Sunday, 24 March 2019

South Africa: Tourist shops full of bric-a-brac and no useful brochures

In company for moments
I would have wanted to reflect more and write a lot more on my last trip to South Africa which has the uniquely amazing complement of spending it in the companionship of my partner.
Many things in life can probably be enjoyed alone, but nothing beats the sharing of experiences and moments with a soulmate. The times we visited places and observed, nature, placement, event or exhibit from different or similar perspectives then commented to each other with interest, engagement and involvement were too many to mention.
Many beautiful places to see
The City Sightseeing Tour of Johannesburg was the beginning of shared experiences that were not just between us, the many pictures taken of the locations around the Constitution Hill all into Soweto and back, made for an eventful and unforgettable day.
After our day out at Zoo Lake, there were visits to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Lilliesleaf Farm that gave rise to the Rivonia Trial, Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway onto the Magaliesberg Mountains overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam and then the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria.
I don’t want tatty bric-a-brac
All these locations seemed to have shops for souvenirs, African goods and bric-a-brac, however, they were all lacking in essential carefully curated brochures or books about the locations we were at. The gardens, the farm, the dam and museum all had oodles of information about nature and exhibits, many panels of information that you could read throughout the site, and except if you were snapping away with your camera, more than half what was observed would probably be forgotten.
The purpose of a site location brochure or book is not only to document every aspect of the broadly tourist location but also to give background and context to all the features on display. This is a job that can be given to academia in South Africa and I think they would enthusiastically engage to help in this regard.
I want to leave these locations with experiences, sometimes I cannot see everything, having a brochure or guide in at least English and some other languages can make any visit a rewarding and educational experience as one reads up on the detail of where one has gone.
This must be a critical project
The shops did not serve any of the tourist locations well, even when I had previously gone to the Voortrekker Monument near Pretoria or the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, there was a dearth of useful information to take away beyond the on-location experience.
Having travelled around the world and seen that even museums and tourist locations put some work into producing brochures, books, manuals or guides. It is my solemn advice to whoever is in charge of Tourism in South Africa to make this a critical deliverable with the utmost alacrity.
The memories I captured can be found on my other blog.


Saturday, 23 March 2019

Perspectives of moments and beyond

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You had to be different,
For me to see things differently,
Something about you was unique,
To help me appreciate uniqueness,
The past was an occupying thought,
But you made the present quite thoughtful,
You were very shy to impress,
In that, you made a great impression,
For long, I did not know how to love,
Until I came to be deeply loved,
I have been made very aware,
Indeed filled with an uncommon awareness,
That what we silently yearned for,
Has the possibility of lasting forever,
You have become the love of my life,
I want this for a lifetime.


Thursday, 21 March 2019

Thought Picnic: An endless journey of the heart finding love


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It’s not impossible
In a couple of months, I have come to appreciate a delicate matter of the heart and soul. Something I had somewhat willed myself into developing an immunity for invaded every sense of my feigned self-assurance, I was left vulnerable to its onslaught without defense.
The topic of love is not one I would normally write about except from an observational or clinical perspective. To have me as a participant of an affair was just far-fetched at best, if not impossible.
There are reasons why I never thought myself a candidate for this emotion that is hardly a second-hand emotion. Tina Turner who made a global comeback hit with ‘What’s love got to do with it’ some 35 years ago is at 79 enjoying some of the best years of love in her life in Switzerland with her husband.
It’s a living thing
In my reckoning, I think love has everything to do with it when you find that someone, and when you do, it is a first hand, ever present, all-consuming emotion of words, acts and passion. You are almost tongue-tied at the sight of your beloved and weak at the knees at a simple touch.
That one has to manage a long-distance relationship with its limitations does not dampen the growing intimacy that is beyond the physical. The meeting of minds, the knitting of hearts, the merging of thoughts and the confluence of souls creates something so unique between you that cannot be found with anyone else.
You cannot tire of professing the cliché and the originally poetic expressions of deep love and affection. You reinforce the bond between yourselves continually eliminating every iota of doubt about how you feel and where you hope fate, fortune and fortitude would lead you to.
It changes you
The heart pines and aches for the satisfaction only love can provide, yet, there is no easy understanding of the force and power of love. You just know and strive to live its fulfillment in every way you can. Love is a spirit, it is an experience, it is an expression, it is life.
With it, the countenance brightens, expectations are heightened, adventure is almost frightening, but there is nothing to fear as the embraces tighten. Having had many failed relationships, a social life littered with ex-partners who have become friends, they themselves in relationships that have lasted quite long, you dared think something was amiss with you.
That it took a sojourn over land and sea to meet one who is becoming and I hope would become a partner for life indicates to me that there is always someone for you even after you have lost someone you thought was everything. Love is for the living, fondness and sweet memories are for the dearly departed.
I could spend time wondering why, but that is a waste of time, for moments shared are more significant and meaningful, they are to be cherished wholesomely, with gratitude and thankfulness. There is a hope and possibility of endless love, where two hearts have become as one.


