Train yourself to wake up an hour early

“Wake up an hour early to live an hour more”- Unknown

Like most city slickers I’m constantly chasing after time.  Last month I came across this quote and started waking up at 6AM to run 4- 5km every second day.

On the alternative days, I’m at  the Cassius Baloyi Boxing Academy in Sandton. As it turns out, Cassisus Baloyi holds a few professional boxing titles. He has me jab-jab punching like a kangaroo and of course I now roll myself out of bed in fear of arm, thigh and ab muscle pain.

Train yourself to wake up an hour early. Gift yourself with the body and health you deserve. Or spend some non- pressurized time to gather your thoughts, binge read or write. You could even learn how to “arm knit” (it’s a thing).

What would happen if you woke up an hour early?

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State of SA Teens 2015

It’s an incredibly tough time to develop self-worth.

I am nobody’s mother but after four months of working with teens- the most solid advice I can offer parents is to build their child’s confidence. It unlocks the ability to trust one’s judgement but beyond that, I believe it influences the ability to make positive choices.

In South Africa, “Of 100 pupils that start school, only 50 will make it to Grade 12, 40 will pass, and only 12 will qualify for university” (Nicholas Spaull 2013:3). Over the past 20 years, international tests reveal that South Africa has the worst education system of all middle-income countries. The current education system is synonymous with poor quality schooling at the primary and secondary level. It has severely limited the youth’s capacity to gain further training and employment opportunities. As a result South Africa faces high youth and adult unemployment rates. In the recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the results for Q1 of 2015 show that the working age population is 35.8 million. Of those, 15.5 million people are employed, 5.5 million are unemployed and 14.8 million are not economically active (Statistics South Africa 2015).

So it comes as no surprise that I have an inbox full of pressing questions from young people and erroneous dilemmas beyond their age:

  1. “i told my partner that i dont want to be preg or get any desease so we used a condom and now i think im preg so i dont want the baby.”
  2. “I have 2 kids and the father does not support them- what can I do?”
  3. “I have a boyfriend who’s getting married next year wth mother of his children.he don’t want to break up with me n if thngs don’t go to plan he blame me for it.”
  4. “i went for hiv test and they came negetive so i wnt to knw are there any posibilities that they might be positive if my partner was positive?”
  5. “…we met in high school in 2012 and completed our matric in 2013. Since the baby was born he has never took any responsibility and now he keeps cheating me and blaming it on the distance I always forgave him for I don’t want mi baby to grow up without a dad n I love him.”

These are only a few social- ills that are a symptom of depression and insecurity; a vulnerability driven by low self-esteem. Considering the severity of our social, economic and political impediments it is a tremendous challenge to change the behaviour of people who may not even be aware that their actions are an indication of a society bereft of emotional and mental wellbeing.

I recently attended a talk hosted by Young Lab Association and Mail & Guardian and the panel included a 23 year old policy developer named Pearl Pillay.  I didn’t necessarily agree with her views on youth mobilisation however I absolutely admired the confidence and passion with which she spoke. Imagine living in a country whose development is driven and guided by young people by drawing on their energy, development creativity and skills to create positive change.

Encourage your child to think, read and write every day. Remember to point out the good things, not just the mistakes. Teach your children about decision- making even though popular culture is destroying independent thinking. Do not shy away from talking about their sexual and reproductive health and rights – the confidence to say no or accurately judge a situation may be their only weapon against HIV and unplanned pregnancy. It is a difficult time to be a confident teen but it will never be the right time to be held back by insecurities.

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Is this a catfish moment?

I’ve been waiting for a Catfish/ Punk’d moment but everything is as it is. I’m at the right place at the right time and feeling deserving of it. When you are your own biggest critic it is a rather strange feeling- like losing weight and forgetting to let go of the big girl mentality.

A few years ago I was researching the possible ways authoritarian regimes could emerge into democracies. My point of reference was North Africa during the Arab Spring (2011). For the most current updates, I followed blogs, Facebook pages and my Twitter feed looked like an activists’ timeline. But- what I loved the most was that behind each tweet or post was a lived experience and in curating those stories, I could have a 360 view of a place I had never been and people I’ve never met. Needless to say, I never finished my paper on authoritarianism but I did sharpen my social media skills and knowledge.

