Introducing the iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ Merch

iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ was founded in the streets of Vuta AKA Daveyton in 2014 on a sunny and dry Thursday afternoon when I was returning home from yet another commercial shoot. A short summary of the story is that an elderly man ran up to me while I was trying to pull off the hardest mean mug of my life and proclaimed my new nickname from the top of his lungs. The mean mug definitely didn’t stick but the nickname did.

My earliest memories were playing in the dusty streets of Kwalo Steet in Daveyton, walking to Bafo-Chiko Primary School and being told about a show called Yizo-Yizo being shot a walking distance from my home. My swag and talents flow from my roots. My upbringing in Daveyton and coming of age in Geelhout Park birthed iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™

Anyone who has lived eKasi, knows what iSlenderSaMaCatalogue means but for me, iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ grew beyond a nickname given to women who are deemed conventionally ”pretty”. As life drew me further from my roots and humble beginnings I insisted on being called iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ because that was my way of paying homage to where I am from.

iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ was founded to pay homage to the melting pot of culture ,swag, talent, hopes and dreams that are often shackled by a lack of opportunity, resources and ultimately an unfair playing field; that’s why it has become clear to me that iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ needs to become more than a hashtag. I believe that we all have a role in creating the world we want our kin to live in and that’s why I will give 15% of all profits made from the sale of iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ merchandise to a township based non-profit organization.

Pantsula Exhibition by Chris Saunders

15% of all sales from the first drop, will be donated to the Jessica Dlamini Foundation 4 Women, a Non-Profit organization based in Mamelodi, Pretoria. The organization prides itself in providing support to girls which will encourage and enable them to obtain an education, with a key focus on providing young women with education and entrepreneur opportunities. The Jessica Dlamini Foundation 4 Women stood out to me because there can never be too many NPOs doing impactful work eKasi and because the founder of the organization self-funds a number of the initiatives.

The Jessica Dlamini Foundation 4 Women was founded by Jessica Dlamini who hails from Pretoria, she was recently named as part of the #IamGenerationEquality for her dedication to fighting social injustices. A report from South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (2011b) found an increase in school drop-outs across grades, it is estimated that out of a 100 learners that begin school in Grade 1 , half will dropout, 40 will complete matric, and only 12 will be eligible to pursue higher education. There are various reasons why students drop out of school and the lack of resources is one of them.

15% of all sales from the first iSlenderSaMaCatalogue™ drop will be donated to the Jessica Dlamini Foundation 4 Women in time for the back to school season 2021, when students are in need of school uniforms, school shoes and stationary. I am hopeful that I can partner with YOU to make a difference in the lives of two , twenty or maybe a hundred students. Regardless of the number of lives we manage to have an impact on, I believe that it will MATTER.

To place your order send a WhatsApp to 083 600 6176

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A lifetime of injustice

The year is 2020, exactly 60 years after the Civil rights movement that claimed the lives of activist leaders like Malcom X, Martin Lurther King & Medgar Evers.

2020 marks the 21st year since Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times outside of his apartment in the Bronx. Amadou was an African immigrant who traveled to America in hopes to return home with a degree but instead returned in a coffin. Hundreds of New Yorkers protested against the murder of the 23-year-old Computer Science major. Eventually, the four police officers who shot Amadou Diallo 41 times were trialed and later found not guilty. The police officers claimed to be frightened because they saw Amadou retrieve an object from his pocket.

Let’s rewind to 1955, to the town of Mississippi, where a 15 year old boy named  Emmett Till was lynched for offending a woman in a grocery store, witnesses risked their lives and stepped forward to give an account of what really happened in the store in hopes to prove that the encounter did not justify the young boy’s murder, however his murderers were acquitted. The woman later confessed to fabricating details about her encounter with Emmett Till and his death is noted as a catalyst of the civil rights movement.

The world receives absurd explanations for the death of unarmed people of color who find themselves at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Death rarely happen by chance, especially when you have a gun pointed at you or have your life squeezed out of your body. Perpetrators often get a slap on the wrist and are given the opportunity to move forward with their lives – this act alone perpetuates that the victims of this mass injustice have caused their own death.

People of color are caught in a constant state of protest. A loop of grief, mourning, marching, social media posting, attack and a lifetime of injustice. A lifetime of brutality.  A lifetime of oppression. 10 lifetimes worth of bloodshed. From the beginning of history black lives have been claimed with minimal repercussions. Injustice is served on a silver platter, a spit on the face of the countless black bodies that were sacrificed to ensure this race lives on for another century.