Sunday, 17 March 2019

By My Side

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The thoughts fill me with pride,
To have you all by my side,
From the time we saw and eyed,
That we should walk in stride,
Us two facing storm and tide,
Even if some chose us to deride,
Knowing that in this we abide,
Quite well to be satisfied,
That we two have been unified,
As much we have identified,
A deep loving not terrified,
Our love in truth is clarified,
With a yearning most justified,
In our very long talk I tried,
To bring you clearly alongside,
Nothing I do would make me hide,
That we belong side by side,
Not to take you for a ride,
But hand in hand we are allied,
For the joy of living not denied,

We know for sure our hearts have cried,
To find someone to have beside,
If words were stronger than just implied,
With meaning and assurance amplified,
My love, you are most qualified,
My equal in whom I confide.


Sunday, 10 March 2019

Cherishing the gift of precious moments

It’s the moments
I have learnt to cherish the moments, the moments I have been given, by grace, by fortitude, by opportunity, by circumstance or by fate. I reflect on some of the hard times in my life, in sickness or in literal penury and wonder at the upbringing and influences that have shaped the ability and face them and know that it is life, people live it and it would pass.
It informs my philosophy that we are people of stories, tales of the expected and unexpected woven into a tapestry of relatable things, people and places. Not fairy tales, but if any of the stories does develop that trajectory, I will not quibble.
In all, I never thought why this is happening to me until now, I simply thought, it is my life, it is my story and I hope it ends on a good note. I would speak to myself and comfort myself saying, ‘Akin, you’ll be fine.’
Catching the boat that left me behind
The Akin of my conscience is a very English pronunciation even when I upbraid myself for being foolish. It is a voice I can hear quite clearly in my wakefulness and sleep. I am always grateful for it is with me, journeying through life, witnessing things I would never have thought possible, as my life is been a litany of the impossible becoming living reality for me to experience and narrate.
On the why; it is has been, why am I who has better been an observer and cheerleader who has begun to have a personal story like those I have celebrated as some of the wonders and mysteries of life? Love was like a boat that had already sailed, leaving me at the port, I didn’t even bother waving frantically to alert anyone that I had been left behind. I stood at the port happy for those onboard and waving happy goodbyes to those embarking on a journey of discovery and adventure.
Out of nowhere, a yacht appeared, a skipper beckoned me on board and insisted I should be on that boat, I have a cabin and it would be in the company of the man of my dreams. I thought I was dreaming until the water splashed in my face and then the boat laid out a welcoming ceremony as I boarded and was prepared to feast at the captain’s table with my companion. My feet almost gave under me, when the stunner took my arm.
This is me
I have written much about the pursuit of happiness, not necessarily as a goal, but as one that in the course of living is part of what brings quality to life. This episode of life might be difficult for some to appreciate or understand, yet, some inclinations are borne of nature, how you deal with it might well be one of nurture or discovery.
I am not here to make excuses for who I am and what I know I have been from probably at the age of seven, I did not understand it, I many times tried to suppress it, it was long before I began to appreciate the need to embrace it, and with embracing it, I blossom in many aspects of life that would have suffered if I acted otherwise.
At this time, I have found that to live one’s truth is one of the greatest achievements of loving oneself, for which some may decide not to love or like you anymore. I guess it can be difficult to extricate oneself from the need to please others and by that live what they expect of you rather than you live your own individually unique and sometimes different life not aping the so-called norms.
Celebrating love
I am not ashamed of who I am, I am happy with who I am, I fell in love with someone, that someone happens to be a man, we feel the same about each other and hope to spend the rest of our lives together. I cannot apologise for what nature made me, I would make the best of it and celebrate my life in the truth of what I have found.
I was in South Africa for 9 days and we had a wonderful time, the memories are captured below.
Just a week ago, after bidding Brian farewell to his abode in Bulawayo, I was also preparing to board my flight back from Johannesburg. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzAO5snTMk/
Beyond Brian's sense of fun and good humour is a rather naughty streak, part of what makes him such great company. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzB44jnaKs/
Another day had us out to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens somewhere so far that the Uber driver might well have hit a jackpot. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzEFxFHyst/
Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia was a trip down the lane of history that created the living legend of Nelson Mandela. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzG6q5Hls4/
Then I found a feature on my mobile phone camera. Holding down the snapshot button takes 20 successive pictures. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzPsFMndcE/
We were promised mountain views of Pretoria, Johannesburg and an amazing dam if we went up Magaliesberg Mountain by the cable car at Hartbeespoort. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzR-GtHSzH/
Amazing panoramic views from the Magaliesberg Mountain with signs pointing out places of significance and history. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzS4SmngYw/
Yes, we could even see Botswana from Magaliesberg Mountain, but the more interesting point is about the demonyms of Botswana. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzUAAJH_mI/
On our descent from Magaliesberg Mountain, Brian was again making many funny faces, all of which thrilled me to bits. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzVIudnENT/
Pouting, smirking, smiling, winking, teasing, dozing, the many beautiful faces of Brian. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzV6SvH0yR/
On our last full day out, we were in Pretoria where we met up with Brian's niece, he has fathered his nieces into adulthood when his sister passed on. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzXCqXnIBT/
Seashells, too many to give a name than to capture what you can see and then find time to study what you've seen. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzXg8bHv68/
I guess at this point I was both tired and bored, I had seen every kind of creature on God's own earth, imagined and real. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzYR4lnewk/
On the last night in South Africa, we decided to give the Nigerian restaurant a second chance at a first impression. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuzZH2PHY0h/


