It’s just over a year since my beloved mother passed away and it’s still unbelievable as I write this, that I haven’t physically seen her, touched her and had a conversation with her for that long. I was never ever prepared for how losing her would feel and how it would change me. A lot of the time I sit in disbelief, struggling with the reality and tangibility of her absence.
The experience of losing a parent; from hearing the news, to preparing for the funeral and to the aftermath, is none that can be generalised. So I can’t even begin to tell you what happens when this situation befalls you and what you can expect. This loss was the first one for me, the first that hit home, the first that was personal, painful and hard.
A friend of mine, about two months after mama’s passing, shared an article from herzimbabwe.co.zw titled “Nobody Tells You How It Really Feels To Lose Your Mother” (I have been trying to click through to the website and it seems to be down, I, unfortunately, do not have the name of the author). And it’s true, nobody does and even if they did, there’s no guarantee that you’d ever be prepared for how your insides will flip and turn and twist to almost threaten your own existence. I was glad to have been sent the article, firstly because I was desperate for any and everything to help me survive each day. Secondly, the title was very specific to speak about losing a mother. Not a parent in general, but a mother and that was appropriate for me. Thirdly, the article was written by a woman which was comforting in so far as finding someone to relate to. Although much older than myself, as far as I can remember, and 3 years on, she was still feeling, dealing and healing – which wasn’t so comforting because I was in a space in which I didn’t want to feel and needed to just stop crying!
Perhaps it’s a good thing that I cannot access the article anymore because I was going to end up quoting the writer throughout this article and I’m still learning to express my thoughts and feelings with regards to my loss, even today, because often what I can muster, are plentiful of tears. So let me focus… I learnt of my mother’s passing through a text from my brother. It simply said, “Usishiyile make sisi” (“Sis, mother has left us”). 05 February 2018, 20:29, was when I received the text. I was watching TV with my housemate, also in conversation with her about boys probably and simultaneously on our phones. Having read the message I sensed my world spin and running short of breath I managed to whisper, “What? No”. Not noticing my crumbling world, my housemate repeated whatever she had said. I whispered ‘no’ again, and dropped my phone on the floor. I went after it, sat myself back on the couch and dialled my father. Whilst the line was connecting and noticing my housemate’s panicking face, I told her what the message said and added that I needed to confirm with my father. As soon as he said, “Hello sisi”, I shrieked, “Uphi make?” (“where is mom?”) and by the time I was asking him the second time, I let go. His fumbling for a response put a stamp on it. I wailed and wailed. I’d occasionally stop, disbelieving of my reality and off I’d go again. Calls kept coming in from relatives, nothing but crying over the phone. About two hours later, I messaged my brother and told him I’d be on my way home the next day (I live and work in South Africa, home is in Swaziland). I never slept that night, a friend of mine drove me home the next day.
Then the real work began. The week of preparing to lay my mother to rest was the most hectic week I have ever experienced in my life. No time has ever drained me physically, emotionally and mentally. I will go on forever if I dare tell you what each day presented as we prepared for the funeral. But all the while I was learning things and meeting people as though for the first time. The whole time I was learning how to manage feelings; functioning and grieving at the same time. Losing her initially broke me. I felt too much, I cried a lot, like, a whole lot! It threw me into new realities, into a space where I had to confront myself, my thoughts and everything that I knew and didn’t know. Which led me to the place and space I was left in, without her.
After the funeral, there is still life to be lived, so I learned, and that part has been the most difficult for me. If you are open to it, there is a lot of learning. The days after the funeral came with all sorts of realities and there are a couple of pointers, I’d like to share about my experience of dealing with losing my mother. Although I’m unable to quote anything from the article I mentioned, I do want to recognise it for its helpfulness in encouraging that I mourn and grieve in whatever way and for however long. My friend helped me too in sharing what she got from the piece and her hopes for my journey. I’ve since jotted down a couple of points that I hope you will find helpful as you grieve your beloved (mother), as you continue to exist and function among people. Your experience of ‘dealing’ may be completely different and that’s okay. Kindly share yours for someone else who may relate to them and find them helpful.
