Of Love and Life in The Digital Age

You are familiar with the Three Mystic Apes also known as the Three Wise Monkeys:

See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No evil

See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil

Mizaru, with eyes covered, sees no evil; Kikazaru, with covered ears, hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering mouth, speaks no evil….

Well there is fourth whose wisdom and mysticism is somewhat debatable:

monkey with a phone  He sees nobody, he hears nobody and he speaks to nobody……. and yet on the internet the world is his oyster……

I always take what I read on the internet with a pinch of salt because much as it is a fun creative space, reducing physical distance into nothing more than a click on a screen, it seems to warp reality as we perceive it……

The more our phones capture reality, each new model with better camera, higher number of pixels and a bigger  screen with high definition screen; the less we actually experience it. It seems we have become a generation that seeks validity and relevance by the number of likes and retweets we get online, outsourcing even our conscience to online personas.

Sometimes it seems like people go out of their way to post pictures or share video clips from their lives to prove how they have made it in life or how awesome their dream holiday is even how perfect their relationship is. Almost as if they need the world’s approval to convince themselves that they have indeed arrived. Well maybe you have made it, but as for the rest of the easily swayed world who try to compete every second of their lives to a single moment, captured in a well-timed photo, disappointment awaits you…

Valentine’s has come and gone; with its commercialised; over hyped up trimmings, and of course throw in smart phones and the internet and suddenly people out to show how their better half is best; better than anyone else’s. Some seem to date simply so they can show off. I am sure a relationship is not a competition and Relationship Olympics are not an actual Olympic event but hey people are out there winning the Boyfriend Olympics and the Girlfriend Olympics on the internet.

Relationship Olympics

How do you stay in your lane if you want to Keep Up With The Internet Citizens who star in their own Reality Shows right on our internet timelines.

I read an interesting quote along the lines of :

“If you are going to do good deeds/charity work leave your camera behind”

I wonder if he knew, Alexander Graham Bell, back when he invented the telephone how much control his invention would have over our lives

The next time you are outside and happen to see the perfect sunset don’t take out your phone and take a picture just look at it until the light fades away…

sunset

~B

 

PS why wait only for Valentine’s Day to show how much someone means to you anyway? Live every day like its Valentine’s day.

The fourth monkey is called Post No Evil

Post No evil

 

 

photo Credit: Freaking News

 

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Of Juice In A Wine Glass

Hello Sunday

If you were hanging out with me we would be having juice in wine glasses, because we are sophisticated, yeah step out of the ordinary

Juice in a wine glass

How has your week been? Good I trust.

Whats been happening in my neck of the woods, lets see the interim president finally announced his new cabinet… it pretty much looks like this:

metal cabinet

The newly appointed minister of finance introduced his budget for 2018 I don’t know much about economic policies or how governments run but seems decent enough budget considering working with what they have the bulk of the money is the wage bill for civil servants, living a runaway budget deficit in the region of close to 2 billion. I guess they are banking on a bail out by someone or that the economy really turns around…..

The irony though, government plans to retire civil servants over the age of 65, yet the average ages of the cabinet ministers is 65-70 years, the minister of youth is 68 and the president is 75 years old….

Sometimes you are the change you wish to see.

Moving along I know its Christmas when an evening walk in Harare’s first street is a burst of Christmas lights and Africa Unity Square is riot of colour wishing you a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year

Christmas Lights Africa Unity square

On Friday in a colourful event dubbed Light Up Harare The Mayor Officially switched on the Sunshine City’s Christmas lights (well they had been on for almost weeks now but now its official)

Light Up Harare Christmas

Let the Christmas festivities commence Season’s Greetings

I hear its snowing across the globe on the other side of the world, stay safe, I am curious about snow, having never seen it before; does it feel like ice in the refrigerator, is it cold (don’t answer that) when it lands on your eyelashes does it tickle? Can you eat it what does it taste like, I do know you should not eat the yellow snow ha!

