Not My Fault

I refuse to say sorry because you are offended by my heart that is not afraid to love,
I cannot be held liable because you are blinded by the sun in me that is not afraid to shine,
It can never be my responsibility to help you see my love that is able to easily heal,
I will not feel guilty as a result of you failing to accept the ocean in me that can rage.
If you are waiting for my apology you can go ahead and wait on forever.

Your ignorance has convinced you that I should be at the bottom now that you broke me,
in all honesty you were the broken one to begin with and your naivety is not my issue,
Confusion consumes you because I am managing to liberate my soul from all the aches it has been through,
Decorating it with the lessons you left me with and using my favourite brush to paint it with confidence,
If you are waiting for my apology you can go ahead and wait on forever.

I will never commit the crime of feeling ashamed of my greatness,
I understand that some people will tear up because of my decision,
that I will walk into certain rooms and have some feel uncomfortable,
I will have a few elderly people falling into the temptation of envy.
If you are waiting for my apology you can go ahead and wait on forever.

I now know that I deserve more than just people’s time- I deserve quality time,
I now know that I deserve more than just a checklist – I deserve to be a priority,
I now know that I deserve more than just daily routines – I deserve one’s effort,
I now know that I deserve more than being a queen who will chase after her servants.
Still waiting for my apology?
That is alright,
because you will wait forever.

~Philisiwe Shinga

Featured image was taken from Climate print’s “Flood the system”

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An entry in your diary

I want to believe that I was a young ignorant fool when I thought that you would never take our 8 years of friendship for granted,
But the truth is I had every right not to because you were the memo I had for other women who were looking for partners,
Suddenly I questioned if you spent your time … our time thinking about her when you were a resource that I desperately needed,
The number of days I put my limited energy into forbidding men from touching me even when all they wanted was to be my supporters.

Now I know you said “sorry” but I cannot seem to stop myself from crawling back to the space in your heart that you left open for her,
Here is my diary in my hands-I open it and I realize that although your name filled all my pages I was simply an entry in yours,
To me you were more than just walking poetry,
More than a breathing pen that I could use when I wanted to bleed,
You were more than a blank page that I needed to spill my thoughts,
You were more than just a man that I used to and still prefer.

Each morning I stood on my balcony with the strongest coffee in my hands so I could completely focus on the dreams that I had for us,
I guess during those moments I was a thief because you were someone else’s secrets and long-made promises except I was not aware that I was stealing,
I would honestly love to know when did I become so naïve to think that using my marker on your body would be a permanent deed,
It is just the fact that I have been taught that every story has an ending and so I thought you would grant me all those couple of forevers.

Eight years is a lifetime and I know this because there is a dozen libraries in my neighbourhood and yet each time I go to the shelves I search for you,
I try to let friends in and take in all the compliments they have brought with them but none of them can say the word “beautiful” quite like you do,
The thing is I loved your hands first for how they were able to transfer warmth to my cheeks and have me blush for the 100th time on that day,
So loving you as a person happened very easily- there was not even a ml of sweat that I had to exert when you asked me if I wanted to be your woman.

I cannot simply blame you,
And I do not,
I blame myself,
It cannot be your fault that I reached the stars for us,
It cannot be your fault that I spoke to the universe about our fate- our destiny,

Nonetheless I do ask this of you;
If I never get to be the one who sleeps next to you at night,
Can I at least be the love letter you hide beneath your pillow
to read each time before you go to bed,
Can I be the diary entry you run back to to remind yourself that
Love is real and you know because you once had it.

For now I will admit that it is the most difficult thing trying to be this content individual in an area where disobedience and dishonesty are on the rise to haunt me,
To come to terms with the reality that I cannot afford to close my eyes at 3 a.m because it is at that hour that other women prepare to destroy and disrespect marriages,
I have promised myself to never guard my heart with false words and empty promises that will never be manifested by the very one who made them in the first place,
It was a mistake once done and will never do again- to place my life in the palms of another person’s hands when they are clumsy enough to casually drop it and apologize.

~Philisiwe P.D Shinga

 

I Forgive myself

Yes they are mistakes that I unfortunately cannot erase,
They are sums of moments I cannot begin to replace,
Nonetheless I forgive myself,
For all the days I spent pouring out this love from my cup till it was empty,
For all the hours I spent nailing myself to the cross as a sacrifice of my body,
For all the different body parts I pierced only to fill them with non-existent promises.