- People quickly move on and you can’t blame them. They have lives to live, purposes to fulfil and things to do. I mean, they don’t know any better and even if they did, how much more of themselves can they pour out, what are they to do for you, with you and for how long? Be strong baby, don’t be mad.
- You will withdraw from people, deliberately and consciously. You won’t be able to help it and even when you think you can, you won’t want to. Sometimes you will struggle to get your energies up to be with people.
- You will be an emotional wreck but you will keep it together. Everything will be a trigger and you will cry. You will cry about everything and sit in the pain of your loss. Sometimes, out of nowhere, you will cry and cry and cry.
- But with time, they say, and you will learn that it does get better. Learning to live without mom will be very hard, so allow for time to adjust.
- The pain will not always be as sharp, as acute, as raw and as devastating. It will get better.
- You will remember her at odd times as you do stuff but they’ll come a time when the memory will not take your breath away. It will still pang and maybe even make you tear up but eventually, it will also make you smile and feel loved.
- Memories will not feel like missiles assailing you but like hugs that remind you of her love but it may be years before you get there.
- And even as it gets better, you will have days where everything feels like it did the first time. Cry again. Breakdown. Let go. You will be fine, I promise.
Its 2019 and we want financial freedom. It is no secret that South Africa has been performing economically poorly of late. With the downgrade rating from S & P and Moody’s, the arbitrary changes of finance ministers, of which the last two had links to the Guptas and state capture. Currently, we have Minister Tito Mboweni, the trusted former governor of the South African reserve bank. He was personally requested by the President to come out of retirement and help put the country’s finances back on track. With all this on his shoulders, Minister Mboweni addressed the National Assembly and the republic on the 20th of February. This is an analysis of the National Budget speech of 2019.
Let’s get straight to it then
In 2018 we experienced a technical recession. This means that we had negative economic growth for at least 6 months, (two consecutive quarters). The Finance Minister in the National Budget Speech, predicted that in 2019 GDP will rise by 1.5 % and in 2021 by 2.1%. That’s very slow and close to stagnation, but you know what they say about the proverbial tortoise, slow and steady wins the race.
There will be no change to personal and corporate income tax brackets, but there is what is known as bracket creep, which means you will be paying more tax due to inflation. Bracket creep is expected to raise R12.8 billion. There is an increase in sin tax. There will no longer be Value Added Tax on “white bread flour, cake flour and sanitary pads” from April 1, 2019, according to the National Treasury’s Peoples Guide to the Budget.
Unfortunately, “fuel levies will increase by 29 cents per litre for petrol and 30 cents per litre for diesel”. There is also an introduction of a carbon tax on the 5th of June 2019, which will further increase the price of fuel and electricity. Therefore, we need to start finding renewable sources of energy.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as SAA, SABC, Denel and Eskom…etc “pose a very serious risk to the fiscal framework” as many of them have requested “state support just to continue operating.” Minister Mboweni thought “isn’t it about time the country asks the question: do we still need these enterprises?” What is implied by this question is that if push comes to shove, many SOEs might become privatised. The Minister seems to differ on ideology with his fellow partisans. By saying “the private sector is the key engine for job creation” and at the pre-budget briefing said, “emotional attachment to SOEs in the post-Soviet era is meaningless”. State-owned enterprises are companies in which the South African state owns 51% (majority shareholding) in order to ensure that these businesses have the average citizens interest at heart as they provide core services such as electricity.
Eskom is receiving a R23 billion a year for the next three years (a total of R69 billion) bailout from government, whose money is mainly the tax payer’s money. This is the biggest bailout in South African history. This money is to assist in the institutional separation of Eskom, into three subsidiary entities, “the fiscal support is conditional on an independent Chief Reorganisation Officer (CRO) being jointly appointed by the Ministers of Finance and Public Enterprises”. Currently, the energy company is R419 billion in debt. If an SOE seeks financial assistance from the state, they will be assigned an external CRO who will “undertake a full operational and financial review” of the company.