Gotta love the internet it brings the world to the tip of my fingers…

Speaking of the internet, Tuesday 5 December was the day the internet stopped working well they fixed it eventually but from  11.30 to 1700 major internet service providers  well could not provide the internet……

A tractor ploughing a field in South Africa accidentally cut the main fibre cable which supplies the bulk of Zimbabwe’s telecommunications through Liquid Telecoms including the backup redundancy line and in an unrelated coincidence at about the same time a Harare municipal worker in Kuwadzana also cut the fibre cable which links ADSL provider Telone to Botswana and the world …………

*insert deep in thought emoji*

That’s a whole lot of cable cutting right there, I mean aren’t they buried safely beneath the ground I have seen them dig up our drive way to bury them (read here) Don’t they markers or something to warn people *insert appropriate emoji*

Also they really seriously need to work on their backup lines.

Unless of course as some people suggest, the whole thing was a government exercise to test if they can shutdown the internet, I wouldnt put it past them they have done it before, (or so we suspect) in a move to derail a social media campaign that was mobilising people to carry flags and ShutDown Zimbabwe, they even put up some legislation criminalising the carrying and selling of flags without prior authority. Maybe they shut down the internet to install some cyber monitoring  protocols? Conspiracy conspiracy, too bad even if they did and we asked them they would probably deny it (I would too if I was the government)

An investigation is underway to find out the what really happened the day the internet died stay tuned…….

On the upside since I had no internet on the day and couldn’t figure out what to do with myself I ended up finishing reading a book I started and have been neglecting and I also rewatched the movies Moana and Trolls  yes I love animated flicks I am forever young expect reviews coming soonest….

Dear maintenance crews be more careful with our cables hey

Sincerely

~B

Of Coffee And Shiny New Lessons

If you were having coffee with me we would be trying out my shiny new kettle……

Shiny Africa .jpg

I would thank you for visiting and let you know that you are like my shiny new kettle, with the wonky instructions manual, hard to understand but absolutely worth it……

instructions

if you can make sense of this…..

In case you are curious and wondering what happened to the old kettle…. I tried to fix it and I failed… I also learnt a few things too…

old kettle.jpg

You know when an appliance comes with the warning tag No User Serviceable Parts, what they mean is Do Not Attempt To Fix This by Yourself unless you are trained professional but I still insist on taking it as a personal challenge……

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that there are lots of things I have learnt, which is my fancy way of telling you that I may or may not have made some mistakes in life….

Things I learned not to do in life……..

Never Ever:

  • Check the temperature of water in a kettle by dipping hand into the kettle….
  • Touch hot stove tops……..
  • Kick at snakes venomous or otherwise, in fact, snakes should just stay away from me please and thank you …….
  • Poke wasps nests with a stick……..
  • Play in traffic……..
  • Look for shoes under the bed with a candle…
  • Super glue fingers together…
  • Lick the inside metal of the freezer…
  • Put metal objects in electricity outlets….
  • Lick electric wires to taste check if there is power….
  • Look under a lawnmower to see why it’s making so much noise……….
  • NOT Check the ceiling height and clearance for low hanging chandeliers and any other ornaments before tossing a toddler into the air over your head….
  • And when I write a book to check for errors extensively before I have it published
  • and lastly……
    never……
    ever …….. look inside a lady’s handbag….

If you were having coffee with me I won’t tell you what I saw, but I have learnt my lesson, curiosity kills nine lived cats and I have only one.

How has your week been? I hope your weekend is going great.

If you were coffee with me, I would tell you that I have been following social media commentary on a book titled From A to B written by South African TV personality Bonang.

http3a2f2fo-aolcdn-com2fhss2fstorage2fmidas2f676f73b9553b604b31076d58f73c4e912f2055350062f20482648_498835333801519_1022825128439840768_n

Her book has been making a buzz because of typos and grammar problems. It is kind of weird to note most of the people who have suddenly become book critics well havent read the book but have just seen the same screenshot(s) from the book circulating on the interweb and have formed opinions and made remarks of not only the book, but the author as well, as if one wakes up and decides what typos should I make in my book today. Ironically enough I spotted a tweet or two with grammar atrocities busy making fun of Bonang’s typos……

While I am not excusing the author, I mean one owes it to the people who are going to spend their hard earned money on you to create something worth their time and the publishing companies ought to do their due diligence instead of damage control

What do you think?

~B

 

 

photocredit Bonang Instagram

 

Of Blogging Surveys

A blogging survey: Afrobloggers

  1. How long have you been running your current blog(s) for?

Hmmmm well according to my archives my first post is from September 2013…… it seems like a lot but if you factor in teething problem; life getting in the way because life has a habit of happening, and some procrastination effectively I would say I have been fairly consistent in maybe past 2 years.

