Category Archives: South Africa

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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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 for more details or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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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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Apartheid is over. Deal with it- a message from the DA

I shall keep my opinions to myself on this occasion except to say: it’s on days like this that I miss Julius Sello Malema

apartheid is over deal with it_DA

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Why I won’t be using Ariel washing powder

Another washing powder promising to effectively rinse out those chakalaka and beetroot stains. Sigh.

Ariel washing powder has hit the SA market with guns blazing. Three television ads, billboards and a local spokesperson. Kudos to them for brand awareness. However, I am tired of seeing ads with happy black people that dance, sing, jump and clap at the thought of washing powder, cement, beverages, clothes and just about anything else.

For crying out loud where is the creativity?!

Exhibit A: Jik- Nkalakata

Exhibit B: MTN- Dr Malinga

Exhibit C: Doom Insecticide

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Sky is the limit

I have a thing for looking up- I wouldn’t want to miss a call from the gods. Happy Monday 🙂

Corner Biccard and Stiemens, Braamfotein, Johannesburg

Corner Biccard and Stiemens, Braamfotein, Johannesburg

7th Street, Melville, Johannesburg

7th Street, Melville, Johannesburg

Rocking the Daisies, Darling Wine Estate, Western Cape

Rocking the Daisies, Cloof Wine Estate, Darling- Western Cape

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Open letter to South African Airways

If you follow me on Twitter (@PhakamaniLisa), you would already know that I have a serious gripe with South African Airways (SAA). I’m sure Sudan Airways and Eagle Air (Uganda) offer better service.

This is not about the tiny leg room, dry food, the 2hr delayed flight with no notice, lost luggage or the time they sat me next to an obese man who took up half my seat- it’s about the ongoing bad service. And it appears I’m not alone, their Facebook and Twitter pages are rife with tongue lashings from disappointed and angry travelers. HelloPeter is a playground for angry SAA consumers reporting an array of issues from “Bad Attitude” to “Billing” and “Damaged Goods”. Worst of all, the complaints are going unattended. So tweet by tweet, they’re reputation is being further obliterated.

I really can’t imagine why a huge parastatal would risk forsaking an on and offline reputation management team. I hope they are considering stepping into the 21st century with the R5 billion bailout they’ve recently been handed by treasury following an abrupt walk- out by several board members.

I don’t have the time to school them on public relations but should one of their members find this blog post within the next decade, they should read about it here, here and here.

I rarely complain about bad service but thought I must share the story about the straw that broke the camel’s back. The letter to the current CEO Vuyisile Kona went as follows:

“In early September of this year I booked a return flight from Johannesburg to Harare for October. I purposefully book my flights ahead of time so that I don’t incur high tax rates. I paid R 3 888 for a return flight.

A week before the departure date I received an email from SAA saying my flight had been rescheduled (17 October 2012): “We would like to inform you about a schedule change on at least one of your flights booked. Please click the following link and enter your booking reference XXXXXX in order to see your updated itinerary…We would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused due to this schedule change.”

The inconvenience they might have been referring to is the fact that I couldn’t catch a 16.15 flight. As protocol would have it, you must check in 2 hours before for international flights and board an hour before. Including travel time to the Gautrain- this would mean I would have to leave work at 13.00 latest. This would also mean that I would have to take a half day of leave from work. I am contracted to apply for leave 2 weeks in advance and with SAA only notifying me a week before there was no possibility of applying for leave and catching a 16.15 flight.

The next option was to catch the first flight out the following morning at 06.10. When I called customer service, the agent said I would have to pay an additional R 2 000 because the flight was not “in my class”. The next available flight “in my class” would be 10.40 which would push my travel itinerary in Harare out by over 12 hours.

I then cancelled the booking expecting a full refund for the original flight cost and booked the morning flight for R 5 605 this is (an additional R 1717 to the original flight I had booked and paid for a month in advance). As mentioned, I book my flights ahead of time so that I don’t have to incur high tax costs. I would also incur an additional R500 weekend parking ticket because at 4am in the morning- there is no Gautrain to the airport (which would have cost me half the amount).

Yesterday I received a computer generated credit note saying I would only be refunded R 3 203 of the R3 888 I paid for the original flight booking and the additional R1717 I had to pay to be on the 6.10 flight

1. SAA sold me a service that doesn’t exist by not providing a flight on the agreed date at the agreed time and at the same cost

2. They notified me of a schedule change 6 weeks after I confirmed my booking and 1 week before departure date

3. SAA was not diligent about finding a suitable alternative between the time I received a rescheduling notice and the time I cancelled the flight

4. The amount I paid for the original flight has not been fully refunded, R685 outstanding

5. I have not been compensated for the difference of the new flight which means I’ve suffered an additional cost of R 1717.

Given the above circumstances, charging me 17 % for a service SAA could not deliver is unfounded. Given the fact that SAA failed to give me a suitable alternative, the ticket must be refunded in full.

Per article 11.2 of SAA’s “Conditions of Carriage”:

“11.2.1. If we cancel a flight, fail to operate a flight reasonably according to schedule, fail to
stop at your destination or Stopover, or cause you to miss a connecting flight on
which you hold a reservation, the amount of the refund shall be: if no portion of the Ticket has been used, an amount equal to the fare paid

Hard to tell but this has little to do with the R685 ($80) they owe me and more to do with the state of South Africa’s airline industry. With Velvet Sky and 1 Time having filed for liquidation, the low cost airline industry is basically non-existent. A few years ago, we were celebrating growth in the domestic airline market; from 7 million flyers to 12 million within 5 years. Today, SAA is hemorrhaging tax payer’s money so fast they need a turnaround strategy with a dash of miracle. So now what? We cheer “support proudly South African products” whilst booking holiday flights on British Airways…

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Hair salon nightmares

I switch between three hair salons throughout the year. The search for a salon that is both clean and fair priced is grueling and its likely death might come before I find it.

Like many black girls, I’ve been kicking the kink out of my hair since I was five. Once a month, my Saturday mornings would begin with ammonium thioglycolate and an evil stare down with a hair dresser who’s tasked with straightening my knotted crown as my only ally/ mom cheers her on.

Twenty years later, little has changed except…

Look #1: hair mayonnaise treatment

My preferred salon is highly overpriced but comes with a few luxuries. Notably:

  • Coffee, tea, champagne or whiskey on arrival
  • Respect for appointments
  • A witty exchange between myself and the hair dresser
  • Reclining chair and a personal TV screen
  • Mint with my receipt

They treat each strand like gold and I walk out feeling like I could easily replace Sarah Jessica Parker in those Garnier commercials.

Look #2: corn rows

The second salon is relatively clean but sans tea and coffee. Plus the hair dresser barely says two words to me and if you’re there at 12 noon, you have to join them in prayer. I’m completely fine with this except… can we pick a time when I don’t have chemicals that could burn my scalp off in 0 to 10 seconds? They do a fine job corn rowing my hair but I would give them a lukewarm 5 out of 10 for overall experience.

Look #3: Curly braids

The third salon is train wreck and accounts for the majority of my hair salon nightmares. The walls are a dull sunrise yellow, the chairs are broken, the equipment is outdated and the music is so loud you can barely hear your thoughts. During my last visit, one of the hair dressers opened a drawer and a million cockroaches came scurrying out. I could have really done with that 12 o’clock prayer session whilst my stomach churned. So why do I go? Desperation people! The lady who usually braids my hair does an exquisite job but takes up to 8 hours and I have a life to live. No champers, damp towels, loud music and roaches BUT I’m in and out in a timely manner.

What’s a girl to do? Death is nigh and I would like to look gorgeous for it.

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