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Dear Halloween

I’m not hundred percent aware if you know this fact but I have not the slightest clue as to how you made your way into my life and your intentions with me thereof. Either way, I think if you have plans of staying in my life, you better introduce yourself anew.

Looking from a very far distance, I can tell that the hood isn’t really your cuppa tea. I say this because I’ve never really seen you there and the ‘hood people’ don’t really know you or your purpose – if you have one that is. In fact they seem not to give a cent about you and the fact that you exist in some supposedly creepy dress-up party. And that’s really the business of this address.

I want to enquire about your guts, because by the looks of your eeriness, you seem to have a bus full of those.

I was rather taken by an unsettling spookiness when an email about you was on my work email address from my superiors telling me to make an effort to dress up for your I-don’t-really-see-the-need do. Darling me! I thought to my self.

Where did halloween come from that I’m now suddenly reminded to dress up for by the same people who didn’t bother to remind me about buying charcoal for braai day, dressing up for heritage day or even reminded my indian colleagues to dress up for their ‘diwali’.

I’m definitely not being told to dress up in some demonic looking outfit when there’s no pay cheque to match or a cake for that matter. Because amongst many other things this could put my life inside the gun line and I could end up enduring the life threatening eye of disapproval from my very born-again-christian mother who might in the process arrange me some counselling sessions with the pastor.

I don’t want to lie the I-will-penetrate through work via her wardrobe and straight into her life method proved that your guts are sprinkled with an overdose of confidence but truth remains, you’re not my cuppa tea especially because you have no solid roots that I can associate with.

Just so you know, I outgrew horror movies a dinosaur years ago and I find dress up occasions with an outfit you-will-never-use-again time consuming and financially unsound. As such, my understanding of your relevance (that’s if you’re even relevant) is peaking at zero-point-zero. Why are oversized off-ish, not so spooky and cut into almost creative shapes pumpkins the centre of your celebration? Wait…*palm hand*.

In a sweet, natural and very short format; halloween, what is your claim to fame? And why are you at my workplace over-working people’s imagination on unearthly outfits?

Brand Essentials

First things first we, social media platformists are just as annoyed of the never ending twars in celebville as Mr Nel was of Oscar’s non ending teary outbursts at the witness stand.

Social media platforms are always abuzz with one thing or the other. If its not pure revenge its an internal unspoken but subtweeted rival of some sort. In some cases, its a blurry cellphone captured video that goes viral leaving nothing but speculations behind. Something out of the norm is always brewing on these streets.

With the elections adding to the noise, the past few weeks on South African social media platforms were as busy as a cleaner after a dress up party that turned into a food fight event. Good things were done, terrible things were said and people’s health status were left at our eyes exposure.

As social media spectators, we’ve learnt that while other brands may maintain a reasonable accepted level of integrity others have managed, with their own thumbs, to degenerate a great percentage of their pleasant appeal to the masses.

Brand equity and brand management is always tested on social media and sadly many brands get taken by the whirlwind. [Nonhle Thema we love you].

With the rise of new media, brands have gained an advantage which in the past fifteen years was not available for them. We have seen some good new media adaptations and absolutely awful ways of trying to understand new media that came with volatile consequences to the brand. [I’m not side-eyeing Anthony Weiner].

Therefore it is wise to remember the following essentials throughout the craft or leisure of social media networking for a brand:

>>>> Practice quality. Daily. Whatever you communicate to or with your audience must be of good quality.

>>>> Be creative but also very mindful of the way you use and apply words.

>>>> Use proper language. If you communicate in IsiZulu, certify that you use correct sentence construction and correct words.

>>>> Innovation is key to maintaining social media users. However do not lose the essence and identity of your brand.

>>>> Excellence. Maintain a level of excellence that is in line (or higher) with your brand.

>>>> Your surroundings and atmosphere might influence your mood and thoughts, but learn to focus on what’s important for your brand.

>>>> Update casually, think professionally – be fun whilst maintaining an adequate level of sophistication.

>>>> When confusion, misconception and circumstances cloud your brand from flourishing, go back to the drawing board and rediscover the identity of your brand.

>>>> Maintain an exceptional level of professionalism. Stay away from twars!

>>>> Social media is a function for marketing. Utilise it for awareness, revenue or more users not revenge.

>>>> Don’t you ever undermine the intelligence of your audience. Know that you’re dealing with smart and social media savvy consumers.

>>>> Commit to learning. Be it your consumers, your colleagues or humility at large, just learn in order to do better the next day.

>>>> Be vigilant, social media is not as predictable as the weather because its people and people are not easily predictable. Always keep your eyes open.

>>>> Whatever you choose to do never forget that brand integrity can be volatile.