  1. What is the purpose of your blog?

To be written. Ha! Or maybe to be read or fusion of the two with greater part being simply to be written… I never had grand designs to change the world or push any agendas maybe the purpose of this blog is to find its purpose….. Or maybe it already has and I just haven’t figured it out.

  1. How many blogs do you follow?

A lot because I don’t know where you check to find out.

  1. How frequently do you post on your blog and how do you share your posts?

I usually try to have at least one #CoffeeShare post a week and a random post inbetween them. I share via Pinterest, Twitter sometimes Facebook and if it’s a post I want particular people to read I will email the link even text them if I know their numbers… sometimes Its Magic; I post & Wish

  1. Do you have any writing rituals? A particular time you write, music you listen to, quirky habits to get in the zone?

I prefer to write in a darkened room drapes closed lights off, preferably at night, because I am a nocturnal creature; not forgetting a coffee mug full of herbal lemon tea accompanied by Music by FreshlyGroundSA or Enya sometimes a playlist with The Script, Maroon 5, Nickelback, Evanesence, Linkin Park

  1. Do you have a special time set aside for blogging related activities, or whenever, whenever you get a moment and internet

No particular time, if I have a moment and if I have internet…. Its tea time.

  1. How often do you check on your blog?

as often as one checks the time, especially after I have just had a post published; I keep an eye on the notifications. I get email alerts for comments to my blog and I try to respond to all of them … eventually and when I get the chance also check that person’s blog in return, fair’s fair.

  1. Laptop or phone?

Both I sync draft notes on laptop to phone so I can easily edit On The Go.

  1. Do you take the time to read and discover new blogs? How much time do you spend reading other blogs?

I spend a significant amount of time scouting my reader screen, I have found that I have had to group the blogs I read into lists so I know which to go back to for what like poetry or stories, lifestyle, and some for potential ideas for future posts for my blogs, and potential guest post material

  1. How much internet data do you use in a typical day or week. (is it personal, school or work internet? Wi-Fi or mobile data)

On average 1 gig a day on personal Wi-Fi (when I have only mobile data I usually post via email since its easier on my data than trying to load the WordPress site or running the WordPress App)

Bonus question: If your blog was movie what which one would it be?

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

~B

Thats my truth today but tomorrow might be different every day I re-imagine myself.

 

 

source: Emma Edit

Of Coffee With Winnie

winnie mug.jpg

If you were having coffee with me, I would say

“Knock knock”

You would ask

“Who is there?”

I would say

“Arent”

You would ask

“Arent who?”

I would reply

“Arent you glad its not another covfefe joke”

I would laugh and laugh until tears welled in my eyes and you would laugh too maybe with or at me, but I do hope with me.

Please stick around and have hot beverage, the weather is a touch cold, in these parts. Winter is here! As a friend from the twitterverse Phroetiq phrased it:

I no longer believe in seasons.

I believe in days.

And today is winter

If you were having coffee with me I would let you in on a secret project of mine. Once upon a time a few days back, we went to a local prison to make a tiny donation; (that you need not bother yourself about) but as we left, I had a lovely chat with the Prison Chaplain and we told him if there was anything we could help with and it was within our means he should not hesitate to let us know.

He didnt…

He asked if we could somehow organize for him to have a bible or two for the inmates he would be extremely grateful. I told him “We would see…” you know that standard response you make when you agreeing but not entirely to something, without commitment. Upon further conversation I was shocked to discover that of the 700 approx inmate population not a single bible was currently available for them to use, that they have to wait to until Sunday to hear The Word…..

As the chaplain put it they are trying to rehabilitate prisoners and save their souls, because as he sees it, people commit crime because they lost apart of themselves to the darkness, and he is trying to the best of his ability to restore that which was lost……

**in a related fact about a month ago 120 inmates got baptized.  

This had me thinking that the bible or two we could find would simply be a drop in the ocean and without even a second thought we made a donation of our personal bibles, I dont really use mine; before you get all curious, allow me to rephrase I have a bible app on my phone and am not in dire need….. I also reached out to the friends who live on the internet:

In the past week I received 50 bibles and another friend is arranging for another 20, and I am also working with several other people who have said we’ll see…. Fingers crossed

He asked me for one or two I found 70 with a possibility for more….

