to intercede on his behalf, Mahlangu awaited his execution in Pretoria Central Prison, and died on 6 April 1979.

The execution provoked international protest and condemnation of South Africa’s internal policy. In fear of crowd reaction at the funeral the police decided to bury Mahlangu in Atteridgeville. On 6 April 1993 he was reinterred at the Mamelodi Cemetery.

In 1993, the Solomon Mahlangu Square in Mamelodi was dedicated to his memory. The ANC hailed him as hero of the revolutionary struggle in South Africa, and subsequently named a school after him, in honour of his courage and dedication: The Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO). He was awarded “The Order of Mendi for Bravery in Gold for bravery and sacrificing his life for freedom and democracy in South Africa” posthumously in 2005.

***

Through my research I came across the excerpts of a book written by  Solomon’s lawyer at the time Priscilla Jana.

This is what she had to say about 

1. Handling the case

So when the exceptional case of Solomon Mahlangu landed on my desk, and in view needed exceptionally bold handling, I just got on with it knowing I was actually risking my position with Ismail Ayob. If things became difficult, I decided , I was ready to strike out on my own. And that is exactly what happened. The murder file I was handed became one of the biggest landmark cases in the appalling history of apartheid-era judiciary. It shocked the world.

We had searched for months to find a senior counsel prepared to take the case working with me as attorney. Only Clifford Mailer, a junior counsel, had the courage to join me in court. Like me, he was utterly traumatised by the circumstances of Solomon’s trial, and remains so to this day.

He argued that the doctrine of common purpose was being totally distorted and misused. He fought against the appointment of the notorious Judge Theron and his two assessors, the whole team having a reputation for toughness, cruelty and outright racism. He sought to have the judge recused but failed. Mailer has described to me how lonely he felt throughout the trial in the absence of a silk to lead. He said: ‘ To my dying day I will be disgusted that no senior counsel came in. It was the most distressing case of my career.’

2. On her encounter with Solomon Mahlangu

There was a mob hysteria, with whites choosing to believe that terrorists were on the loose in Johannesburg  city centre. ‘It was clear that Solomon had no intention to kill.’ The circumstances were clear. I had questioned him closely and all the evidence pointed to his truth. He was an exceptional young man; I had never met anyone like him. He was utterly dedicated, quiet, respectful and courteous towards us, understanding that we were doing our job as well as we could in the face of ferocious opposition.

3. On his conviction

His conviction for murder was a travesty.

For Solomon there was to be no such justice: he was to be hanged. I heard gasps of delight from a white crowd baying for blood. He held his head high, turned around and raised his fist. Taking a lead from Mandela at his own trial, he shouted : ‘Amandla!’ Power to the people. I made an instant decision to raise my fist in solidarity and shout the response : ‘Awetu’ – which means ‘ To Us’. In doing so I was going against my legal duties and my status in court, but it was irresistible. I would do the same thing today. For that breach of lawyerly conduct I was made to suffer. Judge Theron laid a complaint of unprofessional conduct against me to the Law Society.

***

In as much as there were positive stories about Solomon’s bravery , there was also opposition towards lack of recognition for Mondy Motloung and George Mhlangu who were with Solomon on that fateful day.

This is what was said on the article I read titled:The F- word: SA was not freed by a Lone Ranger

Solomon Mahlangu is a cult figure in liberation-army folklore. He is perhaps to South Africa what Dedan Kimathi is to Kenya or Joan of Arc is to France.

The sad thing about South Africa’s political and struggle history is the tendency to individualise it and the need to be dead for your sacrifice to be recognized.

If it were not, the sacrifice that Motloung made would not be reduced to a nonevent just because he did not die along with Solomon. In fact, it is quite possible for some of Motloung’s family members would have preferred seeing their son, who was once fired up by the desire to fight for the freedom of his people, dead than reduced to a cabbage.

If we did not isolate Solomon Mahlangu from his context, the question about whatever happened to George after fleeing on that day would be as important as the cruel fate the state visited on Solomon.

The isolation of heroes from their context and movements that produced them is the unintended consequence of the necessity of giving the struggle a face and a name that the international community could recognise and rally around.

