Debrief After A Literary Pilgrimage

How do I start a gratitude piece for all the bountiful harvest that I have partaken in? That is the question that has been pushing me closer and closer to debriefing from a truly magnificent and perfect-in-every-form-ten-week-whirlwind of an American rendezvous. Well, as the trip fully and without any compromise demonstrated to me, perhaps I should start by thanking myself for the sheer tenacity, determination, courage, faith, and pure passion that has driven me to be still and hear, and be fully awake to see the signs as they presented themselves to me; to have trusted my perception instead of doubt it; to have shunned any inkling of doubt or fear; and to have honoured my own voice that has consequentially led me to my own truth.

I feel validated in my beliefs, gratified by my journey, closer to my relentless vision, and inspired to be extraordinary. I have seen in clear daylight the intensity of my own power; the unparalleled spark of possibility lying, dormant, seeking engagement with those driven by pure intentions to be creators in their own worlds; the spontaneous combustion between possibility and determination, initiative and faith, knowledge of self and passion; and the sheer magic that can be woven and witnessed in one whose higher self is in direct alignment with self. I am now possessed by a thousand thundering voices that speak with me, and through me. Where I once had shoulders I now have wings…

I am now more certain that ever that we are one with all living entities; the earth and its magnificent solar systems (this is no joke; the full moons and mercury in retrograde had me in full grips, begging for ‘normality’), the animals, plants, and human beings all form a cosmic and holistic part of who we are. I only exist because of all those living things. And there is no living without the dead—the persistent balance and harmony of life—so I have tasted the sweetest connections of them all; being awake in more worlds than this physical one; hearing, seeing, and feeling the intensity of the moment; but most importantly, trusting the moment and taking notes that I consequently use as a blueprint of my vision and dreams. Let no one succeed in convincing you your physical body is all you are!

I have grown spiritually, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and cosmically on the literary pilgrimage I took from Amsterdam to New York, to Washington DC, to Chicago, to San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley, to Los Angeles; following and being followed by the footstep of a sage whose guiding hand, embrace, and mentorship—felt, heard and seen without his physicality—has led me to treasures of my own soul, of the larger cosmic world of our people, of the South African literary landscape, and of the broader black diaspora. The magnitude of the alchemy on this trip is to be fully experienced in the forthcoming months of writing this dissertation, this book, and producing this documentary. I have grown creatively too. I am decidedly embroiled in the cosmic world of the arts, where being a writer has so seamlessly and without any fear or favour led me to being a filmmaker: an art form that I have enormous respect for.

I trust myself more than ever. I am not the chosen one, but I chose myself to be the one for this task. Perhaps I should rephrase and say InI (I and eye—third eye perception and reception. I’ve explained this in detail here https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/ini-self-n-divine-self/ ) chose myself; perceived of self as capable, and received the ordained calling as my own. As the wisdom of the elders does state clearly, we exist in duality, like any product of nature and life—the yin and the yan, the body and the life force, the physical and the metaphysical—must be in unison. My life force and metaphysical self, the other ‘I’ in InI, are now lounging languidly with my physical self, at one, in perfect harmony, pregnant with larger-than-my-physical-body possibilities. My voice is stronger than ten weeks ago, and my resolve is only perfectly demonstrated by the image of being possessed by a thousand thundering voices. I move because I am moved…

What follows is a continuation of a photo essay that started here

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/the-golden-years/

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I travelled to Washington DC to interview poet, legendary jazz critic and literary historian A.B. Spellman, who was warm and happy to walk down memory lane with me

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Karen Spellman was an active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which Keorapetse Kgositsile joined seamlessly when he arrived in the States

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I went to meet my mentor, Professor James Miller, at the George Washington University. He was the first person who ever introduced the term ‘Black Atlantic’ to me at Wits in my Honours year, and I have been dreaming about conducting research in this field since he ran a fascinating course mapping the similarities in black South African and black American cultures in the 20th century

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Fall/Autumn is pumpkin season and America has quite a family of them I tell you. All shapes, colours, textures, sizes, and flavours…

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…but what do you do with so much pumpkins? Well, they have all kinds of pumpkin yumminess like pumpkin chai tea/coffee, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin waffles, etc. Pumpkin chai tea with hot milk really moved me to tears

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Of course while I was in town I thought I’d pop in and have tea with my girl Mitchelle, but the security guards had something else on their minds. They’ve since been fired 🙂

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Maybe something major was happening at Mitchelle’s house! I mean snipers on top of her house?? Really??

