I love being your Mum

I love being your Mum

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Dear Mr Westerner


Dear Mr. Westerner,
My name is Potsotso Motchopi and my family and I still live in a mud hut near a great river you call the Okavango.
Many foreigners visit these last years to witness our country and even ask to buy our land, or for concessions to start businesses for tourism or other industry, saying that they will employ many of our young people and pay us money in exchange for long time control of large areas of our land, and over the years we have agreed to forfeit the land of our forefathers, and we have received money.
But our children and our lives, are no longer our own. Things have changed from our customary ways to that of the white peoples. We are not sure of who we are any longer.
Our children sometimes send money home, but we don’t see them any more as we used to. They prefer to live in the cities now, and have forgotten our culture and ways. They have become westernized, and who can blame them for wanting to drive a shinny new car and live in an air-conditioned house of bricks and iron?
But I do not see their happiness as I used to. I do not see them full of life now? I only see them chasing a demon they cannot catch. They are like the white men now.
In our tribe, we understand that we need to stay together to survive, and that each person from the very small to the very old, has a purpose in the community, and that each person has to fulfill that purpose for all of us to be able to survive in this harsh place. Now when our young people, with new ideas, come and visit, they think that money can buy that survival, and it can most times, but it cannot buy our culture, and it cant buy our community, or our tribal ways – it only undermines them, just as we have been undermined by the money that has been paid to some within our tribe.
In our village we now have schools that teach western teachings and values, and we have children who disobey their parents just as they do in the western schools. Our culture is being eaten away from within. We are being cloned to be like the westerner. We wear their clothes and speak their language. We talk of business and profits. We fight over the money. Who are we now?
There are those that say that we are poor, and that they feel sorry for us, and that they want to improve our miserable lives by introducing us to ‘profits’ and ‘returns’, that we now suddenly need to survive!? They say that we should ‘invest’ and save money in the banks for our old age, and when we one day have ‘succeeded’ that we will be able to buy a Mercedes Benz car. They say that we should strive to do better, to improve ourselves, to uplift us from poverty. This they say is what they are teaching our children and young men.
Have you ever witnessed a monkey in a tree when he eats, and deliberately drops/shares some food to feed the other animals below who can’t climb? Have you ever seen how many animals benefit from the death of another? Have you ever seen anything wasted in nature? We know of these things, and we could not survive without this understanding. We are a part of the same whole.
We do not have a dogs dish in which we feed the dog– we throw our waste/sharing down, and it is cleaned by the dog/jackal/ant and we all rely on each other for this cycle of life.
There are many things that separate our culture from that of the westerner. For example we don’t have a jail. If we have a wayward person, we take him to the Kgotla/meeting place, and explain the delicate fabric of our culture and system, and the elders and all the people listen and speak of the problem, and administer the adjustment to bring the person back within the group immediately – even if you consider it be harsh. The value of the system is that everyone knows the truth of who this person is, and he knows that they know, and this knowledge forces him to behave in a manner that will benefit us all again as a community.
If I got a windfall, I would share it with my friend, my mother and others, because we understand that someone else would also share in my time of need, without even knowing me - our spirit is one. We understand the harshness of survival in nature.
And then you brought non-biodegradable shinny ‘things’ into our lives that entice our children away and pollute our lives, and destroy our environment. We don’t understand these things and they are not a part of our lives. We are loosing our power base and being belittled, and our fabric is collapsing. Who are we now?
A white friend of mine was describing how in London he would not greet passers by, and how every person would looks away or down when passing, and that he does not know any of his neighbours in any direction – he was confused when I asked, “but why do you do that?” He has no real friends and no-one to come to his assistance in a time of need. I sensed a loneliness of spirit in him, a great empty barrenness of his soul.
Who are you then Mr. Westerner?
I have seen that as a species, the westerner has managed to destroy as many natural things as he has managed to develop amazing technological advances. We now have pollution, global warming, weather out of control, rising tides and plagues that frighten, and the World is at war over greed.
