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Inspire. Motivate. Laugh. Love….. Your Guilty Pleasure. ♥


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Tribute: To A Phenomenal Woman

Maya2

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014

 

I know a lot’s been said about her in the last day or so, but it would be a huge injustice if I did not take some time to pay tribute to our dear Dr Maya Angelou.

It was with a heavy heart that I read the news of her passing, having been the one woman who made me want to write in the first place.

I have always been an avid reader, but it was not until, at 15 when I did an English class project on Maya Angelou, that I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing. I remember standing in front of the class, reciting “Still I Rise” with a certain Miss Dionne Song, and recognizing for the first time, the immense power that words have in our world…recognizing their magic working in and through me, and I have never looked back since.

Maya Angelou

Dr Maya Angelou’s last tweet

It was easy to be inspired and motivated with a mentor like Maya, a woman who lived her life to the absolute fullest. She was, after all, an extraordinary human being who managed to touch the lives of millions worldwide through her almost ethereal command of language. Works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays, all textured with depth and wisdom and peppered with her youthful sense of humour. She was unconventional, confident, fearless, graceful, brilliant and a phenomenal woman.

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present… Gratefully.”

During her exemplary life, she breezed in like a breath of fresh air, inspiring millions, teaching the multitudes, trying to help whomever she could and stealing accolade after accolade from those who, unsuspectingly, had underestimated her. Until one day she was able to look back and see titles such as Author, Poet, Singer, Dancer, Director, Playwright, three-time Grammy Award winner, Civil rights activist, Mother & Teacher.

The epitome of what is means to be a real woman, with every facet celebrated and loved, she has inspired me to bolder routes, comforted me in darker times, uplifted my spirits in sorrow, and provided words of wisdom galore.

You will be sorely missed Dr Angelou.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Be inspired to be great.

Be blessed to be a blessing.


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Beyonce Does It Again!

Beyonce

While the lucky few have been getting the Mrs Carter Tour experience, the rest of Beyonce’s fans have been waiting with bated breath for a new album, and she has suprised the whole world by dropping her album on iTunes, UNANNOUNCED.

Twitter users woke up this morning to a buzz about the new release, a self-titled “Visual Album“, created with both songs and videos for the songs to create a more holistic experience. MtV

Columbia Records tweeted on Friday, “#Beyonce The Visual Album. 14 songs 17 videos available now on iTunesMusic”.

The album is a more personal look into Bey’s life, with a song featuring Jay Z called “Drunk In Love” and another track and video name “Blue”, which features princess Blue Ivy. The album has 14 songs and 18 videos and ends with a digital booklet (see the slideshow here).

Beyonce released a brilliantly made video statement this morning where she explained her thinking behind the new release:

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“I see music, as more than just what I hear. When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual, or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies, and they’re all connected to the music. And I think its one of the reasons why I wanted to do a visual album. I wanted people to hear the songs with the story that’s in my head, cause it’s what makes it mine. That vision in my brain is what I wanted people to experience the first time.

I feel like right now, people experience music differently, I remember seeing Thriller on TV with my family, it was an event. We all sat around the TV and I’m now looking back and I’m so lucky I was born around that time. I miss that immersive experience. Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods, they don’t really invest in a whole album. It’s all about the single, and they hype. Theres so much that gets between the music and the artist and the fans. I felt like, I don’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready, and from me to my fans. I told my team, I wanna shoot a video for every song and put them all out at the same time. Everyone thought I was crazy, but we’re actually doing it, it’s happening. I wanted to make this body of work, and I feel like something that’s lost in pop music. I wanted people to hear things differently and have a different first impression. Not just listen to a ten-second clip but actually be able to see the whole vision of the album. It was important that we made this a movie, that we made this an experience. I wanted everyone to see the whole picture, and to see how personal everything is to me. I will make my best art, and just put it out. And that’s why it’s out today.”he story that’s in my head, cause it’s what makes it mine. That vision in my brain is what I wanted people to experience the first time.”

If you weren’t a serious Beyonce stan before now, this is the body of work that might just turn you.

Track List:

1. Pretty Hurts

2. Haunted

3. Drunk In Love (ft. Jay Z)

4. Blow

5. No Angel

6. Partition

7. Jealous

8. Rocket

9. Mine (ft. Drake)

10. XO

11. Flawless (ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche)

12. Superpower (ft. Frank Ocean)

13. Heaven

14. Blue (ft. Blue Ivy Carter)

Pretty Hurts (Video)

Ghost (Video)

Haunted (Video)

Blow (Video)

No Angel (Video)

Yonce (Video)

Partition (Video)

Jealous (Video)

Rocket (Video)

Mine (ft. Drake) [Video]

XO (Video)

Flawless (ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche) [Video]

Superpower (ft. Frank Ocean) [Video]

Heaven (Video)

Blue (ft. Blue Ivy Carter) [Video]

Grown Woman (Bonus Video)

Credits (Video)


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R.I.P. Tata

Tata

 

The world was saddened to hear today that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, or Madiba as he had come to be known around the world, had passed on.

