Author Archives: admin

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Trust

Category : Uncategorized

As if you have a choice,                                                                                                                                                                   trust                                                                                                                                                                                                        we are up to the task                                                                                                                                                                            of busting the impasse:                                                                                                                                                                      we will find inside us a light                                                                                                                                                                  to see that, however hard it is to admit,                                                                                                                                              everyone is partially right,                                                                                                                                                                that the dye is not cast.

 

As if you fully own your voice,                                                                                                                                                               trust that, despite everything,  we                                                                                                                                                      can rise above the disbelief,                                                                                                                                                              we will grow through the pain,                                                                                                                                              however many holy cows are slain,                                                                                                                                             however little money is found,                                                                                                                                                     despite the dialogues going round and round…

 

As if, for a second, you can mute the noise,                                                                                                                                trust we are all bigger than the present                                                                                                                                 smarter than any academic lessons                                                                                                                                               that police are flawed like you and me                                                                                                                           management just people trying to agree,                                                                                                                                   youth just trying to be heard and feel                                                                                                                                               as if they’re included in the wider scheme                                                                                                                                       of conversations and economies.

 

Trust guts and brains as our guides                                                                                                                                                     to know what’s needed, what’s right                                                                                                                                                     just as much as those that hide                                                                                                                                                   behind suits and flashing blue lights.                                                                                                                                               Trust that the emperor’s clothes                                                                                                                                                   were never a good fit,                                                                                                                                                                         that his words are empty yet full of shit,                                                                                                                                       that the youth’s cause is lit                                                                                                                                                               and will stay alight                                                                                                                                                                           however much their ways cause fright,                                                                                                                                       however much they are hit.

 

Trust that we can find each other                                                                                                                                                         through the bullets and cannon and smoke                                                                                                                                       that the voices aren’t smothered                                                                                                                                                     and everyone is now more woke.                                                                                                                                                   Woke to the need to step back and listen                                                                                                                                   woke to the absence of political vision.                                                                                                                                       Trust that trusting                                                                                                                                                                                     will slowly build a bridge                                                                                                                                                                 that anger won’t blind us to others’ hearts                                                                                                                                   won’t rip the young and older apart                                                                                                                                             won’t throw people back to their camps,                                                                                                                                 stamping “Told you so!”

 

Trust in daring to light a lamp                                                                                                                                                           that the fire might refine to a single flame                                                                                                                                       burning in a common body,                                                                                                                                                         soothed by time’s light rain.                                                                                                                                                           Trust that our hearts are made of steel                                                                                                                                         with rubber and yeast underneath                                                                                                                                                    to step through the ruins of debate                                                                                                                                               and around the angry embers                                                                                                                                                             to resist the temptation to hate                                                                                                                                                          to forgive the faults yet remember,                                                                                                                                                the gap between the generations                                                                                                                                                       at times dangerously wide,                                                                                                                                                                 yet surprisingly in places slender.

 

 

 

 

 


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TEENAGERS

Category : Uncategorized

Poem by Phumzile Sibeko, Grade 11, Daliwonga Secondary, Dube, Soweto.

Teenagers are amazing                                                                                                                                                                            I wish the world would see                                                                                                                                                                      just how beautiful we are                                                                                                                                                                how compassionate we can be.

I wish they could take back                                                                                                                                                                     all the cynical things they’ve said                                                                                                                                                         and see how much we shine                                                                                                                                                             and be positive instead.

Remark on our radiant smile                                                                                                                                                                 and the differences we make,                                                                                                                                                                 all of the people our lives touch,                                                                                                                                                         all of the chances that we take.

Notice how we change                                                                                                                                                                       each and every day,                                                                                                                                                                         wanting to leave the childhood                                                                                                                                                         yet desperately trying to stay.

I wish they could remember                                                                                                                                                                   how tough our lives can be,                                                                                                                                                               the promises that are broken                                                                                                                                                            the violence that we see.

Yet we still venture onward                                                                                                                                                             unsure of where the road may lead,                                                                                                                                         hoping they will take notice,                                                                                                                                                         hoping they will take heed.