Your prisons are overflowing and you have many thieves who care nothing for your life – it is cheaper to shoot you and take your wrist watch, as the cost of the bullet is less. Your legal system allows the criminal to be anonymous, fancy lawyers who can bend the truth, and ‘rights’ that the criminal can hide behind - this encourages the wayward mind to do it all again.
You are rushing around in that mad world of yours like a chicken without a head, and the aim seems only to be self destruction. Your money God seems to be a useless companion who has left you with only a great loneliness.
You plunder others for their resources …. and you say that I am poor!
I feel great pity for you white man, because all you have is money, and this money God of yours has given you the arrogance to call me poor without the slightest knowledge of who I really am.
I am a rural Africa still living unchanged the way we have for thousands of years, with respect for each other, and the environment. This is our culture. We understand that if you hurt one that you are actually hurting yourself.
Yours culture clearly seems to be one of dog eat dog.
Yes I live in a mud hut, and yes it is hard having to collect scarce food and water, and when the surroundings no longer support us, we move on to a new area and start again – it is all normal for us. This is why we move on, and the old area recovers - this is the cycle of life – we are a part of the cycle of life of nature. We don’t plunder resources from far away to sustain ourselves, and pretend that we are living economically. We live off this land.
We have our Gods who protect us, our sunshine, land, animal’s and water all free – we are rich and fulfilled.
And you have the arrogance to call us poor – you offer us your help and want to educate us to be like you, so that we can also become slaves to your money God.
I sometimes wonder if these ‘donations’, to better our ‘poverty stricken’ lives, is not just a way to appease you conscience, or just to give you a hold on us so that you can plunder our resources without conscience, or maybe in desperation you see it as the only legacy you will leave on the world?
Yes there is a poor person – he is the half westernized African who has lost his culture and his way – he needs all our pity and help. He is the poor soul who is many generations away from being able to compete with a long family line of western industrialist on their own playing field.
Can you not have the common decency to leave us as you found us? We don’t want your money, we don’t want your value system. How can the earth be owned by one at the expense of others – we each have our goats and cattle and that is our value, as it is our food reserve and that is our measure of wealth.
There is an interface where we could live with each other – we know what is done is done and it can’t be reversed, but if you showed us the common respect we deserve, we would be able to have a place where many people (even your white people) – where all people could live in harmony, as common decency would be our cord.
We obviously need to be able to read and write, so that we can interface with the world, but the lack of respect for our mud huts and bare feet is an extremely arrogant not constructive attitude.
Yes there are obviously times when small isolated communities need assistance to get back on their feet after a natural disaster – but only for the shortest time to get them to get back on their feet. Don’t give them what they never had – as you know you don’t value what you got for nothing.
It better to teach someone to fish than feed them.
On the subject of fishing – you westerners have given us fine gill nets from the goodness of your compassionate hearts. We then decimated the natural environment with your stupidity. We caught all the fish and bought the trappings of the west, and now that the fish are all gone, we are hungry – so now please feed us!
The poorest man is not without a dollar – but without a life.
A good story I once heard that explains my point was that a rich industrialist once found a lazy fisherman relaxing under a tree. The rich man asked the fisherman why he was not out there catching more fish as the day was still young. The fisherman replied that he had caught enough fish for the day.
The rich man patiently explained that if the fisherman worked harder, he would catch more fish and then be able to buy a motor for his boat, which would mean that the fisherman could catch more fish and therefore make more money. The fisherman asked…… “and then?”
Well said the rich man, you could buy more boats and employ people to work for you so that you could catch more fish and make more money. ……“And then?” asked the fisherman again. “Then you could relax like me” answered the rich man.
The fisherman replied “but I am relaxing already”?
In conclusion, we Africans, together with the Bushmen understand nature and nature understand us.
Everything in creation is not the same, but it was created to live in co-existence and this should be respected, and if need be, it should be protected from being ruined.
We are not interested into the Whiteman’s type and style of development that complicate the man’s life and threatens the existence of nature and the balance of life. Leave the world and especially Africa to be diverse and distinct.
Perhaps you could use your spare money to buy yourself some time, come and learn about the real values of this world, and then you may have a life ….. and then we could all live happily ever after

Is It Appropriate?

