Happy birthday Madiba

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” - Nelson Mandela

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Yours has not been an easy road but you have walked through it with grace, dignity and forgiveness. I thank God for blessing you with 95 years. May the richness of His blessings resonate in your soul. Happy Birthday Madiba!

Oprah’s day

I have thought about ways to morph myself into a fly just to sit quietly on a wall in Oprah’s Montecito mansion to see how she enjoys her day. Well thanks to this Harper’s Bazaar interview,

we all get a glimpse of a day in the life of Oprah

Her schedule is manic. Winfrey is an early bird, up by 5:45, 6 A.M. (“Stedman’s usually up at 5:30.”) Breakfast of late is “blackberries and half a banana, some almond milk and a little protein powder.” While still in bed she reads a passage from TheDailyLove.com, then from The Bowl of Saki: “It’s like the Sufi Daily Word.” Then it’s a workout, followed by either travel or doing “five or six” calls with her network heads, or both, and, she says, sighing, “trying to work out how social media will fit in there.” (Winfrey is also working on getting seven graduates of her girls’ school in South Africa settled in American colleges.) She doesn’t catch up with famed best friend Gayle King as regularly these days, given that King, a cohost of CBS This Morning, needs to be asleep nightly by 8:30. “I was on the phone with Gayle the other night,” Winfrey recalls. “She asked me a question, and then it was…snore!” She howls with laughter.

On what you do when you have it all.

“This is the deal,” Winfrey says of her decision to found and program—in partnership with Discovery Communications—a 24-7 network featuring all-original programming, with the DNA of Oprah but not, at its inception, much of Oprah herself. “When you have reached the peak of a mountaintop, which is where I was with the Oprah show, you have absolutely no worries,” she explains of the ambitious undertaking. “I’d been in the right space at the right time, and I’d done that in the best way possible for 25 years. But you have two choices: You can come down from the mountain and spend the rest of your days thinking it was so beautiful there, or you can create a vision, look upward, see the next mountain, and start the climb all over again.”

Read more at : Oprah Winfrey on Her New Network OWN - Oprah Winfrey Ends The Oprah Winfrey Show - Harper’s BAZAAR

Interviewing Hugh Masekela

When he belted out the ballads, I began to cry. I did not know the meaning of the Xhosa lyrics, but the depth his tone emoted made me understand the yearning that South Africans must have carried as they migrated from townships to cities. The musical was aptly titled Songs of Migration. It featured an ensemble of great South African actors like Gloria and Bosman, yet when the limelight expanded on Hugh Masekela, I understood why he is considered Africa’s Greatest. The music exploded and he began to gyrate and rotate like he had no bones in his body. I could not believe he was 77 years old. With dexterity, he swayed, ducked, and charmed the crowd until the sound of our ovation echoed in the halls of the Market theatre. I waited patiently for him in the theatre’s lobby.

As soon as the lady with the blonde streaks stepped out of his embrace, I lurched forward to hug him. He flinched backwards. “I am allergic to synthetics.” He explained unapologetically, pointing at my extensions. Reading the disappointment on my face, he elaborated. “It is not personal, I am simply allergic to the chemicals and the synthetics.” Unabashed, I persisted “I just saw your show and I love you.” Before he could respond, I rumbled on. “I know you have a crazy schedule, but can I have a sit-down interview with you?” As I rattled details about how hard I had been working to meet him, his lips stretched to form a weary smile. “Ok, lets see what i can do.” 4pm the next day, we had a date.

He strutted on to the set in black Adidas shoes, a leather satchel strapped across his shoulders. I tried to still my trembling fingers as I unfastened the tripods. I was a nervous wreck until he drew next to me and showed me pictures of his granddaughter on his Blackberry. The sight of this legend beaming with indescribable love made me so comfortable I started to call him uncle Hugh. Hugh Masekela (to the rest of you;) is unpretentious about his fame and his mark on music. However, when it comes to Africa, he is passionate about the need for us to look inward to draw inspiration from our culture. He stated this consistently without being preachy or condescending. He even added ‘colourful’ exclamations like ‘bullshit’ to emphasize his point of view - that just tickled me.