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The area between Capitol Hill and Lincoln Memorial gave way to an area of feeling deep in my heart. I was filled with all kinds of conflicting emotions from disgust to triumph

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I really really love how artists engage with the city, especially at the Washington Square in New York. It is a beautiful square with all kinds of artists, and they are well-respected if the tipping is anything to go by

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The student becomes the teacher. The interviewee becomes the interviewer

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On my last night in NYC I managed to score tickets to a Talib Kweli performance. What an amazing experience to hear him, feel him, and be entertained by him in his native New York…

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Kweli is a lyricist extraordinaire, and I was pleased that the sound at the legendary Blue Notes did justice to his flow

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I have been to quite a lot of jazz performances and festivals, but never have I seen a trumpeter display such barbaric devotion to his instrument – breaking all the rules

Common Sense Concert

I arrived in Chicago on the 20th September, and the next day I prepped to dance away at this dream line up. The special guest was Kanye West, and I have to admit that I absolutely enjoyed his performance despite my better judgement of the man

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In Chicago I managed to link up with my brother Ignatius from Polokwane. It was great to speak Sepedi in Chicago and crack ourselves over the mundane and magical

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Sterling Plumpp – the man who made almost everything worthwhile. He led me in the right direction and guided me gently into the very dense jungle that is the political and cultural life of Keorapetse Kgositsile. I am forever indebted to him

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During this interview with Keorapetse Kgositsile’s daughter, Ipeleng Aneb Kgositsile, we were visited by fireflies, hummingbirds, and butterflies. It was beyond magical. In that hot Oakland weather I was suffering (with pleasure) from chills

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The way I loved the bay area – San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley – was truly special. It will forever remain my dream destination and crush address

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Don’t even ask! Okay, I’ll tell you. I went into a shop, looked around, and next thing I know there was an impromptu photoshoot and wine #hides

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The beauty of the bay area. It reminded me of Cape Town with all its beautiful hills and mountains, winelands, botanical gardens, and laid back culture

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I missed this documentary to celebrate 20 years of Illmatic the album, and as I was minding my own business buying books I came across this poster and immediately heeded the calling

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Ipeleng Aneb Kgositsile

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We caught Fourplay at the legendary Yoshi’s Jazz Bar in Oakland; one of the most reputable jazz bars in the world. The owner, Yoshi, is a Japanese beauty of soul and spirit whom I’ve been fortunate enough to spend an intense afternoon with.

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The saxophonist and trombonist are from Oakland School of Arts, a public school where I have had the pleasure of teaching a literature lesson on Kgositsile. 51 Oakland, an NGO ran by Jason Hoffman and Yoshi, helps with putting arts and music back in public schools. These are the results of their work. These public school learners are playing with a legendary Latino band

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I felt the power of this NGO’s work. This youngster from a public school displayed so much skill on the trombone, and all the applause certainly gave him positive self esteem and motivation

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My lens caught this wonderful child

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Universe please conspire!! I need to live here, even if it is for a two year fellowship, or even better, getting a post at the Berkeley campus of the University of California…

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This is the NGO in discussion, 51 Oakland, and one of the co-founders Jason Hoffman. I met Jason through Ipeleng, and he was jsut so generous and kind enough to host me at his house during my stay in the bay area. There was something magical in our interaction, which has led me to my own treasures

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I helped out at the event where the students were playing; selling T-shirts and garnering support for the organisation. This has moved me to decidedly be more involved in the caring for others and making a difference in the less fortunate’s lives. A challenge I take on keenly

Freedom, Not At The Cost Of Others!

