Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trapped - (Prisoner No: 213720963)

They got me trapped
Whole new different day
Some old thing
It's hard to breath’
When you ain’t well homey
No reason to live
When you ain’t got nothing to tell phony
Stress, no chance
Just to drop tears
It’s hell being in a cell
Proper communication becomes dead
But what wouldn’t I do for cash?
It got me trapped
Like Baleka in parliament
For a maximum of eleven years
Charges?  All HB and theft
Now I got nothing left but myself
As a man, you should understand
No one can cover long for your back
Hard times call for real family and friends
Because when you trapped, people disappear
Like where are they now Nas?
I only see them
When I’ve closed my eyes
I’m broke inside
No plan seems to ever work Like a drug addict’s hope on crack
Paul, I pray that these walls would crack
They got me trapped
Like dirt on a dustbin
To see the sun
I’m dependant on the key
This makes me ill
It's like these walls
Ain’t only got ears
They as well speak
This is sick
I miss them streets.

(Prisoner No: 213720963)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Some interesting writing coming out of St Albans Medium B prison.

A medium B prisoner's review of my book Shattered. If you would like a copy, inbox me as they are cheaper than getting from Amazon. Literary Analysis of Shattered by Dianne Lang.
The title of the book Shattered truly encapsulates the story as everything that the author held dear was shattered.
The setting is easily identified as the author gives direct information and the language usage is very synonymous with the work. The reader can establish the framework, time and place as well as the context of the work.
The author is very forthcoming with appearance, personality and actions of the characters. The Protagonist is the author and she makes it easy to identify with the characters as she portrays them in the light she sees them. The actions of the characters are interwoven with the plot, subplots and themes. These aspects allow the audience to visualise the characters and make them credible and real in the reader’s mind. The contrasting characters are perfectly used as “foils” to set off other characters to advantage or disadvantage. I identified on a personal level with the flow of the protagonist as her soliloquy is spread throughout as the conflict that occurs is portrayed by the characters.
The narrative is very linear even the flashbacks are too chronological. However, the denouement is perfectly implemented. Not all the sub-plots are intertwined and can confuse the reader at times, but it’s resolved in the climax and conclusion of the work. This technique forces the reader to focus and extend their ability to think laterally. I deem it excellent as the sequenced storyline portrays the author's abilities to create a credible plot.
Themes and subthemes
The exposition identifies the main theme and conveys the message of the author. Once again the soliloquy of the protagonist shows her beliefs and opinions and uses symbolism as a substitution of a concrete image for an abstract idea. The sub-themes include pain, suffering and loss of humanity. They are conveyed literally and figuratively and can only be revealed with understanding or an in-depth study of the work as they are symbolic.
The writer’s style is very individualistic. Her use of diction and language usage is very colloquial and concise. The purpose and setting also contribute significantly to her individual style.
The tone in which she conveys her emotions, underlying feelings and attitude differs as the storyline progress, therefore, the tone differs. This gives the reader a very mysterious mood that captures their interest making it hard to put down at times.
The author’s use of language devices also contributes to the confusion that leads to mystery and her view on forgiveness.
(Medium B Prisoner - Clayton)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ghetto Episode by Prisoner No 218788199

Ghetto Episode

Reminiscent of my days as a youth
These memories will never fade especially when it’s still the same
And if it’s not the government will tell me who’s to blame

Where the money burns holes in his pocket, spending millions of rands
Signing huge cheques for weapons of mass destruction with our tax
While I’m in the corner killing myself with cigarettes
Then go home and share my house with flies and rats.

At least I’m generous, you selfish it’s obvious
More than a wolf in a sheep's skin you are devious
Calling me notorious, obviously, I’m curious
To make it big and victorious

I don’t regret things I have done
I’m a matriculated ghetto son
Who just looked out for his black brothers
Had some profound lessons from my fallen fathers

Trying to play messenger as the corner occupier
And that ghetto soul whoés a day-night crier
On my ghetto episode, we were all chased by fire.


The Power of NO written by Prisoner 210690060

The Power of “NO”
All our lives we human creatures have been socially conditioned to say “YES”- but there’s far greater power in saying “no”.  The word “YES” is a sugar-coated, misguided tactic inherited from our mothers, which is associated with reliability and even passion.
We’re led to believe that it’s the only way we can get our foot in the door, after which hard work and working smart will get us to the top.  In our defining years, we also often say “YES” to relationships that damage us and an existence that doesn’t reflect our true value.
When we're younger, the word “NO” is terrifying.  We say “YES”more often because we’re afraid to fall out of favor. We place too much significance on being liked.
The trouble with saying “YES” when we think “NO” is that it doesn’t change how we feel.  All we’ve done is hide behind a glorified omission.  That’s why some women are leaders in the public arena, but go home and leave their power outside the door of their own lives.  Sadly, fairy-tales built on a lie often end in misery.  My mother is one of my spiritual and inspirational mentor’s – a conqueror and leader – taught me that “things end badly because they start badly”.
That’s why we have to be careful what we agree to from the beginning.  If we keep saying “YES” to less, we’ll keep attracting less, regardless of gender.  “N NO”means you are worth more than that and enough is enough.  “No” means Ï’m standing my ground”.  “I know who I am and I am standing my ground”.  “I know who I am and I’m unapologetic”.
The flame of every revolution in history was ignited by the word “No”.   The 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto began when school pupils said “NO” to Afrikaans as the medium of instruction – but to some, this was already programmed.  “NO” creates discomfort for those on both the giving and receiving ends.
It shatters’s perceptions and challenges popular thinking.  But there’s an art to saying “NO”.  It can’t come from the tip of your tongue or the top of your head. Fit to resonate with conviction it needs to come from the pit of your soul – the place where God lives.  You have to trust it with your sinews, you have to be emotionally ready to embrace a new reality.
You have to believe there’s much more to be had.  Successfully saying “NO” requires a ride-or-die mentality.  You have to be absolutely prepared to lose.  Imagine walking into a business negotiation, terrified that you might mess it up.  The chances are high that you’ll compromise yourself by saying””NO”.
“NO” requires us to emotionally detach ourselves from the very thing we desire.  As a wise man once said, “The key to being loved is not needing to be loved”.  When we are young, we spend our lives trying to affirm ourselves, afraid to drop the ball for even a minute because we are afraid the world will see us as we see ourselves.  We say “YES” because we’re so afraid the world and another opportunity will never present itself again.
Well, here’s what I’ve learned.   Smart men and women say “NO” when they mean it – because they know who they are and crucially, who they are not.  They are no longer building bridges, but crossing them – as proudly black.  That’s true power.  We are going somewhere but we are not going the same way.