This year South Africa is expected to make R1.58 trillion but spend R1.83 trillion, “that means we will spend 243 billion more than we earn”. Therefore, South Africa is in debt and will continue to be until 2023/4 according to the finance minister who added, “restoring our finances and fixing our state-owned enterprises will take great courage. But it can be done”.
South Africa’s financial woes isn’t good news for the average taxpayer as there is what is referred to as ‘black tax’, which is what the 2018 Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor described as “South Africans are financially under pressure, with many supporting their extended families”.
The national budget is redistributive meaning “taxes raised in wealthier areas fund poorer provinces and municipalities”. And that, social grants will increase by 5%. There are 17 million social grants given every month in South Africa and the state has portioned R567 billion for this, this year. These efforts are to alleviate the horrors of poverty.
Government plans to save R27 billion over the medium term (next three years) by reducing the number of public servants by means of encouraging older civil servants to retire early. The minister also mentioned in the pre-budget briefing that he thinks government employees are being paid too much.
It is estimated that in the next three years the state will spend R5.87 trillion, “the largest allocations are R1.2 trillion for learning and culture, R717 billion for health services (including National Health Insurance) and nearly R900 billion for social development.
The Minister agrees “Data costs must fall!” and will provide funding to ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) for “the licensing of spectrum”. This means there will be state subsidised internet, this is good news.
R19.8 billion from the national budget is going to industrial business incentives, “of which R600 million has gone to the clothing and textile competitiveness programme” this will “create about 25 000 new jobs over next three years”.
On land, R1.8 billion is set aside for land reform for the medium term. R3.7 billion is to be assigned to “emerging farmers seeking to acquire land to farm”.
The government will spend R30 billion on maintaining and building new schools this year. R2.8 billion is to be spent replacing pit latrines (long-drops) in schools, as a few precious South African children from disadvantaged backgrounds have fallen in them and died, this is a disgrace.
There will be a maths and science grant to encourage future technological innovation. We hope young Girl Bosses will be encouraged by this and step boldly into these historically male dominated fields.
There will now be free sanitary products “to girls in the country’s poorest schools” through the Sanitary Dignity Project.
For the next three years, “the government will spend R111.2 billion to ensure that 2.8 million deserving students from poor and working-class families” can go to university and TVET colleges. R105 million will be allotted by government to the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme, to provide public student accommodation.
In exciting news, money is going to be invested in developing arts and culture in the country. The minister announced plans for “a new national theatre, a new national museum and also consider financial support for the National Archives” and a national orchestra and ballet troupe.
Informal settlements will be upgraded to “enable these households to have access to basic amenities” this will cost R14.7 billion. I can’t help but feel a sense of justice as living conditions for the poorest South Africans have to improve for us to be truly free from the injustices of apartheid and colonialism.
There is going to be a Help to Buy grant for “first-time home buyers” and government will spend R950 million over the medium term on this.
As a kid from parents who grew up in the rural areas, I am happy to hear that “R625 million is allocated to the Development Bank of South Africa, the Government Technical Advisory Centre and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission… on a speeded-up basis, projects based on rural roads and water will be prioritised” If one would like more information on government spending check out the Vulekamali online portal.
Government has pledged R100 billion on infrastructure for the next 10 years. Currently, R526 billion worth of infrastructure projects are in the works. The state is looking to work with the private sector in the building of South Africa.
There will be a new Public Procurement Bill, announced by the National Treasury in the People’s Guide to The Budget whose amendments “will allow for greater participation of black, youth and women-owned businesses”. Seems like the government is for us Girl Bosses making ‘money moves’ in 2019.
On the other hand;
Lullu Krugel and Christie Viljoen, strategy and economists at PricewaterhouseCooper.
“these sweet words, depending on whose ears it falls, can, however not detract from the wide budget deficit and huge debt that the public sector is struggling with: PwC sees a high probability of Moody’s Investor Service downgrading South Africa to non-investment grade this year”
As South Africans and global citizens, we must take control of our destinies, individually and collectively. Hopefully, this information will empower you to do this.