Mutu_11

America is a great country, there’s no doubt about that. There’s abundance here, and the feeling of ‘Coming to America’ has not escaped me in my everyday move. Things are advanced—I tried to watch TV the other day, and just gave up on the idea: everything has become smart—smart phone, smart car, smart TV, smart house… But this is at the cost of some of America’s citizens, the rest of the world, and most importantly, our precious earth. I see abundance in the big cities I’m visiting. I am currently sitting at the historical site of Washington DC, between Capitol Hill and the Washington Memorial, and what I see is tourists of course, but also Americans jogging, doing yoga on the capital’s sprawling lawns, and generally living life with reckless abandon. Instead of having feelings of splendour wash over me, I am filled with contempt for the cost at which this ‘paragon of freedom and equality’ comes.

I was so very happy when South Africa introduced the law that plastic bags at supermarkets would be for sale, for a small amount. No matter the amount, people have taken to brining their shopping bags to pick up their groceries. I have no idea—and it escapes me constantly—why in the U.S. they would still give you plastic bags for free, and even double them for even the smallest package. This is one of the most dangerous material to the earth—it is not biodegradable—and to the animals who could eat it, suffocate on it, or get trapped in its handles (think of herbivores accidentally eating plastic; or the ecology of the ocean with plastic in it). I truly am dismayed by the free plastic bags in supermarket, in 2014, in, of all places, the U.S. of A.

It’s not only plastic bags; when you buy a sandwich or these overrated bagels, they come wrapped in foil. Foil?! Of all the material you can use you choose foil. It is even more dangerous than plastic, and mind you most people don’t even reuse it. In our house when we rarely use foil we reuse it until it is in tatters. It is that kind of material. This is also in recognising that it is one of the most toxic material to the earth. While at it, all the fast food joints, from the lower scale McDonalds/KFC/Burger King to the upscale healthy food outlets like Wholefoods/Trader’s Joe dispense unreasonable amounts of serviettes/napkins—no one would use those in one sitting. For most people, instead of returning them or receiving half of the batch dispensed to them for their one salad, they throw them in the bin?! It’s truly unbelievable!

Wangechi_Mutu_1295815950_0I see some of my more health conscious and green friends use jars and bottle jugs as glasses in their homes. I would absolutely do that at the rate everything is bottled in the supermarkets here. We ordered Mexican food and chocolate mousse, and the latter came in a glass bottle with a tin lid; like one of those valuable Consol bottles with metallic ring lids that our mothers kept and reused for decades. I imagine people eat their dessert and throw these away. Such waste! It is at this point that I wish to talk about African people and recycling. As our friend from TV once proclaimed: we’ve been having it! We are not hearing of reusing our plastic bags and bottle jars just today; in fact that was the order of life. These days we make it seems like recycling is for the educated elite with capacity to think critically of the consequences of their consumption to the planet. No ways man, recycling is not a luxury but a necessity. And boy did we know about necessity growing up under apartheid and colonialism.

When I grew up we used plastic bags from supermarkets to carry books to school. They suited and lived up to that function, and when they were worn out my grandmother would collect them and crochet plastic carpets for the house or veranda. In the village I grew up in you would be hard-pressed to find plastic littered on the ground. It was a commodity with many uses, and if found, could be utilised. I remember we used to buy homemade juice and mashwangshwangs—chillies or barbeque flavoured Nik Naks knock-offs—on our way back from school to enjoy on the long road home. The woman who sold these from her house would give you discount if you brought your own plastic or container to put juice or mashwangshwang. This meant if you saw these lying around your neighbourhood, you would pick them up and save them for later. I suppose this explain my high intolerance to littering even today.

We would reuse the tin that all tinned stuff—baked bins, pilchards, cling peaches, cream, condensed milk, etc—came packaged in. We would take the tin and vigorously frisk it over a brick until the tin is hot. This way the rim on top would be released neatly without leaving any sharpness on the top, making it a metal cup. We would then use this tin as storage for toothbrushes, crayons, and other small miscellaneous things around the house. We would also use it to scoop rice, sugar, or mealie-mealie. Tins of refreshments, like soda, would be used to adorn our wire cars as colourful wheels carefully constructed and linked to the steering wheel, turning and swerving with scientific precision.

