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

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

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

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.
Beyond Brian's sense of fun and good humour is a rather naughty streak, part of what makes him such great company.
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.
Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia was a trip down the lane of history that created the living legend of Nelson Mandela.
Then I found a feature on my mobile phone camera. Holding down the snapshot button takes 20 successive pictures.
We were promised mountain views of Pretoria, Johannesburg and an amazing dam if we went up Magaliesberg Mountain by the cable car at Hartbeespoort.
Amazing panoramic views from the Magaliesberg Mountain with signs pointing out places of significance and history.
Yes, we could even see Botswana from Magaliesberg Mountain, but the more interesting point is about the demonyms of Botswana.
On our descent from Magaliesberg Mountain, Brian was again making many funny faces, all of which thrilled me to bits.
Pouting, smirking, smiling, winking, teasing, dozing, the many beautiful faces of Brian.
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.
Seashells, too many to give a name than to capture what you can see and then find time to study what you've seen.
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.
On the last night in South Africa, we decided to give the Nigerian restaurant a second chance at a first impression.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

It's my prerogative

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

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.
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.
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.