I think I should start by stating that I don’t have a BEE boep (only certain liquids can be blamed for the size of my stomach!!) In Eata Fajita’s article “A faceless consciousness” she states: "The assumption that your exterior appearance shows how deep you are is flawed. But also to think that the exterior does not in some way affect and is affected by what you surround yourself with is also naive. A book cannot be judged by its cover but it (the cover) can be a good indication of what it is that you are about to read." And then she also goes on to say… “To live in a state of not knowing is to live at the crux of life itself. It is a constant state of disillusionment. No abstractions and theories just practicalities of living. Not living by creeds, beliefs, conspiracies and mysteries. An everyday acceptance of pain and suffering. There is very little that is controllable. The variables are too complex, varied and ever-changing. It is irrational rationality, rational irrationality, thought and emotion.”These are two pertinent points because I think they’re a great lead-in into the topic I wanted to discuss next. I think we can move away from the appearance or face of consciousness (after having read two great articles on the subjectJ) and consider its manifestation, the lifestyle of the conscious. “A book cannot be judged by its cover but it (the cover) can be a good indication of what it is that you’re about to read” is pertinent because the lifestyle you live or the cover of your book (which includes what you own, places you go to, how you spend your money and generally how you’re perceived) tends to be used as an indication of your consciousness (or lack thereof).
The lifestyle you’re able to lead is related to the income you make, whether it’s from your own business or properties you own (rental income etc) or the money you make from your job. I know sometimes people spend more than they receive by relying on credit in order to keep up with the Motsepe’s (it’s no longer the Jones’s) but let’s forget about that for now. I’m employed in a ‘corporate job’ and the income I make allows me to live the way that I do (nothing too extravagant even though the credit card in my pocket sometimes seems to shout at me in order to be used but I try to play deaf as much as I can). What irks me is that in the ‘conscious’ community, having a corporate job and living the lifestyle it entails is construed as ‘selling out’ by some people because they say I could be using the time to uplift my people (I’m sorry but having a stall at Noord taxi rank selling woolen caps, clothing made from hemp and some bags of grass on the side is not uplifting the community).
A soul brotha I know once told me that “our ancestors fought hard so that we wouldn’t have to work for the white man”, I agree in part with that because our emancipation has opened many doors that were previously closed to us, so we don’t have to work for the ‘white man’ but is it a sin if we do? Not everyone can just up and start a business and there are avenues of getting the requisite experience in a corporate environment so that I can start up something successfully. Who said that working in corporate meant I was working for a white man anyway; there are various successful black owned businesses in that sphere. Where does it stop? Does the company I work for matter? Another brotha once asked me why I work for a company that contributes to the decay of our children (he was literally talking about decays because I worked for an FCMG that had a sweet manufacturing division). Ah please!! Give me a break, I’m not working for a company that manufactures guns or sells alcohol or tobacco. Even then, is it morally iniquitous to work for these sorts of companies because guns don’t kill people, people kill people (I know this sounds cheesy but it’s true) and South African Breweries and the British American Tobacco’s of this world don’t force people to drink or smoke, it’s a personal choice that people make.
A lot of the soulista’s (read my previous article if you need clarity on this definition) I’ve come across have come across to me as viewing opulence and extravagance as a cardinal sin. A case in point is that I went to a writer’s workshop at the University of Johannesburg at the beginning of this year and there were a lot of soulista’s there (because it was free – I’m just joking, the lecturer was very experienced) and the one thing that really puzzled me was that during one of the sessions: “Marketing your product and improving the bottom-line” half the class didn’t come. The day after I asked a majority of the people that weren’t there why they didn’t come to that session and I was told by the majority of them that they wrote for the love of it and weren’t interested in making money from it. I didn’t understand this because enlarging your platform so that your voice can be exposed to a greater number of people is a good thing and anyway the paper that books are printed on isn’t free (Jehovah’s witnesses can attest to this as well). “An everyday acceptance of pain and suffering”…seeing this statement made alarm bells go off in my head because I’ve always been of the belief that a lot of soulista’s think that to be truly conscious goes hand-in-hand with a life of meagre living, poverty, strife etc in order to empathise with others that are struggling and being wealthy and showing it externally through purchases such as your house, car etc are considered as taboo. I don’t agree with this view, if I feel like eating at a so-called ‘hoity-toity’ restaurant, going to certain nightclubs and drinking champagne, I’ll do exactly that.
I work damn hard (sometimes going through sleepless nights to ensure I get the job done) and am entitled to spoil myself so please don’t judge me. I think we’ve all read the stories in the paper recently of a certain William ‘Mashobane’ Mbatha who’s an ‘alleged’ (just playing it safe) heist and armed robbery king and owns a nightclub in Atteridgeville. Apparently he has a statue of himself at his club that he dresses in designer clothes such as Gucci etc to match
what he’ll be wearing that night, makes an entrance to the song “Money-maker” and throws R200 notes in the air (apparently sometimes as much as R30,000 on a night). I firmly believe that is just being crass and definitely not the way to uplift your community (even though some people who’ve caught those R200 notes might disagree) because you create reliance instead of “teaching a man how to fish” as the saying goes. I believe in empowering people by bringing them into your employ so that they can eventually go off and empower others. Is it a sin to want to be wealthy, drive nice cars, live in a big house, travel the world and shop till you drop when you want to? I don’t think so. I agree that life shouldn’t always be about getting a government tender and your next big deal etc and that one should never forget about their role in the world at large and how they can help others but there isn’t a formula of how one ‘gives back’. In an article on a local website, Sandile Mamela (not a particularly big fan of his) says “In Africa, money should not have a priviledged status over history, wisdom, knowledge and information. We love and live for humanity”. I agree but it doesn’t mean that I should try to stay poor.