When you reach out… sometimes someone reaches back

If you were having coffee with me I would ask you if by any chance you came across the trend that had people declaring how shocked they were to realise that their childhood was a lie, because Winnie The Pooh was female….. WAIT  WHAT???

Winnie The Pooh

Winnie The Pooh

You know nothing Jon Snow

Yes Winnie was female…..

The real Winnie though; the one the character by A.A. Milne was based upon, was a real bear; female and Canadian. The bear was named after the city of Winnipeg, the hometown of the vet who bought her as a cub. Winnie eventually ended up at London Zoo; where she enthralled young Christopher Robin so much, he named his own teddy bear Winnie after her. Christopher Robin’s father was none other than the author A.A. Milne and the rest as they is a story of honey loving bear and adventures with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood….

The bear from the cartoons and books is most assuredly male and your childhood is perfectly safe (for now) and you did not experience any gender identification problems… You are welcome.

If you were having coffee with me I’d iterate  what I said last week Constant Vigilance; a quick Google search could would have revealed this “truth” explained in a tell all children’s picture book by Canadian author Lindsay Mattick published in 2015 Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Thanks for dropping by and much appreciated

~B

PS I just read on the death of actor Adam West who played the first Batman I remember watching growing up… and in honour of him this joke from opening title theme song:

dave-collinson-nana-nana-batman1

nana nana nana nana Batman

And if you you would like to get in touch with me about my bible project you can email me  below:

Batman Image Credit Dave Collinson

Winnie the Pooh story Huffington post

Of Covfefe With Me

Covfefe Title.jpg

If you were having covfefe with me, you would be asking me whether there was a typo in my title and if not; what type of beverage is covfefe? Well I can assure you, there is no typo and that you can not buy it from your local coffee shop.

I don’t think you can buy at from anywhere, for now, but I am sure if you give it a bit of time, in a couple days, some barista somewhere will be serving you rainbow covfefe which looks like the sun set in it with an olive skewered by a toothpick bobbing around leisurely.

Covfefe nobody knows what it means but it’s provocative…

It all started because President of the United States tweeted the following:

Donald.jpg

And the free world went crazy trying to figure out if it was a simple typo, (Twitter really really needs an edit button) or if his Excellency (that’s how we refer to our president) suffered anything from a heart attack, a brain seizure to tweeting in his sleep; some say he was overwhelmed by the sudden urge to have coffee in the middle of tweeting and its certainly something that happens to beerst of us

**pause to sip beer**

Where were we; oh yes and some are convinced it was a clandestine message understood by only a few elite; a conspiracy theory of Robert Ludlum meets John le Carré proportions; involving multinational agent provocateurs and maybe even aliens…

Covfefe Identity.jpgSeveral hours later the curious tweet got DELETED and replaced with the one below:

Meaning of Covfefe.jpg

And then there was Hillary:

Hillary.jpg

Its all much ado about cofveve….., it still hasn’t quite been defined yet but I am pretty sure before the year ends the word will exist in the updated dictionary. Why wouldn’t it be; if emoticons can make it; The tears of joy emoji was oxford the word of the year 2015

face-with-tears-of-joy-1

So far the Webster’s dictionary has no words for it….

But here is a few choice definition from The Urban Dictionary:

Urban.jpg

If you were having covfefe with me; I would tell you that you ought to be careful what you post on social media, the internet is unforgiving, and it never forgets…. (and people take screenshots)

I wonder if he had caught a vision of the future; when he transcribed and sent the first Morse Code message, Samuel Morse upon completion of his invention The Telegraph;

“What Hath God Wrought?”

Indeed; because if you were having covfefe with me, I would ask you, why do people revel in starting and spreading Fake News; where they not hugged enough as babies?

And it doesn’t help that we seem so eager to share we find without pausing for a second to verify, maybe its because I am a storyteller and as we say “the storyteller never lies”  we may get creative with the narrative, embellishing the tale with condiments of a good story…..  but see that’s why we have disclaimers….. and that’s why the only story I believe is the one I am telling….