Yes they are mistakes that I unfortunately cannot erase,
They are sums of moments I cannot begin to replace,
Nonetheless I forgive myself,
For constantly dragging my soul into believing in the “Self-doubt” religion,
For apologizing to men who think my short skirt gives them the right to stare,
For flooding my room with tears because of my invisible wars and invisible scars.

Yes they are mistakes that I unfortunately cannot erase,
They are sums of moments I cannot begin to replace,
Nonetheless I forgive myself,
For cutting my hair when everyone told me it was …
too “wild”
and
too “present”,
For being the introverted girl who is so outspoken yet afraid to be heard,
For asking
Him,
No- them
I mean, all of you …
Not to touch me because I have already been hurt by the burns hidden beneath people’s fingertips,
For begging you not to chew and swallow me just so I can satisfy your lust.

Yes they are mistakes that I unfortunately cannot erase,
They are sums of moments I cannot begin to replace,
Nonetheless I forgive myself,
For throwing an entire party in celebration that I got a man’s permission,
For tripping over the boundary line and falling into potholes that duplicate my past,
This past of mine that makes its way into my present conversations.

Yes they are mistakes that I unfortunately cannot erase,
They are sums of moments I cannot begin to replace,
Nonetheless I forgive myself,
For believing that I have finally survived because I can no longer see the flame in my eyes,
For running away from anything that might have a spark,
A spark – something I have never been able to control,
For thinking there will never be a new fire that will come to refine me.

~Philisiwe P.D Shinga

My best two attempts at photography

Have you ever looked at nature and thought, God is such an artist?

A Dream

It was in the year 2013 when my life was as cold as an attic facing north. I was at the peak of my teenage stage when I found myself sitting in the doctor’s room awaiting my results which shook me, for they proved that I was epileptic. I can still recall how I saw my big, bright dreams crumble into bits and pieces. During the same year I watched the movie “In pursuit of Happiness” and was forced to reconsider my thoughts when Will Smith said to his son;
“Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.
Not even me.
You got a dream. You gotta protect it.
People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it.
You want something, go get it.
Period.”
Warm greetings to you Mr Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, esteemed guests and visitors.
At the age of 6 I had a dream. A dream to change the world and save people’s lives. When my mother saw the passion in my eyes, she started looking for a school that would help me pursue my dreams. Most of them rejected her on the basis that I was too young. She finally found one school that was willing to take me so there I was the 6 year old girl, entering my grade 1 classroom. Some of you may be glued to your seats right now because of how weird you think I once was. Well, perhaps I should scale your nerves down by explaining the science behind “dreaming”.

 

Wikipedia defines a dream as a succession of images, ideas, emotions and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. Scientists have proven that we start dreaming from when we are a 7 months fetus. At this point the muscles and eye movements give the tell-tale signs of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and the non-REM sleep. So I am normal after all. What was different from me and the other grade 1 learners is that my ambitions which revealed themselves as dreams were not of an average 6 year old minor.

 

I would listen to my peers speak about how they dream of having long hair and as many garments as their Barbie dolls-if they were girls and if they were boys, they would go on and on about how they would buy a 1000 of the most expensive car. I have never done any of that. I cannot remember myself dreaming of a royal prince charming and how we would live in our glorious castle happily ever after. Perhaps it is because I have always been an enthusiastic reader. I would read the newspaper and any book that I could lay my hands on. Most of which had an age restriction that almost prohibited me from embarking on my learning journey.

 

I agree with what Raul Tiru wrote in his article: “10 benefits of reading”. Reading increases one’s mental stimulation and knowledge. Through reading I found out that a lot of things are happening in our country and at on a global scale. I quickly understood that as a citizen I have a responsibility to come up with solutions to some of these existing problems. Due to my understanding, I found that I had little time to fantasize over Barbie dolls or imagine my prince charming, so I decided to build my ideal world in my head instead.

 

I had a dream:
Of living in a successful world.
Where poverty and crime are alleviated.
Where good education is provided to everyone regardless of whether they are in a public/private school.
Where we no longer have to deal with poor health which just adds on to our massive disease burden.
Where corruption is not the core reason why we undermine the state and services are not delivered.
And where people understand the term ‘rainbow nation’ and live up to its code.

