The maiden “Aunt” matrimonial schtick

I hate public speaking.

Ever since high school when our formidable English teacher mocked my nervous rocking posture after a speech I had  delivered , I vowed never to speak on a public platform again. I was mortified to say the least given especially that my secret heart-throb was part of the senior group that Ms Cruella chose to castigate me in front of,  ridiculing me with her mimic of my delivery in an exaggerated fashion of swaying her hips in the most absurd manner…How I wished the earth could’ve swallowed me up that day !

In any event the fate of this mythical dalliance was sealed a few days later when , whilst  walking past said beau, I slipped right in front of him, landing on my derrière …and was met with a very unchivalrous response from him in the form of a  falsetto rendition of  Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away” –  thus effectively relegating my infatuation for him to the annals of unrequited delusional fancies. I thankfully  never  gave him a second glance – truth be told  more out of embarrassment at  my compromised “elegant’ gait than chagrin at his lack of gallantry, unfortunately !

The course of romance for me henceforth was littered with the cadences of arses and theses, settling eventually to a culminating coda of a tumultuous marriage…an institution that still confounds me after almost 20 years of hard labour, mercifully interspersed with halcyon days which served to temper many a stormy night.  So I was understandably  taken aback when asked to deliver a speech at my nieces wedding …Me, the merry matrimonial manqué who loathed public speaking  …and now to proselytize on the virtues of marriage??? My apprehension was somewhat  abated by the fact that it was after all my  late brother, Allie’s daughter’s wedding , and so indeed an honour that I was asked to represent our family. More especially as I was my brother’s youngest sister, the deviant one at that too 🙂 , I thought best I rise to the occasion and face my demons. I guess it didn’t hurt too that I didn’t have to stand and  deliver the speech …thus minimising the  likelihood of  summonsing memories of that ill fated day in high school  of my  oratorial bop!

And of course when words are spoken from the heart , the anxiety fades to make way for genuine warm thoughts …

Here’s a transcript of the speech , that thankfully was well received (with the video recorded by my 8 year old grand niece.Note to self- best thing to have doting little people nearby – they instantaneously calm the harsh, critic inside 😉 )

“I was very touched that  Raeesah asked me to share a few words as a representative of her dads family as I know my brother would have been beaming today, so very proud , to see his little ‘princess’ complete half her faith  and take on this commitment to honour both herself and her spouse in nurturing love and mercy on what is probably the most tumultuous journey  they will take together . And if any of you really  knew Allie , fondly knowns as Butchie boy or Butch, you would know how he evolved; learning the art of love and mercy through the many  ups and downs of life – as he touched the lives of so many with his endearing ways  …and I’m sure he would have had so many gems of insight to offer  Raeesah tonight – so Im going to try to  evoke a little bit of his spirit  in the hope that wherever he is , he’s happily looking down and sending you both his blessings,  Raeesah and Shaheer

Allie,  as many of you will remember was a warm, charismatic,  good-looking guy with an infectious laugh and brilliant smile,  lekker stout but with a ‘heart of gold’  (as someone commented on a post about him on a Facebook awhile back ) Never one to hold grudges, he always sought to create harmony and good cheer …which I see reflected in Raeesah’s  affable disposition. It is precisely her warmth and charm and humility that makes her so special… and traits that I hope she’ll sustain in her space with her spouse and which she in turn, will be cherished and respected for.

And whilst Allie could dress to the nines – Shaheer and Raeesah , I’m sorry to say I reckon you guys,the couple on the cat-walk, would have had some tough competition  on Instagram if he’d been around, hey – Im not sure  if you remember Raeesah but your dad would shop you the most  beautiful frocks when you were little,  turning you into a virtual princess! Anyway whilst he liked the good things , he had the same keen sense of style to recognise true wealth of spirit in a man with a torn shirt and holes in his shoes.  Talking about shoes, my brother had this annoying habit of drying his just washed and scrubbed, very clean ,white  Jack Purcells in the warm drawer of the oven!!  I can still remember the shrieks of annoyance when we found the takkies warming in the oven drawer…and he would just stand there cackling, dismissing our complaints with the claim that the drawer wasn’t really used anyway.  So Shaheer you’ll cut Raeesah  some slack if you don’t find the Sunday roast in the oven  and instead find her All Stars there (unless you’re a real man and cooked it yourself of course!)  I’m not sure how far this genetic thing goes so I think you ‘d best do the roasting for now.