19 minutes later, it was over. Uncle Hugh joined his cast for rehearsals. I hauled my equipments over my shoulder and trotted along the cobblestone pavement. Above the animated street chatter, I heard someone call my name. I cocked my head to see Hugh Masekela sitting at the theatre bistro, beckoning me to join him for afternoon tea. “Where are you going with those tripods sticking out of your bag?” He queried. I answered that I was about looking for a bus to Sandton Mall. “My dear this is Johannesburg, you are an easy target for a senseless crime carrying those cameras and tripods.” Before I could voice my complacency, he was on his Blackberry calling someone to escort me to the Bree bus station. By the time the kind escort arrived, Uncle Hugh had changed his mind. He took out 200 Rand from his wallet and asked the gentleman to hail a cab for me. Touched by his kindness and his protectiveness, I leaned over and kissed him on both cheeks. I had been dying to do that. He cupped my face in his hands: “Be careful my daughter and take care. ” We hugged. This time he did not flinch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ua5OOYcwcI&feature=feedwll&list=WL

This can’t be Africa

The moment your plane lands in Johannesburg, you will say “This can’t be Africa”. After those words fall from your lips, you will feel a pang of guilt for stating an uncomfortable truth.The truth is, the state-of-the-art facilities at O.R.Tambo International Airport is like none other in Africa. In fact, the airport is more modern than Charles de Gaulle, more organized than Heathrow and way friendlier than Schipol.

The name however, bears reference to South Africa’s ominous past. Oliver Reginald Tambo was a key figure in the anti-apartheid struggle who even in exile, galvanized international support to end racial segregation and other oppressive apartheid laws. It is fitting that such a magnanimous person be honored at the stately port that welcomes the world to South Africa.

I was quite a spectacle, trying to control my  heels from skidding on the polished airport floor whilst I dragged my suitcases like timber logs to the Guatrain platform. Sabie, my host, had given me detailed directions to take the train to Sandton where a driver in a black Nissan Versa would drive me to her apartment. The driver criss-crossed over highways, zooming past lush green parks to meet the skyline of downtown Johannesburg. Sabie trotted down the stairs to hug me. She looked like a caramel coated treat, and she was just as sweet. She helped me into her plush suite and ordered me to feel at home before she run to work.

I called home. “This place is so nice I can’t believe it is Africa.” I gushed. “Well this is what could have happened to Ghana if Nkrumah and his cronies had not sacked the white man. All the development you see is owed to the white man” My mother glibbed. “Ma, you can’t say that! Yes the white man introduced things to Africa but, make no mistake, South Africa was built by South Africans. It was their hard work and their resources that was used to develop the country. How can you forget about the horror of apartheid which killed people and robbed generations of their potential.”  Unknowingly, I was pacing up and down the room, flaring my hands, enraged by the ignorance of a statement often repeated by many. What they don’t acknowledge is the fact that the oppressive colonial systems  pilfered African resources to fund the industrialization of the western world. Perhaps if colonisation had not happened, Africa would not be so divided. Perhaps we could have retained control of our own resources and hired  migrant workers from say Britain, Portugal and France, to work on our roads, build sky scrapers, perhaps…I stopped pacing and looked outside with a new realization.

This is Africa! It was built on the backs of people like O.R Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Charlotte Maxeke who sweat and bled, knowing that although they may never see the results of their toil, they were sacrificing for a better South Africa. A South Africa where Blacks, Afrikaans, Whites and Indians could sit in the same room, pee in the same bathroom and even own planes that docked in one of the world’s finest airports.

By the time Sabie returned home, my anger had dissipated to curiosity. She uncorked a bottle of Fat Bastard and she shared with me why she is so proud of South Africa.

image of Johannesburg:bicyclefish.wordpress.com