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That nagging Deja-Vu feeling in the depths of my stomach


I have a very strong intuition – one that is almost always right. Usually, when my intuition presents me with that nagging, grinding feeling in the deepest depths of stomach, I know I should listen as it means something is up.

It doesn’t matter how often someone tells me “that there is nothing wrong”. If that nagging, uncomfortable feeling is there, it is just a matter of waiting until that very same person who convinced me everything was okay comes clean (my intuition more often than not revolves around emotions in relation to people – loved ones mainly). Although I have never been executed (duh!), I imagine that waiting for ‘the fatal moment’ feels a bit like this. You know something is coming, and you know what is coming, but you have no idea when and how, or how much it is gonna hurt and what’s gonna happen next.

That is how today feels.

There is something you should know about me. I don’t open up quickly to people who have seriously hurt me in the past. It takes time to heal, think, digest, and slowly move towards a place in which I feel comfortable enough to allow that particular person to come close to me again.

It has nothing to do with forgiveness. Often, I have forgiven that person a long time ago. It is not that. It is all about self-preservation.

This (rather slow) process of letting someone who has seriously damaged my soul and trust in my heart – whether it is a friend, family member of significant other – mainly has to do with the fear of ending up being hurt again (and a few other things, too).

However, the most painful risk about allowing something close once again is not being hurt again. Some leopards do change their spots. The risk is that they respond to your (huge) step in the way you anticipated.

It has happened to me various times. For months a person chases you to make amends. Then, almost from the moment you give in and open your heart it is business as usual. Look, I do not expect that person to kiss the ground I walk on until eternity. I however do expect increased levels of warmth, appreciation, kindness and happiness that “they have got you back”. You know, getting the feeling that they appreciate the difficult step you have just made. Trying to make you feel safe.

Maybe I am expecting too much of people, who knows.

Anyway, I am currently finding myself in exact this situation – again. I opened up a few weeks ago to someone who spent months trying to make amends for a Major Fuck Up De Luxe Supreme Edition.

The response was not what I expected. I expected more warmth, more loveliness, more appreciation, more safety, more inclusiveness. Instead, it seems I am now have to be the person who has to make amends for being so difficult (which I was, in all fairness).

The result? I am withdrawing and that nagging, grinding feeling in my stomach is back once again. I can feel how invisible ands are building walls around me, in an attempt to protect me. Because my intuition, has hardly ever failed me …

 

King Goodwill Zwelithini (and Wives): Big, Big Spenders


King Goodwill Zwelithini is not the happiest of campers these days. Well, technically you can’t call the 60-something-year-old Zulu Monarch a camper. He owns some five or six palaces after all, of which four are situated in Nongoma, as well as various lavish houses and farms – and of course a fleet of luxury cars.

The King has nevertheless a knot in his leopard print knickers: his child bride sixth and youngest wife needs a home of her own. The latest addition to his household (who was allegedly 14 years old when she accompanied GZ – who is 41 years her senior – to the opening of the legislature some time ago) is living with Zwelithini’s eldest wife. With their two children of course.

Scandalous.

In order to build Queen Zola KaMafu, a Swazi beauty queen, a brand spanking new palace, King Goodwill Zwelithini has asked for an extra R5 million (as well as R12 million for a new house at the Nyonkeni Palace) to be added to his budget. Apparently the 2012/2013 allowance of R59.5 million (which includes a R4 million increase compared to the previous year) is not good enough.

Poor King.

How can one afford a new palace if the budget only caters for support services such as car maintenance, clothes for the queens, an annual salary of some R1.5 million and his kids’ school fees (R35.278 million); the refurbishment and renovation of palaces (R20.484 million); and the maintenance of the various Royal farms (R3.6 million)?

Personally, I have always wondered how the Zulu Royal Household budgets were spent over the past years. No, I am not particularly interested in knowing how the money was supposed to be spent. I want to know how the cash was actually spent.

Same, same – but different.

That is why I have spent today dodging my mountain of deadlines and my lovely editors (sorry guys – I am all yours as from tomorrow) in an attempt to find some answers to my questions.