Brand equity is everything a brand has which is why it is important that a brand chooses wisely conversations to dive into in the social media networking world.

And lastly, in your ventures of providing a brand that is of great value to the people it services, remember the words of the late Maya Angelou; people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Move people with your brand!

Who are We Meant to be ‘DEFENDING Madiba’s Legacy’ Against?

Madiba's legacy at stake?

is Madiba’s legacy at stake?
picture by photographer Sandile Makhoba

This poster is doing the rounds all over KZN and I happen to have a question or two about it.

It could be just the rebellious, ignorant and misinformed self in me speaking but this poster to me looks like a declaration of war.

Otherwise, what are we supposed to be DEFENDING Madiba’s legacy against?

If we are meant to be defending the legacy by means of protecting it and continue to strive for what Mandela portrays and stood for, why is Jacob Zuma on the poster?

Hence I ask, WHO are WE meant to be’defending’ Madiba’s legacy against?

Horrid Stories of a Terrified old-age Pensioner

A few weeks ago I went to visit my grandmother whose amongst many other illnesses is suffering from old age aches. My grandmother is one of those people who can be reserved or very straight forward, depending on which direction the sun rays are shining.

Due to tribal conflicts in the mid to late 80’s my grandmother moved from her place of birth to the city. After a very long while of being a traditionalist in the city, years of being home sick and enduring enough constraints from her passé ways, she went back to her place of birth like she never left. And to this day she proudly uses a candle as a light bulb and makes a washing line out of tress.

The sun was touching the sea shore as the taxi left the tarred road near Port Shepstone, leaving Louisiana behind. The gravel road and all its bare cracks after the heavy rains of the New Year greeted us with its openness. That taxi ride was like being on a car with a first time driver – instable.  

Finally we arrived; dusty, safe and somewhat sound.

I wasn’t shocked to see that electricity was still a dream here, for I knew more  than a decade and a half ago that they would never smell things which we previously disadvantaged South Africans associate with the ‘new era’ – tarred roads, flush-toilets and nearby schools amongst other things.

On the other hand, I was very shocked to hear horrid stories of a terrified old-age pensioner.

As a person who grew up in this village, I have encountered, more than enough times, settings of all kinds of teenage pregnancy. I have also seen young boys dropping out of school for submitting to beyond the pale substances and later becoming young men who petrify the villagers, with the elders taking a greater strain from this.

In South Africa, there is a high rate of grandparents who mother their grandchildren due to many possible reasons, one of those being negligence. Therefore our elders as a country of people, who are likely to be brought up by grandparents, are a prestige.

I noticed amongst other odd things that my grandmother’s old and fragile body worried her as with bereavement and the assistance of two walking sticks she stood up and locked her door immediately after dawn. Dawn to my grandmother is the time when she has done her routine with her chickens, which will be any time after 5:45pm – unless weather conditions are not favourable for the chickens to be loitering at their own free will till sunrise. This was as equally shocking as it was awfully early to be locking doors in the rurals where crime hasn’t been of high regard. And traditionally, people spend most of their time in the veld with their doors left wide open at their homes.

As I questioned her on the situation, a can of worms feasting on each other disgustingly opened, with a bitter-sour taste, I let in a very distasteful tale.

With an almost close to a whisper voice and sharp focused eyes as that of a hyena whose about to feast on a carefree springbuck told me horror stories which till this day, I am struggling to believe.

At her last pension pay out, one of the people she usually exchange small talk with told her that one of their peers was found thrust to a tree in her yard with nothing but her bodice. Her old weary skin indicated that all of sun’s excruciating rays had had their time with her. She had been lifeless for a while. Her bedroom was broken into. The furniture showed that a major search had been carried out and the small box which served as her safe was smashed into pieces and all her old age pension welfare money had vanished.                  

Two days after that had happened; a man in his late 70’s was found with a rope on his neck. The rope had produced marks which had turned from red to navy blue, a clear indication of extensive strangulation. He was pronounced dead at the scene (which was his own home) with all his savings and half his pension pay out in one of those tiny bags old people usually keep underneath the clothes they wear –  gone.

Stories of this sort are common and there is also whispers of young men out to get the elderly’s pension pay-out immediately after it lands on their hands and killing them instantaneously so that they do not live to tell the tale, especially to the community nor the police officers.

As a South African whose been mugged more than enough times, I instantly felt her fear, the thumping of the heart when you know that you could be next, especially more so if you’re the primary target and your knees won’t carry you neither will your fragile body for without walking sticks, your body is your own burden.

I cannot describe the feeling of having your own child, who you bore and nurtured turn against you but I know the thrills of being brought up by your grandparents. The jolliness of having to share in your grandparent’s late life; the fun, the games, the laughter and the stories, it is blissful.