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

It's my prerogative

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In the same vein
Over the last few weeks, I have written a few blogs on parent-child relationships because I have had to run the gauntlet of issues that are probably not unique to just myself.
It was only eleven days ago that I blocked my father on both Facebook and Instagram because I think he crossed the line from participating in my social environment into interfering with it. Some might think that was a drastic step to take, but I did not second-guess that matter, I was incensed and riled up about it, I had no other alternative than to take that action.
Then in conversation with one of my best friends, we discussed how I should have cut him a bit of slack, it is probably excusable that he confused my life with his views of a lifestyle, conflating them in misunderstanding the differences and by that overstepped the bounds of matters that are particularly mine alone and no one else’s.
Between life and lifestyle
Life is an encompassing issue that engenders the participation of every aspect of a person, in living, in livelihood, in relationships, in the community, in society and whatever area of endeavour. In life, you live, you love, you face options, you make choices, decisions can be life-changing and it could be quite different from the norm. But one person's norm might well be the abnormal of another, which is why we find accommodations and the openmindedness to live and let live.
When a person finds love and a relationship with another regardless of gender pairing; whilst it might court controversy, that is life in action, not the passing fad of a lifestyle. There are hearts, minds, bodies, and souls engrossed in this unique journey of soulmates. You cannot for the want of conformity complicate or upend the life of another to satisfy the wishes of some construct or societal mores.
Too many people have been hurt by unsavoury, imposed, or unwelcome matchmaking in the hope that something might blossom out it. Just that you think someone is good from your perspective does not mean, that is the best match for the person you think you're helping get hitched. It works for some, it is not the solution for many, we have just one life to live than to grin and bear it with misery, trying to adjust to the requirements of others when your persuasion and inclination is completely different from what they hope for or expect.
That’s my prerogative
I would spare people the agony of living through the experience of seeing the alien expressed on my living and online persona, why bring them so much grief? The liberal use of the block with that in mind does not seem that cruel or drastic anymore.
I hope to afford my parents, my relations, my friends, my acquaintances and interested persons along with complete strangers the opportunity to participate in my social media world, however, if the said participation slips inadvertently into policing my activities; I would without hesitation put a stop to that participating without recourse for appeal or redress.
My social media space is my fiefdom, if you violate the unwritten rules of respect and circumspection, you will be excluded, no matter how close you are to me. That is completely my prerogative and it would not be yielded to another for review. Just let me live.


Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Thought Picnic: In sympathy with dashed parental expectations