The world and mostly South Africa has lost not only an icon and a great leader, but a father to a nation that was lost for a very long time. Nothing can explain the loss to the world in this man’s passing but as long as we keep the ideas and ideals by which he lived his life, close to our hearts, we can but make this world a much better place for our children and grandchildren.

What better ideal could one hope to live for than this?

No one person has made a bigger contribution to our great nation than he, so all I will say is

Rest in peace

Ikhutse ka khotso

Lala ngoxolo Madiba, Dlomo, Ngqolomsila, Yem-Yem, uya ekuphumuleni.

zapiro

 

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I would still be in prison.”to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s

opposite.”

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

“Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front.”

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

“We have laid the foundation for a better life. Things that were unimaginable a few years ago have become everyday reality. I belong to the generation of leaders for whom the achievement of democracy was the defining challenge.”

“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility.”

“We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for

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national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Never, never and never again shal

 

 

l it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the

skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domina

“As the years progress one increasingly realises the importance of friendship and human solidarity. And if a 90-year-old may offer some unsolicited advice on this occasion, it would be that you, irrespective of your age, should place human solidarity, the concern for the other, at the centre of the values by which you live.”tion. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

“Today we are a nation at peace with itself, united in our diversity, not only proclaiming but living out the contention that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. We take our place amongst the nations of the world, confident and proud in being an African country.”

 

Tata2


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Narayanan Krishnan – A Companion To The Forgotten

For the last couple of weeks – and longer – I haven’t been feeling much like a successful human being. Not that I haven’t been “inspired”, but I just haven’t been writing. Instead I have spent my time eating, watching trash tv and wallowing. That’s it.

That part of my life is over now because unfortunately, time waits for no man and for me, time well spent constitutes neglecting everything for writing time, not the other way round.

So during my “wasteful period”, I came across a video on Facebook about an Indian man named Narayanan Krishnan.

The BBC or CNN or one of those abbreviations did a short on him and his good work.

Narayanan, a chef-turned-social worker, has been named “A Companion To The Forgotten”, a fitting title since most of his work constitutes showing love to those who have no one to love them.

Narayanan Krishnan

Narayanan Krishnan

In Bangalore, India, he finished college and began working for the Taj group of hotels as a chef. He did this for a while until one day he saw a very old man eating his own faeces because he was so hungry. He went to a nearby hotel and bought what was available and gave it to the old man. “Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”.  This got him thinking about the purpose of his own life and what he was going to do with it. “In a star hotel, I feel all my guests, but where in my hometown there are people who are living, even without food.”, he says.

So Narayanan simply quit his job, as an award-winning chef mind you, and started to feed all the needy of Bangalore For the homeless, the mentally ill, the destitute and the old people who have no one to care for them, Narayanan is family since he believes that feeding is only one part of his calling and loving is the other.

He founded the Akshaya Trust in 2003 and no he and his assistants spend all day tending to the needs of the forgotten. They make breakfast and lunch before he goes out to feed those who cannot come to him for their meals, wherever they may be. He cuts their hair, gives them a shave and bathes them if need be.

He says he does all this so that they can feel, psychologically, that they are also human beings, that there are people to care for them and that they have a hand to hold hope to live.  So the food he makes will give them physical nutrition and the love and affection that he shows them will give them mental nutrition.

It hasn’t always been easy for him either. He has had to fight a lot of objections to his work since he is part of the Brahmin community and comes from orthodox family. Apparently the Brahmin are not supposed to mix with “those people”. They cannot touch them, clean them, hug them or feed them, and Narayanan has done all this and more.

But he says he believes that everybody has 5.5 litres of blood in their bodies, and so, they are all human beings. “For me, everybody is the same.”.

“There are thousands and thousands and lots of lots of people suffering. What is the ultimate purpose of life? It’s to give. Start giving. See the joy of giving.”


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Socialising in 2013

Social MediaSocial media has become such and fundamental part of our day to day lives, connecting us to our friends, family and the greater world. People share their entire lives on Facebook and tweet at the drop of a hat. In fact, if you want to hear any piece of news from anywhere around the world, you are most likely to hear about it first on Twitter.

