Sunday, February 19, 2017

What's In A Name? Ukwanda and the inexorable joy of being Si-andisile

I used to hate my name. Because my mind was colonised by the delusion that I that to be white was a norm to which I should have been aspiring. This delusion was fed by My Little Pony and Punkie Brewster and Clueless (yes, I am a 90s kid) and a slew of insidious mental imperialists ranging from literature (whaddup Famous Five, Pollyanna and Little House on the Prairie) to pop culture (wha-hey Kylie Minogue, Vanessa Carlton and S Club 7) that made white culture, experience and life normative for me even though it was completely foreign. So I hated my name. I wished that it was shorter and/or anglophone, like Michelle, Sasha, Megan or Charmaine - actual names I wished were mine at some juncture. It wasn't just white names, though, any name that could easily lend itself to being anglicised or was short, snappy and easy for white people to pronounce would have sufficed.

But my mom loves Sandisile. Lord bless her uncolonizable, indomitable spirit, the lady picked a name for me on October 17th, 33 years ago and stuck to her guns. She says it in full with a quiet pride, Sun-di-SEE-leh. Or in short, Sandi, with a high inflection on the last syllable: Sun-DEE like it's a cool, complicated question she is asking but already knows the answer to. And the answer is a confident declaration of everything being more thank ok, of all our needs being met and then some. The answer lies in the root of the name which is the Nguni word ukwanda.


Ukwanda: Increase, expansion, growth, accumulation. - Google Translate.

Ukwanda is a Xhosa word and the meaning can be translated as: “to grow” and “develop” within the community; to make a positive difference. - Stellenbosch University


My name means we have created abundance, and if whoever came up with the Stellenbosch definition is worth his or her salt, then it also means we have made a positive difference. I love it. It's a good name to live up to. It's not without its pitfalls, though, as there is a thin line between abundance, which is beautiful and self-affirming and excess, which is destructive. A part of the journey of a Sandisile is learning how to strike that very fine balance and live a life in which she treads lightly so as not destroy (herself and whatever she comes in contact with - or whomever...) but a life in which she gives and receives with abundant joy and gratitude. This is not a bad life quest and I have been happily conducting this exciting experiment in-vivo with some very interesting results. I'm bringing people together, strangers and long lost friends alike. I'm creating access to opportunity for people who don't have a lot of bridging social capital. I'm manifesting beautiful learning and growth opportunities for myself as I simply live out the inexorable joy of being one whose mission is to make the circle beeger when it comes to good things for good people. Aweh ma-se-kind!



Because everything is ok and there is more than enough of everything you have ever needed.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Four Quiet Queens: a hat tip

queen
kwiːn/

a woman or thing regarded as the finest or most outstanding in a particular sphere or group.

This is just a quick hat tip to a few amazing friends who are outstanding humans. These people are the real deal. Quietly brilliant but boy do they dazzle!

Hats off to the unicorn whose hair looks like a rainbow and would put a mermaid to shame. As any mermaid should, she is swimming across Lake Malawi this weekend to raise funds for a couple of organisations that do good things for good people. She doesn't look like a typical athlete but her body, like her mind, is ridiculously strong. Like, unfairly powerful. Of course, she's not immune to the goosebumps that come with any challenging endeavour. "I've overshot," she panicked to me a week or two ago. Total overshoot, but what's the point of life if you don't do amazing things that scare the crap out of you every once in a while? What is the actual point? I don't know. I really have no idea because that's not how I roll. I am constantly biting off more than I can chew and I'd like to believe my life is better for it. May we always overshoot and surprise ourselves in so doing!

Hats off to the titan who is a sexual and reproductive health facilitator for young people, a single mother of two conscious, thoughtful children while studying for a masters degree, and who happens to be writing three books like, right now. One of her books is a science fiction novel set in Africa and I am jumping up and down in excitement. Yes, please and thank you! I cannot wait to read a book of the sci fi variety about Africa by an African and the fact that she's a boss lady of a gyal dem is just the cherry on the cake. One of her other books is a joint project with yours truly. She keeps me in check, questions and challenges me and forces me to read things that make me angry but that after a bit of simmering, help me to clarify my own voice, even if it is in disagreement to her ideas. A complete powerhouse of a woman who exudes a quiet, sensual, intellectual and slightly irreverent energy, she is the epitome of still waters running deep and frankly speaking I am scared for and sympathetic toward anyone who doesn't know her and is foolhardy enough to underestimate her.  