How they strive
I guess I am one to feel great sympathy for parents, the people who have through the years borne responsibilities whilst striving to ensure that the difficulties and hardships they suffered do not impact on us as much as they can.
The expectations are high, their aspiration even amid the turmoil and turbulence of life to hope that their wards have a considerably better life than they ever had. It becomes the measure of their success to see that happen.
Yet, they realise too late that their offspring is individualistic and unique, independent of thought and aims to the point that they forget when to yield control to this growing object of their once cooing affections who has reached adolescence and then adulthood.
When we fail
Despite their well laid out plans, a child might eventually deviate from the project and offer deliverables that would excite from deep shame and disappointment to effusive pride. No destiny is written anywhere, but the product is a sum of many influences, the parents mostly in the formative years and community, society and beyond shaping the person who emerges.
What does a parent do when a child fails when it appears all opportunities offered have been squandered? The reactions are myriad, some display their disappointment in displeasure leading to estrangement, some find some way to understand the too many factors that might have contributed to that situation, but there is no one answer to that question, it is a tough one.
God help the child through whom their parents intend to live out their dreams. Pushed at every end to perform and excel to the point of exhaustion and resentment. The child becomes one time grateful and at another time hateful. It is not usually a case of the mismanagement of the child, but it can affect relationships.
Knowing the times
The transition of parents from providers and protectors through advisors and confidants to lasting friendships is not one that many parents and children travel. When stuck in the phase of the protector, emotional blackmail ensues, a conversation gets heated and what you hear next is, 'after all, I have done for you?' – add your suffix statement to the end of the sentence.
At the point the parent transitions to an advisor, very useful in development years but aware of the fact that advice is useful, but the decisions are not theirs to take, there is scope for the improvement of relationships towards a respectful distance and understanding that engenders friendship.
Pragmatism allows certain parents to frame their somewhat and sometimes unwelcome advice in helpful and considerate phrasing that brings their ward onside rather than ostracise them.
There would always be issues and areas of life where the parent and child would disagree, that again is a realisation of the fact that genetic provenance does not equate to carbon copy clones of the parent in spirit, soul, and body. That would be unsettling, eerie, and concerning.
From left field
A child would make choices they want to make, some things parents might think are choices might well be a predisposition that child has no control over and nothing the parents could have done in the past could have changed who that child is.
Care should be taken to not attempt to force the child to adhere to particular requirements to satisfy some personal, societal, religious, or communal need. Outlooks would always differ, even at the best of times.
Then comes the question, how does a parent handle sexuality issues, if your child is bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transsexual? That is probably the toughest reality some parents would have to face about their child. Sadly, the shock and confusion that follows can lead to the utterly irrational. The child was no less your child between the day before you knew and the day after it all blasted you in the face.
Dealing in
I could imagine the things running through the mind of a parent and it would be a world of thoughts and expectations, many of which would be dashed because of that revelation. The child would go on to live their lives however they choose if the parent does not do something utterly stupid.
At that point, your acceptance or rejection of your child would not change the state of affairs, and any undue exertion of power or authority would just drive the child into a more accepting environment of the reality of who they are. Some parents would never know the journey of guilt, doubt, angst, despair, fear, and denial that child has scraped through to the point of learning to love themselves enough to express who they are.
What do some parents do? They curse, they swear, they disown, they harm, they fight against it and seek to alter the course of nature. The nature that science has already proven is inherent in the humanity of a child is discounted for the fanciful idea that the child has chosen a lifestyle. If indeed it were a lifestyle, but this is really a life and people have to live with the fact of who they are separate from what others including their parents expect them to be.
Yes, I do sympathise that children may not turn out to be what their parents had hoped their children would become. If the maturity in the parent can see that it is not the end of the world, then, parent and child would respectfully remain friends even though the most difficult crises that dog a lifetime of knowledge, experience, and relationships.


Saturday, 2 March 2019

Every time we say goodbye

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Chances
Sometimes, we must take chances and when it comes to love, it is best not to lose those chances. That is what I did with the sudden break in activity that allowed for me to review other aspects of my life and wellbeing. Running a long-distance relationship is not easy at the best of time and we are left to make the most of whatever time we can have together as we arrange and plan for the future.
In this, I found the opportunity to combine business and leisure, I flew out to Johannesburg eleven days ago and met up with my partner who flew in from Bulawayo. The hours of conversation on WhatsApp and Skype seemed to prepare us for this as if we had been together all along.
Embraces
All the in-jokes livened up into a celebration of happiness and joy as we held hands, laughed, kissed, and hugged. In that we weaved 9 days of romance, doing wonderful things all around Johannesburg, communicating and enjoying the companionship we hope to make into a life together, somewhere.
As the days went by and the time for us to return to our respective abodes dawned upon us, we tried as much not to agonise at our pending separation but made the best of every moment we have had together until I had to see him off to the airport this morning.
Advances
At the departure gates, we said our goodbyes and damned the consequences of kissing in public. It was a wonderful time we had together, we are also looking forward to just under 7 weeks away when we meet up for almost 3 weeks of fun and adventure.
Every time we say goodbye, much as it looks like we die a little, maybe, I almost cried a little, we also live for the moments of when we would say hello again, embrace each other and plot that story of lives intertwined for the prospect of wonder, beauty, intrigue, hope, love and more.
Thank you, South Africa, for giving me this wonderful and lovely feeling I never knew I had the wherewithal to express with anyone for a long time.


Monday, 25 February 2019

Search your conscience

Some things we let all scatter,
So we can rearrange it after,
By dismissing the serious with laughter,
We so live and falter.
We must not suffer the pretence,
Or stand in any defence,
If as one forsakes their conscience,
For a life of convenience.
We have walked against the grain,
The norms are down the drain,
In principle, you bear the strain,
Even if you are held in disdain.
For what indeed is a life?
In which compromise is rife,
Against which you never strife,
Even without the threat of a knife.
Those of whom are well written,
Are of some who never did fit in,
They did not recant when smitten,
In their example, we must listen.