The parts of America I have been to are living in abundance. A very reckless one that is costing the rest of the world, some of its citizens, and unfortunately the earth. How much does it take to meet the demands of every fast food restaurant’s serviettes, glass jars, plastic bags, foil, and containers for the ever growing pre-packaged foods? How much does it take to fuel the cars of those who have given up on the idea of walking anywhere because they are exercising their right to live their ‘best’ life in the best country in the world? How best is a country when it’s not conscious of its dying members who are hidden from the family album which America displays to the rest of the world? How good is the country when its perceived strength is at the cost of other civilisations bombed for their resources so that Americans can own toilets that flush themselves, subway stations that are lit 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, wifi on public transport, and mary-go-rounds that go round and round even when there’s only one person on their seat?

I’m now talking carbon footprint per person here, in New York, and everywhere in this country. I am appalled by the ratio of excess to consciousness. In the chase to make more money so we can afford bigger, shinier things, and holidays on ‘unspoilt’ islands we tend to forget that we only have one earth, and we will most certainly lose against nature no matter our wits or courage. I’m not saying countries should not have wifi in their public transport for example. I am saying the infrastructure can serve its people, but without knowledge these people will abuse instead of use those resources. America needs more education on consciously thinking of the planet. It needs to humble itself before nature and curb the power mongering. At this rate the infrastructure promises to collapse because the supply cannot meet the demand. What happens next? Another country with oil gets invaded…

I found this image fitting for my experience in the American supermarkets: there's just way too much colour, and my grandmother can't recognise anything on those shelves. Everything promises convenience,; ready in five minutes; just add water; or the best 'tastes just like the real thing'. Um, why not give me the real thing then?

I found this image fitting for my experience in American supermarkets: there’s just way too much colour, and my grandmother can’t recognise anything on those shelves. Everything promises convenience: ready in five minutes; just add water; or the best – ‘tastes just like the real thing’. Um, why not give me the real thing then?

Wangechi end

I got put onto this Brooklyn-based artist from Kenya, Wangechi Mutu, and I am absolutely taken by her art. The opening, middle, and this last piece in this post are by her. Do google her and check more of her work out. I also used her work in the third post down from this one – ‘The Pillars That Rise’.

Take Off Your Mask

Mother earthh

The best thing about being in an adult, which can ironically be simultaneously the worst thing, depending on your general disposition, is that you get to decide everything about your life. When you are a child under your parents’ care, they are trusted aides that can secure you in the backseat, passively journeying onwards. But then you grow up, and everything about you and your path lies entirely in your hands. You become the sole proprietor of the spiritual, emotional, psychological, sexual, and physical businesses of your life.

Ultimately there can be no one who tells you to change your job based on your visceral sadness in your work environment; nobody can tell you to leave your emotionally abusive relationship(s); nobody can decide that since you have such deep yearnings to travel it’s time you cashed in your pensions and finally took that trip; and absolutely nobody can decide for you when it is the right time to have children, join the gym, get married, get divorced, seek counselling, or start eating healthy.

This is the best thing about being an adult if you are secure and confident in your every stride. It is empowering and promises perpetual validation when you are in sync with your needs and make conscious decisions to pursue change. All of the things we have to make decisions on are about one thing: change. Change can be scary, but resisting it can stunt your growth. So ultimately, decisions have to be made, change has to be embraced, and growth must be a natural state in our lives.

The great existentialists spoke about this anxiety born in adults who cannot possibly fathom that their destinies are in their hands. Most people indeed wish they could hand over their very agencies to live a life of their making. This would essentially mean you choose to renounce your very essence, your inherent resolve, sensibilities, and desire. It would mean you give up your life force and choose stagnancy and death of the true self. It would mean you choose to conform and hide from the winds of change instead of setting sail and being propelled by them.

We are humans, not animals. You are you, not the next person. So take off that mask! You are dynamically charged with the triumphant DNA of your ancestry, who have walked with the sheer resolve of living that is unparalleled. You are the sum total of that dynamism, resolve, and triumph. You are not here by mistake; you breathe the very fuel of life. Live your life. Don’t be afraid. Do not fear change; take risks, dabble in the gamble of personal success, look out for yourself, and always know that ‘normal’ is a concept created to make us second guess ourselves. Go out and conquer fear—wage a war with yourself, and your true self shall be revealed.

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In other news, I was put on these amazing guys called Koffie, Dutch, who are inspired by the music of Fela Kuti so immensely. I love their stuff, and have bought both their albums on iTunes… Do good!

