Where do you come from?

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”

– Nelson Mandela

Tomorrow, 24 September, we will be celebrating Heritage Day. It is a day to celebrate and honour your heritage – and the rich heritage of our awesome country, South Africa.

Do you know your heritage?

Your heritage is a big part of your identity – it is made up of all the traditions and customs that were passed on to you from your parents. For example, maybe you have a Zulu mother and a Xhosa father – in which case your heritage will be made up of both Zulu and Xhosa practices and traditions.

If you don’t know much about your family’s history, do yourself a favour and find out more about it – in the spirit of Heritage Day. Your heritage is something to be proud of! And you may be surprised at what you find out.

Did you know, Heritage Day, Fun Fact, South Africa, IFP, King Shaka

What all South Africans have in common, is a South African heritage. Despite our past, I am certainly proud to have this heritage.

We are a nation of diversity – a “rainbow nation“, as Mr Nelson Mandela called it. We are a nation of diverse cultures, races, traditions, and languages – but despite our differences, we are still all South Africans, and the country belongs to us all.

This is what tomorrow should be all about – celebrating our individual heritage, well at the same time acknowledging and honouring our shared heritage.

So don’t just see tomorrow as a day off work – honour your heritage, acknowledge the heritage of those around you, and most importantly, we should celebrate our heritage as united South Africans.

College SA wishes all of our readers a very happy Heritage Day!

braai, South Africa, Heritage Day, heritage, College SA

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The Time is Now

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

Live big, College SA

Have you ever looked at your life and wondered why you still do not have the career you wanted, why you aren’t driving a better car or live in a house you always thought you would have by now?

There are many reasons why we “get stuck” in certain stages/phases of our lives. It can be something serious, such as dealing with emotional problems that may stem from a series of things – You might have lost somebody close to you, maybe you were bullied, or maybe you were abused.

Sometimes we are stuck in a career because we do not possess the necessary skills to be promoted, or we cannot afford to buy a new car because we might have other obligations, such as our children’s school fees. Whatever the reason may be that you feel you are not moving forward in life, I have some advice for you.

You might have heard the saying “there is no better time than the present”. I could not agree more. Every so often we tell ourselves the reason why we cannot recover from emotional pain, financial loss, or get a new job is that we feel it is going to take too much work and effort. And yes, it may take a lot of time, work, or effort, but it will be worth it!

It is never too late to become who you were supposed to be, and as the wise Karen Lamb said: “In a year from now you will wish you started today”.

No regrets, College SA

Let go of your past and have the courage to do something that will help you achieve what you were destined to accomplish. So instead of feeling unaccomplished and unhappy in your career, get up and do something about it. Study a course that will help you to get promoted or embark on a new career path. Sometimes the confidence that we receive from a life-changing career is all we need to turn our lives around.

Let go of all the negativity and emotional baggage. The time is now to take back your life! Take back what is yours, and take back what was always supposed to be yours. We all deserve to be happy and live a prosperous life. So make it happen!

That being said, if you want something to happen, you should prepare for it. You should not sit around and wait for something to happen, or wait for somebody to come along and do it for you. No! Look in the mirror and you will see that what you need to succeed is already there. It always was!

“The mental and physical space we create by letting go of things that belong in our past gives us…the option to fill the space with something new.” – Susan Fay West

Mandela Day

Today we celebrate the birthday of a very inspirational leader – Mr Nelson Mandela. I’m sure he needs no introduction!

Sadly, this year marks the first year that he is no longer with us for his birthday. But this does not mean that we can’t keep his legacy alive!

Mandela spent most of his life fighting the injustices in South Africa. He believed in an equal South Africa, and he fought until he got just that! We can only imagine what kind of country we would be living in, had it not been for this wonderful and brave man. Thanks to him, we are all seen as equal, and we are all given equal opportunities.

On this Mandela Day, show your gratitude towards this remarkable man by spending just 67 minutes of your time helping others. Not all of us have money to give out, but we can all give of our time!

This idea was inspired by Madiba himself, when at his 90th birthday celebration, he said, “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now”. Madiba has achieved so much for our country, and he deserves to finally rest in peace. Now he is leaving the responsibility with us.

“Mr Mandela has spent 67 years making the world a better place. We’re asking you for 67 minutes.”

Whether you spend this time helping out at an old age home, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or simply reading stories to sickly children in hospitals, you can make a positive difference to people’s lives. Although this may seem like small gestures, if everyone can at least do something small – together, we have the power to change the world!

College SA has the greatest respect for Mr Mandela. Just like him, we believe that everyone should have equal opportunities, and we believe in the power of education – which is why we provide quality, affordable study programmes to people from all walks of life. Everybody should have the opportunity to further their education!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

At College SA, we are showing our gratitude towards this extraordinary man, and leaving his legacy behind, by donating food and clothing to the less fortunate. What are you doing this Mandela Day? Let us know in the comment box below.

The value of high numbers

I have great respect for communities and societies who value older generations. I wish that we could all value and respect other people’s life experience and wisdom.

As a society, I think that we should embrace getting older, for every wrinkle tells a story. There have been some fantastic role models who became more influential with age, and whose stories became that much more powerful as they got older. Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Theresa – the list goes on and on.

How can we not learn from these great teachers? How can we not embrace the beauty of age and wisdom?

If I could change society, I would start by placing more emphasis, value and importance on older generations. We can learn incredible things from them.