Saturday, 23 February 2019

On parental interference and sundry matters

Dealing with parents
I could imagine that many people after reading this would probably nod their heads in agreement on the issue of parental interference. I love my parents and when things are generally fine, which means knowing their boundaries and not interfering with my life, we have quite interesting and lovely conversations.
There are however areas of concern that I would hope that parents around the world gain some maturity on. I called my brother yesterday quite upset about a comment my father posted on my activities on Facebook. He had said, “The earliest you make a good change in your lifestyle the better, it is not too late. All the best.” From my perspective, this was utterly uncalled for, and as I have written many years before and frequently as in the links below, there was a clear notice to all concerned that they accept my choices or lose to their voices in my affairs.
Children provoked to wrath
Parental advice is good at any time, the kind of advice that helps you, builds you, encourages you and gives you the confidence to face the world. There was a time when as a child parental advice was an order, your agency was within the ambit of the latitude granted by your guardians. When that child becomes an adult, the parent needs to begin to adapt to new realities, the advice should come in that context, readily when asked for and tactfully when completely unsolicited for then offered like a reprimand.
In my last long conversation with my mother, who I lovingly call Iya, she offered the scripture about children honouring their parents, for it is commandment given with a promise. We were engaged in some banter as I had reported an issue, I was annoyed about to her about my father. I retorted that further down, it does say the parents should not provoke their children unto wrath.
We all have responsibilities, parents do as much as children do. If you as the hubristic almighty parent think there are no limits to how you interact with your grown-up child who is living quite independently of you in literally every sphere of their lives, then you are on the way to provoking your child unto wrath, the result of which cannot be healthy for either party.
No such ambition
The other thing is, I am very proud of my parents’ achievements in their lives, coming from their backgrounds, their professional successes and how those gave us their children amazing opportunities in life. I am probably the greatest beneficiary of it. I would be the first to confess that at some time I was a difficult child, I had my issues, and for some time, I probably was not a great source of pride to them.
Then, in resolving my own issues, I grew out of just wanting to make anyone proud as an ambition, if anyone was to feel a sense of pride in my regard, it would be incidental, not as a goal of mine. There might be a disconnection between them knowing that fact and realising I am not in a hamster’s wheel of life, trying to please anyone. I probably should have written a memorandum to all concerned.
My parents do not have that much influence in my life, not for a long time of at least three decades. Maybe in their mind’s eye and so in that of many other parents, they still see a child, we are always going to be the children of our parents, but we all grow up and that child is no more a child, but an adult. Many parents are in for a rude shock because they sometimes must be jolted violently into that new reality.
I make the decisions now
My situation is made worse for the fact that my father as a patriarch still has fully grown adults around him who have failed to gain any independence for themselves and thereby unfortunately becloud his view of things and the ability to discriminate between people who still need to be ordered around and those who at the very least should command both his courtesy and his respect in his dealings with them.
We are presented with many teachable moments which may not be immediate learning experiences but have to be reinforced time and again. I would never be a model child because my experiences and worldview are completely different from those of my parents. I try to be a good respectful child, but there are limits to what I can do. Whatever they have to say or do, the final decision would always be mine and mine alone to take.
This is a rebuke
When I have had to push back, I have not minced my words, that is the quality of education and influences around me, whilst I am reverential and respectful, when lines are crossed, order must be restored. In response to his comment, I wrote. “I do not expect to be reading these kinds of messages from you, I am 53, if you can't accept my choices, I appreciate your situation, but please, respect me for who I am. Thank you.
Then, I blocked him on Facebook for the simple fact that, if he does not approve of my ‘lifestyle’ and that so-called lifestyle is published without reserve on Facebook, it is not helpful for him to be assaulted with it. I was only being kind.
I have however learnt that there are busybody informers on Facebook who have taken on the job of reporting my views and opinions on social media to my father from which he makes background inquiries to ascertain things without consulting me. The poor man is caught between societal encumbrances to be seen to act on the information he has received even after knowing there is little he can do than piss me off.
Well, I would hope those informants would get to read this and inform him that this is both a rebuke to him and them. Back off or this is just the beginning of some interesting storytelling. Thank you.