We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.” – Angela Davis

I write this oceans away from the scene of the crime, writing as a South African “born free” still grasping the ramifications of apartheid and building a life that my ancestors would be proud of on the foundations that were left behind by Steve Biko and Chris Hani – activist martyrs that will never be forgotten because of their bravery and sacrifice. My form of protest is   a short essay in my phone’s note pad. My form of protest is trying to find a thread that connects the lives of  George Floyd, Amadou Diallo, Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Michael Brown – trying to find meaning, praying for a resolution, justice and a revolutionary change. I am searching for meaning, and holding on to bits of optimism for the future of the African diaspora , most times my optimism stares blankly at me for hoping all will be well while we’re in hell.

There is no conclusion to this essay, there isn’t a deep meaningful realization that I come to. I will just leave you with the words that keep echoing  in my mind…   

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” – Frantz Fanon

A BANTU LOVE STORY

I fell in love with Butan around the same time I fell in love with Hip-hop, similar to my relationship with the music genre, the connection had to be horned and nurtured over a period of time. It’s a sweet love story that I think is worth sharing…

39948258-86D1-4CEF-8FB1-9793F2F06312 (1)The love story begins in the early 2000s, in the East Rand –  the hub of exceptionally creative talents in these parts of Southern Africa.  I would be lying if I claimed that I was raised in a musical family, neither of my parents sang or rapped BUT my mother was a vinyl collector, my father a confident giant* man who would break out in dance to the amusement of those around him, one of my sisters sang in the church choir and my brothers were hip-hop heads.

My mother’s vinyl player was damaged while we were in transit to the North West – the home of Mostwako – we spoke about getting the record player fixed from time-to-time but on most days I just listened to my mother reminisce about collecting and listening to vinyl in the peak of her youth, her appreciation and respect for the music that raised her were evident as she always explained that good music should be played on vinyl. The appreciation for the good music that raised me was integral in my appreciation for Hip-Hop. However, it was my brothers who helped refine my palette and simultaneously, introduced me to Butan.

My older brothers have always been Hip-Hop heads that have taught me to listen to a musical offering from the first to the last song at least twice before I decide that I like it or not. One of my brothers has a progressive Hip-Hop palette but in all honesty, will always be a boom rap fan while my other brother is a huge fan of gangster rap and will always prefer hard raps laced over a Dre beat, this combination of very similar yet distinct tastes in music would often result in debates over who’s the hottest emcee, the progression of the culture and authenticity. The highlight of my childhood is having a front-row seat to my brother’s analysis of Jada VS 50/ Jay Z VS Nas, while classic offerings like Common’s The light or OutKast’s Aquemini were played in a loop – it is during these Hip-Hop debates that I discovered Butan clothing on the pages of Hype magazines which my brothers collected religiously.  

In that period Hip-Hop was about storytelling, whether the story was about the government’s negligence of life during Hurricane Katrina or a female kingpin framing her partner in Common’s Testify, the story was compelling, authentic and believable.  The most revered Hip-Hop artists around the globe are storytellers, and that is a  work of art.  Butan clothing has carved its way into my heart by being a brand that is in sync with its audience and that prides itself in telling stories.  B-U-T-A-N is simply a re-arrangement of letters in the word B-A-N-T-U which is loosely translated to ”the people”. Similar to Hip-Hop, Butan has managed to tell a compelling, authentic and believable story with each clothing line. My love for the brand is a love I am glad to have discovered…

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Lessons In Solitude

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I recently moved into my own space, and have found myself spending a lot of time alone,  which is something that is taking some adjusting to.  I am 100% certain that anyone who is related to me or knows me personally rolled their eyes at the first sentence because even when I am at home or at a social gathering I often become quite reclusive (anti-social extrovert), but to my defense, self-isolation in a house full of people or at an outing is different from being alone, I mean alone, ALONE. 

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Although I grew up in a house filled with siblings and preferred moving in with my best friends when I first moved away from home. I have never been afraid of being on my own and to some degree thought that I naturally preferred it.  To my surprise, the first two weeks in my new home started off with trying to fill my space with noise, overthinking myself into an anxious pulp and eventually enjoying my own make-shift routine.  Even though my new found life of solitude is still taking shape, I’ve compiled a list of 3 lessons I have learned in my time alone… 

Lesson No 1: Value Time With Loved Ones 

Time on your own can remind you to value the time you spend with your loved ones, teach you to value their conversation, laughter and even encourage you to put your phone down.  For instance, when I was still living at home catch up time with my little brother was  often characterized by ”uhms” and ”yeahs” while we both stared at our phone screens but the last time I went back home we made it a point to get the picnic blanket, lay it out in the backyard and have an actual conversation, he even convinced me to give Trapo’s  Oil Change a listen.