Sojourner’s Mantra

Don’t steer too hardFrida K

Let the currents propel you forward

Surrender to the motion of the ocean

Be at peace with the journey

Have faith in the direction of the course

 

Hold the steering device lightly

Don’t grasp it with anxiety

Make your journey divine

Don’t obsess with the destination

Find peace when true north

Does not appear to you yet

 

Say with me: this here sojourn is of my making

From nothing I have designed this creation

My desired objective and purpose are my peace

I also have humility to surrender to the seas

I am content with learning from the journey

And being nurtured by the strength of my strides

(Re)defining Home

Canal Homes

Good morning Amsterdam. Good morning South Africa. It never escapes me the privilege of having homes in, and living in two cities. Our time has run its course in Cape Town, and yesterday I touched down in Amsterdam to arrive to my love, my pillows, my teas, and my home. Home is where hope is, home is where support is, home is where the music is. Home is perhaps also where you are recognised as a citizen: I sauntered through customs for the first time as a Dutch resident. Customs Officer: what’s the purpose of your visit here? Me: I live here. Customs Officer: welcome home…

One of the best things about moving cities mid-year is the seemingly eternal summer. Not only the summer, but the summer food. The Netherlands boasts beautiful foods during this time of year: the Dutch strawberries that pulsate with their sweet nectar; the cherries, ever so robust; asparaguses and witloof (a vegetable that can best be translated to chicory); cheese in its hundreds of flavours and textures … and of course the fish. Being pescatarian mostly, having a fisherman and a market with a range of fish in the neighbourhood is truly a great privilege. I have missed the smoked mackerel that is so characteristic of the Netherlands; and of course Norwegian salmon and eel are so much cheaper here. Here here!! As the sun finally set at 22:30 last night, I marvelled at the beauty of our lives, and took stock of the choices we both made to live this way.

Fish Ams

Yummy smoked eel, mackerel, and crabs…

Another thing that I enjoy about getting to another home is reuniting with my books, my teas, and my clothes. I have more books in Cape Town than here, but it was great to just feel and smell the covers and pages of The Satanic Verses, and other favourites. If you know me at all you will know I’m obsessed with tea. There’s nothing like a good cuppa in the morning, and after dinner. I have been so in love with Pukka teas from England during my stay here the last time. Yesterday I had their Green Chai—green tea with gorgeous pieces of whole spices in the teabag—and that was enough to ascertain me that it is all going to be great.

Reuniting with my clothes and shoes is always a pleasure. Of course you forget about other clothes, and others are always on your mind. If you can’t relate, don’t worry, I am currently in my savouring stage: don’t buy any more clothes, be happy with what you have. All my boots and jackets are here in Amsterdam, because here is where we are likely to experience cold weather. So yesterday I laid out all my (2nd hand) leather jackets and lied on top of them 🙂 I was just smelling them, like the books, to get reacquainted. I am a sensual being. When all my senses are engaged, I know art is likely to be spawned.

Fast internet, Spotify, cycling everywhere, walking at night (freedom is safety), affordable groceries (Woolies is our biggest expenditure in South Africa, according to our bank statements), summer festivals, beautiful canals, North Sea Jazz Festival, reuniting with friends and family, sharing beautiful food, and drinking Spanish wine, are all things to look forward to. We always look forward, never backwards. We trust the motion of the ocean, we invest in the quality of the time we spend here, and we surrender to the currents of the journey.

Wanderlust…

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I fancy myself a world traveller, even though my list of countries visited is not as impressive as my husband’s. We have travelled quite a bit together, although we always have to steal time out of our busy schedules, and hence not doing it as much as we would love to. It doesn’t help either that we have two homes on two hemisphere, which makes travelling for other purposes sans to move homes quite impossible. It’s May now, and we have contagious wanderlust. Our tickets are bought to Europe, and we are preparing to migrate north.

