You probably know that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is a South African legend fondly called Mkulu (grandfather) who made history and spent almost 27 years in prison fighting against apartheid in South Africa.
But do you also know these facts about the first democratically elected black president of South Africa –
- He had a cameo appearance in Malcom X, a Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic movie as a school teacher in Soweto where he recites Malcom X’s ‘by any means necessary’. Madiba however refused to say the words ‘By any means necessary’ so as not to be misconstrued by the South African government. Lee had to cut the part and end the film with Malcom X’s footage of the delivery of the part.
- Queer things named after Mandela. In addition to the numerous educational institutions, edifices, streets that have been named after him worldwide, Mandela has a woodpecker and a nuclear particle named after him. The Physics Institute at Leeds University christened a controversial nuclear particle ‘Mandela particle’ after the legend. Scientists also named a prehistoric woodpecker – Australopicus nelsonmandelai after him. Among other queer things named after him are a sea slug, a spider, tree, flower, racehorse, and a computer game.
- Madiba was a professional at disguising. Due to his agitation activities, Madiba became a master of disguise in order to evade the authorities hunting him thus his nickname of ‘the black pimpernel’.
- He loved eating the stomach lining of farm animals. Yes, Mandela was a fan of tripe – animal intestine was his favorite meal!
- His name remained in the US terror watch until 10 years ago. Along with other members of the African National Congress, Mandela’s name was on the US terrorist watch till 2018 due to their quest for apartheid-free South Africa.
Even in death, Nelson Mandela still speaks.
This emptiness can be chilling. It can be killing.
Unfulfilled life leaves you empty. Love gone sour leaves you empty. Death leaves you empty. A life without purpose leaves you empty. An unexamined life leaves you empty, and on and on. What has the power of inflicting that feeling of emptiness in you? Empty pocket, maybe?
It is only a feeling, you are really not empty. One can never be empty.
Your heart or life, as the case may be, may feel empty, but it cannot be empty really. While you are feeling empty, you are probably filled with dreams that were never nurtured to reality. You may be filled with deep sorrow and pains at your loss, or anger and bitterness at everything and everyone, but never empty.
If you let it in the door, it will find itself the most comfortable seat – this emptiness. It will relax and wreak havoc, sometimes irreparable. It will suck you deeper and deeper into its dark abyss.
You are probably better off filling the emptiness rather than merely feeling it. If you fail to fill it, it will fill you – with depression, sadness, poverty, a life without purpose.
Filling the emptiness we feel, how do you do that? With unrestricted sex? Unlimited Pornography? Masturbation? Dark hatred? Constant clubbing? Marriage to alcohol?
Or you are filling it by living on your phone 24/7? That is probably an easy way out for most of us, surf through the web like someone bewitched, scrolling from Facebook to Instagram, from Twitter to Whatsapp and to God knows what – all in pursuit of fulfillment.
These are excellent means of filling and fueling the void. The only teeny fault with those methods is that they create more vacuum. Sex is not powerful enough to fill the void you feel inside, neither is alcohol.
Living within the confines of your phone can only be as effective as a virtual living. It will make you dwell in the virtual world while your life rushes towards its end fruitlessly.
At the moment, it feels like so much fun, like life couldn’t be any better. But, they are mere diversions that can dull the reality of it but can never fill it, not for long anyway.
An unexamined life is not worth living so says Socrates. To fill that emptiness you feel inside, live an examined life. Do not hide under the cloak of hatred and addiction to ruin things further.
Learn to trust and love again even though it is once bitten, twice shy. Love is more powerful. If you should have an addiction, let it be love addiction.
Find your purpose in life, then you will have something to pursue, a dream to turn into reality, a goal to achieve, hurdles to surmount, destinations to reach.
Funny how time flies. We look back years later and regretfully realize that we have wasted so much of our talents, love and resources.
Best part is that it is never too late to unlearn bad habits and learn and relearn good ones.
I write this based on some soul searching reflections I carried out recently. It came as a rude shock to me that half or even more than half my life has been lived to please others and live in conformity.
When I consider that my life is mine alone, then the choices I make should be mine, the way I live my life ought to reflect my personality and not that of the world around me. Most of all, consider the fact that when death calls, it would call just me without seeking permission from my neighbours and friends. Even if death seeks their permission, they do not have that permission to give, not forgetting that some would willingly give death the permission to take me immediately.
Moreover, the journey to death, as is that of life, is mine alone and as I leave this world, very few people out of all those I lived to please would genuinely cry for my death, few would genuinely miss me, some will attend my funeral if their jobs, business, health or weather suits them, but none will go with me to the other world.
Then why have I been living to please them, to accommodate their whims and caprices, why have I been living for them, losing myself in the process, cheating myself? Sounds stupid when you actually think on it. I do that in major and minor decisions, in little and big daily actions. In the market, I buy vegetables from my neighbor whose pumpkin leaves are withered and yellowish rather than buy from a stranger and have my neighbor angry with me.
I work as a health care giver so my family will be pleased that I am following the family tradition when all I want to do is write and travel the world and make tons of money. I have sex with him because it is what he wants and expects from me as his partner, not because I enjoy it so much. I hide the ugly truth of their actions from them so I do not displease them even as they displease me. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with you? Where is the self-love? The world will certainly not end if I tell them how I feel, if I insist on what I want rather than what they want. They might be angry for a while, or even forever, but it does not really matter in the long run.