That was easier said than done, to be honest. Readily available official figures seem to be non-existent. The only figures I could find were the stats published in various media reports.

This kinda puzzles me.

Assuming that taxpayers, wether only residents of KZN or the entire country, foot the Royal Budget, they surely should be able to find out  how their cash is/was spent? Anyway, about the figures I did manage to find:

  • The 2007/2008 financial Royal Budget amounted to R36 million – which was overspent by R3-million.
  • For the subsequent (2008/2009) financial year, the Royal Household Department received R39.356 million – an increase of R3.3 million from the previous year. Some R593k went to emergency repairs to the king’s five palaces, R229k was spent on Royal travel and accommodation, R165k on consultants, and R15k on a coming-of-age ceremony. The 2008/2009 Budget was again overspent, this time by  by R8.4m (this equals to some 25% of the total budget, people!
  • Despite the over-expenditures of 2008/2009), R40.643 million was given to South Africa’s Royal Affairs for 2009/2010. Whilst presenting the budget, KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize stressed the Department of the Royal Household would not overspend this time. The budget was eventually overrun by R2.7 million.
  • The 2010/2011 Budget for Goodwill Zwelithini’s upkeep was set at R43.8 million (of which he had apparently had to pay back R3 million due to the previous year’s overspending). I could not find figures on overspending.
  • The 2011/2012 Royal Budget, a whooping R55 million, was over-run by R4.451 million.
  • The above brings the total overspent amount between 2007 and 2012 to about R18 million. Forgive me if I am wrong.
  • In 2006, Goodwill Zwelithini’s exchanged his household’s fleet of Toyota Corollas for six new Mercedes-Benz E200 Kompressor cars (for himself and his Queens). Price tag: R2.3m. This would not have been a massive problem if the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 budgets had not been overspent by respectively R2.5 million and R3.5 million.
  • In 2006, apart from the luxury cars mentioned above, King Goodwill Zwelithini bought himself a lavish Hillcrest home worth R2.5 million. The villa had to serve as his pied a terre in Durban to save on hotel and transport costs. In 2005, the king apparently spent R500k in one single month on travel and accommodation for himself and his entourage. The purchase would not have been a problem if the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 budgets had not been overspent by respectively R2.5 million and R3.5 million. However, the main objection of the villa – which was supposed to save money – is that it has never used.
  • In 2000, “over half a million rand” was spent on the King’s 52nd birthday, a bash that took place in New Castle. Exact figures around the costs were not released due to “confidentiality”.
  • In August 2011, Goodwill Zwelithini celebrated his 40th year reign over his kingdom. Thousands of high-profile guests attended the main party, which took place at the KwaKhethomthandayo Palace, Nongoma. The entire celebration lasted an entire month. Price tag: ± R600.000.

I am sure that there is more information out there on the King’s budgets and spending habits (please share if you have some more details). I did not have to time to dig for much longer. It is 6.18pm as we speak and I have various editors breathing down my neck:)

Based on the above, and if those stats are indeed all correct (again, there are no official stats available it seems. Please prove me wrong!) I sincerely hope that the government does not bow. South Africa has about a 1001 causes that deserve immediate attention and money. Rape Crisis for instance. South Africa’s oldest centre for rape counseling is on the verge of closing down – despite the massive sexual violence problem in the country.

Before you accuse me of being a racist imperialist European who is anti-tradition, anti-Zulu, anti-whatever: Hold your horses, ya’ll! I have NOTHING against the Zulu Royal Family. Nothing at all. Give them money, by all means. But don’t give them lavish increases every time they exceed their lavish budget. And don’t give them more money they already have.

It is a fact that the members of the Royal family have never had access to this much money, EVER – for a title they didn’t have to do much. It is a fact that the 2012/2013 Budget is almost double from what it was five years ago. Yes, it is a fact that living costs have gone up (Read my ‘Worries of a Freelance Journo‘ post), but not that much!

People , we are already spending mountains on our President & Family after all. According to Gareth van Onselen, writer of ‘The Billion Rand President: How much Jacob Zuma costs the taxpayer’, Jacob Zuma, his four wives and two dozen children are costing the state (us!) some some R102.8m per year (or R514.1m over one five year-term).