A jive bunny and crooner of note , Butch was largely  responsible for my romance with Blood , Sweat and Tears, the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Bad Co, Breakfast In America – all the pop  ballads he’d sing in the car when he dropped me off at  school.  I’m not sure about Raeesah’s musical ear but I  caught a glimpse of her mom and her  doing a little Bollywood jig at her Mehndhi night …she’s got the moves alright Shaheer, a little bit stiff so I’m hoping you can belt out some  good tunes there to really loosen her up!

Her dad though also read the Quran beautifully- Ramadaan was special with his comforting recitals filling the evening hours , with his reading rendered even more melodic given his  understanding of the Arabic verses…..Balance was key to his amiable disposition – a vibrant zest for life harnessed with a strong sense of spirituality. Allie had pursued an Aalim course in India many moons ago. He put a lot by scholastic endeavours especially if it meant making a meaningful contribution to humanity’, as he once told me.

And so he would have been especially proud to know that just a few days ago he’s daughter had graduated with her pharmacy degree , with just few % short of a cum laude pass. Well done Raeesah!! May your mobile pharmacy on wheels now become a legit operation  …She’s  been our go-to-pharmacist, always ready on the fly with a suggestion for an ailment  . We wish you the best  in your post-grad studies and pray that you exploit that good head of yours in meaningful endeavours …like a miracle age defying cream or something J

Seriously you have  achieved so much, despite the significant losses in your life … and have blossomed from a cutie pie to a beautiful, smart , hard-working and most importantly humble yet strong and forthright young woman.

And thank you Shaheedah (and the Solomon family) …from all us …. Raeesah’s achievements; her  strength of character and generous spirit, are in large part, due to your efforts Shaheedah , your tireless dedication and sacrifices and your giving nature.  I’m so certain Allie would say, Shot Cooks! You’ve done well with my princess.

So Raeesah, your father and brother who left us too early , and then Papa – the Rahiman men that were all so proud of you, and that you brought so much  joy to, make way now for another significant figure who we hope will always have your back- like they would. And who you will bring joy to, too.

Shaheer , on behalf of the Rahiman’s  we welcome you to this family (you know what you’re getting into on both sides, so no excuses and no sympathies J!)

My wish for you both is that you be the joy and comfort to each others eyes….

That you both grow spiritually in this union, governed foremost by a love for the Almighty, from which all that is goodly and tranquil must then flow.

That you honour , love and respect each other and never give up  falling in love with each other – because without a doubt you will change-both of you – the trick is being tenacious in finding that spark and never closing that space to talk….and to really listen.

And remember that whilst you have each other as your best  friends, know that you always have the support of your family and friends. Don’t forget  us, hey!

Mabrook ! May the Almighty  bless your marriage with tons of happiness!  Here’s to  years of celebrations Insha-Allah!!” 


Subversive Delights

And so the chronicles of the prodigal baker continues (in reference to my last episode of the mass-éclair-bake-off, the “if- its-not-posted-it-didn’t-happen” kind …similar to the “if-you-didn’t-wear-your-Fitbit,-your- km’s- walked -ain’t-worth-the-sweat-you-poured “ get? ) so you’ll forgive the tech-induced confessional share of my culinary gambits .. Still, the once rare, now slowly becoming somewhat more often/ regular, occurrence of my experimenting in the kitchen after lunch (instead of rushing off to the local bakery) is never without its requisite drama when it does happen…

Deep in my reverie of spooning dollops of coconut in the little flower pastry cups, I was disturbed by my SO with the scintillatingly, helpful question as to “what it was I was now concocting ?”.

“’Hertzoggies’, I replied…somewhat triumphant that our philomath/autodidact from Fordsburg wouldn’t have a clue as to what this was, and so awaited the expected absurdist retort which ‘SO’ of course didn’t disappoint , accusing me of assaulting the family’s palates with right wing HNP cuisine.. , To which I quipped, armed with the relevant credentials of being born in Fietas, formative years spent in Athlone, later Newclare and raised by my ‘Malay’ step mom etc. that it was a popular Malay biscuit that ‘everyone knew’ and trailed off that the name was probably passed down as a term of endearment accredited to the source i.e. an “Aunty Zoggie” or something…. And added with aplomb that there was no compulsion to indulge … knowing full well that the smell of hot sweet pastry, wafting through the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, an uncommon aroma in our surrounds with functional purchases the order of the day:/ , would melt even the most stoic Trotskyites palate.  And so the recipe was added to the #notquitetheanarchists cookbook after I wryly witnessed 4 tarts scoffed in a sec.