Today is the first of June, Happy New Month…

If you were having covfefe with me; I would tell you I  got forwarded the following message by five different people in my contact list who are totally unrelated… maybe you have received it too:

IMG-20170531-WA0000.jpg

 

It’s a cute message, isn’t it? but, I didn’t forward it to anyone and why….

Certainly not because I would not have been unique in being a copy and paste…

today is 152nd day of the year the are still 215 days left in the year.

This greeting is a month too early

What if I had forwarded it to every one of my contacts and they forward it to each of their contacts, and suddenly you have a whole bunch of misinformed people…. This is exactly how fake news thrives and spreads, we blindly accept what read, we will learn eventually …. in the words of Mad-Eye Moody to his Defence Against Dark Arts class “Constant Vigilance

 

So long and thanks for all the Covfefe

~B

 

 

Of Freedom Of The Press

#PressFreedom

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

A day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.

For a second I thought to myself what does press freedom have to do with me? I am not a journalist, I don’t work for a media practitioner…..

But like everyone else I pick up a newspaper and browse through, sometimes I find articles about journalists being arrested or detained, cameras and voice recorders being confiscated or destroyed. Media blankets from certain proceedings….. or key government officials calling media parasites or a circus….

According to the Reporters Without Boarders website Zimbabwe Ranks 128 on the World Press Index a ranking based on RSF’s assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year.

Zimbabwe _ RSF-2.jpg

Zimbabwe Press Freedom Index

I won’t say I am a supporter of the press but it has always existed to fill the information gap and they should be able to disseminate truthful information without bias or prejudice or fear, but at the end of the day; Media Houses are a business, and they provide news and information not as a benevolent act but their bottom line is to make money; to sell newspapers, to sell advertising space and whatever else that pays that puts food on their table….

It’s quite easy for The Press to slide down the slippery slope of only covering sensational stories, emotive news that stirs emotion and likewise sales and once down that path its quite easy to start making up your own news when there is none, speculative opinion pieces dressed up as fact; or whomsoever butters their bread tells them to cover a particular story and not another.

Sometimes the media seems nothing more than a tool whose sole purpose is to build or destroy politicians…

Pick a paper any paper what are the odds the leading story is political…

And sometimes it’s a voice for the voiceless and a defender of the people’s liberties but who defends defender……

I remember once getting a communique that was supposedly from Ministry of Information’s office to various radio stations informing them not to cover news on certain protests as it would glamourize civil disobedience…..

It must be tough being part of the government machine, how many secrets you must keep, I am sure it’s with good intentions (at first) you keep these secrets to maintain order( I would like to believe) . It’s not hard to imagine how people were to react if they were told for example the government only has enough money or water or other basic need for one more month before the country reserves run dry, mayhem and chaos…. I have seen the apocalyptic movies where people become mindless animals when they don’t have hope….

Sometimes it seems like hope is more important than truth……

So the state keeps a secret, to preserve hope, a curious journalist sniffs out a scoop and what happens next has happened before and will probably happen again.

If governments didn’t keep so many secrets, if they trusted its citizens not to react like base creatures and properly explained; If good governance meant transparency maybe Press Freedoom would not even be an issue….. but cows come home to roost; scandals break out, politicians fall out of favour, new politicians rise and  they become exactly the system they criticized, and so the cycle continues….

And now we live in the internet age which has brought with it a paradigm shift of how we consume THE NEWS…. Anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection is suddenly a pseudo-journalist. Something happens, you capture it on your phone, you tweet it, blog it and share it via WhatsApp and in seconds it has gone viral before traditional media houses can even say “BREAKING NEWS”

Its absolutely brilliant but it has its pitfalls such as the increase in unverified information or downright slanderous gossip masquerading as fact being peddled by people seeking their two minutes of internet notoriety; for example celebrities have been “killed” several times over, fake news, satirical and downright cyber victimization (leaking of chats, pictures and videos)

Small wonder governments are trying to find ways of monitoring and regulating the internet….. it’s an unruly information jungle. But if only they did with the intention of safeguarding citizens it’s simply a way of controlling information, information is power.

Once the was a time when all internet service was down and conspiracy theorists claim it was a directive from the government trying to stop a citizen protest which rallied around the national flag as it was deemed that the protests were being mobilized via social media.