Personally, I think the Royal Family would do well to hire a budgeting expert (on their account, of course). Perhaps this professional could convince / teach the older Queens to skimp on their wardrobe allowance (Apparently they like designer clothes) so that their youngest co-wife can eventually have a pad of her own.

 
 

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“Dress properly and rape will decline?” > WTF?


I won’t lie to you – the past week or two and in particularly the last few days, have been taxing. I never thought I would think about “what happened” this much ever again.

Last night, those memories (some of which I had even forgotten, I thought) made me cry – for the first time in ages. I have to thank Mark Gamanya (BTW: This individual should not be confused with Mark Gamanya from Professionals SA, who happens to be a great guy) for that. Thanks for telling the world how rape declines if women dress ‘properly’.

I am not in favour of naming and shaming. These are not the Middle Ages after all, in which people accused of God knows what are displayed in public. But in this case I am making an exception.

Mark, saying that a woman should pay the highest price when a man can’t control his lustful pecker and basically condoning criminal behavior is unforgivable.  Taking that aside – you have no idea what you are talking. Rape is not just about wanting to have sex or skimpy clothing. It is about power, the drive to subject others, to dominate, to feel powerful. Do you effing research before you single-handedly smack thousands and thousands of South African women in the face – as well as your fellow male counterparts.

The image below says it all.

The fact that you, on Twitter, claim to be a motivational speaker just … just baffles me. I am too afraid to think what you are trying to convince your audiences of.

Oh, and don’t you come with your ‘freedom of expression’ excuse. As a journalist, I am a genuine freedom of expression fan – but that Holy Principle has boundaries. You overstepped those.

PS: I was wearing jeans when it happened. Very improper attire indeed. 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Stuff that Pisses Me Off, The World of Mir

 

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Todd Akin & Fans: Punish rapists, not their victims!


[This post contains profanities, lots of them – and the odd typo. Blame the sheer anger]

I have a dream, and that is of a world in which men and women have an equal say, equal pay, equal power, equal possibilities, equal rights and equal responsibilities. A world, in which we no longer regard the inauguration of a president equipped with a vagina as “something special”.

I wish for a world in which men and women are eachother’s peers and associates, with equal obligations and duties; a world in which men and women are allowed to make the same decisions over their careers, over whom they love, and over what happens with and to their bodies.

And when I say equal, I mean equal. There is no such thing like ‘a little bit more (or less) equal’. You are either equal to the person standing next to you, or you are not. The Oxford Dictionary after all defines ‘equality’ as being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value and having the same status, rights, or opportunities. It is a bit like being pregnant: you either are, or you are not. There is no debatable middle ground here, ladies and gentlemen.

Fancy gender equality veneer

Some regions in the world seem to have come a long way in the decades after women started to set alight their bras, yet others have an equally long way to go – despite the content of their constitutions (South Africa is a good example). Even in Europe and the US, both seen as beacons of civilization, human rights, and equality, there is room for improvement. Even there, equality between men and women is sometimes nothing but a thin layer of fancy veneer that masks a sometimes not so equal reality.

Pessimistic? Nah. I don’t think so. I consider myself a perfectionist rather. As long as there are EU commissions to make sure that women have the same rights and responsibilities as men; as long as there is a need for gender equality NGOs; as long as there are people of influence who are doing their best to undermine women’s wellbeing – the situation is far from optimal.

Able to shut down pregnancy? Gimme a break!

Talking about those people of influence. Over the past few weeks, various US politicians – all men – have climbed onto their soapboxes to inform the world how a) rape affects women physically and mentally b) how there are various, sometimes less serious, types of rape and c) how females should deal with pregnancies as a result of this act that falls into the category crime against humanity.

“[Pregnancy as a result of rape] seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” said Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican representative, earlier this month.

This came on top of other utterings of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and presidential hopeful Ron Paul, both Republicans. They respectively coined the phrases “forcible rape” and “honest rape” – suggesting that there are god forms of rape.

Visitation rights for rapists? WTF?