Lesson No 2: Enjoy Your Own Company (boredom) / Get to know yourself

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The world will always try to put you in a box, label and tell you who you are but society will not have that hold on you if you are firmly standing in who you believe you are and you can only get to that point from spending time with yourself, battling through your boredom and literally getting to know yourself.   I personally believe in the power of Self-acceptance and Self-awareness.  The benefits of being aware of your habits, (sub)conscious coping mechanisms, strengths, weaknesses and the complexity of your humanity are essential for the progress you wish to make in any area of your life. An awareness of your strengths gives you an opportunity to know how to build on them. On the other hand, being aware of your weaknesses gives you an opportunity to turn them into strengths or simply embrace them. It is also important to note that, the world cannot invalidate you if you have already validated yourself. The world can not break your character if it is built on a solid foundation.

Lesson No 3: Make time for your spiritual well-being

” I sit in silence and find whenever I meditate
My fears alleviate, my tears evaporate
My faith don’t deviate, ideas don’t have a date” – J Cole

The world is filled with so much noise and pressure that we often find ourselves drowning in it. We seem to forget that there’s more to life than deadlines, he-say/she-say, Instagram likes disappearing and Twitter hashtags.  Making time for your spiritual well-being goes beyond Sunday services and involves habitual practice on your own. A few years ago a preacher told me that my mental and spiritual well-being are intertwined, which is something I have found to be true. So, in my experience, meditation, and prayer help alleviate my anxiety.  Making the time for my spiritual well -being includes 15sec conversations with God at hourly intervals and logging off social media platforms for as long as I need to. My time alone has allowed me to define what spirituality looks like to me even though there really isn’t a script for this type of stuff.

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No man is an island, we all need companionship and human connection. I believe in the power of community and the importance of the relationships that we have with the people we have in our lives. All I hope for is that this blog post has inspired you to make time to get to know yourself, take care of your spiritual well-being and hopefully,  see the value in being fully present in the moments spent with your loved ones.

One last reminderLife is a journey and no one will ever have it figured out but that should not stop us from trying.

 

 

Trust the timing of your life

I’m sure that you have heard the saying more times than you can remember,” trust the timing of your life” – meaning that you should let go, trust God and watch it all fall into place.  Another Cliché that you have heard before is that “Patience is a virtue”, but it is easier said than done especially if, like me, you are a junior with senior executive dreams.  In a nutshell, we all want to win, in our careers, in our friendships and relationships, the catch is that we all want to win SOONER than later.

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The world has dubbed millennials as the generation that wants to go from zero to CEO as in yesterday…we are an impatient generation.  Academics blame it on social media and the design of the modern world, whatever the cause, it seems as if we have become accustomed to instant gratification. Millennials feel like “it” is not happening fast enough, we are in a rush to reach our desired destination, that we forget that “the journey is the reward”.

According to research, social media contributes directly to youth anxiety as it has a way of making it seem like our peers are 10 steps ahead of us while we are somehow trailing behind. We all seem to forget that people only share the highlights of their lives on social media. We idolize and anxiously envy our peers success’ while downplaying the amount of hard work, dedication, sacrifice (blood, sweat, tears) and of course the time put in to reach a specific goal. In the words of Steve Jobs, “…if you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” And it is so unfortunate that we often place our happiness on hold, taunt and undermine ourselves’ by believing that we are not reaching our destinations fast enough.

Progress

Lessons important to our success exist in the gap between where we are and where we want to be.  Simple lessons like defining success for ourselves’. Complex lessons about rejection and determination. Essential lessons about kindness, purpose and what I deem to be the most important, lessons about mental health, self-love, and self-care because you can not truly win if you are not right within. As I read about the journeys of my favorite moguls, phenomenal women like Taraji P Henson and Issa Rae I realize that persistence and self-assurance are a common thread in their journeys.

My personal journey has taught me to remain graceful in the face of failure, and that failure cultivates resilience. For instance, when I started modeling at the age of 14 years old,  I lost every pageant I entered and spent 3 years of my life being turned down by every agent I approached, only landing my first modeling contract at the age of 17 years old. In retrospect, I realize that the rejection fuelled the fire I had to build a successful modeling career. Another example of a motherland mogul whose journey we can learn from is the talented singer, Shekinah, who auditioned for Idols SA on two separate occasions and did not “win” on each account, she has since stacked up awards and recently made history by successfully hosting music festivals across two regions in South Africa.