Our government is trying to pass Cyber Act which gives them power to arrest people deemed to be inciting violence or causing unnecessary alarm and despondency…….

The Press is no longer some journalist with press card and a column in a newspaper, The Press is someone in your phonebook, in your contacts list, in your email, in your whatsapp group, the next person whose tweet you retweet….

Are you really free if you are afraid to speak? How will you be heard when you do not speak?

~B

Of Coffee, April Fools, Short Stories and Fathers

If you were having coffee with me I would say thank you for joining me, how have you been? I have been good cheers to the New Month, hello April what do you have in store for us? Good things I hope.

So did anyone play any good April Fools pranks on you or did you do the pranking?

I didn’t prank anyone but I did write a Very Short Story #VSS called April’s fool:

He used to be the court jester, till he clowned his way into queen April’s heart. No one ever called him King only April’s Fool….

For those who follow my twitterverse account @Beatonm5 you might have noticed I tweet a lot using that hashtag #VSS.. I have been asked many times what this means  it simply stands for a very short story. Twitter and its 140 characters per tweet makes you adept at the fine art of brevity of expression and challenges your creative skills to write a story. If you have a second you can find my #VSS tweets by clicking HERE. If you tweet micro-stories on twitter do let me know and I will check it out and if you haven’t you must try it, it’s also a good way to come up with writing ideas or a story to develop further, for those moments you think you have writer’s block.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you I attended my first mass today. Before you look at me with that scandalous expression it was not my first mass but rather it was the first mass I have been to where the priest in attendance is a family member. He got ordained as a priest last year but time and circumstance had not made it possible for me to attend any of his services. It was quite weird, watching him, deliver sermons and perform sacred rites of communion with ease of someone who has been a priest all his life. It’s also weird how once, he was my young brother and now I call him Father, he looks older. He looks like someone you can confess your sins to, without being judged and expecting him to mete out a fair penance of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, someone who could officiate your wedding, baptise your little ones and when you laid there on your deathbed someone who would perfom the last rites and finally bury you and into the   hole ye goes… Someone you could call Father.

I remember attending his ordination ceremony officiated by an Apostolic nuncio who is the Pope’s emissary so it was quite an honour. The community decided to welcome him by bestowing upon him the gift of a totem, he was declared of the Moyo (Heart) Clan. I am fairly sure protocol was creatively circumvented and he accepted ever so graciously. He thanked the family for our generosity in letting go one of ours to a greater calling. The ordination of a priest, it feels bittersweet like part marriage and part funeral… Christ being the bridegroom: does that make the priest, the bride? but unlike a wedding you are not gaining in-laws as such, but losing your relation to the church … imagine calling your own son father I guess that’s why priest end up in parishes far from their home and family to prevent awkward encounters and broken hearts just like at any wedding.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell I just got my few seconds of fame from a YouTube video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcmwF7_6Ljo

where I got a shout out from Leeann who I featured on my blog The Girl In the Red Dress ( she has a YouTube channel and shares recipes with Conde a parrot I do believe) anyhow someone watched the clip and is now a new follower on my blog, I would have mentioned them by name but, they are internet shy, so I’ll just say I hope you read this wherever you are…

Cheers, April Showers and May Flowers

~B

PS speaking of pranks, and April I am still trying to figure out if this notice from the Zambia Police is real or not, if you do please tell me so…..

police.jpg

Of Words and Red Dresses

Guest Post: Leeanna Lazenby

guest

The Importance Of Words And Red Dresses

Late at night, I laze about in a red lace dress pretending to be a diva and often take a stroll through my Twitter feed to see the latest poetry written by my online acquaintances. Okay, I don’t really wear such a glamorous outfit at all times but I do appreciate reading the talented words of many phenomenal people… and perhaps I should appreciate red dresses more than what I actually do. You will understand why I say this in a moment.

First, I must mention that I am sometimes lucky enough to stumble across Twitterers (as my Mother likes to call us) who have travelled across oceans to meet each other. They record their love affair or journey of meeting up through an exchange of one hundred and forty characters. The funny thing is, we have all done it. Most of us who are part of this tight-knit poetic community have connected with people from across the world in an uncanny, unexpected way. I, personally, have been blessed to find companions all over the place but there is one particular agonizing story that I have been longing to release and share. I was originally going to give the following account via Twitter but prolonged making it public as I was afraid that it could potentially bring my friend harm. I am not sure that I will ever be able to describe her extraordinary light in true form but I was then offered the opportunity to guest feature on this blog.