Then there are various states in the United States (31 of of them) where the law – which is often drawn up by men, let’s be honest – allows rapists to claim visitation rights and custody of the child (if pregnancy occurs). Yes, let’s rape the woman all over again shall we? Let’s give the asshole in the story some rights.

American male politicians are not alone with their retarded ideas about rape and how it affects women.

* In 2011, UK Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke claimed that “date rape” was less “serious” than other attacks.

* Last week, Kees van der Staaij, the leader of the Dutch Christian fundamentalist party SGP, echoed the backwards remarks by Todd Akin – and refused to take them back.

* In 2005, South African Constitutional Court Judge Moegoeng Mogoeng – back then judge in the former Bophuthatswana High Court – reduced the jail sentence of the rapist of a seven-year old girl from five to three years because “the accused was 30 years old and a first-time offender, married with two children and a soldier who earned R1 800 a month. “While he accepted that the girl’s vagina had been penetrated, he found that it was not known whether this was with the man’s penis or his finger, as her dress had covered her face,” The Mail & Guardian reported.

Acceptable forms of rape? WTF?

Back to Akin and his hillbilly friends. I refuse to dig into his ‘knowledge’ regarding the female body. I refuse. That is plain stupidity and ignorance. Nothing a few years of high school biology classes can’t fix.

What does bring my blood to a simmering boil is the suggestion that there are apparently acceptable forms of rape. What makes me spit fire and brimstones is that men have the audacity to tell women, who were raped by other vagina-less human beings, how they should deal with the potential consequences of rape. Instead of going after the rapists, these men push the problem into the victims’ corner – and uteri.

Excuse my French but give me fucking a break already! Todd Akin and Fan Club – whether you are from the US or elsewhere: You are nothing but a bunch of backward, ignorant, heartless assholes living in the Stone Age. Did your mothers collectively drop you on your heads when you were little, or were you born this way? I really can’t fucking tell.

You have no clue how it feels!

In My Humble Opinion you three, as well as your fans out there, should keep your ignorant, dumb-ass mouths shut about how victims should deal with the aftermath of a crime that affects mainly women (not men!) and is committed mainly by males, your male counterparts (not women!).

You ‘gentlemen’ have no clue about how it feels when someone forces himself onto and into to you, simply because you were equipped with a vagina – and not a penis. You will probably never know how it feels when your pleas are ignored. You will never know how it feels to lie on your bed, too drugged up (involuntary, in my case, by the guy I was dating at the time. I hope that of all people, YOU Kenneth Clarke, with your hurtful date rape comments, are reading this post) to protest but conscious enough to realize what it going on.

You will never feel the overpowering mix of humiliation, the loss of dignity, self-worth and self-love on le moment supreme when someone forcefully shoves his penis inside you. You will not spend hours in the shower because you feel so dirty you want to die, scrubbing until your skin is red and raw. Nor will you cry yourself to sleep for days after and have anger tantrums for weeks and months.

Soul-crushing, nauseating fear

You will not have to go to the GP for all sorts of STD tests. You will not have sit at the cop shop and explain everything to a total stranger.  You will not know how it feels when they tell you the evidence is so small that there is not a case – because there was a condom in the equation.

You will not suffer the mental consequences, including lack of trust in people and never wanting to have sex ever again – which subsequently may lead to one failed relationship after the other. You will not feel the overpowering, soul-crushing, nauseating fear when you accidentally bump into the perpetrator years later, just before a job interview.

I personally can’t even start to imagine how it must be like to fall pregnant on top of all of that, and having to look at a swelling belly containing the product of one of the worst days of your life. I can’t imagine having to allow the rapist back into my life because he wants to see the baby.

The above was enough, thank you very much.

It must be excruciatingly painful having to carry the rape pregnancy to full term – whether you give up the child for adoption or not. When you are not pregnant, you can sometimes forget about what happened. Sometimes, in whatever shape or form, you are able to black it out. How the fuck can you ever come to terms with the ordeal when you are forced to carry your rapist’ child, and love it at the same time? Or even worse, when you are forced to allow the rapist back into you life? How?