The other day I left for town with my grandmother. She was on her way to see one of her close friends that she was once young with. She was in hospital. Her grandson has knocked her unconscious with a shovel for her money was not enough to buy him these expensive branded shoes that teenagers can’t go without nowadays.

My grandmother locked herself early because one early night somebody paid her a visit. It was a man, who claimed to be blind and looking for a way to his house. My grandmother is uphill, where if you were lost, climbing up to her house wouldn’t be your option unless you have absolutely no option. This man said a surname that was familiar. It was of a man my grandmother knew and he had eye problems. But this was not the man. My grandmother didn’t open the door. The man left. And as he left my grandmother’s yard, she heard that the man was not alone, they were two of them as she peeked out her window.

This might happen again, she is not sure of the day and whether that day she will be lucky or gone. Each and every day, she lives with that horror. 

Every Little Bit Counts: A Story of Saving

Nowadays it seems the only way inflation prefers to travel is on that fast lane freeway best interpreted on an exponential graph, making it almost impossible for the already hard hitten people of this nation to save.

As such, our country is sitting on a disturbing 67 percent of adults who do not save. I prefer not to estimate the number of our young adults, distinctly students who’d rather drink their lives out than engage in discussions of saving. It is our truth, we find saving extremely challenging and easily avoidable. Exceptionally so now that unemployment rate is on the rise and a stable, decent income is a rare luxury to come by. However, it does not take away from the fact that saving is vital and a culture we should by all means habitually practise.

Through these tough times, it has became a necessity to notably distinguish amongst other things that ‘a little can go a long – really long way’ more so if you’re an average – which is likely to be a low income earner. If you save specifically in the midst of averages and low income earnings, you create the above average possibility to yield positive economical prowess for the world you occupy. I’d like for you to keep that in mind, for the sake of this tale I’m about to tell you.

The are quite a number of saving strategies devised for our own (not always) convenience. And in our average homes, we have our own saving strategies which of course may seem absurd from a distance – like partaking in stokvels which yield food enough to last the family (including the extended family) almost half a year. What is even more perplexing is that an average black kid, raised by a very average black woman might tell you the same if not a similar tale; a story of comparison, price negotiating, supermarket hopping, street crossing and queue standing. This is a story of shopping – the pursuit of saving.

Grocery shopping is something dreadful but yet very delicate in our average communities. Saturdays after pay days are also very important. And when your average mother decides this is a perfect day to send you to town for those anticipated fundamentals on the grocery shopping list, she accompanies you with a very precisely detailed note – think of it as an ordinance, comprising of the product you are to purchase and sometimes a specific brand too. Oh and you are definitely warned well in advance of its exact cost and the supermarket it is to be purchased at. Call that the planning in advance part of budgeting where exactitude is a high regard.

This shopping list by the way, is something you have to follow with the same ultraprecision the establishers of the ten commandments thought christians would abide to this decree. Otherwise!

You don’t want to know otherwise. Because otherwise could be anything from a hard-core slap across your face to an awfully awkward silent treatment. And if you think you’ll involve the ‘popo’, you shall find your self in the same state as Whitney Houston in 2003 except you’ll still be a stupid, weak, foolish girl. For your sake, promote peace and harmony and stick to the list.

In town, mind you its that dreadful saturday after pay day in this old-fashioned, tight-knit urbanites playground and everybody came out to submit to their monthly commitments. It is over-crowded. Kgebetli Moele could very well deem this ‘another sad black story’; every supermarket, every bank and every ATM has such a long queue you’d swear we’re all after the finale of food and money on this earth. Taxi drivers take advantage of this, in many ways than one.

Remember why you’re here; the ordinance. It needs to be fulfilled. Take it as the golden ticket to your peace – the absence of scolding. The ordinance by the way is also consorted by a fee that, lo and behold, you are to stretch until every commandment is fully carried home in a plastic bag which its price was somehow not included on this fee. Cuss that intellect who approved the idea of selling us grocery shopping bags.

The road to riches. The path which leads to wealthiness (for some) is a very tough one. It is envied by all and its destination is desired by everyone. Life, being a jolly spectator of melodrama and spirals of confusion continues to hide this road from us.

The Pursuit of Saving - A Little Goes a Long Way

The Pursuit of Saving – A Little Goes a Long Way

When I saw this, I laughed. You know the kind of a past joyful memory relived type of laugh. Then I remembered, something I was indirectly taught; regardless of its quantity, a little goes a long way and wealth – even though it may seem infeasible is accumulated every single day.

Twerking – Could it be a Dance Revolution?

Twerking in practice. courtesy of Google images.