Another benefit of social media was it’s use as a marketing tool. Social media provides the possibility of an enormous audience in the shape of followers, and its much cheaper than the traditional forms of marketing. So as more and more people tweet and post things online, more and more people are discovering the joys of sharing every minute thought that pops into their heads, no matter how stupid it might be.

The problem with tweeting without a second thought is that you forget that with all this access to social media platforms, comes a new responsibility. For one thing, were you aware that you can be held legally and personally accountable for things you post on Twitter and Facebook?

In 2012, Jessica Dos Santos tweeted: ”Just, well took on an arrogant and disrespectful k****r inside Spar. Should have punched him, should have.

Tshidi Thamana responded: “…I wish all whites had been killed when you sang ‘Kill the Boer’, then we wouldn’t have to experience @JessicaLeandra’s racism.”

The SA Human Rights Commission was fielding complaints against both of the users and eventually ruled that both individuals must issue a public apology and actively work towards the promotion of equality, tolerance and respect for diversity through various projects. The commission then warned citizens to be vigilant  about posting derogatory and hateful content on social networks.

I was sitting at work when I got an e-mail informing all employees that they need to be aware of the company’s policy on social networks. After reading it, I began thinking about all the risk people put themselves into every day without realising it. In South Africa, the laws surrounding freedom of speech have become a somewhat murkier subject over the last couple of years, so here’s what you need to know and keep in mind when you start sending that text.

The areas of risk include:

Hate speech: Where do you draw the line between freedom of expression and hate speech??Social Media2

[Hate Speech: Propaganda for war; Incitement of imminent violence; Advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm]

Defamation: If you are communicating to one person or more, and it makes another person look bad, whether it is a caricature, cartoon, sketch or photograph, you can be accused of defamation.

[Defamation: The wrongful, intentional publication of a defamatory statement about a person.]

Facebook “friend posted: I wonder too what happened to the person who I counted as a best friend for 15 years, and how this behaviour is justified. Remember I see the broken hearted faces of your girls every day. Should we blame the alcohol, the drugs, the church, or are they more reasons to not have to take responsibility for the consequences of your own behaviour? But mostly I wonder whether, when you look in the mirror in your drunken testosterone haze, do you still see a man?

The person who posted this was sued by his “friend and the courts decided that this post was an infringement of the friend’s privacy and reputation and ordered that all such posts be removed as well as the payment of all the friends legal costs.

Privacy: Since all rights and freedoms must balance, how do you balance the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy and dignity? Because privacy is a personal concept and the scope of the person’s personal space shrinks when they enter communal retains and social interaction, posts on social networks cannot attract privacy protection.

This means if you post something inflammatory and include a disclaimer, it will not be good enough in public domain.Social Media3

McIntosh Polela tweeted: “I trust that JubJub’s supporters gave him a jar of Vaseline to take to prison.” With the disclaimer: ”My tweets are for my tweeps”. He later had to post a public apology, stating: ”My tweet about JubJub on Tuesday nite was in poor taste. I profoundly regret posting & hereby retract. Je suis desole.”

Endorsement: When you tell the public that you approve of the product/service and you’re happy to be associated with it, you have endorsed it. You may incur legal liability if your use of a person’s name or image creates the false impression that the product has been endorsed or recommended by that person.

This would apply to those who would use social networks for marketing purposes.

Passing off: This means representing that your goods or services are those of another, or are associated with the goods or services of another. For example, have you also seen all those spoof Facebook pages?

Copyright and IP infringement: This gives the owner of the work exclusive rights to do certain things with that product for commercial or personal gain. If a 3rd party wants to use or publish that work, they need the owners permission.

[Copyright: The legal protection of certain kinds of works such as photographs, paintings, poems, books and music.]

NB: Just because material is in the public domain doesn’t mean you can use/modify/copy it!

Social Media4An example is Pinterest, which relies heavily on copyrighted material to generate traffic. Keep in mind that most social networks have a “Terms of Service” section that usually says something to the effect of “the user takes on liability for potential infringement claims which may be brought by an author for content that the user posts”.

If you’ve ever used Pinterest, you’ll know that the more content gets “repined”, the more it loses sight of where it originated. As a result of all the trouble, Pinterest developed a “NOPIN” option available to authors or owners.

Contract: Most social networking platforms allow you to buy and sell things via a post or tweet etc. The traditional laws that apply to contracts also apply to online contracts, so you still need contractual capacity, consensus (offer & acceptance), validity and formalities (the thing, the price, method of payment, transfer of goods etc.)

So if you advertise a car for sale on Facebook, and your friend posts a reply offering to buy it for a certain price, and you accept this offer, this is a binding contract!

Litigation: Did you know that social networks can now be used for litigation?? A South African court has allowed the legal service of court papers to be made via Facebook and in Australia, they can access you Facebook profile to use its contents as evidence.