Spare me your pro-life bull shit 

Akin & Fan Club, in the US and elsewhere (even in my so-called tolerant native land The Netherlands there are politicians with similar convictions): Spare me your murder and pro-life bullshit crap nonsense.

Do you morons realize that tampering with women’s reproductive rights will lead to an increase in backyard abortions? DO YOU? We females are pretty determined and industrious that way. If we want to get rid of ‘it’, we will find a solution – whether it is allowed and safe, or not.

You don’t have to push daisies in order to be dead

Those backyard abortions are deadly. Globally, 17 million women per year undergo illegal, unsafe abortions because there is not other option available and of them 70.000 do not live to tell the tale. This has severe implications on their families, children and the overall fabric of their communities. Most children in the world are raised primarily with their mothers. I am sure you get the idea.

Akin & Fan Club, with your pro-life theory you are giving a cluster of cells, that can’t possibly survive on its own, a much superior status than a woman of flesh and blood, a woman who has been living and breathing.

Your mothers would be proud.

Taken all of the above aside, can I inform you that one does not have to be pushing daisies in order to be dead! It took me years to feel alive again, to regain my confidence in the opposite sex, to disallow the past from affecting the present, and to have functional relationships again.

Todd Akin and fan Club: I know you are hiding behind the Mighty Bible, but try to listen to your common sense and stop your pro-life bullshit and stop telling rape victims what they can and can’t do with their uteri. Instead, fight the perpetratorsThey are the problem, not the women who are trying their best to patch their lives back  together. 

 

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It sure feels good to do good! (Saartjie Baartman fundraiser)


I love the buzz of knowing that you are contributing to something good. I have never voluntary taken drugs before, but I am 100% certain that the buzz that is flowing through my veins beats any possible chemical imaginable. I am talking about the 100k in 10 Days challenge, an initiative by my friend Marelise and her sister Amelia. Last week, these two lovely chicks kickstarted this initiative to raise funds for the Saartjie Baartman Centre (SBC). The centre is threatened with closure after the Lotto failed to pay out.

In short: the SBC – situated in Manenberg, an area ravaged by violence, gang warfare, drugs, and poverty – is  the only option for many women and their children to escape the chronic physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. It is therefore the only chance to rebuild their lives. It is either that, or sleeping on the streets, or staying with their abusers. That is the horrid truth. When the Lotto failed to pay out, crisis struck. It appeared the centre had to close its doors at the end of May without a significant cash injection.

That is where Marelise and Amelia come in. They are determined to prevent this and aim to raise R100.000 (some 10.000 euro) to push the shelter through for a couple of months, giving it time to come up with an alternative funding strategy.

I have a soft spot for the centre. I sympathise with the women who live there. Like scores of women, I have been victim of abuse by the hand of men too (One ex decided  to smack me in the face when I was 18. Some four years later, the guy I was dating didn’t take no for an answer in a sexual way – after spiking my drink. He also emptied my bank account: In my drugged up state, I apparently told him to draw money.  To top things off, an ex – I call him the Bastard Ex – of some 2 years ago was a stealing, compulsive liar with a double life).

As opposed to the women at the SBC, I had the privilege of having a strong circle of friends and a place of safety (my home) to help me though it.

Enough about my own soap opera and back to Saartjie Baartman.

Marelise and Amelia have managed to raise R30.000 (3000 euro)! Not bad for 3 days (The challenge is only running on week days)! On top of that, the provincial government of the Western Cape has come on board: It has pledged funds to tie the centre over until September.

Last but not least, the ladies have ended up all over the news too, which is awesome! I am very chuffed that my first press release was received so well! A second one has just been issued, and I hope my media colleagues will bite once again. The more publicity, the more donations.

Gosh, who would have thought my experience in PR would contribute to something worthwhile:)

 >>> Now go to the 100k in 10 Days Challenge website and donate! 

 

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Failing our women & two super sisters who are fighting for them


I have some pretty amazing friends, as I mentioned before. Today, I want to push Marelise Van Der Merwe in the spotlights. Why? Because she – together with her sister Amelie – is determined to save the Saartjie Baartman Centre (SBC) in Cape Town from forced closure. How? By raising a R100.000 in ten days – R500 at a time.