 

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A home-cooked meal tastes better than 2-minute noodles, I know that’s a very corny example, but you get the gist, don’t you?  I am a huge believer in purpose and the idea that everything worth having takes time. I know that it is not easy but if you let the work do the talking and keep the faith, it works itself out.  In the words of one of Africa’s most successful musicians, Kiernan Forbes…

ALL IN DUE TIME LIKE GOOD WINE!

 

Urban Fridays: Music Review

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It’s an obvious fact that Limpopo creatives are on a rise, it seems as if artists from the Northern part of SA are now more than ever confidently sharing their individual stories. I’ve personally been on a search to find up and coming  Tsonga rappers that can fly the Tsonga rap flag high…

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Meet Travolta, a rapper hailing from Giyani who has just released his latest single Ndzilo,  a slick delivery of Tsonga & English bars served over a smooth beat. Soothing backing vocals create the ambiance, while Travolta confidently showcases his skills in 4 minutes, 42 seconds.

Bump this song for chilled vibes or when you’re driving home.

Stream Ndzilo on the music platforms below:

Self-Validation is a Super Power

Validation

Self-validation is YOUR superpower, it is the ability to clap for yourself even when no one else is clapping for you. In my humble opinion, Self-Love and Self-Validation are CLOSE cousins…

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The ability to validate yourself allows you to own all the good/bad decisions you make and that is the fertile ground to cultivate the best version of yourself. In the long run, Self-Validation curbs self-doubt and negative self-criticism which often leave us feeling frustrated, insecure and unworthy. 

“Self-Validation is a form of Self-care, it also breeds Self-Awareness, which leads to Self-Acceptance.” – iSlenderSaMaCatalogue

I am a firm believer in mentorship and getting a second opinion, however, I believe that the most successful people in the world mastered owning their voice and setting the pace for their story. The likes of Oprah Winfrey, Afua Osei, Sho Madjozi and the likes individually learned to trust their voice and be their own hype man which now serves as the foundation to their success.

“A million likes will never be enough if you do not like yourself.” – Leanne Dlamini

Self-Validation is a form of Self-care, it also breeds Self-Awareness, which leads to Self-Acceptance. In the 21st century, being able to validate your decisions, your beliefs, your boundaries and simply being able to say NO is a form of Self-preservation. External validation prevents you from being able to put yourself first which results in your well-being taking the back seat. External validation makes the idea of prioritizing oneself seem selfish, which sums up my theory that Self-Validation and Self-Love are LA Familia.

I am honestly still doing the work, faking it until I make it where the need is,  intentionally choosing myself despite how anxious I get when I choose to let my friends down and miss out on on a ladies night in the name of Self-Care. Through trial and error, I am learning to confidently set the pace for my life, before I worry about what the next person will say, I owe it to myself to own my life and so do you.

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10 Lessons I have learnt in my 22 years on Earth..

The 27th of March 2019 marks my 23rd birthday, and what a journey it has been. So many lessons have been learnt, but who says you have to die in order  to teach ?

These are the 10 Lessons I have learnt in my 22 years on Earth (in no particular order):

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1. Your network is your networth.

2. It’s okay to ask for help.

3. Life is but a moment, but moments are always fleeting. Be present.

4. You are never alone, someone has gone through what you are going through. There is nothing new under the sun.

5. You do not owe anyone answers, except yourself. ALWAYS hold yourself accountable.

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6. Live your truth. Speak your truth, to be the truth.

7. Energy is currency.

8. What you think, you become.

9. You are worthy of self-love and self celebration.

10. Start with what you have.

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Here’s to 22+ more years of peace, prosperity and love. 🥂 🥂

Welcome to the machine world.

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These are strange times to live in. The line between what’s natural and what is machine is getting thinner and thinner, there is a woman who has all the answers that lives in our phones, our devices can predict what we want to text before we even text it and there’s a machine that lives in the sky that can track our every move.

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More & more companies are making use of chat bots to communicate with customers..

New machinery and software that can do what man can do are being developed every day. Technology has found a way to give financial advice, do accounting, give directions, mix cement and even mine. These technological advancements have been developed to do what man can do in a more efficient and cost effective way. However, they are certain things man can do that machines can’t, for example express empathy.