 

At that young age I thought the only way to help people, to save their lives was by becoming their doctor. That is what I worked towards in my primary and the 1st four years of high school. It is therefore understandable that I nearly had a heart attack when the doctor told me I was epileptic. The biggest fear for me was how will I save other people’s lives when my own life needs saving? How was poverty, unemployment, corruption, crime and racism going to come to an end if there is a possibility that I could incur academic, language and memory problems? I thought I was doomed until I was exposed to other careers and realized that I can help people in many ways and I do not have to be a doctor to do that. In matric I then changed subjects and joined the Commerce stream. In 2016 I applied for, studied and completed my first year in Actuarial Sciences. This year I have made yet another career change and plan to move into Accountancy next year.

 

13 years and a degree change later, I have finally pin pointed how I am going to make the world a better place. Over and above studying, I will be sharing my story in an empowering way with the world. In doing this I will intend to heal others from their pain and at the same time gain further lessons myself. The truth is people do not really care about the details of your story, all they are interested in is how you kept the faith and how you eventually made it in the end.

 

This is my dream. A dream that is big enough to scare me. A dream that forces me to stay strong, patient and passionate simply because this dream is not just something I have been waking up to since I was 6. This dream is me.

 

My biggest concern for the future

Imagine a world where true leaders are born, imagine a world where true leaders are made, think of the number of problems that would be solved if every leader had one goal: to leave the Earth with a legacy and not a vacancy. Think of the amount of progress we would be making as a universe if all leaders understood what Katherine Byrant once said: “As a leader your every action has a consequence, make sure it is one you intend.”
Greetings to you Madame Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, esteemed guests and visitors.

It is true that when one is given the role of a leader the first thing that comes to their mind is the title or position. Very few people think of the behaviour and change attached to the role when the announcement is made. I still remember the day as if it were yesterday, the night of the 3rd of December 2009, that very moment when I was declared the Head girl of Dalpark Primary school for the year 2010. All the stage lights were on me, I could sense the audience’s approval from their applause and boy did that gold and visible badge look on me. During my time of reign, I was given countless resources, had the chance of speaking to the school’s management team personally and amongst other things received the opportunity of gaining life lessons that I still use to this very day.

There is however one thing that bothered me and it became more and more apparent to my soul’s eye as I held greater leadership positions in high school and in University. I was concerned about the upcoming leaders, how their value system would be moulded and if they would understand the true meaning of leadership. Why did this worry me? Many of you would ask. Well the answer is simple- I was witnessing many leaders who weren’t interested in bringing up leaders and for this reason alone, this is my biggest concern for the future. I wanted to understand why this was happening so I took the challenge of determining and analysing the core cause for this bad leadership trait.

In the people management’s article, “Top 10 reasons why leaders fail”, it is said that leaders become selfish and greedy. This happens the minute a leader forgets about his/her responsibility to support the people and chooses to support him/herself instead. These are results of being power hungry and obsessed with the idea of control instead of seeking to give advice and mentorship. I am often amazed by the deeds committed by our very own President: Jacob Zuma, In November 2011 It was revealed in the Mail & Guardian newspaper that massive upgrades, paid for by the public and which cost millions of rands, were under way at Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla. It was found out that these upgrades were not related to security issues. Be this as it is, Zuma has been the president of South Africa since 2009.

Leaders also fail when they let their ethics slip. A leader is made up of two aspects: what he/she does and who he/she is. The moment there arises a discrepancy between these two aspects, an integrity problem surfaces. In August this year, Grace Mugabe (Robert Mugabe’s current wife), was accused of attacking Gabriella Engels at a Sandton hotel on a Sunday and has since invoked diplomatic immunity. What is surprising is that Robert Mugabe, who has been the President of Zimbabwe for nearly 4 decades now, has not responded to this scandal.

I have just mentioned two very powerful men, who have decided to abuse their positions as leaders and have caused the currently existing downfalls which continue to haunt their individual states. Now the unfortunate part is that we cannot change them, for they already rule and believe that what they are doing is for the best. What we do have control over though is the manner by which we lead in our small surroundings, be it at work, church or school. I believe that good leaders are those who lead with integrity, courage, creativity, collaboration and guts. After all, things do not end wrong unless they have started wrong to begin with. As we embark on our different leadership ventures, let us all remember what Ralph Nadar once said, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not followers.”