That said, our love and need to honour heroes must not make us abdicate our historically responsibility of correcting the unfortunate impression that our struggle was waged by various incarnations of the Lone Ranger and Zorro, whose solo efforts delivered a people from a wicked regime.

Verdict: I have always been a person who loves history and the lives of the people who came before me. Solomon Mahlangu, Mondy Motloung and George Mahlangu’s stories were not different. If I did not watch the movie, I wouldn’t have learned about their bravery and sacrifice they made for me to have a better life. It was because of them and others , I am enjoying the freedom I have today.

The movie and their stories reminded me to appreciate every single moment of it and to find something that I am willing to fight for. If that moment comes, will I have the courage to stand up and fight? I really hope so.

Sources: 

South African History online

News 24 article

A day at the cinema

​I was running late to pick her up.  We knew we wouldn’t make it in  time for the 12:00pm screening of the movie. Instead of rushing,  we decided to have lunch first and catch the later screening of it. When we got to the movie house, the ticket line was full and discussed how we should have gotten the tickets in advance. As we waited for our turn to use the self service machine,  she took out her phone to check on seats availability.

Friend: “So many seats are taken already. It will be a full house.”

Me: “It doesn’t matter, if we can’t get in we can watch another movie.”

Friend: “I watched the trailer, I am going to watch this movie even if it means I sit right in front of the screen.”

When it was our turn,  the self service machine froze. We did not know how to use it but eventually we got it right. The only thing was,  we did not get a chance to choose our seats which resulted in us sharing a love seat.  We looked at each other and burst into laughter. She made a joke, put her head on my shoulder and mentioned that people around us would thinks us a couple. 

I playfully shoved her off me , put my bag in the middle and told her to keep her distance.

A lady came into the cinema to announce that the air con was not working and she tried to get some help but she was told not to worry as people did not mind having the air con off.

The cinema was full and everyone was breathing the same air. I felt hot and faint. 

After the movie, the lights came on and I heard clapping in the background. I couldn’t sit in my seat any longer. I stood up and excused myself trying to squeeze between people. I needed air.

We decided to go outside of the mall for some fresh air and discuss the movie.

Here is our review of Hidden Figures

Genius has no race

Courage has no limit

Strength has no gender

Introducing the sheroes behind the movie

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson (born August 26, 1918) is an African-American physicist and mathematician who made contributions to the United States’ aeronautics and space programs with the early application of digital electronic computers at NASA. Known for accuracy in computerized celestial navigation, she conducted technical work at NASA that spanned decades. During this time, she calculated the trajectories, launch windows, and emergency back-up return paths for many flights from Project Mercury, including the early NASA missions of John Glenn and Alan Shepard, and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon, through the Space Shuttle program.Her calculations were critical to the success of these missions. Johnson also did calculations for plans for a mission to Mars.

Taraji P Henson – I  fell in love with Taraji’s portrayal of Katherine. She showed the vulnerability and strength of this woman. At first you think of her as a weakling, one who does not stand up for herself but as the movie progresses you are shown her strength and her will to show what she is capable of and she did not allow herself to be bullied by her co-workers.

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan (September 20, 1910 – November 10, 2008) was an African American mathematician and Human Computer who worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), and NASA, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. In 1949, she became acting supervisor of the West Area Computers, the first African-American woman to supervise a staff at the center.

She later was promoted officially to this position. During her 28-year career, Vaughan prepared for the introduction of machine computers in the early 1960s by teaching herself and her staff the programming language of FORTRAN; she later headed the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division (ACD) at Langley.

Octavia Spencer – One of my favourite actress of all time. I loved her on The Help and I knew that her performance would not be a disappointment. Even though it was a supporting role, her performance was full of grace. Octavia is a powerhouse.

Mary Winston Jackson (April 9, 1921 – February 11, 2005) was an African American mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which in 1958 was succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She worked at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for most of her career. She started as a computer at the segregated West Area Computing division. She took advanced engineering classes and in 1958 became NASA’s first black female engineer.

After 34 years at NASA, Jackson had earned the most senior engineering title available. She realized she could not earn further promotions without becoming a supervisor. She accepted a demotion to become a manager of both the Federal Women’s Program, in the NASA Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and of the Affirmative Action Program. In this role, she worked to influence both the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, engineering, and mathematics careers.