PRISONER 210690060

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Look what I got in my FB Inbox tonight

Every morning I drive 37kms to town for kids school... I then go and park my bakkie at the court where I sit until 13:30 when school comes out. Then 37km back home. Then washing, if theres water.. cooking... kids.. homework.. and and and. We stay in a very old farmhouse.. bathroom has half the floor missing.. ceiling is completely ruined. Ive applied for I dont even know how many positions. No luck. 3 years ago I was on top of the world. I was the first ever Loss Control Manager for Pick n Pay. Handpicked for the position. I fell really hard...I could not even buy my 8-year-old a birthday present. A friend arranged for a cake and I had some balloons. We had a small celebration Sunday afternoon. The birthday girl asked when will she be getting her present. And I had to lie to her. I have 3 amazing children. My son is a genius, oldest daughter head girl and the little one is all in one. I dont know why Im telling you all this. I know you have a busy life. I'm depressed today because I lied to my little one. Im angry because daddy just never gave a fuck. Im glad I got rid of him when I did. Im grateful that hes not part of their lives. But I hate him for not caring. Im sorry for telling you all this. Im not looking for sympathy. I have so many blessings and am very humble and grateful. Im sorry for not having money right now. I wanted to spoil myself with your books as I love reading you. I've had a shitty life.. but want to be a Dianne one day. (Lord help us - one is enough) I hope you sleep well. We should get together. I will start playing Lotto xxx

I am going to send her my books - that is the extent to which I can help. If you can provide that little one with a birthday present, you would be changing the world for one family. Contact me. They live in Heilbron.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Three Hours With 20 Prisoners

I spent the morning with 20 inmates at St Albans Prison today.  I went there for National Library Week and did a workshop on writing.  Writing can help anyone to overcome their traumatic past through the cathartic experience of re-telling the story and dropping the emotional baggage that keeps you captive.  Writing frees a person and allows one to dream and set goals again.   The pen is the voice of the soul.   It was a wonderful day and we all enjoyed ourselves. 
I wish the public could just once have the honor of sitting with a group of inmates (because it was an honor for me) and you will soon realize that these are human beings – they could be your brother or father, your son or your uncle. 
Society has such a negative attitude towards prisoners.  Easy to say “You did the crime, now do the time”.  The saddest thing of all is that approximately 14% of our prisoners are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit but are sitting there because justice is bought in our country.  Advocates play Russian roulette with people’s lives swopping one accused of another and organizing the sentencing before they have even been to court.  And this is not even the shoddy and despicable police investigations we are speaking about.
There are more criminals that need to be in prison that are on the streets than the prisoners I met today.  The room was filled with so much potential.  Many people on the street and out there are not in prison because they just never got caught.  
You may wonder how I did it – spending three hours with 20 prisoners (and one or two wardens for 5 minutes at a time now and again) being sick.  Well, I did it with an oxygen machine and a wheelchair – I was assisted the entire time by the men and even had a medical professional administer my medication through my port.
God carried me through the day – after all, this is His work and we were told to visit prisoners.  I had a very happy day.  And I am the richer for it. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Article 4: Living With a Chronic Disease

It’s a lot harder to beat depression when you are clinically sick than when you’re not.
Doctors and physicians are very reluctant and loath to challenge one another’s diagnosis.  It is a dirty medical profession secret.  Everyone has a lot at stake.  The first opinion may be wrong and you die.  The second opinion may be a better option.  The physician has your LIFE in his hands – your LIFE and your SOUL and you deserve respect for that.  Doctors must start coming off their high horses and start becoming more truthful.  If they don’t know they don’t know.  We would respect them more.
Because most cancer and other debilitating diseases can be a very clear warning of death, we tend to filter out the information so that it confirms the belief you already have.  If you think you dying, you will filter out the high percentage that live.  We must listen more and be open and transparent.  We must learn to ask the right questions, even if you write them out at home before you get to the physician.
Doctors must empower patients – they must allow for patient participation instead of playing at being god and expecting us to swallow everything they say.  A participating patient will live longer.  I am so participating that I tell the doctors what is wrong and what to do now.  My life is important and I want to live it the best way I can.  I don’t care if the doctor does not like me – I will go to another one.
It takes one human being to make the difference between life and death.  Just one human being who cares.
Cancer patients universally know they have cancer before the diagnosis.

Set aside a little time each day to relax and be at peace to allow the spirit to flow into you from God.  It is like a telephone.  Shut up and listen. 