What a thrill! To then  join a global company, take advice from the best communications experts and have leeway to establish South African best practice in online content marketing. An experience second to none. Immeasurably thankful to FleishmanHillard for the opportunity and laissez-faire leadership style. And a shout out to some of South Africa’s most loved brands for letting me try- succeed- oopsie- and succeed again.

Today I woke up and I was LoveLife’s Marketing and Social Media Manager. Not “woke up” as in I hadn’t worked for it but as in I had always planned to heal the world and today I made the transition from feeling overwhelmed to being part of the change needed.

So here it goes: I dedicate the next few years to telling authentic stories about South Africa’s young, unemployed, uneducated and vunerable and facilitating their transformation into responsible, energetic and innovative future leaders.

36 days till the South African 2014 general elections

36 days till elections but not till the end of bad governance.

“Persistent poverty often breeds other kinds of social dysfunctions, like gangs, narcotrafficking, and general feeling of insecurity on the part of ordinary people”- F. Fukuyama

I am fraught with worry and my political confidence is battered- who the hell am I going to vote for on the 7th of May 2014?

 

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Nelson Mandela Childrens Hospital

There are  54 deaths per 1000 children born each year in South Africa. As compared to other regions, Sub- Saharan Africa has the highest risk of death in the first month of life and is among the regions showing the least progress.

The Nelson Mandela Childrens Hospital will be the biggest facility in Africa serving children with life threatening illnesses. But before that they need beds, equipment, security, water, electricity , a mountain of medical supplies and not to mention specialised skills. To do this, the hospital needs R1 billion.

The National Department of Health will assume the overall management of the facility and provision and training of healthcare professionals and despite substantial donations from The Nelson Childrens Fund as well as various private and public but there is more to be done.

I’m not saying donate- I’m just saying there are only 3 pediatric hospitals in all 53 countries that make up Africa and I’m also saying I’ve witnessed the death of an infant because of late diagnosis or limited access to specialists.

Visit http://www.nelsonmandelachildrenshospital.org for more details or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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A road trip from Harare, Zimbabwe to Vilanculos in Mozambique is all fun and games until you discover the civil war that ended in the early 90s is not really over.

The cheer and merriment came to an abrupt end when an armed soldier told us we’d have to spend the night in Mxungu because the village was surrounded by ex- rebels. Speaking in Portuguese all we could gather from his speech and hand signals was “in Mxungu… person shot…sleep here.”

Seven hours into our trip we were unloading the 15 passenger combi to spend the night at a truck stop. We slept with one eye open anxiously waiting for break of dawn when the soldiers would escort us out of the area in a convoy with commercial trucks and private vehicles.

Mounds of research later, we now know that Mozambican politics are a betrayal to the countries breathtaking sea view’s and sunset’s. Opposition party Renamo are fighting against the ruling liberation party, Frelimo, for electoral changes that will aid political and economic fairness.

On 21 June of this year tensions heightened when Renamo forces attacked and killed three truck drivers (number not confirmed) making it unsafe for drivers to use the only highway linking Mozambique’s northern and southern regions. We drove past the harrowing scene- a giant burnt truck that had been carrying canned beverages.

A curfew has been imposed on the area and there is heavy military presence since.

In addition, coal and gas investor’s have temporarily come to the rescue by paying Renamo forces $18 million for “peace”- small change in relation to the projected $5 billion per year mining sector.

And the ruling party’s position? Frelimo staged nationwide protests against the attacks on June 22nd. But political fragmentation continues in a time of major economic growth.

Mozambican concerns

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On my mind

Three rather frivolous (middle class) thoughts on my mind:

1. Every time President Jacob Zuma opens his mouth to speak, I involuntarily think of this meme:

we told them the wealth would trickle down

2. I was on a no carb diet for over a week and then made up for it over the weekend. As such…

low carb meme- Arnold Schwarzenegger

3. I think JayZ’s latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail is rather average compared to his previous work but that’s okay because as Rolling Stone magazine puts it, “Jay-Z is richer than God, and probably about as famous…his 12th solo album went platinum before it even came out”

i got 99 problems going platinum aint one jay z

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Kenny Kunene’s open letter to Jacob Zuma

Herewith the open letter by Kenny Kunene to President Jacob Zuma, as posted in today’s The Star newspaper.

