When I started this blog, the idea was to be focused and tight. Somehow, I’m not feeling that today. But this is my “stream of consciousness” so here goes.
Thought #1: My father taught me to never cross a picket line. Not ever, ever. I’ve thought about this more than once during this strike. The cause of the workers has been defended by brutality, intimidation and grossly inhuman behavior. The perpetrators, striking public sector workers, should be exposed and punished. How can they be supported when they are menacing the public?
And the voice of my father rings clearly in my head, explaining worker solidarity, telling me that our unity is the only bargaining chip we have as working people, poor people. And I always added black people and women.
The reality is that as a class, workers in this country get far less of the pie than other sectors, i.e. the bosses/owners. We live in one of the most unequal societies in the world say the statistics. And isn’t the responsibility of the state, one of the primary employers of country, to ensure that its workforce doesn’t live on the edge of poverty while the managers live the high life?
So I might not like how people are acting in the streets and on the picket lines but …these are our sisters and mothers, fathers and brothers standing up for themselves. I have to support the workers in a just fight for a living wage.
Thought #2: The Year of my Wounding. A year ago today I lost the vision in my left eye. This horrible, traumatic thing happened to me and I survived. Yes, there a many people with only one eye. And many people have lived thru much worse trauma. But this happened to me, changed my life. There are limitations now, I have to be more organized so that I can get out at night, I’m jittery and dulled at the same time. My energy is low. I’ve found new levels of poverty. The low-level depression isn’t lifting. Can’t handle the unexpected, little things freak me out.
Still, I have survived. I discovered many people loved me, more than I ever knew. My friends took care of me, brought me food, took me out, sat with me. They gave me money, a few even put me on their debit orders for a few months. I learned to ask for help and to accept it. I like to think that my third eye is activating itself.
All things with time, I know. My eye is still actually sore to the touch. A year is not a long time at all, so I’m doing OK. But I’m still needing prayers, support, love.
Thought #3: I spoke to a young woman and mentioned that women are still being murdered “for being witches.” She didn’t believe me, pooh poohed me, that was a thing of the past. Yet today my helper matter-of-factly spoke about the horror of “that old woman and her grandchildren who were killed by her own relatives because they said she had bewitched them.”
Yes, folks, this is definitely happening in South Africa in 2010; women are being murdered for “practicing witchcraft”. The frightening part is that it is usually young men doing the killing and old ladies being killed. As an old woman now, I have to ask myself will they come for me? If I lived in rural Natal or the Eastern Cape or Limpopo – foreigner, one-eyed, alone, often writing late at night – would I be safe or living in constant fear? Am I really safe in those young, male-dominated poetry sets where I so freely encourage my sisters to break out of the boxes of conventionality? Would these same brothers view me differently if we weren’t in Jozi?
I actually do believe in negative energy but the pattern is too clear. When bad things happen, someone has to be blamed. Older women are judged to be dangerous and expendable, easy targets; women are viewed by some as the source of all evil. Is it because we are seen as useless, no longer sexual, no longer productive?
This just freaks me out inside – another form of violence against women. And I’m not downing the country or anything, I’m sure there are other pockets of backwardness and misogyny in the world.
But this is happening here, where I live so I have to say something.
Thought #4: A idea going round and round, wanting to be poem.
I don’t care that you birthed a nation
I want to know how it feels to be a woman
See ya next month.