Hats off to the dreamer who is truly inspiring in her ability to believe and expect only the best. Her husband has received a devastating diagnosis of brain damage and the company she works for is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. She supports multiple family members financially and her life is punctuated by daily visits to the hospital, sometimes twice a day. She never knows on any given day whether the person she loves will even recognise her face. But you should see her and you should hear her talk. Grace is the only word that fits. She dreams hard; she dreams in colour; she dreams in velvet textured feelings. She dreams so hard she can can smell her future and run her fingertips along its smooth edges. I get off the phone with her feeling inspired to take a little time to dream a little better. It's a skill I have been in desperate need of developing since somewhere along the line external circumstances led me to expect the worst in life. I am working on it and I can't even begin to describe how important my dream guru has been in not only reminding me to do it but in coaching me how to dream a compelling dream.


Then there's the stunner in Harare who is an attorney specialising in family law, who no matter how scorching hot and dusty the day, always looks like a tall glass of water, cool as you please. Easily and by far one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen in my life, she decided that actually she would like to be a plus-size model now. Thanks. And also, since she has a heart of gold, she figured in addition to practising family law, being a model and volunteering at church, why not start an NGO that addresses the needs of women and girls who are at risk of or have been victims of human trafficking. She's the most humble and unassuming human being you could imagine as she makes the world a little safer for women and girls, stands tall as a testament to the transcendent beauty of good people and unwittingly leaves a trail of shattered male hearts behind her as she simply does her thing.

I chose to celebrate these queens because they aren't your obvious game changers. On the surface they don't present as the ones to beat. These are people you can only appreciate if you silence all your noise, set aside your preconceptions, sit down, watch and listen. They are glorious! But no-one is paying attention. They're not getting accolades, aren't rolling with the cool kids, getting retweets or follows and actually wouldn't be as awesome to me if they were. I can't wait for the world to one day behold these dark horses in the splendour I already see!

Happiness and the ripple effect of purpose-driven living

This is the best video I have seen this year. Very much on theme with my life and truly resonating with the space I am in physically, socially and internally. I love it!


When you act on your God-given, in-built nature and talent, the weirdest things happen. People show up that are excited by you, who buy-in to you and your dreams and inspire you to follow your own North Star. Even more astoundingly and far more rewardingly, your presence makes other people's lives better! When I wasn't doing what I loved I was miserable and sure of only one thing: that I did not sign up for this version of life. When I started pursuing only that which I loved my life suddenly felt meaningful and every day became one in which I had fun and relished every moment. Even the tough times are great and valuable. Even the scut work is fun and meaningful. Even the unfamiliar spaces and unknown territory feel like home - they feel right! Strangers have embraced me warmly. My literary heroine said she was honoured to be approached by me and offered to review my writing. What a time to be alive! Somehow, by doing what I love, I am helping people, showing them that they have value and bearing witness to their struggles and triumphs. I get to listen to people whose stories blow my mind and I have the honour of telling those stories to the rest of the world and somehow, just this simple state of feeling heard leads to profound healing in people. Everyone just wants to be heard, to be acknowledged and to be told that it is okay, it will be okay and they are not alone.

I know now that the real me is unrivalled. I know that only I can know what God put inside me and the part of Himself that He seeks to express through me. Only I know the dream He had when He conceptualised me and then created me. I am now only answerable to a quiet voice inside me that is connected to eternity, that knows and has always known what I was put on this Earth to do. It's so empowering that I can't even deal with how powerful I am right now as I send out warm ripples of love and open up to receiving the same during the brief speck of time I have been granted on Earth. This is true happiness. Hazzar!