Thursday, April 30, 2009

Man scarcity

A few years ago, a well known South African rabble rouser, Eric Miyeni, published a book called, The only black at the dinner party. Not surprisingly, the book caused ructions in certain circles too scared to look issues of race in the new South Africa squarely in the eye and deal. It was much easier to down the bubbly than stomach the aching issues of race relations.

This week, a London based brother told another dinner party story which caused ructions at our dinner party here in Jo’burg. His story was about a group of 40something women who had gathered to celebrate a birthday party in high style.

The story goes like this: picture an uptown swanky London restaurant, jewels, gloss, beauty deluxe, lots of champers and a long table of black women, highly paid, highly powered and highly single.

So, what was wrong with this picture? Amongst the 30 highly eligible women at this dinner party, 28 of them were single. Not by their own doing but definitely by choice. Confused? Their choice of rolling solo was informed by the usual sad song. Black men are simply not available! Sorry, let me rephrase that, good black men are an increasingly scarce resource.

Professional husband
Our brother (the storyteller), seemingly an endangered species was one of the two men at the table. As everyone introduced themselves, he proudly presented his credentials as a professional husband. Tongue firmly in cheek, he knew he’d touch a raw nerve. He’s a man, gainfully employed with two jobs. His day job and his 24/7/365 job as a partner and soul mate is his badge of honour and his lifesource.

The gloss began to melt as his partner was interrogated about where she found such a gem. As the long table bowed beneath unyielding anecdotes about the scarcity of black men and reasons; ranging from wukliss, no ambition to ‘no sugarmama here’ talk, our professional husband looked on in bewilderment.

Confusion reigned as poison arrows missiled by harsh tongues landed in hearts already pierced with pain. As he tried to anchor the issues, he told us the sistas were clear. No surrogate motherhood for them! If it means being single and childless in their 40s, then that was better than carrying a deadweight partner for the rest of their lives.

Start with forgiveness
Reeling in disbelief and horror, one key question emerged from our dinner party table– how did we, black men and women get to this point?

Of course its complex and there’s no simple answer. It could not be as simple as sisters getting too picky or men just abandoning the sistas? Is it really an issue of man scarcity or are we still too scared to deal? For in dealing in truth, the requirement is that we’d have to start with forgiveness, ourselves before others, in order to build bridges of healing. It seems tongue-lashing is far more appealing. Meanwhile, what happens to our communities while we put our lives on hold through fear and blame? Man scarcity? I’m not convinced.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tune out your noise

The ice caps are melting, the global economy as we knew it has melted and have you noticed how people seem to be melting down as well? Quite literally! People across the globe are coming down with all manner of unheard of viruses and illnesses that are confounding doctors and so healing with the generic medicines they often prescribe is not so straight forward anymore.

What is going on? I’ve heard myriad explanations from global warming and climate change to aliens sitting as the unseen guests at our dinner tables. Now, these stories, some incredulous, some scary, may well have merit but when you boil it down they also create a cacophony of noise in our daily lives.

Thriving on it
We don’t even have to wait until we’re struck down with illness, the sound tracks that we tune into vibrate with such intensity that it becomes difficult to distinguish one from the other.

To make things worse, we seem to thrive on it! From distressing stories in the news, drama in the house, stress on the job to even running on the treadmill; one track merges into the other until our head hits the pillow.

So, we are rarely able to be still. Of course it’s a choice we make. The constant media diet of violence, murder, disease and scarcity propels us through the day with relentless fear-filled energy.

Physical meltdown
Which station are you tuned into? The Quiet Storm FM or Drama Unlimited FM? Do you really need it all in your life? What would happen if you were to tune out periodically to simply regain some balance and repaint the picture?

The physical meltdowns we experience are largely due to the poor choices we make when it comes to controlling the noise. The fear that dominates our lives these days is all pervasive and somehow totally addictive.

It all boils down to a deafening noise. Fear created by the violence soundtrack – noise; fear perpetuated by the gossip sound track – more noise; we become numb from the negative vibrations yet we continue to tune in.

The fear of knowing
Is it the fear of getting to know ourselves that is the daunting part of this conundrum? It’s so easy to plug into the busy groove and dance uncontrollably to the noise. By so doing, we abdicate our personal responsibility for creating a world where we can collectively create a deeper sense of calm and tranquillity.

For in allowing ourselves time, away from the noise, we might just hear our inner being speak. Reflection demands accountability, for when we listen, we hear sounds of the healing shelter we all naturally seek. Sadly, the fear quicksand sucks us further away from the enormous capacity we have to heal ourselves and armour our souls against the corrosive noise pollution which prevails today.

Seek out your sanctuary and play your part as we collectively turn the dial towards Peace FM.