Article 3 : Living With A Chronic Illness

If you feel like a worthy person, you will have a reason to stay alive.  Know that you are a worthy person; no matter what anyone says.  You are worthy to enjoy the best life that you can under your circumstances.  I am worthy of having my husband come in and talk to me for 30 minutes in the evening instead of watching television.   I am worthy of a telephone call “I’ve been thinking about you.  Is there anything I can do for you?”    When I ask my husband to knock a nail in the wall (because I can’t do it myself anymore) or any other thing you need (and our needs are small – we are fully aware that we are asking a favour) – we are worthy of it being done.  Surely we do not have to ask 5 times until we sound like we are nagging?  This is written by a woman, but I am aware that many men also have the same problems although their needs may be different from a woman’s needs.  We are worthy of asking our partners to please go to the chemist to buy our nappies we need.  We are worthy human beings.  Being chronically sick does not make you less important than healthy human beings.
I read a book written by Paul C Roud, called Making Miracles.  It was an eye-opener of note.  He was interviewing a woman who had been given 3 months to live and this was 10 years later.  The interviewee said, “It’s ironic, but my sister and brother were jealous of me, jealous of all the attention I got:  My sister admitted to me that she hated my guts because so much of my mom’s time was spent on me”.  Well, that is what happened to me too.  I wrote about it in my book Shattered.  And these are not children – they are adults.

I loved the story I read in his book about the woman who came home from the doctor with bad news on her cancer.  Her husband was lying on the couch and the first thing he said to her was “What’s for supper”.   The next morning, she packed her cardboard suitcase with her clothes, took the little housekeeping money she had, climbed on a bus and checked into a boarding house.  The next day she went to the lawyer and asked him to get her a divorce.   When he asked her why she said, “I have been living with that man for 38 years.  If I only have three months to live, then I want it to be a happy three months’.    Her interview with Dr. Roud also took place ten years after that bad diagnosis.  My advice is to do whatever it is that will make you happy. Don’t worry about what other people say – it actually is none of their fucking business.  

Article 2: Living With a Chronic Illness

The unknown also holds a promise that anything is possible.  Let go of your past life, think about what you want to do that you love to do, don’t think of the negatives in it – the negatives disappear once you doing what you love.  Anything is possible.  I was a people person – a human rights activist actually on the ground, doing the most hair raising things.   Now I have moved that activism onto social media and I am writing.  Writing is what I love to do.  If one person can be helped by reading my work, then the book was worth the time and effort put into it.  The greater the hardship of the journey to get to finding and doing what you love, the greater the possible outcome.
It is impossible to do more than one thing at a time.  People do not understand this of a chronically ill person.  We are already doing a lot of things just to stay conscious to what is going on in one’s body while at the same time trying to focus on more than one thing.   It drives us crazy.  Have some patience with us, please.
What the fuck is wrong with doctors?  Doctors are only worth the amount of respect they have for our souls.  The other day I heard a doctor tell a terminal cancer patient who had not eaten in 10 days, to go home and cut down on her morphine dosage.  Why?  What kind of doctoring is that?  He cared nothing for her as a soul or even as another human being.
People with cancer and life threatening diseases experience intense feelings of isolation.  This disconnectedness from society can shrivel a person’s will to live.  So if you can, find one of us to visit or to phone now and again.  We are not asking much.
There is a culture of “deal with your pain “rather than become dependent on pain meds amongst many doctors.   Why does one have to suffer if there is something that can help us?  Who gives a shit when we are balancing on the rail between life and death if we become dependent on it?

My own reality of my ‘appalling’ illness is very different to that which others perceive.  I call it appalling “because what is wrong with me is diagnosed 1 in 10 million.  That does not make me special.  It does not make the doctor sit up and think “mmm … here is a challenge for me”.   It makes me a problem with a capital P. 

Article 1: Living With A Chronic Illness

There are many people who live with chronic, debilitating or incurable conditions.   While most people take their health for granted because they are in the majority – chronically ill people take nothing for granted.  If the hand moves, if you breathe, if your heart is beating in rhythm, if you managed to get out of bed and go to the toilet on your own if you could brush your teeth … all these little things we rejoice in.  To be able to have a conversation with someone without losing your breath or diving for the oxygen, it is a wondrous event.
Some of the things I have learned during my 6 years of survival (because one cannot really call it life because life is LIVING and we are not able to LIVE to the degree a healthy person can) are the following:
Some people are not aware of other people’s feelings.  And once it is said, all the apologies in the world won’t take it back.  Chronically ill people use social media to maintain contact with their own species.  One of the terrible ordeals is to be put in a place where contact with other humans is thwarted – we are social animals and we need to socialize.  What is written on FaceBook lives forever and forever in the heart of a person who is chronically ill and a nasty or stupid comment makes the light shine a little less bright.
One of the key ingredients of doing well with a major illness is to believe that anything is possible and if today was bad, tomorrow holds the possibility of being a better day.  Not a well day – just a better day.  Maybe tomorrow you will have less pain, you will vomit less, you will stop shitting through the eye of a needle and you may even get a visitor.  We have to believe that anything is possible.
If you want to stay alive you have to have a reason to do so.  Doing what you love to do and loving what you do is an important ingredient that gives one a reason to want to stay alive – because death would be so easy for any of us.  All we would have to do is give up and then take a bunch of our medications.  I do not believe that there is one single person who suffers from chronic illnesses who has not done the research on how to kill themselves properly and how much medication it will take. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inmates are the Scourge of the Earth