According to this Trip Advisor travel website, these are the top 25 cities one should visit in one’s lifetime. Here’s the list from 25:

  • San Francisco, U.S.A
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Chicago, U.S.A
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Florence, Italy
  • New York City, U.S.A
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Shanghai, China
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Paris, France
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Beijing, China
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Rome, Italy
  • Istanbul, Turkey

    My Cape Town

    My Cape Town

Yesterday I found out that the university where I am teaching and doing my PhD is ranked Number 1 in Africa; and now I also find out that I am living in one of the top 25 cities in the world: Cape Town. There are many jewels of nature here, and the wonderful people of and from Cape Town make this city what it is. I am privileged to be living here, in the cultural hub of Africa. I am surprised Amsterdam did not make it on this list because it is also an amazing progressive European city with a vibrant art scene, and much more of a relaxed city (with a healthy economy) out of the other EU cities.

Out of these 25 cities, I am proud to find out I have been to 12, and have my tickets booked for August to 2 more of those cities. I’ve been fortunate enough to choose travel over any material possessions from very early on. My first time out of the country was on a trip to Addis Ababa. I had won the trip; it was my first time on a plane, and I was 18. Yes, I did not grow up travelling out of the country like most of the people I’ve met. I come from a humble home where we enjoyed picnics on the countryside under the Draconian apartheid laws. I think that is where the wanderlust itch started.

So out of the 25 cities listed here, I have been to Lisbon (Portugal), Bangkok (Thailand), I live in Cape Town, Barcelona (Spain), Florence (Italy), Berlin (Germany), Paris (France), Marrakech (Morocco), Prague (Czech Republic), London (UK), Rome (Italy), and Istanbul (Turkey). As I was reading through these cities, wonderful memories started flooding…

My husband proposed in Lisbon, Portugal, after a great week in which, unbeknownst to me, there was a ring burning in his pocket. We are both foodies, so we had a list of wonderful restaurants of Lisbon, and our trip was entirely food-inspired. We even visited a restaurant owned by my favourite actor, John Malkovich. I also have the same memories of Barcelona, still one of my favourite cities I’ve been to. I’ve been there twice: the first time was a food trip with my husband, before we were married; and the second time I went to a world festival called Sonar, with three wonderful friends.

I went to Bangkok with my brother, Romeo, and younger sister, Jessica. I was very young (19), and we had just visited Hong Kong before we went to Bangkok. My regret is that I was not a foodie back then, so I didn’t get thoroughly immersed in the food culture; instead we were finding ourselves at a loss when it came to meal times. Reinier and I have wild dreams of touring Asia on a food pilgrimage, where we will try everything from the duck beaks, to pig’s kidneys. We have been to the surprisingly number one city, Istanbul, together on a, you guessed right, food trip, and it really is a unique city that merges the East and the West (it’s thought to be in both Europe and Middle East).

I travelled Europe with my siblings in 2008, and together we went to London, Rome, Florence, Paris, and other cities like le-train-bleu-andrew-fareMonaco, Cannes, Vienna, Munich, Antwerp, etc. We spent 2009 New Year’s in Prague at a public square where a Madonna impersonator was performing 🙂 A city that struck me in its opulence was Paris. I have been there twice, and one of my favourite restaurants in the world, Le Train Bleu, is housed there. It’s like eating in the Sistine chapel (see image on the right).

And last, but definitely not least, Berlin. I love love love that city. Unlike Paris, young people live in the city of Berlin; and unlike Amsterdam, the city space is owned by its residents, not tourists. Just like my other favourite Barcelona, Berlin is very affordable and eating and drinking out is a culture for everyone. It is not an anomaly to go to a nightclub (with the best DJs in the world) on Friday and buy a ticket for three nights. The party doesn’t stop. The DJs play all hours of the night and day till Monday morning! That’s my kinda city… Read here about my Berlin trip.

All I have to say about Marrakech is that I am going again. And again, and again. That city is wealthy, and is an inspiring African city where everybody is involved in production. In South Africa we only consume and not produce, hence the high levels of debt. Marrakech is rich with natural resources, so they make everything from leather products, jewellery, oils, textile, spices, and many other things (like hashish—I heard 🙂 It should be number one on that list, according to me. Read here about our Morocco pilgrimage. There’s also Part Two.

I’m excited that my ticket to New York is booked for August, and I will spend three months there, during which time I will visit Washington DC and San Francisco. It is all for work, but my work is so very exciting. I will continue with research for my beautifully unfolding project, by interviewing Keorapetse Kgositsile’s children, one of which is called Thebe, whom to my surprise I found out from a friend that he is a member of Odd Future called Earl Sweatshirt. So the adventure continues…

Please share with me where you have been dear reader/traveller.