Dear President Jacob Zuma…

I’m writing this because I’ve never been more disappointed with the ANC you lead. I was once your fervent supporter, I attended some of those night vigils during your trials, and, like many, I believed you would be the force for change the youth and the poor desperately need in our country. Like many others, I donated to your cause when I was called on, and allowed my facilities to be used for ANC and Youth League meetings, sometimes for unusual meetings where your political comeback was planned.

You may wonder what qualifies me to make any kind of political comment. As everyone knows, I’m just a socialite and a businessman, but it’s also no secret I am a hobbyhorse for politicians to ride whenever they want to criticise “crass materialism” and the decay of morals. It’s true, I like to spend, and I’m not an angel, but unlike politicians I’m not spending taxpayers’ money. My real point is that, as a socialite and a businessman, I meet many people, including politicians. When they speak to your face, Mr President, they tell you your imperial clothes are very stylish. When they talk to me, and feel they are safe from your army of spies, most of them admit that you, the emperor, have no clothes.

The Gupta issue alone should be the last straw for many South Africans. But the extent of how much the Gupta family controls you, and by implication this country, has not even begun to be understood. It’s amazing how terrified most people in the ANC are to speak about this reality, because they truly fear you. Even if you’re not in government, tenders are used to inspire fear among people of influence. Thank God my livelihood is not dependent on tenders. I’ll save you the trouble of trying to find out if I have any tenders so you can cut me out of them. I don’t have any.

You show no loyalty even to those who kept you out of prison. After the Shaiks and Julius Malema, the Guptas must know that you can drop them faster than they could drop your name. In your quest for self-preservation, you have become heartless.

The reason I supported you and your campaign is because you were marketed to us as someone who would unify us and get rid of the politics of fear, but today there’s more fear and more division in the ANC than ever before. In public you smile and laugh, but in truth you behave like a monster, a tyrant who will target perceived enemies ruthlessly, and because of that fear few dare to speak openly. We’d have had yet another Cabinet reshuffle if your wings had not been clipped a little in Mangaung.

Of course, I am not so naive as to blame everything regrettable that happens in the ANC on you. But in my home province, the Free State, the premier, Ace Magushule, imitates your behaviour and even seems to be trying to outdo you in being entangled with the Guptas. He learnt it from you. He thinks its okay to blow R40-million (or R140-million, others say) on a website. It’s not a great website either, by the way. When even your Kenny Kunenes start thinking a guy is wasting money shamelessly, you should know how bad it is. Of course, we’d all like to know where that money really went.

This is not what the ANC is or should be. We thought it was bad enough with the Shaiks – but who could have predicted your, and therefore our, wholesale nationalisation by the Guptas?

Even your immediate community, your neighbours in Nkandla, have to walk past your ridiculously overpriced palace donated to you by a once-unsuspecting public, knowing how you have your own private clinic they cannot use and their children must play in the dusty streets among the stones, while your compound has an astroturf sports field that cost the taxpayer R3.5-million and costs R100 000 a month to maintain. How is fake grass a part of security upgrades?

Everyone knows the Public Protector’s report will find damning evidence of what went on there – but something must be said now already, in case you find a way to shut her up too.

It’s no wonder the ANC lost the vote in Nkandla. If the people who know you best, the place you are from and where you occupy tribal land, do not trust you enough to vote for you, why should the rest of us?

This ANC is no longer the ANC of John Langa Dube, Oliver Tambo and other illustrious names. I’m also getting tired of hearing about how the ANC is bigger than any individual.

There are those who are stubbornly loyal to the ANC, as if it’s some kind of marriage, who keep the faith that some day the party will return to its roots. But even if they’re my friends, I can’t enthusiastically join in with the declarations of those who say they will die in coffins wrapped in ANC colours, no matter what, as my former business partner Gayton McKenzie once said to me.

Mr President, I don’t want to be one of those who tell you in fear that you have clothes on, when it’s obvious you are completely exposed. I know the dogs will be set on me for saying this, but you have been naked for longer than most of us were willing to admit. And you’re now stripping the ANC of the last shred of its integrity. The world laughs at us.

I love the ANC, or what it’s supposed to be, but I don’t love your ANC. For those of us who care, the question now is, as Vladimir Lenin asked: “What is to be done?”

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