To most people, inmates of prisons are the scum of the earth.  How many times have I heard the “He did the crime, he must do the time” and how often have I heard derogatory remarks about prisoners?  We watch the news or read the newspapers and actually get a kick out of reading about another person who is put in jail for a long period of time.  Inmates are viewed as the scourge of society and I am going to do my very best to show the world that prisoners are people too.  I think the worst thing I heard being said about an inmate is that “I hope he rots in jail”, or “he does not deserve to be treated like a human being and therefore should have no human rights”.
I made a commitment today – a commitment to the young and old men in Medium B at St Alban’s Prison.   I have committed myself to be their liaison officer, their mentor, their go-between, their friend and their confidante.   Against doctors’ orders and the absolute horror expressed by my mom and my husband, I went and did a three-hour workshop on debating, reviewing and writing skills for approximately 25 men.   I don’t know who had the better time – they or I.  I had an amazing time spent with such an incredibly diverse and yet coherent group of men.  Not once did I feel threatened in any way.  I was in a very safe space, no wardens around and just the inmates and me.
I prepared nothing – I was skating on my arse with the experience I already had.  They had prepared so many things for me; two reviews on one of my books, a Capella with rap, poetry written and recited to me … they were amazing.  And Heinrich van Rooyen organized all that to take place.   A huge big thank you must go to Mr PC Plaatjies, the warden who made this all possible.
We were serious, we laughed, we squealed with delight – there was nothing but sheer joy in that classroom for three hours today.
Those are not animals in there, as I have also heard them described.  They are gentlemen; they are intelligent, pleasing to the eye and most entertaining.  And each and every one of them have crept into my heart.  As I always have to have something greater than I am to live for, I will be living for this group of amazing human beings as well.

Who amongst us all, have not committed a sin?  Who amongst us all, have never made a mistake?  It was a privilage and an honor to spend those three hours in their company.  Those are my boys now!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Open Letter to my Siblings

I hope you will look at all your good qualities and realize how important you are to those who love you.
Reflect on all the things that make you – you.
I hope you’ll find ways to make the difficult times easier, your cares lighter and the days brighter.  I pray that mysteries will unfold for you to make a difference in your life now.
I hope you’ll tap into that source of strength I know is within you, that place where hope and courage live and new ideas are born.
I hope you will connect with the kind of faith that helps you to reach your chosen goals.  As you ease from one day to another, I hope you find time to consider the miracle of your own life and the beauty of your humanity.

I hope that a band of ministering angels will hover around you and protect you. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Some Days are Just Shit !

Some days are just shit. We all have them. There is no other word to describe it. You feel so down and demotivated that you can fly kites under a carpet with ease. No one can say anything to lift your spirits and even if there are those who care, not even their words can lift you out of the doldrums. There is just no wind beneath your wings. You don’t know what steps to take to change the situation. You stuck in a no man's land, alone with just your overwhelming negative thoughts that come from something that was done to you that was unfair, cruel or even something that you would never do to another person. This period of unrest of the soul is needed so that the debris and the dirt can be discarded and a new plan and life can be carved out of the old. So, sometimes these shit days are necessary. Today was one such day for me. Tomorrow will bring numerous ideas and plans. And then the kite can fly in the sky again

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Why Would Someone Risk Everything to Make a Stand for Human Rights

Ken Wiwa, the son of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a human rights activist who was executed in November 1995 in Nigeria, asks in his book "In the Shadow of a Saint", "What is it that compels a man to risk everything - his life, his family, the lives of people around him - to make a stand for human rights?"

I am trying to answer this question. It is not religion. It is a deep horror of injustice that drives me to do something about it. It is also a feeling of being the only one to really see the pain and abuse, the feeling that not enough people are prepared to do something, or to take action...this is what drives me to take more and more risks. It is a feeling of not having enough time and of a job that is too large to complete. It is a feeling of living in the moment because tomorrow will be too late. It is a feeling of every life being precious and if nothing is done about the other out there, then nothing will be done about these around me. It is a feeling of "if I look out for those, then these of mine will be OK". It is a deep resentment of the abuse of others. It is a loathing of unkind and uncompassionate behaviour. It is the contempt for those who sit by and do nothing, knowing that while they look on they are as much to blame as the abuser and the oppressor. It is a feeling of frustration that pushes me to the limits of my endurance. It is an all-consuming love of the people, of those who need protection the most.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Truth Teller - The Impimpi...Why Now?

The year I got sick 
It has taken years of chronically and often life-threatening illnesses to strip away slowly at everything that I held dear in my life.  And suddenly I was facing an adjustment disorder.  I have my own psychology degrees, so it has been a case of healer, heal thyself.

Apart from ill-health, there has been enormous financial strain with added expenses which have made us fly kites under a carpet.   It is not easy to start a new life at the age of 61 for my husband, starting from scratch in a country he had not lived in for over 20 years.  

With what I thought was an amazing opportunity, I got an online computer job writing web content for the SEO of a pharmaceutical company – yes, writing about Viagra and all the generics for erectile dysfunction.  No one else wanted the job, so I took it.  I know one hell of a lot about impotency and soft and flaccid penises now.  The remuneration was wonderful and for a month, we were starting to float.  The following month, the person in charge dropped the ball and all the writers were fired, without pay and with immediate effect.  After chasing the story down it was found that the pharmaceutical house was nothing but an online drug dealer.  So that went out the door.  Back to flying those kites under the carpet.

Then I got very sick. I was drowning in my own fluid.  Discovery are amazing – they have come to the party and I am being home nursed with drips and all the paraphernalia I need.   While I have been lying here, writing and thinking and pondering and reflecting over the last three weeks, I have had to take a good long hard look at what I want from life.  Being one in ten million people with this disease does not make me special – it makes me a problem.

The crying and the grieving has been done.  It is time to dry the tears and get on with the business of living.  My spirit does not belong in this body. I am like the old lady struggling to move down the street, but her shadow is a young girl dancing with abandon.