Work place issues: Employees have certain rights and limitations in respect of social networking. Although employers may not discriminate against an employee on the grounds of sexual orientation, HIV status, political opinion, conscience or religion, recruiters often check all your social networks when doing research on you before an interview. Keep in mind what impression you want them to have of you.

Most companies have a policy on social networking which will allow them to dismiss or otherwise punish you if you post negative comments about your employers, post racial slurs of post material that brings the company into disrepute. Also, if you post material about your employers’ clients or suppliers that could jeopardise the employer or the business in any way.

Reputational risk

So all in all, THINK before you Tweet people, focus on being accurate rather than being first, check all your facts and the context before you post anything, keep your business and personal matters separate and if you do make a mistake, take responsibility and apologise before anything else.

P.S.: Don’t forget Auto-Correct and the blunders it will create!


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A Different Order of Reality

Chinua Achebe Post-it

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe

The “father of modern African writing”, Chinua Achebe (born Albert Chínụálụmọ̀gụ̀ Àchèbé), best known to the world as the amazing writer of Things Fall Apart, passed away on Friday 22 March, 2013, after a brief illness, at the age of 82. He was born and raised in the Igbo town of Ogidi, Nigeria and began writing as a university student. Soon after graduation, he did a bit of teaching and then he worked for the National Broadcasting Corporation, a faction of the British Broadcasting Company and later helped create the Voice of Nigeria network.

Achebe was not just the writer of such amazing novels as No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987), but also penned poetry, essays, short stories and even children’s books, all based in his native land, Nigeria. What I think most people first fell in love with in his writing was that he painted a real and beautiful picture of Nigeria and Africa, to a world that, up to that point, had been largely ignorant to the reality of what it was like to be African and in Africa.

Chinua Achebe and Nelson Mandela

Chinua Achebe and Nelson Mandela

Some of his stories were set in the Nigeria before independence from British colonial rule, and so they allowed a view into what it was like living in a time when Nigeria didn’t belong to the Nigerians. This included themes revolving around the conflict felt by Nigerians in a time of both traditional African culture and invasive Western values, the bloody civil wars that plagued Nigeria and the pain felt by the Ibo nation of South-Eastern Nigeria from the brutality of military dictators from other Nigerian ethnic groups.

Things Fall Apart was his first novel, published in 1958, and has since sold millions of copies and been translated into over 50 languages. It was the most widely read book in modern African literature, and like most of his subsequent works, this is set in the Ibo countryside and is most loved for its detailed descriptions of the Ibo life, culture and traditions. It went on to become a classic of world literature, something which was virtually unheard of in African literary circles.

Chinua Achebe 2008, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Chinua Achebe 2008, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

In 1998, Nadine Gordimer hailed Achebe as “a novelist who makes you laugh and then catch your breath in horror – a writer who has no illusions but is not disillusioned. From his writing, Achebe became more than just a writer, but also a political activist. He was noted for aiming his criticisms, not only at British colonial rule, but also at African leadership and the citizens who tolerated their corruption and dictatorship.

He has spent most of his adult life living in exile in the United States of America, working as a University Professor, but came back to Nigeria briefly, to be involved in the politics of the independence and rejoining the of the region of Biafra from Nigeria. He soon became frustrated with the levels of corruption and decided to take himself out of the equation, then a car accident left him disabled, so he moved back to the US.Chinua Achebe Post-it2

His most recent work was There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, which is a memoir of the new nation that was Biafra, told from Biafra’s cultural ambassador. It tells of the Nigerian civil war (The Biafran War) during which Achebe was a roving cultural ambassador able to observer the full horror. It was soon after this that he moved back to the US and has since maintained somewhat of a silence on the events of the war, aside from an interview with Transition magazine, only referring to it through his poetry.

He is most remembered for his unique style of writing, which showed his keen satire, his heavy reliance on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs and oratory.

The literary world has lost a great mind and an even better writer.

RIP Chinua Achebe.


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Oscar Pistorius Shoots & Kills Girlfriend

I was very saddened to hear that in the early hours of this morning, Oscar Pistorius, South African gold medalist, shot and killed his girlfriend.

 

Before you all get yourselves in a tizzy, it was allegedly an accident.

He thought she was a burglar, shot her in the head and arm and she died on the scene.

Oscar is currently in custody and the whole event is being investigated.

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar, a six-time paralympian and a trail blazer in the world of para- and olympic sports, is a hero the world over and is currently being featured in an M-Net ad campaign to promote the “Oscar” Awards coming up one day soon.

I apologise for starting off your Valentine’s Day on such a sad note.