Of the changes that we’ve made,                                                                                                                                                        of the power that we hold,                                                                                                                                                                  of the wisdom we have hidden,                                                                                                                                                         of the stories yet untold.

I hope the world will notice                                                                                                                                                           what some have already seen                                                                                                                                                     teenagers are amazing people                                                                                                                                                          striving to follow their dreams.


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Cape Town

Category : Uncategorized

High up on Ou Kaapse Weg                                                                                                                                                                   where the wind of change blows                                                                                                                                                          I spy a provocative sight below,                                                                                                                                                            a bitter sweet location:                                                                                                                                                                    opposite Pollsmoor lies Steenberg Estate                                                                                                                                            two cultures, lives and fates,                                                                                                                                                           one of golf and green,                                                                                                                                                                         the other concrete and grey.                                                                                                                                                             My eye wanders to the dusty east                                                                                                                                                         of the flats, the mythologised beast,                                                                                                                                           where imagination grows as the detail fades,                                                                                                                                     lives invisible in the distant haze.

Hugging mountains regal, crowned with cloud                                                                                                                                 and blue skies unblemished by doubt,                                                                                                                                                 the suburbs, oozing purse power                                                                                                                                                     and grapes that rarely turn sour,                                                                                                                                                barely feel howls of a gale above                                                                                                                                                    barely know Khayelitsha’s love,                                                                                                                                                   detached from the festering rage.                                                                                                                                                         Despite the threat of change                                                                                                                                                             the larnies look anything but pale                                                                                                                                                       as much as they might shout and rail                                                                                                                                                   too snug, too close to the past to feel cold                                                                                                                                      too convinced by their story to be told.

Steenberg so close to the barbed life                                                                                                                                       suburbs so far from the flats’ strife                                                                                                                                                       yet Polls apart, moor different than a common country:                                                                                                   glamour mixed with grime,                                                                                                                                                                     pleasure with poverty not aligned                                                                                                                                                         rands with ruin as neighbours:                                                                                                                                                   golfers  doing the inmates no favours                                                                                                                                                   labouring the fairways as they labour the years                                                                                                                           the years observing snail change,                                                                                                                                                         as platitudes try to hide the fears.

Indominatable, opaque and alluring,                                                                                                                                             table mountain continues to host the tourists –                                                                                                                                 holds firm against the times and weather                                                                                                                                  holds out against the future being better,                                                                                                                                       idealism now a wind thinned leather.                                                                                                                                                   A table on which the privileged feast                                                                                                                                                 the tablecloth stained with old wine and cheese,                                                                                                                    clouds of progress blown down the mountain                                                                                                                                    voices lost in the wind,                                                                                                                                                                            hopes pinned, on 20 years and counting.

…lying behind the grey walls                                                                                                                                                          when the barbiturate haze falls                                                                                                                                                             nothing is felt, but buttons and boredom                                                                                                                                          no green or well-trimmed freedom                                                                                                                                                 but the 28’s regal, crowned with lost years                                                                                                                                          ’94 onwards political spin-smeared.

High up on Ou Kaapse Weg                                                                                                                                                             trees are visibly leaning over.                                                                                                                                                                 but out on the flats                                                                                                                                                                                   lives are invisibly leaning over.                                                                                                                                                         Steenberg trees stand tall, erect                                                                                                                                                             golfers swing clean, undaunted.                                                                                                                                                  Across the road                                                                                                                                                                                         in another world slowed                                                                                                                                                               people are pecked                                                                                                                                                                                 by choices and history haunted.


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Wellness and the runaway life

Category : Uncategorized

Eish, this term wellness gets thrown around a lot. What really is it saying? Bottom line: it’s a lot more than cutting out the chips and buying a pilates ball.