What is so special about the SBC? The center – situated in Manenberg, an area ravaged by violence, gang warfare, drugs, and poverty – is very simply the only option for many women and their children to escape the chronic physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. It is therefore the only chance to rebuild their lives. It is either that, or sleeping on the streets, or staying with their abusers. It is the horrid truth.

This center is now being threatened with closure after the Lotto has failed to pay out (other NGOs and charities are facing similar circumstances). The organisation’s immediate needs are R100.000 to get through the next couple of months. The money needs to come in before the end of May. No money = closure = 20 to 30 women and their children (all traumatized by the abuse they suffered) will be forced onto the streets or back in abusive households. Simple.

Marelise and Amelie are determined to prevent this from happening and are on a mission to raise R100.000 in the next ten days or so – R500 at a time. How? They need 20 people a day to pledge R50 (47 euro / 59 US dollar). So far, Cape Town’s two newest super heroes seem to be on track (check http://100-grand-in-ten-days.blogspot.com !!!)

One of the latest people who donated, was my own mother (Marijke Mannak) by the way. She donated R500 (well, the equivalent in euros as she lives in The Netherlands) and knowing her, she is busy spreading the word RIGHT NOW!

How can you help? First of all: spread the word. The more people know about this, the better. Secondly, make a donation. R500 is ideal, more is even better but less is fine too.

The account details are: ABSA / savings / 9156133936. Please use the reference ‘BAARTMAN’ and send proof of payment to marelise@gmail.com. Those who prefer to donate straight to the center, use the following details  but please don’t forget to let The Super Sisters know about your pledge so they can track the donations and post updates)

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children
First National Bank 201509
Current account 62028179415
SWIFT Code: FIRNZAJJ

I have written a press release about, which can be found here. Please download it, use it, and send in on to everyone you know! Let’s not fail these women!

 

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Confessions of a childless 35-year old spinster


I turned 35 last week, and I hated every second of it. Well, not really every second. Look, it was great to hang out with my parents of course, but for various very defined and specific reasons I felt a bit crap. I never envisaged myself spending my 35th on my own. If it were up to me, I would have had a family by now. The thought that my ex and I were supposed to start the whole ‘trying for a baby’ thing sometime around NOW (a plan he single-handedly canned after he decided to stay on some island at the arse-end of the world) does not help much.

Instead of having a family in the pipeline, and someone who loves me to its, I am on my own. An 35-year old freelance spinster with two cats. No, I do not look old if I say so myself. But I have to face the fact that my ovaries are over a third of a century old and that I therefore do not have all the time in the world.

Of course I will meet someone else somewhere down the line, but if I want to realize my family plan I need to make sure that a) he wants kids, b) wants them fairly soon (No, I don’t want them tomorrow but I dont fancy the idea to be a 65-year old mother of a teenager either) and c) is a nice guy (which could be an ominous task, when looking at my track record of assholes and fuckwits).

Another option is to do it on my own. Gazillions of women have done and are doing it alone: having and raising a child. I am sure I would be able to do that. There are some problems though.

Firstly, I am a freelancer and I am not earning heaps of moolah. In addition: South Africa’s living costs are increasing by the minute. Secondly, my folks live in The Netherlands (I imagine I would need their mental support). Thirdly, I would love to do it with someone else. No, I do not have to be in a relationship with that person. A very involved donor would be very cool too.

But finding a sperm donor who is nice and who wants to be involved in the child’s upbringing as a father figure seems to be a task from hell. Then again, there must be single men out there who have not been able to find a partner but who want to become a father. Or not?

Another option is to form a commune with other women who are in the same position. You know, the whole “It takes a village to raise a child” thing.

So yes, indeed, I feel a bit stuck. Do I realize my dream of becoming a mom? Do I give up on it, seeing there are so many issues involved? Do I give myself a year or six months before I make a decision?

Anyway, I was wondering if there are other people out there who are in a similar position. Please send me your comments or drop me an email.

 
 

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