Until the gagging sound this afternoon when I settled down to finally read Gabeda Baderoon’s utterly engaging, accessible and well researched scholarly work “Regarding Muslims- from slavery to post apartheid“. How the cookie crumbled when I discovered in chapter 3 that the “Hertzoggies” was indeed named after General Hertzog in 1936, and that the pastry served to encode the ‘betrayals and ambiguities of history’. She writes about the cookies unsavoury past (a story which is not readily shared for obvious reason I guess, given its part-complicity in the apartheid projects aim to divide Black communities) – initially baked in honour of General Hertzog for his promise to give Malay slaves the vote and when he reneged on this, the cookie was then dubbed a ‘ twee gevreetjie” (hypocrite). So Baderoon describes the painful memory of slavery encoded in this humble tart/ cookie and provides a fascinating account of the dissident practices in the culinary history of Muslims in South Africa.

I’m beginning to wonder what other subversive delights I may be harbouring unbeknownst…Tamalaykee anyone?



Vygotsky’s voices

The Wits School of Education in conjunction with the Graduate Center recently hosted their Key Word/Key Thinkers programme focusing on the work of Lev Vygotsky. I was fortunate to attend these proceedings and record two of the speakers’ talks Viz. Jill Bradbury on Signs and Subjectivity and Rashad Bagus on Vygotsky on the Zone of Proximal Development using an Olympus Universal Recording device .This relatively unobtrusive device (which I suspect was a welcome relief to the lecturers as it captured their talk without hindering them in the least)provided extremely good sound quality. I recorded the talks , then converted it to MP# using Audacity and was able to easily upload on the KEWL system and embed into my blog as shown below.

Apart from being sufficiently  humbled by both Prof Ian Moll’s challenging presentation, which looked at Vygotsky’s work through a cultural historical theoretical lens paradigm, as well as  the complex discourse that emerged post the speakers presentations (prompting  me to use Google Scholar and immerse myself in the plethora of scholastic works on Vygotsky) ,  I was further encouraged to pursue my imminent research proposal through a Vygotskian lens focusing on the subject of Facebook as a cultural artefact which influences the formation of identity and so assists in learning,  This was inspired by  Dr.  Jill Bradbury’s presentation on Signs and Subjectivity in which she touched on concepts such as Audience and Relationality, the Temporal Self, Development of the Self through the Narrative etc.

Dr. Rashad Bagus talk on the Zone of Proximal Development included a discussion of the Russian words such as obuchenie and lichnost and the difficulty in translating these words rendering a misinterpretation of Vygotsky’s work  by many Western scholars.  Bagus’s concluding talk colluded with that of his colleagues’ earlier ones in sounding the death knell to my leisurely weekends as I realized the enormity and complexity of the task that lay ahead .

Obscene Routines

Another Sunday morning heavy with years of tension
and Mother superior again solos an interminable promotion
Does her own ‘lassie’ kata –
loyalty ‘chugi’ for the spawn However ‘tactless’ to the pater
SHE is there,mowed down with a heart forlorn …
Dojo pulsating with kin and kicks Punching the Bushido code through colored strips
Rectitude, courage, benevolence
Gi, yuki, Jin
Paradoxical engagements with no
If it ain’t pulled in…
Back in the nest, makoto and meiyo are whispers of a distant virtue
That sealed a vow moons ago and and whose absence now hurts you. ….So Rei’s fly’s the coop.
No big budget spender she,
A salaried bourgeosie.
With the bitter taste of a promise deceived that spikes the daily soup.

Twitter In Classrooms

For my Masters research report, I decided to focus on the potential of  Twitter in Higher Education to promote critical thinking skills. Tall order, you may say ..and yes it is proving challenging…especially since the first year class I’m focussing on are first time Tweeters and the course I’ve elected to work with ends in two weeks time!! So not much time to assess real learning as I still need to get students into the practice of tweeting…..That said I’m using this blog to record random thoughts and observances as I  explore this modality of teaching and learning.

The uptake , up until today, has been pretty bleak….This I ascribe to students not  being active Tweeters and thus struggling to get into the tweet of things ( which flies in the face of recent studies suggesting the 21st century learner as being digitally wired and online collaborators of note ). Maybe this is a South African characteristic( after all we only  boast  about 55 000 of Twitter users) and thus  access issues is a big culprit here. Indeed found out that though our University boasts various WIFI hotspots we don’t have this utility in the lecture halls!

Then again maybe it was the way I introduced the study, mentioning that their participation was voluntary and would have no impact on their grades …hence no one tweeted! An issue for exploring student  motivation perhaps?

Today though once we had the backchannel live in the classroom , students started tweeting. Do I ascribe their participation now to the visual feedback in the classroom or to the fact that the lecturer urged them to participate by mentioning that  important questions would be posted ??Mind boggles…. but wish I could have separated the variables to deduce which were the motivating factors! Anyway guess I’ll have to find this out via the questionnaire I intend for them to complete…if they will i.e:)

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