Have you ever sat down with a grandparent, parent or older family member and listened to their life story? They can take us to places we have never been before. They can take us on journeys of pain, love, triumph and glory.

Too often, we fail to acknowledge just how much we can learn from the older generations.

When I opened my ears and started listening to my own family’s stories, I was really amazed at what I found out. Their life stories are absolutely incredible. I am proud of their accomplishments, and proud to be a member of my family.

The next time you see an elderly person in the shop, driving annoyingly slowly in front of you, or struggling to walk up a flight of stairs, don’t just get irritated – stop to smile at them, help them, and acknowledge that they are somebody special.

For all you know, they may just be the founder of a big franchise store, or someone who defended one of your family members in a fight or argument of some sort. They may have made a powerful contribution to the world. They are someone’s mother or father, brother or sister, and more than likely the greatest love of someone’s life. Let us love the older generations. They have given us so much.

And in order for us to ensure that we are great examples for future generations, just as the older generations are for us, we should embrace every opportunity to increase our knowledge. One way of doing this is by taking distance learning courses in our spare time.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Goodbye to a man who survived many prisons

By now almost everybody has heard about the passing away of Madiba. The ‘news’ is circulating rapidly and repeatedly on all possible platforms.

I heard about Madiba’s death late last night. A very dear person in my life sent me an sms saying:

“Madiba died tonight”

Undoubtedly, Nelson Mandela was, and will always be, an international icon and an indelible part of South African history.

Madiba

When I heard about his death, I immediately thought back to the two times that I have visited Robben Island – the (in)famous prison where Mandela and many other activists and ‘problem’ (sic) individuals were sent to.

Robben Island

This is what I want to speak about in this article – how my 2 visits to Robben Island have affected me

Robben Island, according to my knowledge, started out as a leper colony. In other words, sick people were sent there to ensure that they were isolated from the rest of the population. In addition to Robben Island being a place of banishment for those suffering from leprosy, it was also where other ‘undesirables‘ were sent, namely, blind people, very ill people, and those considered mentally insane.

So, long before Madiba and the other political inmates stepped foot onto Robben Island, the island was a societal disposal bin. A place where ‘non-acceptable‘ people were sent. A place to keep these ‘untouchables‘ out of society’s view.

For me, stepping off the luxury catamaran and onto the island, I was immediately hit by the unmistakable air of sadness of the island. Yes, of course it ‘feels’ sad because we all know, to some extent at least, what happened on the island.

But for me, it was sad on a level deeper than that.

I am going to refer to a quote from one of my favourite authors, Albert Camus, to illustrate this point:

“Every stone here sweats with suffering, I know that. I have never looked at them without a feeling of anguish.”

I react quite strongly to the concept of ‘untouchables‘ or of ‘undesirables‘. I don’t care what Maslow has to say in his famous Hierarchy of Needs pyramid; what I do know is that we all need to feel:

  • Worthy of being alive
  • Worthy of being part of a community
  • Accepted by those around us
  • Visible – that we are actually seen, that our presence is noted
  • Worthy of basic respect and dignity.

I can’t think that the prisoners (for they were prisoners) of the Robben Island leper colony had any of the above needs met. It causes me great anguish to know that people were, AND STILL ARE, classified as unacceptable for various reasons. Throughout history, unacceptability (and its accompanying punishments) took many forms:

  • People with physical and mental disabilities;
  • People whose religion differed from those of the leadership of a region;
  • People whose skin colour classified them as ‘other’ or ‘barbaric’ etc;
  • Widows;
  • Foreigners;
  • People with illnesses;
  • People whose mother tongue was not the preferred mother tongue of the leadership;
  • People whose social class or case was not the preferred class of the leadership;
  • People who were born ‘illegitimately’;
  • Poor people;
  • Gay people;
  • Women

The list could go on and on.

The truth is, all of us are, in someway ‘unacceptable’ to somebody else.

If all of us had lived in a previous historical era, chances are high that we would have been banished, or even stoned to death for some aspect of ourselves.

So my point that I am trying to make is, for me,  …. Robben Island is imbued with sadness. And this sadness is so very bittersweet because, ironically enough, Robben Island is so physically beautiful. I’m not talking about the physical structures, I’m talking about the nature and the landscape.

In another universe, Robben Island could have been an exclusive holiday retreat. It offers privacy, spectacular views and incredible fauna and flora.

In another universe ….

And this is what my visits to Robben Island made me realise:

  1. The inter-connectedness of suffering and beauty
  2. The cruelty of being unfairly imprisoned
  3. The indignity of being labelled ‘unacceptable’
  4. The irony of being a prisoner on an island where the mainland (read: freedom) seems just a swim away
  5. That, as humans, we tend to banish ourselves and others too easily
  6. That I need to be more mindful of how I treat those who are different
  7. That we all spend time, at some point in our lives, in some form of emotional prison

Madiba

8.      (and I know that this sounds silly) That cruelty is truly cruel

9.      That amid, and as a result of, cruelty and suffering, can exist and can come greatness.

For me, Madiba proved that pain can lead to growth. That suffering can lead to increased love. That in spite of inexplicable cruelty that we experience (by the hands of others as well as by our own hands), that survival is sometimes possible. 

Madiba

I am sorry for the very long article.

Madiba, thank you for the lessons you taught me.

RIP MADIBA