As Marvel’s Black Panther takes its well-deserved seat in the Academy Awards club with 6 nominations (including Best Original Song by Kendrick Lamar & SZA), we prepare for Captain Marvel and Avengers: End Game to complete the riveting story that Marvel fans have been following for years. Black Panther was undoubtedly one of the most exciting instalments in this series of films and it is arguably Marvel’s single biggest success as it continues to break records critically and in box office sales.
Stats aside, a lot of us are looking forward to seeing Wakandans again. It’s been a cultural phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Africans worldwide including the diaspora, embraced and celebrated their African roots in the spirit of Black Panther’s marvellous execution of African beauty and tradition. Wakanda has become the metaphor for the African spirit that connects us all.
Director, Ryan Coogler, has expressed the level of pressure he felt while making this film, as it was so apparent to everyone that nothing like it had ever been made before. The cast and crew were passionate about honouring the image of African culture and this passion translated over into its music as well. TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) artist Kendrick Lamar was approached to produce the soundtrack for the film. In a Fader interview with David Redshaw, Coogler explains Kendrick Lamar’s evolving involvement in the film’s soundtrack.
“At first, he was just going to do a few songs for the film. Then he came in and watched quite a bit of the movie, and the next thing I know, they were booking a studio and they were going at it.”
Having explored South Africa’s rich culture and outstanding musical talent, TDE reached out to some of their favourite SA artists to collaborate with on the Black Panther soundtrack. The soundtrack includes local artists Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Saudi, Reason and Yugen Blakrok. As the standout performance on the soundtrack, we had to get in touch with the Johannesburg poet and MC for a brief chat about her involvement in the project and the creative process behind her craft.
Featured on the fifth track of the Black Panther album, titled ‘Opps’, Yugen Blakrok raps alongside Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar, proving that black women in hip-hop are a force to be reckoned with.
Let’s start with the creative process behind your art. How did you come up with your stage-name and how does it relate to your style?
It’s a combination of sound and feeling. Yugen from the concept of awareness of the unseen and Blakrok for its weight and strength. The essence of my style is Yugen, my method is Blakrok.
Your style fits very well with the theme of Black Panther’s strong female characters. Did you know much about Black Panther before working on this feature or did you have to do some research?
I knew a bit about the film from trailers and comic books, I never imagined I’d be in any way involved with it. The idea of a strong female character is something that permeates all of my writing, regardless – this is something I identify with.
How were you approached to take part in this project?
I got an email from Sounwave, saying he wanted me on a project they were working on. I lost my mind. I was on tour in Europe, physically drained and didn’t think I’d have the time to do it but I gave it a shot anyway.
What challenges did you face working on this project that were new to you?
It was a different level of pressure. With my own work, I like to take my time and really get into it. With this project, even though Black Panther hadn’t been mentioned, it was chaotic. I wrote as fast as I could and went looking for a studio to record this mystery verse in. When I got to the studio in Berlin, LMNZ had a tea ceremony prepared. I recorded the verse, sent it and forgot about it.
Did you know who else would be featured on this track or did that come as a surprise?
It was a surprise. After I came back to Johannesburg, I received a call letting me know that the verse would be used for the movie. When that tracklist dropped, I was screaming with the rest of the world.
What do you think about Black Panther’s cast as an all-black ensemble?
It’s fantastic that the movie has a brilliant, all-black ensemble. It’s not often that you see black people in powerful roles TOGETHER. I hope it fuels, inspires and drives more people of colour to break these boxed roles we’re constantly forced into.
With Black Panther, do you think the representation of black people in media is evolving?
I think it’s changing and for the most part, improving.
Your increasing fanbase, especially African fans, are bound to be moved and inspired by how well you represented South Africa’s creative ability to an international audience. Were you aware of the impact you might make?
Well, I aim to do best at any given opportunity. The only pressure I feel is to outdo myself. The fact that I didn’t know I was working on the Black Panther soundtrack is a blessing within a blessing. I didn’t know how much the folks over at TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) knew about South Africa or if this might be their first time hearing an emcee from here, I just wanted to play my damn part.
What advice would you give to other young entertainers and creatives?
Blinders on, run your race and finish. Nothing else matters.