Modern life threatens to take away all that is well with us and our world. It is so fast, so techno-driven, so schedule driven, so convenience driven, so image driven. So how do we get off this merry-go-round of madness, where we want more and more of whatever’s new and cool and quick? This insatiable appetite, this headlong impulsive rush, this lazy and fearful tendency to be taken along by the crowd, is killing us. We don’t know what we really want, who we really are, where we are really going…but we do know where pokemon is going, we all have an opinion on who Kim K is, and the latest fad, and tomorrow always feels like a better day to do, eat , love or  be what or who is good for us – than today. Rushing around, wasting today, over and over, hoping somehow wellness will find us without us having to lift a finger.

So the first step in wellness is to stop: get off the runaway train of superficial needs, switch off the phone and TV, hide the car key, cancel some appointments and just breathe. And on the back of that deep breathing will surface a deeper set of instincts – the desire for happiness, wholeness, a real connection to a true self that so much of the excess, the accessories of life, block.

If we can fill up the well of our spirit, if we can introspect and build a strong inner core, a set of values that money can’t buy, nothing about modern life will pose a threat. Because we will be in charge, the driver instead of being driven, making choices about when to drive and when just to sit still and connect with all that is well within. If the gym is what contributes to that sense of stillness, then lycra and weights and trainers is the way to go. If this or that diet or this or that shape or spa contributes to filling up the well of self, then go for it. The strategy isn’t the main thing. The main thing is to get clear on: who am I, who do I want to be, what matters to me, what’s the goal? Once you have some good answers to these and you are committed to those answers, whether you go fung shwei, or chips, less sushi or more tantric sex, meditation or another episode of Modern Family, it doesn’t really matter, you can handle it, coz you’ve taken back the power.


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A Diet of Questions

Category : Uncategorized

Nancy Kline: Questions help people to think while statements encourage obedience.

One perspective is that life without questions is a lot smoother and easier. Questions challenge, disrupt, disturb and unearth. Why would we want to invite all that nonsense into our lives? That’s hard. That’s hectic.

But boredom and a minimal thinking existence is even more hectic. Questions bring life. They are oxygen for the brain and soul. They blow dust off our so called knowledge and bit by bit, question by question, they enable our understanding and perceptions to get a make-over.

This is because without questions life becomes a conveyor belt of predictability and over-processed knowledge with the nutritious and generative value of a McD’s burger. With questions, gradually life looks interesting again, bigger, more varied, up for debate, uncertain, something of an adventure, new ingredients being included with every new question.

The thing is questions also bring risk, a certain fear of the unknown answers, the possibility that our well established, half-baked understanding might have to change and we might have to take another look.

So that is what the Naledi programme essentially does. Through a questioning framework, it helps youth to see that there is just so much more on the menu than dull, lifeless burgers. The questions rattle them, shaking out all the mouldy knowledge and semi-liquid beliefs that are sort-of holding their lives together. Gradually youth are introduced to a whole new diet of ideas, the questions giving them little bouts of a sort of healthy indigestion.

Questions make youth work, and we were all born to work. Work brings purpose. Without work, the brain shrinks to  a blob of grey with little form or direction. So in Naledi, we expand young minds, expand young people’s horizons. Through asking and being asked, they find colour, surprise and purpose.  Sometimes with the blunt and sometimes with the sharp knife of questioning, they peel life to realise just how juicy it really is, just how beautifully dense and rich it is.

Questions are youth’s power, questions are their liberation from the confines of a meaning to their lives that has been given to them, clumsily wrapped up in a second hand box. They can at last reject the given meaning and decide for themselves what it is really all about and what it could be. Because questions start to tell them that they needn’t agree, they needn’t comply, that No is as much an option as Yes, that curiosity never killed the cat.


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Youth aren’t stupid

Category : Blog

Not stupid   When a Grade 10 or 11 student does badly in any of numerous high school subjects, a whole bunch of conclusions are possible, mostly of the unflattering kind: ‘he doesn’t care’, ‘he’s not suited to Science’, ‘he’s sloppy’, ‘he isn’t focused’, ‘he’ll never make it’ and so on. And many may be not far wrong. But the conclusion that is most commonly misleading is ‘he’s stupid’.