I made the decision to share my life, every bit of it - the nice, the good, the ugly, the bad, the not too bad and the not too nice; leaving nothing out…telling the truth 100% of the time.
There are many reasons for my decisions. Some are:
  • Giving the abused child of my heart a voice 
  • Allowing my soul to soar with freedom
  • Making myself transparent
  • To be truly authentic I must be brutally truthful about everything that has been, is and will be in my life 
  • To allow those who have been damaged by part of my own past to come to terms with their healing as well 
  • To show that child abuse affects a person their whole lives but that there is a way to become a survivor
  • To become a ferocious activist for prisoners - particularly for those who are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit
  • To inspire, help, encourage and provide my own brand of quotes for people to use to reflect on their own lives and to just have a good laugh
  • To do what I love and love what I do and that is to write – so the books will come, the blogs will come and … we shall see what the good Lord Himself has in store for me.

There will be those who will not like what I write, but that is their business and not mine.  They do not have a gun pointed at their heads forcing them to read what I write.   But I do know now that there will always be thousands more people who will appreciate truth rather than the bullshit that is spoken so often

I want my life to have meaning and I want to leave a legacy with my stories for my grandchildren to know who I was one day.  What better way than to tell my own truthful stories. 
I am now a freedom writer!  And probably an impimpi as well!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Childhood Memories - Dedicated to Those who Think they know Better but were Not there

My Paternal Great Grandmother, Shane, Joy & I 
There has been so much wara-wara about me writing the truth about my childhood and living with a father who was a street angel and a home devil, let me put you in the picture why it is that there are friends of my siblings that say that he was never anything but charming to them.  These people who are phoning my sister Joy, are creating a furore about nothing but I understand.
I was the first child born, my poor mother did not know what was happening and she had her head buried in the pillow with her bum in the air, screaming and flailing her legs up and down from the knees.  She was in a nursing home run by nuns and in those days, fathers were not allowed in the delivery room.  Well, out came this pink baby with red hair and it was a girl.  I do think that my father was a little disappointed that I was not a boy, although when I asked him about it when I was in my 30’s, he just looked at me and did not answer.
We were Roman Catholics so there was no such thing as contraception and even the reverse method was frowned upon by the church.  So the babies came.
The next child was Joy.  My mother had tuberculosis and spend her second and third trimester in an isolation hospital with few visitors other than the Catholic priest who would often come and play cards with her in the afternoon.  Little did she know that her husband, with the full knowledge of his mother, was carrying on with other young and loose women.  My father could charm the panties off of any woman, married or not.  I once witnessed my father pick up a young hitchhiker when I was around 10 years old and take her to the Lounge Tearoom, the only place in Umtata where women could also go and be with their men and have a meal or a coffee.  Pubs in those days were for men only, although there were ladies lounges where women would sit and drink on their own, with the husband bringing out a drink for them every now and again.   The Lounge Tearoom had a juke box.   Holding this young girls hand (She could not have been a day over 19), he put money into the juke box, chose a song and danced with her around the tearoom in the middle of the afternoon.  She was smitten.  I could never have told my mother that story.  She was already hurting too much from his infidelity.
While my mom was in the Isolation Hospital, I was being taken care of by my grandmother, who I called Mom.  It kind of made sense; because everyone else called her Mom.  My grandfather I called Pa, because everyone else called him Pa.   I was the apple of Mom and Pa’s eye.  They showered me with clothing, with everything to match, from frocks to shoes.  Mom kind of took me over from my mom and when Joy was born, Mom ignored her most of the time.  Joy was born at home with my father in attendance.  Because my mom had been so ill during her pregnancy, Joy was a small blue baby who the doctor did not think would live, so she was christened at a day old.  My father tells the story of how he promised God that he would always take care of Joy if she lived.  He says he gave the breath of life to Joy.   My mom says that is hogwash, but I was not there.  Joy was always my father’s favourite child.  She never smiled until she was over a year old and her first words were “Mommy, I think you are a bloody fool”, and spat her food out.  My mom could never get Joy to stop swearing.  She broke a wooden spoon on her but still she swore.  It was just who she was.   My father would never have acted out anything bad when in the company of Joy, so it makes sense that her friends know nothing about the home devil he was.  Look at the picture on the blog where I speak about my father beating my mother and my inability to sleep ….he did not take photographs of Joy.  Joy was left in her bedroom to sleep, while he made us watch him beat my mom up and then take photos of us.   So to those friends of hers that do not believe my story, I know why you don’t.  BUT, this is my story so don’t deny me the right to my own truth as I would never doubt your story of your own truth.  My mother had four children under the age of five; all born at home with my father playing midwife.  He was a very good medical person for someone without any medical training.  I believe that if he had had the chance to channel his brilliance into something like medicine, it would have over-shadowed his dark side.  Shane came after Joy, Yolanda after Shane (and my father denied his paternity to her until she was an adult, saying that she did not look like his other children.  She was beautiful (still is) with the same olive skin as my mother.  She too is a brilliant person who could have been anything she wanted in life, but sadly, that did not happen so her dark side comes out every now and again.   Because Shane was 11 when my mom left, he missed out on the mothering that would have made him a well-rounded person.  He had a terrible time with my father even when my mother was still at home.  I have a lot of empathy for that boy.  When I was 11 my mom had her last child and her name was Gizelle and she was born in the same nursing home as I was in Umtata.   Gizelle is a story for another day.  This story is about Joy and why her friends are involving themselves in my story and not believing that what I am saying is the truth.  I think that since they are my friends too they should have asked me before going mouthing off to Joy.  I have been doing a blog for the last 8 years and not one of my siblings have read a thing I have written, but now it is all wara-wara and big deal stuff.  Well, let them wara-wara if that is what is making their little worlds go round.  Like Shane’s wife, Mary-Ann, the friends have taken things out of context from my blogs, while Mary-Ann took things out of context from Shattered.  
I started school at 5 and because Joy was adamant she also wanted to go to school, my mother let her go to school at the age of 4, bluffing that she was older.  Joy was brilliant at school, top of the class all the way through until matric when she fell of the school band wagon.  My earliest memories of Joy are those where she is playing teacher/teacher to the flowers, with a ruler in her hands and admonishing the flowers for not listening to her by chopping their heads off with the ruler.
Memories are made from being there, from the age it happened and the connection between the people.  This is something that Joy’s friends have not taken into account.
Naturally, Joy is upset with me, but if she had taken notice of what I wrote about or even read my books, she would not now be shocked by the ‘out of context’ remarks that are being made to her by her so-called friends.
But another amazing phenomenon has also occurred.  Since writing the blogs of my childhood, other people my age have been calling me and telling me things that they witnessed, things they had done to them, some things I know about and others that I don’t.  I am going to be writing a book called A Love Story, and these snippets are the beginnings of that story.  It would make the book far too long if I were to include these blogs I am doing.  It would end up a trilogy and I do not have the time afforded to me on a scale of probability.
I will repeat again what I have always held true is that family is not defined by the DNA we share, but by shared values of others.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Framed Heinrich van Rooyen's life in Prison