This is my life, this is me

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Things I would not brook
There are a few places where I would brook no intrusion, the violation of my space and where I am being treated with disrespect. In both cases, I would tend to take remedial action before my dignity, integrity and sense of well-being suffer.
Only a few months ago, I welcomed a close relation to Facebook and even celebrated it with a blog as I usually write about the serious and the mundane. In my writings, I could sometimes be circumspect or nuanced but never misunderstood.
I have a broad social media presence from the professional, which is LinkedIn to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog in order of longevity. I used to have my tweets automatically feed into Facebook, but that facility was removed my Facebook over a year ago. I, however, do have my Instagram posts feed directly into Facebook and Twitter.
My decisions, my terms
In the space of just under three months, I am back in South Africa for business as much as for leisure, my previous visit gave me an opportunity that I wanted to explore further including the accident of meeting someone that we agreed to begin a relationship together.
Whilst I appreciate my life straddles the old world and the new, an age of ignorance through into the one of enlightenment, I can understand some people like some of my parents’ generation would get left behind even if technology forces them to interact with a world quite radically different from the one in which they had been raised.
For over three decades I have made my own decisions in terms of my expression, my career, my choices, my partners and much else. I am grateful to many who have encouraged, supported, celebrated, and rewarded me as my journey of life has become a tapestry of stories. I would easily make friends than enemies, my philosophy is for the peaceful coexistence of living and letting live.
Ancient and modern in one life
Social media provides a platform of varied expression, I have neither stepped away from controversy nor frankness of view, in many cases, I would either mind my own business or keep my counsel. It allows for you to make acquaintances with the broadest range of opinions, ideas, people and things, knowledge is a good thing, understanding how to use it is a better thing.
Then, last night, I had to run the gauntlet of this comment posted to a status that was fed to Facebook from Instagram. I have edited the text from a proof-reader’s perspective, but the context and the import remain unchanged. “The earliest you make a good change in your lifestyle the better, it is not too late. All the best.” This, without doubt, came from someone who I can sympathise has my interests at heart, God bless them, as much as it is intrusive and completely unnecessary.
This is not a lifestyle, this is life
I can only guess as to what aspect of my lifestyle is being referred to as in the old world, the expression of sexuality is a lifestyle choice as opposed to an innate state of being that professionals and a growing public, a majority of whom are in the West have now better understand with systems and processes put to place protect the rights and liberties of people who have a sexual orientation not common with the majority populace.
Indeed, if this were a lifestyle, it would have been easy to adopt another, and as one wrestles with the issues and complexities of extracting oneself from influences and travails of that lifestyle life stopping smoking or the consumption of alcohol one can find better outcomes in life. Sexuality is not a lifestyle, it is a lived experience that in childhood has left any confused and conflicted, as one grew you questioned your sanity and normalcy whilst secretly seeking some expression of it, unsure of whether there was anyone else like you.
If you came from a religious background, that worsened your sense of unease, you’re found in a cycle of seeking cures for ailments that do not exist. The psychological trauma, angst, and guilt weigh heavily on you. Even if you live in countries where the freedom to express yourself exists, you still find you are not really that free and those of a heterosexual persuasion have been in the main.
Coming to terms in my own struggle
You find common cause with others like you, grow in confidence within communities you have formed to promote your interests, the need to be who you are without fear of persecution or violence in every sphere of life is one that has been achieved in some societies whilst it is criminalised in others.
Something natural happens, someone comes into your life offering companionship beyond friendship, a life of happiness and support with fulfilment. We all have the capacity for love regardless of gender pairing or sexuality. I dare say, that is celebrated in some instances and condemned in others. I could have satisfied the needs for my society to follow certain heteronormative choices, found a girl, married, had children, and lived a lie, I didn’t.
I made a solemn oath to myself that I would not complicate another person’s life with my issues, they are tough enough to deal with without messing up other lives living on the down-low. Imagine my difficulty, I once had a relationship that lasted 7 years, but never could share with my family, my happiness and fulfilment.
Then another who I so loved and might have had the opportunity to build a life with died suddenly, neither could I share my bereavement and sorrow with my family in the middle of recovering from cancer. I am sorry, these experiences are not lifestyle choices, they are long and enduring events of my life.
It is life, it might be different, it might be unconventional, it is not a disorder and definitely not a lifestyle. Being homosexual is NOT a lifestyle.
My life is mine to live
I sympathise with those who would have preferred a parallel universe of assumed norms for me, but that universe would contain the same diversity. You do not choose your sexuality; your sexuality is part of who you are whether you decide to express it and live your life to the full or conceal it and live a limited version of yourself.
I have been circumspect, I have not been out to everyone I have encountered, some of my family do already know, others, it is on a need to know basis. At work, from as far back as the 1990s, I have not concealed the fact that I am gay or in a relationship, I have been respected for my candour and never been adversely affected by the revelation of it. Amongst most of my managers, I have found allies. I am grateful for all that.
In this season, I found love, I intend to pursue it fully for my happiness and wellbeing, it is part of why I returned to South Africa, to meet up with my new love and explore the opportunities we can have of life together. I do not intend to live in the shadows about this and I can understand it would make some uncomfortable. I am not here to live the life and expectations of others, but my own life and the happiness that fortune has gifted me in the process.
In view of the comment that was posted to my Facebook status which was a second infraction of what I would not brook being violated, I made one decision, if the person who feels so concerned about my lifestyle does not approve of it, it is best to spare them the inconvenience of my social media persona as a happy gay man with his partner. This is my life, this is me, I will not sacrifice it for anyone. I have blocked the said person on all my social media accounts, that person is my father.