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Travelling Man

Why you must date a man who travels

Travelling is the best education you will get: you step out of your comfort zone, learn a lot about yourself, get exposed to other cultures, prise your eyes open to the simplicity of the human race, and lead you to meet people all over and realise that we all have common struggles, fears, ambitions, love, hopes, and a connection that never ceases to lack lustre. Having said that, here is why I think everyone should travel, and more importantly, why I think everyone should date/marry a man who travels.

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Travelling opens a world of realities. If you are living in one place all your life, chances are, you are blind to the realities and possibilities of a different kind of social conduct. Let’s start with all the prejudices: if you travel you can never be xenophobic because the reality of leaving your country is that you will be a foreigner in another country, putting yourself in the shoes of the very people you aggress against. If you apply this theory you’ll realise that travelling conscentises you to human complexities and inert differences we have. You can’t travel and be homophobic, misogynistic, a basher of any religious groups, racist, or arrogant. Travel teaches you tolerance, empathy and humility. Great virtues in a man.

Being possessive and striving to own one another in a relationship is the cancer that will spread all over your good intentions and cause a slow death in any relationship. We are not here to be owned; we are not commodities. We all have independent thoughts and ambitions and should be with partners that listen intently to our dreams and fears, and vow to share our vision and journey with us, always supportive. When you travel you meet different breeds of people, are enticed by their stories, and find yourself in deep, meaningful conversations about the trajectory of livelihoods. The conversations can be passionate and robust. With the opposite sex. This is normal. Actually, it should be encouraged. If a man wants to keep you from talking to other men/people, then he is not seasoned or cultured. He is to be avoided like KFC.

ImageWhen you travel you do not pin all your worth in life on material possessions. Travelling teaches you to live on minimal basics, to travel light, and to choose experience over commodities: quality over quantity. I am of the opinion that all these people spending thousands of Rands in a club buying patron, Moët, and expensive whiskeys that they in turn mix with coke are uncultured, and lack a certain outlook on life that emphasises human experience over exorbitant bills (that they consequently take images of and post on Facebook). Travellers save their money for the next travel. Non-travellers envision how they will outdo the next table/group of friends with insignificant purchases of ridiculously priced items in malls. I would rather receive a gift of travel than a Gucci monstrosity.

When you travel you learn not to be a follower, not a sheep, but a human with solid philosophies and sound opinions on religion, sex, and politics. You form ideas about the world because you are exposed to it. You seek no favour in voicing your opinions because your life does not rely on being accepted by others but rather privileges accepting yourself. A man who can speak his truth, with his own voice, under any circumstance is a man who makes a great father, and a great dinner companion. Similarly, there’s a thin balance in being firm about your beliefs and being intolerant of other’s. Travelling gives you the wisdom to know the difference.

When you don’t travel you can be caught in habits you can’t get out of. Doing the same thing, usually self-destructive habits, every weekend or every December or every birthday is accepting stagnancy and mediocrity in your life, which means you are out of touch with what is happening in the rest of the continent and world—living in an ether—which means you are as boring as a maggot. Habit is not predictability. Habits are good and well, but we only grow when we step out of our comfort zones and are exposed to the cold facts that you can’t drive a car in Amsterdam, you have to cycle; that there’s no chisa nyama in Europe; or that racism is not always racism, it’s just that we are different from one another (being stared at in Hong-Kong not because you are black but because they had never seen such an afro). This makes you flexible, and there’s nothing like an adaptable and ready-to-improvise spouse.

So travelling instils in you cultures! If you insist on sticking to one culture then you are myopic and exclude yourself from a global village. One’s culture is good and necessary, but should be used as a springboard to advance our cause in human interaction. After all, humans have a common thread that holds them together: we dream, we hope, we love, we eat, we sleep, and we share, or should strive to share, ourselves with others. Be a source of inspiration to yourself and to others, and marry a man who travels for the sake of your children, if not anything.

***Yes, yes, my voice seems to be directed at heterosexuals, but this applies to everyone, trust me