For this, I am very thankful as I now have a beautiful space to dedicate something to my lost soul sister. Thank you. As you read her tale, please know that I think of her daily.

Once upon a time but not too long ago, I opened a poetry account on Twitter as a way of recording snippets of my creativity. Naturally, I began to network and follow other like-minded individuals.

One day, a girl sent me a message and we exchanged a few words. We started to correspond frequently and eventually switched to emailing so that we could have more elaborate conversations. She was from Egypt and I, London. We were the same age so we could easily talk about boys, celebrities, fashion and life plans but it became much deeper too. We had lengthy discussions about the Higgs Boson experiments, scientific theories and philosophical viewpoints. We were unbelievably similar in countless ways but incredibly different for one catastrophic reason. She was oppressed whereas I had my freedom.  I could make my own choices in life. I was able to work, study, socialise and have friends. She, on the other hand, was confined to being kept at home by her extremely strict parents. They tracked her phone, did not let her have a bank account and withheld her passport in case she tried to leave for a better life. She was subjected to countless physical beatings and verbal insults on many occasions. She was not even able to take a walk since the city in which she lived was suffering from rioting, protests and violence. There was a lot of division between the inhabitants so it was dangerous to go out alone. She wanted to be herself but she was treated as an outcast by her family as they did not understand her personality or attributes.

This resulted in us having to communicate in secret. Sometimes, I would not hear from her for weeks on end but she would Skype/email as soon as she was able to. Her family did not want her to have a friendship with a “westerner” in case I was secretly a male and even when she showed them my photograph, they did not trust her to be telling the truth. They told her that a poet would corrupt her. I was a sinner for being creative. She was a sinner for associating with me.

Over time, she gathered money by any method that she could and kept it hidden. At one point, she managed to have an anonymous poetry book published on Amazon and was earning money through advertising via the online edition of her masterpiece. Her words were magnificent. She wrote in extravagant detail about mermaids and sea creatures without any hints of the daily struggles that she had to put up with in her own reality. She was planning to fight for her emancipation and have the life that she deserved. She was going to flee.

But then it happened. She could not see a way out and she became depressed. Hope left her. We spoke every night on a messenger and I tried to raise her spirits or at least restore her faith but she could not cope with what she had to experience. She attempted suicide. Not once but six times. Yes, six. They put her on medication and locked her away for months. I heard nothing. I thought she was dead.

Then, one day, I received a message from her. She told me that she was okay and that she had been sectioned in a mental institution for the entire duration of her absence. They were releasing her on the condition that she carried on taking the pills. She agreed but I know that she probably never swallowed them. You see, there was never anything wrong with her. The people at fault were her family and those around her. She was a creative type in a life where expression was forbidden.

She used to tell me every day how a woman like her could never be free in her world. It was wrong for her to be filled with passion. Can you even begin to imagine what that would feel like? She could not write, she could not take a walk in the park, she could not do any of the simple things that I took for granted. The most basic thing that she longed for was to be able to wear a red dress because I had one on in my photograph. In fact, I had one on in all of my photographs. She used to imagine that she was going to buy one from the shopping mall and have a collection of vivid lipsticks to match. She would joke that we would, one day, walk around London together and be the “red pair” without having to worry about what anyone thought of us.

She ended her email to me by explaining that my messages had kept her balanced throughout many of her traumatic experiences. She said that she had read my poetry every day and cherished the stories that we had shared with each other in our emails. She was very thankful that I gave her a sense of “normality” because we had our companionship. Her final statement to me exclaimed that my words filled with support/friendship could not have a value put upon them and that it was those very words that saved her life.

This was over two years ago now and I have not had any correspondence with her since. I have tried contacting her but her phone is disconnected, her Twitter is deactivated, her Skype account is permanently offline and the emails bounce back. I do not know what happened to her but she made me promise that if ever she disappeared, I would tell her story and be the voice that she never had. I cannot do her justice with my words but all I can say is this:

“There is a girl, location unknown, who writes of magical creatures and believes in freedom. She is one of many that is misunderstood but despite her sufferings, she is a strong person. Her mind is filled with creativity whilst her tongue whispers stories from her hushed dreams. And somewhere, in the depths of her beautiful imagination, she walks freely… swaying elegantly in her sparkling red dress.