We must find a way to un-frame him 
As most know, I have been visiting Heinrich van Rooyen at St Albans prison for a while now, every second Sunday if I am well enough to go.  But I had to go on Sunday, sick as I was with staphylococcus pneumonia but dressed warmly, masked and had a drip up. I also took my nebuliser with me just in case.
Heini was looking good and as usual overjoyed to see us.  We were also asked if I could see another prisoner who has a problem with his parole hearing and when I looked into his eyes, I saw that there was no killer there at all.  I am going to see how I can help him chivvy the legal aid board that deals with paroles.  But that will be a story for another day.  His name is Marius, and as I have experienced, a gently and soft man in the wrong place.
Because this was a good staff complement this week, everything went quite smoothly and we did not have to wait long to see Heini.  There was a bit of a scuffle because inmates have to sit on iron benches and visitors on wooden benches and my wheelchair could only stay on the side of the prisoners.  Not that it bothered me in the least.  I have met a lot of wonderful inmates during this time and they have all been kind to me, far more kind and considerate than the wardens.  But again, this particular group of wardens who work every second weekend really show their humanity and compassion.
In the visitors area is a shop that gets put up and taken down after visiting hours.  No one may bring any food into the prison and everything has to be bought from that shop.  Now here in lies a slight problem.   The shop is not allowed to make money out of the inmates.  There is a court order that the shop is not allowed to profit 0ff the inmates.  It can be found in the Correctional Services Act 11 of 98; Section 121, 122 and 123.  The shop should not be allowed to make an internal policy that is not in line with the law.   This law deals with goods  sold to inmates.
Every time I go there, I go with my scrap of paper that has written on it what the prisoner needs to purchase.  The prisoner is not allowed to go buy but the visitors are and in a wheelchair it can become something of a problem.  Nevertheless, we always buy bananas, tomatoes, Russian sausage, pies, niknaks, suckers and cheese.  Nicknaks and suckers are what you can use to trade for something someone else has that they need and you don’t have.  This internal policy of St Albans should be stopped.  
Over the last month, prisoners are being transferred without their permission (they must want to go) to other prisons (Kirkwood and Middelburg) but are not allowed to make a phone call home to let their families know that they are moving to another prison because the wardens cut the phone lines. This is an illegal transfer. More forced transfers are expected but because of no phones they are unable to complain to their families.  They can’t phone their lawyers.  If you go to the psychologist or the social worker to make an official call, you are being told that they are not allowed to make the call for you, although they are subsidised by the state monthly to make official calls for us.    This kind of treatment of the inmates proves that they don’t want any information to get out, just as I put onto my FB page today on St Albans.
The procedure on transfers states that an inmate must have written a request to be transferred.  Such an application needs approval and that inmate must provide an address of a next of kin that is staying close to that prison.  That is the ONLY reason the inmate would want to be transferred.  This is also apparent with what was done with the beaten up inmates on the Boxing Day 2016.  Many that were injured were just shipped out to other prisons so that there would be no coordinated procedure for ascertaining what had taken place.  It was blatantly obvious that AFTER the situation was under control, the wardens and dogs pushed and shoved the inmates into a corner where they could not get out and they were set about with batons, leaving an alleged 3 inmates tortured to death.  While I do not condone the behaviour of the inmates to stab wardens, there does come a point at which the oil boils over when no human rights of prisoners are given to them and they are in lockdown constantly and are never allowed out for exercise.  The frustration levels must have been the culprit here, but the wardens did not have to beat or torture people to death after they had secured the situation in three separate passages.
At least the inmates are paying for their crimes.  These warders make mob justice and corruption appear legal.  I have the names of the wardens responsible for this atrocity.   The inmates think that those wardens are just murdering gangsters and the inmates feel above them in their value structures. They belong in prison more than a lot of inmates.
Then I had a full blown asthma attack.   The St Albans Investigating Officer was fast to find a plug for my nebuliser and to help set it up and put the medication in.  The prisoners were concerned and the Investigating Officer was concerned.  The kindness I was shown on Sunday by the Investigating Officer and the prisoners was a sight to behold.  I wish I knew the investigating Officer’s name so I could thank him properly, but I will do that when I go back to visit Heini. As you can imagine, once the breathing was under control, we left a few minutes earlier than normally.  I did however, have the chance to speak with Marius Rondganger about his parole.  His case is also a travesty of justice.   And before I end off, let me tell you what Heini told me about his court case.  “At the end of the first half of my trial, Terry Price informed me that Judge Nathan Erasmus that we have to bring an application that he, the judge must be changed.  During the break, the whole atmosphere changed.  Terry convinced my family that it was necessary to change the judge.  He heard from a Judge friend that Nathan Erasmus told that judge that he’d found me innocent.  This was a trick forcing us to keep Erasmus.   That was the biggest mistake because from there everything went south.  The decisions made around all the Trial within trials were so biased he could not even give a reason why he denied my application to appeal.  This was total bias.  Terry Price’s move cost a man his life and his family 1 million 8 hundred thousand rand in legal fees.  For what?  To put an innocent man in prison for two life sentences and 28 years with no leave to appeal?”