Janelle Monáe – A newcomer to film work. I had an opportunity to watch Moonlight and I was impressed by this woman. I am impressed by her performance in both films. She carried her own weight around great actors. I loved her bubbly sense of humour and big mouth. I could not believe that  could let all of it come out of her. She gave this performance all her best and I cannot wait to see her again.

All in all the movie was brilliant. We both agreed that we wished we had the same tenacity and strong will of these women. They were women and black. They faced discrimination everyday from their counterparts but showed up and worked hard to be accepted in an industry dominated by white male.

This is one movie I will never forget and it has given me something to think about.

Biopic Information, poster and pictures taken  from Wikipedia and 20th Century Fox Movies.

A letter to my mother

Dear Mama

I have spoken to you in my heart. Today I want to do things differently. You have been a part of my life, it might not have been in the physical sense but you have always been there.

There are few things I would like to share with you, request  guidance and answers to some of the questions I have for you.

Mistakes – I would like to take this 
opportunity to apologise for being reckless in my life. I am sorry for those moments where I was an embarrassment to you. I know in those moments I would not have been able to look at your face,  knowing that I had caused the look of disappointment in your eyes. 

Every day I try to learn from my mistakes. I try to live a good life and I hope when you think of me, thoughts of pride come into your mind.

Am I living the life you dreamed for me? Are you proud of me?

Achievements – There is a moment in my life I will always be fond of. I remember how as a struggling student I would be ashamed to bring my exam papers home, I would throw them away or forge your signature because I did not want to be a disappointment to you.  You always reminded me that I could achieve a lot of things through hard work. I remember how you would encourage me to give of my best. Even though I did not believe in myself, you never allowed me to dwell in my doubt. Your encouragement led me to my first A on a subject. I was so proud to bring that paper home and I would never forget the smile on your face when you held it in your arms.

I would remind myself of that moment whenever I wanted to achieve something in my life. I would remind myself that I once achieved something impossible and your words,  whatever I wanted was possible through hard work and determination rang through my mind.

I thank you for giving me that moment.

I thank you for your love, kindness and encouragement. 

I thank you for your belief in me.

Relationship with loved ones – Question, How did you handle relationships with the ones you loved? How did you take a step back and allow your loved ones to live their own lives and not worry too much about them? 

I look at my life right now and I know this is one of the things I need to work on. I have been told numerous times that I have so much love for family that I would literally die for them and also a warning that I will be no use to anyone unless I take care of myself. 

How do I do that without feeling the guilt of looking after myself while I have other people to think about? 

The truth is, they are old enough to think for themselves and make a decision that best suits their lives. I have so much worry for others that I forget about myself. How do I learn to take a step back when I am so used to doing things for others? 

I know this will free me from so much worry and responsibility for people who are capable of taking care of themselves.

Love – This is so embarrassing…. We never had an opportunity to talk about boyfriends. Okay, I can’t talk to you about this right now. 

I miss you terribly. I wish I could have had more time to know you better and time to have learned from you.

Every day I look at friends who have a good relationship with their mothers and I wonder what our relationship would be like today.

I am grateful for the time I was given to spend with you. I am grateful for knowing something about you and what you looked like. You were a gift in my life and  I will treasure the memories we shared together for the rest of my days.

Today is one of those days where my thoughts of you intensifies.

Happy Birthday Portia Mosili Mayaba.

Faith

​Like the rest of the world I heard about and watched the win of Wayde Van Niekerk at the Rio Olympic games in 2016.  There were a lot of headlines about the young man. He became known as the man who broke Michael Johnson’s 17 year old 400m world record in a time of 43.03 seconds. The other headline was “Rio Olympic 2016 – Usain Bolt congratulates Wayde Van Niekerk.”

South Africans alike including myself were proud of his achievement. He was bringing home the gold. One thing that stood out for me about Wayde was his Christian faith. As you watch the end of his race you notice him pointing his fingers at the sky. He takes a moment to kneel down and pray. This is what he had to  say about that moment

There was no strategy. I just went out as hard as I could. I kept thinking someone was going to catch me because I felt so alone. I was thinking, what’s going on? What’s going on? And I just drove for the line. Then the first thing I could think to do was to fall on my knees to thank God and to give thanks for having the chance to compete against such great athletes

I got goosebumps when I read more about him. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to have so much faith that I would not be ashamed to share it or show it to the world.