I am forever thankful for all of the lessons, laughter and wisdom that came from this remarkable girl. Who knew that a mere poem on a social media outlet would bring such a wonderful person in to my life. She enriched me with a friendship beyond description.

Thanks to our poetry, two girls from opposite lives were connected and intertwined in a way that seemed impossible. You never know the power that your words will bring.

After looking over this, I would like to add that she is unaware of the impact she has had on my life. She always spoke of being courageous and having strength. She used to tell me, in her own way, that anything is possible and we have to follow our dreams. I can attribute many leaps of faith to her friendship and I only hope that she is out there somewhere experiencing her own slice of freedom.

—–

By Leeanna Lazenby

(Poet with the parrot and the red dress collection.)

***Please note*** I am aware that her individual circumstances are not a reflection of life in Egypt in any particular way. You could be anywhere in the world and experience a very strict family/upbringing. The mention of where she lived was entirely for context to highlight how we connected despite the distance between us.

Poet in The Red Dress.jpg

Lady in Red

Bio:

“Leeanna is a lover of taking bits and bobs from her head, dreaming of poems and making them in to tiddly chunks of art. Put them all together and you may just have a picture of what’s going on up in there.”

Leeanna wants to say a big thanks to @Beatonm5 for the opportunity to write on his blog. Thank you!


Thank you Leeanna it has been a pleasure having you, and thank you for sharing your story, words alone are not important its also having someone, to take a moment to listen…. When I have a story to tell that’s all I ask for, a listener.

Leeanna and her parrot can be found on the Twitterverse, tweeting poetry  @24LoveHeart24

~B

 

Of Coffee With A Musing Stranger

Africa

If you were having coffee with me, I would smile and say hi thank you for joining me, would you prefer tea, coffee or plain boiled water. I would ask you if you had a favourite mug; its not weird at all right having a favourite mug?

What did you get up to this past week?

Lets see, some local celebrity couple had a bit of a meltdown, some say it was a publicity stunt, some say it was real. I wont even go into it because I think they got way too media attention maybe I should blog my own melt-down. Just that the internet never forgets nor sleep or eat or have coffee for that matter, and when a private moment goes viral… it goes so epic that everyone has their two cents to say about it.

Speaking about the internet our dear old Postal and Telecommunications Regulation Authority company; POTRAZ decided to set a floor price of making the internet 2 cents a megabyte to protect the telecoms industry. A move which would see our data prices going up and we already have expensive internet. Econet Wireless went and increased their data charges significantly and people took to the internet and social media to protest the high data costs.  Econet passed the buck to POTRAZ, in a loaded press statement hinting to the effect that the Regulator, the Ministry of IT and the government in general creating an uneven playing field and also trying to restrict low data use  of  the internet as it contributes to abuse of social media (but people have read in between the lines as The Government trying to limit freedom of speech on the internet, elections coming up next year…)and they have since reverted back to the old tariffs and POTRAZ has suspended its internet floor price (for now) and The Ministry has in return warned Econet not to dabble in politics and to stick to its core business mandate…

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you I have a dream that one day the internet will be as basic as the air we breathe, free. I would tell you I have new muse, a stranger and Guest Blogger  I met thanks to the internet. Hailing from Nigeria; Raquel 

Mused by a stranger ~ Words by Raquel
I have been mused, mused by a stranger.
Didn’t your mama tell you not to talk to strangers?
But the stranger talked to me first, and it would be rude to ignore.
I am being mused, mused by a stranger.
I did talk to the stranger, a stranger from a land strange to me.
Strange enough I did like talking to the stranger.
Me being mused by a stranger.
What will it be?
Will it be good, fantastic or interesting?
Or will it be bad, ugly sad and regretful
I got to take the chance, for this stranger has tickled my fancy
AM MUSED BY A STRANGER

Thank you Raquel in musing you I muse myself, you can catch more of Raquel in my next post

Thanks for visiting and have an awesome week ahead

~B

PS how much does your internet cost you?