It is a not so well-veiled secret as to why the 2005 murders of Victoria Stadler and Jessica Wheeler and by whom.  Most people in Knysna know who did it.  I have been told the names as well.   Drugs, dealers, young girls, lack of money and gangsters are the recipe for murder.  Who murdered those girls?  Why won’t the Independent Police Investigative Directorate open the case again?  Are they shielding their own or will it be too much of an admission of ineptitude if he is released and he can sue them for wrongful arrest and imprisonment?   The police want Heini to go back to court and the Judiciary want Heini to go back to the cops!!!  And in the meantime the years of sitting in prison continue unabated with little hope of a decent closure for this family.  They have all been punished. 

It is my Own Fault ... an awakening !

Without fail, every chronically ill person is asked “But you don’t look sick” and every cancer patient universally knows they have cancer before the diagnosis.  I seem to have filled my head with inconsequential things. Is sick supposed to look like these downcast people begging at the robots or walk around with a sour face all day.  It is those who are sick that really live and those who have health, forget to live.
People don’t like to hear negative things and most want to only view the good things like what restaurants, coffee shops and general good pics of braai’s and weddings.  Who would want to see what it is really like for thousands of people who have cancer or another misunderstood, little-known about rare disease with no cure?  It makes sense that these rare diseases are called orphan diseases by the medical profession.  No one will fund research for a disease that affects only 1 in a million.  We just become the cadavers that will have autopsies to see if that adds anything to the science of medicine.  But despite this all, the only outlet I have to communicate with the outside world is through social media. 
 I had an awakening when I realized that it is my own fault that no one understands why I am not well.  It is because I fake being well so well that I could win an Oscar.  I fake being well so that I cover up a shameful illness – shameful because it is so rare that only 1 in 10 million have it and no one knows anything about it. Discovery told me that out of their 3 million clients, I am the only one with this dreaded disease.   I know more about it because I am a participating patient.  I do not just lie there being a patient and allowing the doctor to shrug his shoulders or send me off with a prescription and telling me that he will pray for me.  Every event, whether it is being pushed in a wheelchair (which I call my wheelbarrow) through Woolworths food market, or going out to an outdoor coffee shop where there won’t be many people so I don’t have to wear a mask, or to visit my mother but before I do I have to make sure I do nothing else beforehand so that I don’t turn that one visit into a vomiting sick event.   I also want to be out there in the coffee shops, out there in the sunshine mixing with friends and associates.  I too want to be able to plan something, knowing that I will be well enough on that day to do whatever I have planned.  I too want to wake up just one day feeling good.  Just one day!  I fight every day – to just get through the day, sometimes taking it moment to moment and other times when I am lucky taking it one hour at a time.  There are some things that make it even harder to bear living with a condition that is life-threatening:
·        A cold for you is a nuisance.  A cold for me is life-threatening
·        Every infection I get I wonder if this is the one that will kill me
·        People tell me “But you look so good, you can’t be ill” as though I am making a mountain of a molehill.  Don’t people know what steroids do to one’s body?   We are no longer skinny and slim but the product of Mr Michelin and Mrs Oros
·        I can’t plan anything in advance because I don’t know how ill I will feel in an hour from now let alone in a week’s time so friends forget about me – the person me and not the social media me.
·        I have very few people I see because the circle of friends moved on and left me behind
·        Every moment I am in the company of someone else I put on a show of being normal that could easily win me an Oscar Nomination
·        No one knows that my every word, my every action and sometimes my thoughts drain me of life-giving energy
·        I have spent more time in hospital over the last 7 years than I have spent at home
·        My body has changed so much that I do not recognise myself.  My hair went grey overnight and a vertical hernia down my abdomen makes me look 12 months pregnant.  So other people see me as a fat, grey-haired old woman when inside of me the fire of living still burns bright.   My body no longer fits my spirit
·        I feel guilty because my mother at 84 looks after me when I get bad.  It should be the other way around.
·        I am so tired of pretending I am well that I am withdrawing into myself and becoming a hermit.  I live alone inside my head and what goes on in my head I share on FB or I blog.
·        I am tired of people telling me to get well soon – I want to scream at them and tell them I will never get well but I don’t.  They mean well.
·        I am tired of doctors that don’t care – who brush me off with a prescription for the new symptom I have.   I want a physician who is interested in this rare disease. I have been everywhere in this country and we don’t even have an immunologist.
·        I want people to know that I have overwhelming fatigue – not just tired, but overwhelming that sometimes it takes too much energy to talk or even to breathe.
·        One reason I write about my illness is because so many others are in life-threatening conditions and they need a buddy too; so I run support groups for others so they don’t feel like they are paddling up shit creek without a paddle – that there is someone in the boat with them.