The answers given in tests might suggest that he or she doesn’t understand or know much, but it is a long dotted line between talent and result. It’s just too easy to write off high school students as cognitively deficient, not forgetting the numerous different ways that intelligence shows up in people. School mostly just caters for cognitive ability, and even that isn’t well catered for. Not because teachers don’t know what to teach or how to teach it, in the purely instructional sense.  But because for so many teenage learners the conditions under which they must show their ability are so difficult.

A few fundamentals have to be in place, if Thando or Mark or whoever are going to do themselves credit on paper, in the classroom:

  1. Youth, like all humans, need to feel loved – without love, they will love little or nothing they are asked to do, and when they don’t love what they do, the results sink accordingly.
  2. Youth need to feel like they belong – at home first, at school second.
  3. The heart drives the brain – happy youth work well, unhappy ones don’t.

When youth don’t feel loved, they often don’t care if they are clever or stupid. In fact, the lack of love often leaves them feeling so angry and betrayed – not that they show it very often – that they find some bitter comfort in the sludge of under-achievement: it confirms how they see or feel about themselves. When love – in its various forms – filters into their lives, so does meaning and motivation. And gradually a long lost sense of self returns, and with it a desire and ability to engage with knowledge. When this process unfolds, the stupid feeling gradually wears off, looking just like the superficial label that it always was.

A lack of belonging is like a poor foundation on which no amount of knowledge or tuition will stand firm. Not having a home, not feeling at home anywhere, not feeling attached to anything makes a young person feel lonely, disconnected, their soul wandering aimlessly, their eyes looking at books but not really seeing, their eyes vacantly looking out of the window, listless, alien. In this state of mind and heart, much of the potential of school slips off, because school looks stupid – expensively irrelevant, boring and not useful for soothing a broken heart.  A sense of belonging – to a team, a family, a cause, gives youth solidity, certainty, faith, a sense that they fit inside their own skin, fit  into a grand scheme, they can identify with something, something that they can see bits of themselves in.

Sadly, all too often, home is no more than four walls, the family just a group of people inside that live in parallel worlds at best, school just a bunch of mostly soulless books unpacked by educators  that don’t feel the need or desire to connect with their pupils – often because they carry similar hurts and dysfunction as the pupils.

Stupidity is the system that puts cognition before affection, that judges youth by their cover, that puts youth into boxes and then finds lots of reasons to justify the prejudice.  Smart is the youth that sees the game that is  called school, sees and refuses the hoop-jumping, that refuses to engage  the brain and grow intellectually while other parts of them are so neglected, that instinctively sees academic knowledge as a ruse, a small cognitive comfort, a way of teasing us away from what our heart deep down desires.

#youthbruises #stupidisstigma


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Are you listening?

Category : Uncategorized

Amongst all the things that teens need or want, being listened to and listened to well, being given positive, focused attention, is right up there, with love, unconditional happiness and Instagram. Might seem like a no-brainer, but if this was the case, then it wouldn’t be an issue, and I wouldn’t be writing this.

Being listened to has to go down as one of the core human psychological needs. It gives all of us a sense of worth and belonging second to none, a sense that we and our life experience really matters. So it seems strange that so often teenagers are deprived of what might deserve to be classified as a human right. Friends, family and teachers want attention and yet can’t give it. They can’t give something that has the impact of super rich oxygen: empowering, revitalising, relieving, re-humanising. Listening allows teenagers to tell their story uninterrupted and know it is valid and meaningful. It allows them to connect with themselves. As a result they walk taller, feel lighter, act stronger. Who would want to deny anyone such an outcome?

But you don’t have to look far to find endless teens bravely smiling to hide the unfulfilled desire. They’ll tell you they are fine. Many are not. So it’s constantly left to a minority – counsellors and the like – to try and fill the gap. We can all fill that gap, but as much as we might try, or say we try, we are distracted or find other things to do instead. In different combinations, we all have what it takes: curiosity, compassion and time. Question is, how willing are we  to apply them for the full benefit of teens? Let’s not forget that those who aren’t listened to, stop listening, stop caring. Finish and klaar.

#youthtruths  #listeningisgold