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Big mama Africa belittled by cartographers

Crossing into the southern hemisphere,
Over a line that makes you wonder where,
Strange and familiar names do appear,
This is the Africa we probably should not fear.
Three villes say the French Belgians were here,
Libreville to Franceville are not quite near,
By the time Brazzaville is at your stare,
You're in Congo and it is not a dare.
Mbandaka sticks in my mind like a crime,
It was Coquilhatville once upon a time,
Congo and Ruki rivers make it maritime,
As it sits on the equator just in its prime.
Africa is a place of distances far apart,
The maps conceal a secret we never chart,
If Bakwanga does play a part,
It is four thousand miles from your start.
In Livingstone a place to which he came,
Even Victoria falls he did name,
Much he did to build his fame,
Yes, the British left many marks of shame.
If we knew our basic geography,
From our narrow African philosophy,
We'll realise it's extensive ethnography,
And redraw the misleading cartography.
A Flickr slideshow of flight tracker places mentioned.
The flight tracker playback of the journey, you can zoom in on the maps to see the place names that came up in the poem.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Finding me do what I would not do

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In the knowing
You cannot overdo appreciation as it stems from the acknowledgement of person, deed, event, or action. You acknowledge and notice, commend and compliment, give praise and sometimes as lavishly as the mode of communication chosen can afford it is all part of gratitude.
I have learnt to be thankful, thankful for so many things, the gift of life, the lifting from deathbed to enjoy life from a new perspective, the blessing of means to do things that would heretofore be impossible, the honour of friendships, people who give time, place, love, consideration and more for reasons you sometimes cannot comprehend, but you are grateful for them being around.
In the doing
The appreciation of love is a higher calling, one we tend to take for granted because love is always there open, ready, willing, able, exerting beyond duty, empathising in a oneness of spirit and soul, ever giving rarely demanding, it is mysteriously powerful.
To it we must respond with consideration and without confusion, knowing the genuineness in which it is offered and we learning to reciprocate in ways that enhance that exchange that is deeper than can be comprehended.
In the living
We must appreciate, we must celebrate, we must immerse ourselves in the beauty of love’s expression and in that find healing that no other medicine can give. It mends the hearts, glows in the face, puts a spring in the step and renews the youth tremendously.
There probably isn’t anything that can’t be done for love, because when it comes to it, it is unconditional and unconventional, selfless, and generous to a fault, you will do for love what you normally will not do. That is the full expression of appreciation.


Thought Picnic: I was sodden too sudden

To prophesy, I did not
Suddenly, is not a word I use that often, though I do sometimes pretend I rarely act on impulse but on slow determined and considered thought and reflection before I do anything.
However, what I cannot account for is how casual commentary becomes prescient as if one has been gifted a power of benign prognostication that has hardly developed beyond reviewing issues in hindsight.
The decision to go to Cape Town at Easter was made in early January and in deciding that, there was a throwaway comment that South Africa might again see a visitor sooner than planned. We were already counting down the days towards the meeting in Johannesburg for our onward flight together to Cape Town.
To manifest, I sure did
Then suddenly, a furlough and an uncertainty intervened in a situation where time became available to consider possibilities and opportunities. This all got clarity yesterday evening and with it comes a trip to the southern hemisphere. Now, who would not jump at a business trip to South Africa?
The execution was sudden, but the thought process had been sown, watered and tended over weeks of flux, wherein, the indeterminate follows on to the definite. With ticket in hand, board on high, affections in overdrive and meetings planned for the eruptions of ideas, goals, aims and hopefully more than one ever desired. We face life as a journey of people, hearts, and minds.
Providence shines on me and I am grateful for all that gives me a story to tell, eventually.


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Nigeria: Can we radically rethink our political machinery?