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I can recall watching the 1997 cult classic, ‘the fifth element’ and failing to accept the idea of flying cars ever being a reality but with recent technological advancements such as autonomous cars AKA self-driving cars, flying cars don’t seem like such a far reach. Pop culture movies which showcase artificial intelligence co-existing with humanity are slowly moving from fiction to non-fiction.

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Technological advancements have changed and influenced every aspect of modern human life. People have benefited a lot from technological advancements and stand to benefit even more. Human beings can use technology to empower themselves and raise awareness about injustices which take place all over the world such as the, #MeToo and #BringBackOurGirls movements. Robotics in the workplace are more efficient in that they bring about more productivity and result in less injuries in the manufacturing sector. Technology advancements have also led to new medicines being developed for illnesses such as paralysis and cancer.

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However , I have read that tech advancements are happening in a faster rate than skills transfer to humans are taking place. Organisations are investing more and more of their money on new software and technology than in hiring and empowering their employees. According to Bernard Condon, ‘ technology will kill middle class jobs’ but studies also show that the fourth industrial revolution will create new job opportunities so this is certainly the time where leaders and citizens of all nations alike must begin to think of solutions and make sure there is a smooth transition into the machine age.

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One of the ways to ensure a peaceful co existence of man and machine is to find an equilibrium, a balance between the two parts by creating people centred machines and systems. It is also very important that we use technology to empower people by making the necessary digital skills attainable, in order for them to take advantage of the new job opportunities which technological advancements create, hence the importance of initiatives such as the Dream Girls Academy and UK-SA tech hub DreamCode BootCamp.

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FIRST-TIME VOTER JITTERS

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Uhuru Noun Swahili. Meaning: freedom, independence

 

It’s Saturday, the 26th of January 2019. A seemingly ordinary day, and I’ve set my alarm two hours earlier than it is usually set. I take 15 minutes longer than usual to get out of bed. I’m anxious. Today marks the first time I register to vote !
The first time a democratic election took place in South Africa, I was probably a vague idea in my father’s head and the other 4 times, I was simply too young to vote. My relatives mock me, I am uncertain if it’s because they simply do not believe in voting anymore or it’s because they don’t think their or rather my vote matters at all. I almost start feeling naive for believing. I almost start imagining my ballot paper being a drop in a rigged ocean.

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Excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech delivered on 10 May 1994, speaking on behalf of democratically elected ANC-led government.

I‘m usually an opinionated person, the type to debate and defend whatever it is I believe in to the point where I’m out of breath, but I can’t seem to find the words to defend my eagerness to go and register to vote. I can’t seem to find the words to defend my supposed “naivety” I mean I can’t blame them [my relatives ] for not trusting the system.

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Page 1 of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s 355-page report titled “State of Capture

 

I wish someone could tell the politicians that ordinary folk can see through the propaganda. By propaganda I mean, certain political parties showing up in certain communities only during election season. By propaganda I mean certain political parties hosting frequent events to interact with the community only during election season.  Yup, we see you kissing babies and exposing each other’s skeletons.. That’s right we see the propaganda !

The are so many obvious antics reserved for election season, and my primary concern is that political awareness and political involvement among the youth is only encouraged during voting season.

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An excerpt from a newspaper article written about the youth uprising in ’76

 

I wish I learnt about the works of Thomas Sankara,  Kwame Nkrumah, Chris Hani just to name a few while I was still in high school.  I wish the class of 2013 read ‘Black man you are on your own’ or ‘I write what I like’ instead of Animal Farm. I wish the youth of South Africa was conscientized to the history of our country and extensively taught about democracy and politics long before they reached middle school.

In that way when the important task of voting comes  the youth will be politically literate enough to understand that we vote for political parties into parliament based on their ideology and not family recommendations and the youth will be politically literate enough to understand that we identify REAL revolutionaries through their actions.

I started understanding political systems in my first year of varsity after choosing a politics and public policy module. It is through this module that I started understanding the different ideologies which are ruling around the world  and it is through this module that I learnt that policies are usually passed using the winning parties’ Manifesto,  but just because a party said that they will deliver on certain promise during election season doesn’t mean they will keep their promise when they step into office or rather parliament.

This election season I have taken the conscious decision to familiarize myself with political parties’ different constitutions and manifestos. I mean the answer has to exist somewhere right ?! but it’s still a huge responsibility to vote in a democratic country because when you vote, you give power away to a certain party/faction and hope that they will do right by you and your neighbor.

If  you have access to the manifestos/constitutions of any other political parties than those mentioned above, please share them in the comment section.
ALUTA CONTINUA.