I accepted Christ as my saviour two years ago. I returned to church after running away from God’s love and guidance. I wanted to live this life in my own terms.

After the loss of my my mother I could not believe that God did not save her. When she was sick she did not give up on him. She would go to church when she had the strength to. She would read her bible and praise God even though she was in so much pain. 

She never cursed God once.

I could not understand how God would watch her suffer and not do anything to ease her pain. I did not see his love or protection when my mother was in bed crying out from pain, praying for healing so that she could sleep peacefully.

No child should see their mother in that condition. We were not ready for it but it had to happen. We had to go through it.

After her passing I did not go to church or read the bible. I did not understand what had happened and I did not want to discuss it with God either.

At the time all I could think of was, he took someone that was precious away from me. I felt cheated as we had not spend enough time with her. We only lived with her for two years before she got sick. I felt like God did not care.

 Two years ago I stepped into a church close by to where I live. I was going through a difficult time and I needed some answers.  I thought I would go there once and if I did not like it, I did not have to return. 

I was welcomed in the church and sat at the back of the auditorium. The first song the worship team sang was I need thee, every hour. The song took me back to my childhood. I remembered how my younger sister and I knelt  down with our mom, her guiding us through the lyrics. She only taught us the chorus but I heard the whole song on the day. I was shocked because I had not heard that song in years. I felt like I got a blessing from my mother for returning to church. I felt like she was telling me I am where I am supposed to be.

During this journey I learned that  God never left our side after our mother passed. He watched us go through every stage of our lives. He provided everything we needed. He loved and protected us just like our mother would have if she was still alive.

He was patient as he waited for me to open my heart and let him in. It has not been easy but he never promised that it would be. I am a work in progress and he knows which areas I still need to work on.

Wayde Van Niekerk is an example of what a true faithful servant is. I look at him and I know he has inspired me to want more from my relationship with Christ. I want to be as proud as he is for the relationship he has with the God he serves and I want to say these words out loud with conviction

“Jesus I am all yours. Use me!” Wayde

 

A letter to God – Peace


I wanted a reason why I went through what I went through the past two weeks. I asked God why I had to go through it but I did not get an answer from him immediately.

Saturday morning I woke up with a feeling of peace. I took a moment and said out loud, I accept this peace.

The answer I was looking for came from the theme of our discussion at our third meeting. 

The message of the day was the path to personal peace.

The 3 lessons on peace were as follows:

1. Accept what cannot be changed.

“I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at anytime in everything that happens. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.” Phil 4:11-13

2. Trust in God’s loving care

“You, Lord, give true peace to those who depend on you because they trust you.” Isa 26:3

3. Surrender to God’s loving control

“If a person’s thinking is controlled by his sinful self, then there is death. But if his thinking is controlled by the Spirit, then there is life and peace.” Rom 8:6

Dear God,

I wrote those feelings down. I allowed myself to see the words after I wrote them on paper.  I allowed myself to feel those feelings and I was honest enough. It is time to let go. It is time to set myself free from the guilt I have been feeling for the past week and a half. After I read them out loud  and saw what was eating me inside, I deleted them. 

I needed to because I did not want to be reminded of the week I had. I did not want to carry the burden anymore. It is not fair to do that to myself and I am grateful for the courage to let go and set myself free. I deserve to be at peace and I know that holding on to the notes would not set me free. I would like to apologise for not seeing it sooner. I would like to apologise for allowing myself to feel that way.

I tried to sort out my feelings in my own way. I thought it was the only way and I believed it. I believed it when something said I was not good enough or I was a burden. I believed it when something said I deserved to be angry. I believed that this was the only way I could live. I do not want to live this way any longer. I am tired of it.

I thought that others deserved to be happy. I would see them laughing and enjoying their lives. I craved happiness in my life. I would do something to numb the sadness and what I am used to, is not working anymore.

I realised I did not want to  be honest with myself and the only way to get to that happy place starts with honesty.

You are forcing me to get out of the darkness and into the light. For that I am truly grateful.

I have taken such a long time and everyday I am given a chance to make a decision to live my life differently and I am grateful for that.