Resisting the laughable
I was not surprised when I heard on BBC Radio 4 in the very early hours of this morning that just 5 hours before the polls opened in Nigeria, they were postponed for a week. [BBC]
It would be convenient for me to write from the western comfort of my abode to rant and rave about the systemic dysfunction that bedevils Nigeria and runs counter to the words of Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa on the day of independence, when he said, “We are called upon immediately to show that our claims to responsible government are well-founded, and having been accepted as an independent state we must at once play an active part in maintaining the peace of the world and in preserving civilisation. I promise you, we shall not fail for want of determination.” [AkinBlog][Dawodu]
The courage of reality
In that assertion at the dawn of independent Nigeria, the claims and the want are no more the subject of debate, the conclusion is an everyday indictment of a nation that is full of potential and that is all we have, potential.
Yet, for all accusations by the main political parties that the postponement could presage the manipulation of the vote in favour of either, I must commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for having the courage to realise they were not ready and taking the difficult but necessary decision to postpone.
The pressure to carry on regardless would have been immense but having recognised that certain locations would be denied suffrage and appreciating the logistical problems of getting election materials to the various places that might have been sabotaged, this was the only reasonable option.
The saboteurs gaming the system
The problem with Nigeria is myriad, we have a rentier class of political jobbers who have no occupation apart from peddling influence, they suck the oxygen out of every other viable and productive sector of the economy, society and government, such that things can only work with their agreement.
Then, amongst them, because the remuneration within politics far exceeds that which can be acquired out of qualification, hard work or merit, they employ every means to disrupt and sabotage the electioneering process that represents the will of the people in order to entrench themselves in positions where they can control the commonwealth arrogating to themselves untrammelled fiat over the helpless masses who are best kept in the vassalage of only having begging bowls, living hand to mouth and driven by survival by the belly.
That is the failure of Nigeria that has resulted in postponing the elections for a week. There are people who have a vested selfish interest in what they can usurp to the detriment of others and without any scruples as to whether anyone gets hurt or killed in the process.
Rethinking our political machinery
Sometimes, I wonder what it is that can fix Nigeria in the state that it is, but we can start with one thing, slash the remuneration of the political class to just basic allowances for board, meals and transport. If they need additional income, they should earn it like everyone else.
Nigeria cannot afford a fulltime legislature, at the exorbitant cost at which it is run today, there is no reason to feather the beds of the legislators when ordinarily the middle classes on their earnings cannot afford the basic things without the temptation to malfeasance, corruption or fraud.
The legislature should have a term time with a clear agenda like a syllabus of activities and bills to debate, run with the efficiency of a principal of a secondary school, clearly with objectives and penalties for not producing results. An Office for Government Accountability having the independence to review and sanction the executive and the legislature when they fail in their responsibilities.
As a consequence of this
Taking the remuneration surplus out of politics would immediately divert the eyes of the heretofore political jobbers to other honeypots and troughs, whilst hopefully allowing Nigerians with a sense of altruism and commitment into politics. At least, they would not be politicking for the money but for the opportunity to serve.
Then, reduce all political terms to one term, none should seek re-election without having been succeeded once, within that, cascade the elections such that the executive branch is not elected in the same year as the legislative branch. This is radical, but I think it would go a long way to taking the leeches out of the decision-making framework of Nigeria.
There is still hope
There is a likelihood with this rethinking of Nigerian politics, we might come close to the what Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa dreamt was possible in Nigeria, “that our claims to responsible government are well-founded.”
In the meanwhile, I hope that when Nigerians do finally get the opportunity to elect their political leaders and representatives in a week, INEC would be ready, the people would have chosen wisely and their express will be presented in the validated results.
Long live Nigeria and God bless Nigeria.


Friday, 15 February 2019

In My Time

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Songs that touch the heart
There are many songs that I have heard that touch a part of me that nothing else can. Sometimes, it is just the music, the easy listening that brings a calmness and restfulness to my spirit, I feel I want to play it back continuously until I fall into slumber.
Then, beyond the sound of the music, you look at the lyrics and find such meaning that you can completely relate to as if the words taken out of your life and published to the strains of music that take your thoughts to another place.
All that I know now has to go
Recently, I found a life experience I never thought I would ever have again, I have a long history of relationships, some good, some bad and the others are forgettable. Some of my past loves are still friends and I cherish their friendships, but there would be no rekindling of what we once felt for each other, that has gone.
How again I realise experience limited my ability to move on and find new love, I built crenellations around my heart for it had been hurt and broken too many times, I did not want to hurt anymore. I was protecting myself from heartbreak and by that not opening my heart to those who might have been more caring and careful, considering and considerate, in love and loving, I was exhausted.
I let my heart be touched
Even with that, I thought I was on guard by default, then someone came and in a short embrace, my heart settled, a calmness enveloped me, I felt peaceful and drawn to this person in ways impossible to resist. There was no conflict between my head and my heart, both were telling me, there is much in this than you could ever imagine. Go with the flow, dare to ask and fear for nothing about what might happen.
I followed my deepest premonitions like I was walking through caves towards a welcoming light and comfort, I was being led into love unbeknownst, I was in love before it dawned on me that this was happening to me. I accepted there was no escape from this feeling. Crazy as it seemed, it was real, it was true, and it was growing in strength, in meaning and in prospect.
I let my heart be touched, I let my mind be caught, I let my life be changed, I let my love be shared and the past has become its own story because the present is a miracle of dreams that come true for the very few. In that, I have been blessed, for after all I have been through, in my time, I have found love – it is a wonderful thing.
This song touched me deeply
You know, I'm no beginner
My heart's been to the wall
I'm a tried and true romantic
Who's seen and done it all
And when you walked into my life
Suddenly I knew
All the love I had inside
Was leading me to you
In my time
I've lived and loved so much
Through each high and low
I let my heart be touched
In my time
There isn't much I've missed
I've seen love come and go, but heaven knows
I've never loved like this in my time
After all that I've been through
I'm in love with you
I've won some and I've lost some
But us dreamers don't complain
We keep reaching out for passion
No matter what the pain
When I looked into your eyes
It all fell into place
I found, what I was searching for
Shining in your face
In my time
I've lived and loved so much
Through each high and low
I let my heart be touched
In my time
There isn't much I've missed
I've seen love come and go, but heaven knows
I've never loved like this in my time
After all that I've been through
I'm in love with you
In my time
I've lived and loved so much
Through each high and low
I let my heart be touched
In my time
There isn't much I've missed
I've seen love come and go, but heaven knows
I've never loved like this in my time
After all that I've been through
I'm in love with you
In My Time lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group