Twerking in practice. courtesy of Google images.

You Tube is fair proof that twerking is here and causing more havoc than a mob justice.

When this dance phenomenon hit South African shores for the first time, it literally left many jaws dangling on the floor. The nation tore into two, with a good half indisbelief whilst the other fifty percent’s eyes indulged the sexy bum shaking motion with appreciation.   

South Africa is an African country where dance is fully appreciated, women with ‘assets’ are loved, the value of tradition and traditional values is not forgotten and it’s where media and modernity is still trying to find its place.

A considerable number of South Africans who value the integrity, respect and traditional upbringing they were brought up in find themselves electrified with shock, that a dance movement of such kinky element has publicly found a home in this country.

As if that shock isn’t paralyzing enough, South Africa is now home to the self acclaimed professional twerkers; the ‘Pro Twerkers‘. These ladies are blessed with a behind that will see you uttering in languages you don’t understand just by looking at it. I also heard that if you’re lucky to see them on stage, the amount of heat you’ll be releasing is enough to leave those around you thinking you’ve just stepped out of the roasting fire in ‘hell’. And apparently for your sake it is wise to have a leash handy just in case (which is likely to be more often than not) your imagination attempts running faster than a cheetah.  

These ladies bounce their above average butts high and low, with an enough sensual vigour to leave you wondering if their mama is where they really got it from. As for that dripping sweat on your face, well, you’ll need ten tons of empty gallons for it.

The Pro Twerkers give Mrs Carter’s booty hop a run for its money.

As you can imagine, these ladies have received both love and hate mail. Those who show them love are not only fond of their bodies but also appreciate the sight of the work these ladies do.

I’m not sure (as they never replied to my email) whether they’ve taken to twerking as a career or it’s just another one of those piece jobs one does on the side for an extra buck. One thing I’m certain of is that the ‘Pro Twerkers’ have traveled extensively and opened up for the controversial, multi-award winning now Yeezus (that’s Kanye West to you) when he performed in Johannesburg earlier this year.

It is absurd but I wish upon indulging on a listening class whereby an almost visually impaired, friendless, ugly glass wearing computer programming geek turned into boring lecturer explains to me the popularity of this sensual movement which is at the peak of its global widespread, making it the most popular move on the dance floors and one of the most talked about subjects on social media platforms.

I would gulp mostly the tiny extracts of this choreography’s origins as I still wonder whether it originated in Southern American clubs, Africa or New Orleans. I would prefer the longer theoretical version which I plan to do absolutely nothing about until the age of sixty where I will look intelligent and turn ‘cool’ in a split second to my grand-kids.

I will mention to my grand children who will sit, surrounding me as if enjoying a thrilling tale around a fire, that before I got introduced to twerking a seemingly non negligible amount of me desired to see what twerking was, for it hammered my twitter timeline in every update and made me feel under-informed.

At my convenience, or maybe belwiderness, my television set gladly introduced to me the mystery behind twerking.

To my jaw dropping surprise, twerking was a phenomenon which required the participator to bounce the butt and hips up and down in erotic motions, extremely suggestive manner causing jiggles and or a shake.

I stood motionless in front of a television set I looked into with eyes which seem to lose their sight. My throat immediately felt like a freshly poured glass of tap water. I knew that if I had asthma, I’d be suffocating.

Since that day I couldn’t help but notice the flooding of twerking home made videos on the internet. Ladies putting their twerking capabilities into practice almost daily like it’s a world competition entry requirement.   

I would explain to these kids, which I pray do not drive me to tears with insanity, that life is the mother of changefulness and its main characteristic is unpredictability, hence, one needs to be strategic in all aspects. More importantly, you can be able to live fruitfully as an individual if you have the guts to choose specifically what influences you as much as you should be able to categorically know what does not influence you.

Many say, like any other dance type, twerking is a certain form of expression for not only hip hop influenced individuals and those with a behind enough to send Nicki Minaj for an extra implant on her bum, but it’s an expression that can be freely explored by your average girl next door, even though the big butt acknowledging advised that when you have a big booty the experience is more appealing for their pleasure, of course.

As for me, with an average bum, and many other silenced reasons, I wouldn’t be caught even on a twerking inducing hip hop track trying to pull a twerk.  

With all that said and little done, I still wonder, could we be sitting arms folded in a freezing windy weather, sipping our hot chocolate whilst a dance phenomenon that we’re not fond of is being brewed? Can it mature its way into a fully accredited choreography or worse still a credit bearing subject at dance schools?  The thought of it drives away my desire to raise kids.

Do not misinterpret me, for my withheld perspectives; I do not like twerking, specifically for my generation. However, anyone else who chooses to engage in it is still my blood from the other father (God that is).