Monthly Archives: June 2013

Why a girl will always need her father

My dad has a full head of silver-grey hair. He always says that I’m partly responsible.

I’m sure I can think of a few incidents that sprouted a couple of those grey hairs. There was my 21st birthday opening dance. I choreographed a little Bollywood number and gave him about 15 minutes to learn it. Then there was the time I borrowed by cousin’s fitting suede and leather black dress to wear to the Standard 9 dance. Daddy took one look and calmly asked me to turn around, head back to my room and find some more clothes to put on. And then there was the day he came home from work and found me in tears on the phone with ‘long-distance’ boyfriend. Dad picked up the phone in the other room and gave the guy such a tongue lashing that even if he wasn’t planning a trip to hell, asshole boyfriend started packing his bags pretty fast.

Fathers are different to mothers. The close bond a girl forms with her mum is pretty natural and starts from about the time you decide you need to go bra shopping. Mums nag you about absolutely everything; you rebel as a teenager about absolutely everything and by the time you’re an adult, you’re the closest friends and can confide in each other. The bond a girl forms with her dad is different. It’s less verbal and less overt but supremely powerful.

The way a father exercises discipline is different to a mother. Mothers tend to spend the bulk of daily activity with their children and that allows them all the nagging time in the world. Very quickly, you get to learn mum’s reactions. But because you only see dad towards the end of the day, he tends not to play the nagging role and concentrates only on the major mess ups. So when you’ve done something wrong and dad voices his disappointment, you take note. It’s partly because he reserves his anger for special occasions and partly because you’re surprised he’s echoing mum’s words. Fathers watch from a distance. They observe everything and say little. But…they know things.

A girl will always need her father because he is the first man you get to know and he is the measure for all men you will ever meet. A girl will always need her dad for his quiet guidance and his ability to weather the storms with grace. He reminds you to see the world in perspective and to maintain dignity wherever you can.  He builds a protective force field around you from the day you’re born and you feel it even when you’re old enough to know how to kick a guy in the balls. He can dispense advice like the Dalai Lama and dance with you like Fred Astaire. And most of all, he is able to straddle the worlds of old-school charm and contemporary reality.

Dad was my after-hours English and History Teacher. I wouldn’t sleep well at night if he didn’t tuck me into bed. He open-heartedly agreed with my decision to study Drama and welcomed me back into his home when I decided to leave advertising to be a ‘starving’ dancer. He once sat through a long, angst-ridden contemporary dance piece of mine and when it was over he said: “I’m sorry, I didn’t really get what that was all about. But you were beautiful.”

My dad once gave me permission to tell a nasty, disrespectful old woman to “fuck off”. He has shared dirty jokes in my presence and taught me that no state of being is a permanent state. He always surprises me with his ability to help me put my head back on my neck when I’ve clearly lost it. He is the most open-minded person I know and has taught, and continues to teach me, that better judgement sometimes exists without society’s approval.

Dad, I know you’re not sentimental or romantic like mum. So forgive my next gushy outburst – you can blame it on her genes. But…I have to say that I love you more than you know. I will always always need you. And even though you have not one remaining black hair on your head, I’m proud of your silver crop. In a sea of men, it makes it easy to spot you, for you are the rarest of them all.

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Dinner and Indigestion with the Mugabes

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Tonight as I sat down to eat dinner, I was surprised to see old Bob Mugabe and his family having their own dinner with none other than the velvet cushion man – Dali Tambo. My appetite was quickly ruined.

In the Sunday Times, Dali Tambo reveals that his mandate for the show People of the South is to “take the person out of the caricature, to make them real.” The question been bandied around in the press is about whether Tambo’s style should have been more interrogative rather than jovial. My question would be this: Should we be humanising a tyrant who has refused to vacate the Zimbabwean throne for the past 26 years?

My simple answer is no.

History teaches us to understand that humans are never one dimensional and even the oldest president in Africa has silly spats with his wife from time to time. Sure, one can celebrate the power of the media in allowing us a glimpse into the lives of people not always accessible to us, or even offering up a different perspective. But frankly, watching the Mugabes dance a little jig as the show’s credits went up, was enough to make me want to hurl.

I’m just a girl eating my veg curry on a Sunday night in front of the telly. But what if I was a person of the south affected first hand by the behaviour of Mugabe –by being silenced, having family killed, subjected to poverty or having my basic rights been abused? I hardly think that such a person would be interested in the human characteristics of this brute.

If we are really people of the south, surely we should spend our efforts ridding our continent of the used oil that clogs the pipes of democracy instead of cooking up a nice dinner with it? Ironically, this week the SADC (Southern African Development Community) had to cancel a summit to discuss Zimbabwean national elections because Robert Mugabe announced that he was not ready to meet. Hmmm, perhaps he was too busy resting on his newly acquired velvet cushion and being fed almonds bought at Harrods by Grace.

While people of interest deserve their time in the garden with Dali, I still don’t think dictators should crack the nod.  Because the only way for Mugabe to reveal his human side is to release his chokehold on the Zimbabwean nation and to tap out from all things grotesque, undemocratic and unbecoming of a twenty-first century Africa.

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