I know I am not alone in this ‘living to please others’ syndrome, many of us fall into this societal trap that we laid for ourselves. It seems it is wired in the genes of most women, to live to please their husbands, kids, neighbors, parents, anybody but themselves. Worst of all, it has become so ingrained in us that it is now an unconscious everyday action. We give so much of ourselves to please others and in the process, lose our personal identity, our goals and dreams. I was once in a relationship where, even though the guy had good intentions but running a pharmaceutical shop was just not what I wanted; neither was going to Japan for post graduate degree. So why did I agree to those suggestions of his even though I later began falling in love with the idea of studying in Japan? I did not want him to see me as ungrateful or unambitious.
But on a deeper level, when I began to analyze my life and my choices, I realized that I succumbed to those suggestions of his because I have begun to neglect my dreams, I was losing focus and depending on him and the world to decide for me rather than seek to please me.
What a shame. Why are we scared of displeasing the world? Because we care too much about what the world will say, because we are scared of alienating them, because we want them to like and love us. But take a moment to look at those people we know that do not give a damn about what the world thinks of them, I know some of them, so do you. Their lives are happier, more fulfilling, richer, more successful and with floods of friends, families and trumpeters.
So I ask myself, I ask you who are in this same boat with me, what do we personally gain by letting the world carry us on its wings? What have we been able to achieve based on the fact that we have been living to please others? The ugly truth is that you cannot please the world, even if you die trying, look at Jesus Christ! The world will be pleased with your success, your wealth, glamour, fame, but they will tear you down in an instant if given the opportunity no matter how patriotic and philanthropic you have been.
Let me begin to channel that energy I have been using in seeking to please the world into seeking to please me. Sometimes, being selfish can be liberating and fruitful. I have begun the journey of self-pleasing rather than world pleasing by first trying to learn and understand me. To do this, I am giving myself some me time, no matter how busy I am otherwise. In that me time, I think over my life, the choices I have made, the actions and decisions I have taken and where they have cumulatively led me. You should too, assuming you no longer desire to live for the world like me.
Heaven will not fall on me if I chose to buy vegetable from the stranger that sells the fresh greeny vegetable rather than my neighbor that has the dead leaves. My partner will not love me less or leave me if I stand my ground and follow my dreams. If he does, then, he does not love me and it would be good riddance to bad rubbish. Taking little baby steps towards blocking my ear and my mind from what they will say and think by focusing on what I really want and deserve is a start. It has been so ingrained in our character and thinking that it will be an uphill task to overcome. But with a burning desire to change and little daily, conscious shift in our thinking and actions, it is possible.
See you at the top, happy and liberated if you happen to be on this cruise to self-love with me.
I have not been as dedicated as I ought to be with this challenge due to one thing or the other, my apologies. I have missed like three weeks I think, but I’m going to merge them together and summarise. I hope Niki the brain behind the Revofkindness challenge won’t mind.
This challenge, in case you do not know already, is centered around kindness. So far we have dealt with different aspects of kindness – observing kindness around you, being kind to yourself, living in and from a place of kindness, and so on.
I have been tempted, countless times to forgo this challenge since I seem not to be participating fully. Often times I forget all about it thereby not acting or living it out which is the aim of this challenge for me – to live it till it becomes me. But I figured that half bread is better than none right?
Week three of the challenge was about kind energy, focusing our thoughts, words and actions on kindness. This is where I began to falter because I would often forget to live from that place of kindness or I would remember after being unkind. Yet one dramatic thing took place. A young boy of about eight living with my mother has this tendency to be hot headed and stubborn. But I realised that since I unconsciuosly began dealing with him from a place of kindness, he began to reciprocate. Instead of getting angry and punishing him for his stubborness, I’d chide him gently, make deals with him, smile and play with him, the change in him became dramatic. Not like he became a ‘perfect kid’, not by a long shot. But we began to live more harmoniously.
The fourth week was on being kind. Make eye contact and Smile more often at people, be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, call strangers, acquaintances by their first names, help the less privioeged, etcetera. It made me remember an experience I had in the past. I read it somewhere, to try knowing people by their first name and using it. So daily on my way to work, I would meet a security guy at the gate, after the usual pleasantries, I would ask for his name. It continued till I mastered theit names then started addressing each by his name. Nothing spectacular happened afterwards, but they became my friends in a way they would not have been had I not made efforts to identify them by their names. They felt more human to me from then on. Simple gestures can make a whole lot of difference.
Then the past week was the fifth week. Its focus was on being grateful for kindness shown to us.
Think of kindness as the seed and gratitude as the soil. It will nourish that seed and help it grow for all to enjoy its beauty. –
Observing kindness is but a step, appreciating it is the next. I kinda failed woefully at this one. But the challenge is on for as long as we live, so it aint too late to start.
So there you have the summary. I will continue to strive to incorporate all these into my daily living so as to live a richer life and make others happier. I hope you participate, one way or the other as you read this. It is not too late to join, just visit Niki’s here to sign up for the challenge. As she often says, there is no deadline!
Happy new week everyone! Practise kindness, live kindness!