Someone wanted to know if Africa was a suitable country for children to visit. Absolutely. It would be beneficial for kids to see their counterparts playing happily in front of one-room mud shacks. They could learn a lot from the poor. So could their parents.

They’d learn a cold shower is better than no shower.

They’d know what it’s like to laugh and cry at the same time

They’d see that the toughest stares can usually be melted away with a wave or a smile.

They’d see that in most of the world, children don’t tease each other as much about their clothes and adults don’t nitpick a friend’s wardrobe. Just having clothes far outweigh irrelevancies like colour clashes or seasonal choices. That old man with the hole-filled sports coat worn on a 40 degree day isn’t trying to be fashionable. It’s probably one of the only pieces he owns. The same goes for the child in a school uniform on a Sunday.

They’d learn most Third-World citizens view employment as gold, and they’d rarely hear someone say the words not my job.

They’d understand why people around the Third World don’t become angry when a car breaks down or a village loses power. They know they are privileged to have them.

They’d see that offers of food and drink are rarely refused. Even if the food is half-eaten or removed from its wrapper. It’s never considered impolite to offer nourishment.

They’d understand the constant struggle to stay clean in streets without pavement and with feet without shoes.

They’d recognize that poverty doesn’t automatically equate to unhappiness. Some of the biggest smiles we’ve seen have been in areas where people have the least.

They’d know that their mother was right. There are people starving in Africa. Eat your vegetables.

39 Things I Learnt In 39 Years

This is something I wrote before my 39th in my Facebook Notes.

1. It is impossible to forgive and forget. I may eventually forgive but not forget.

2. Love is not always the answer

3. Life is what you make it.

4. Real friends come through for you when you need them the most.

5. The education system in this country sucks and is getting worse every day.

6. We are all connected

7. Religion does more to separate people than bring them together

8. Biology doesn’t make a family.

9. Chocolate does make things better

10. People may try to hang their baggage on you…don’t let them.

11. Change is growth

12. Dogs are great friends

13. There are times in our life when we just have to move on.

14. Always, always listen to your gut instinct.

15. Take responsibility for what you say

16. Take responsibility for your actions

17. Sometimes revenge feels good

18. It’s a good idea to take a deep breathe before saying something you might regret

19. Some people come in to your life for a short time but you remember them forever.

20. People who gossip about others to you will gossip about you to others

21. Doctors do not always know what their talking about

22. Learning is everywhere

23. I have reconnected some really wonderful people through the internet.

24. I will never be a follower.

25. Scandinavia is the best place on earth

26. My husband will always be a 25 year old at heart

27. Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission

28. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way

29. If I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it.

30. I feel at home in a book store

31. Poverty does not equate unhappiness

32. A cold shower is better than no shower

33. Never rely on people's good intentions

34. Narrow minded people will never see the bigger picture

35. Wishing is not the same as doing

36. Nothing can prepare you for motherhood but I won't change it for anything

37. I can learn more about many things from my 5 year old than an adult

38. I am entitled to my own opinions and anyone who doesn't like them doesn't have to. They are after all MY opinions

39. Life is short – make the most of it

Friends For A Reason

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support,
To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lesson.
Things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other
Relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Goodbye Wei-Lin

There was no warning
only the sudden horror
of being torn apart
of being reminded
that nothing is permanent
not even the ones we love
and the ones who bring joy into our lives

Looks like we are all dancing
on the edge of
a cliff so high and
we can't see the bottom
It feels like we lost you
into that dark ravine
And this loss
has left a great pit in our hearts
a pit we struggle to avoid

Somehow, we will survive
the shock
the denial
the horror
the disbelief
the sleepless nights

Somehow, we will survive all that and
we will slowly begin to remember you
in a different way...

The laughter
the irrepressible spirit
the generous heart
the way your laid back manner made us feel
And in time, we'll fill the pit
with other memories
the only memories that really matter

We will still cry
We will always cry
But with loving reflection
more than hopelessness and helplessness

Cheah Wei-Lin
10 Dec 1978 - 9 May 2010