·        I see a world that needs love – a reflection of me.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Childhood should not be an excuse for bad adult behaviour. We all have a choice.

I earned it 
I remember one particularly horrendous night when you and my mom came home from a dinner and dancing evening.   You had given me your revolver and told me that if anyone came to the door I was to esquire who it was and if I did not recognize the, I was to shoot holes through the door.  He marked out the positions the bullets had to be placed in.  I was 12 years old and already familiar with guns as he would sometimes take me with him to the shooting range.  He had a huge cache of weapons and ammunition.  Not only was I a crack shot, but I could drive a vehicle and tractor, panel beat, lay foundations and strip and sand floors.  Wall papering was my best skill I learned.  We were the kind of family that would go from riches to rags in days because my father was not lazy and he was a really charming entrepreneur.  He taught me a lot of things that only a man would know and for that I am grateful to him.  I have always managed to fix whatever was broken, including replacing clutch cables in the clapped out Golf I owned when my children were small.  So, my father was not all bad.  I just had to be super vigilant to gauge his moods so as to keep my mother safe. 
I could hear him screaming at her before the front door even opened.  He was shouting something about other men looking at my mother and blaming her for it.  She could not help it that she had a beautiful body and beautiful skin and brilliant black hair with an olive skin.    I strained my ears to hear what he was saying.  My younger siblings woke up and I shushed them and put them into my bed, holding them close and telling them not to make a sound.   The fight moved into the lounge, just under the stairs.   I heard furniture being thrown and I heard him say, “I am going to fucking kill you………” and I started screaming, jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs.  He grabbed me by the arm and jerked me towards him.   He said in a very scary voice, quiet out of control, “You want to lie there and listen to us fight, now you go upstairs and bring your brother and sisters down here and they can watch us fight”.  
I begged you not to send me and to stop fighting and you pushed me up the stairs and told me if I did not do as you said you would kill my mother anyway so I ran up the stairs and collected all the little ones, trying to stop them crying and brought them downstairs with blankets wrapped around them and I put them on the couch in a row and tried to shield them with my arms.   And then you made my mother sit in a chair opposite us and said, “Now watch this!”  He hit her so hard that she flew onto the floor and started bleeding from her ear.  I remember sitting as quiet as can be so that nothing would send him over the top again, trying to keep the children quiet but at the same time being vigilant so that I could jump up and save her when the time was right.    She really did not have anywhere to go with five children.  Her parents had both died when she was really young, so when I just turned 15, we started hatching plans for her to get away to live with her younger sister in Port Elizabeth with only two of the smaller children.  We eventually did that with the help of Patrcik, the beautiful boy that I loved so much at that age.  Of course, that was forbidden too.  He would sit and get drunk with Patrick but would not allow me to see him.   I defied him and used every trick in the book with excuses of having to be at extra-mural activities and would run to Patrick for the duration of whatever excuse I had made.
I remember my mother going to hospital for 10 days to have her tubes tired.  She had too many children and the doctors advised her to get herself sterilized.  My father was so mad at her that he never visited her once in the 10 days she had been there.   I was almost 12 and I ran the whole house, from cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking, bottles, homework and even found time to visit my mom every visiting hour.   And I remember having bronchitis at the time but my father would not visit her.  And it rained a lot during that time so I could not take the little ones with me.  When she came home she take to take care of me because my chest by that time was very bad.
I was 11 years old when my mother brought Gizelle home.   She was crying and crying and my father would not let my mother get up to see to her so I slipped into their caravan, collected the baby and the bottles and nappies and took her to my bed.   And there she stayed until she was 4 years old.   She was my baby.  I fed her, took care of her, bathed her and only handed her over to my mom when l went to school.  She became my baby. So when the divorced finally came through, I am sad to say that the greatest hole it left in my heart is that my baby was gone.  That year brought me two surprises – one was the birth of a female sibling and the other was the death of my beloved grandfather.
After a while I moved back into the family home but was supposed to spend as much time with my grandmother helping her to get over her grief over my grandfather.   The most I remember was her making me lick stamps onto black rimmed envelopes and her constant pre-occupation with my bowel movements.  If I had not had a bowl movement, she would force me to remove my panties and insert a glycerin suppository into my rectum and make me wait and wait until she had decided I could go to the toilet.   I hated that but afterwards she would give me hard boiled imported sweets and tell me not to tell anyone about it.   It was good for me to get rid of all the junk that my mother fed me, she would intone.
Every Friday we would go down to the sea.  We would either return the night before or in the early hours of Monday morning in time for school.   All school holidays were spent at Coffee Bay.   There we were brought up as sea urchins.   If we had not packed sufficient clothing for the time we were away, that was our problem.   The smaller children’s packing, Yolanda and Gizelle, was my responsibility as well, so often when I had forgotten something for them, I would have to go without a jersey or whatever it was that was needed.  
Joy was my father’s favorite.   I remember him swinging her on a swing one day.   If Joy wanted something, she was only to ask Dad, and he would provide it for her.   I remember we were both asked to go to the hostel dance.  Joy wanted a special pair of high heeled silver shoes that cost a fortune.   Her dad bought them for her.  I had to use my mother’s shoes with cotton wool stuck in the front so they could fit.   He never hit Joy or called her names.   She missed out on much of the abuse and when I asked him why years later he told me that when she was born she nearly died in his arms and he made a promise to God that if He would save her, then she would be his child.    Joy always had more and better, but I never resented her for it.   I wonder why?   Probably because she was a special person in her own right and I love her much still.  At that age, I figured that my father was disappointed that I, the oldest of the children, happened to be a girl and not a boy.
 My mother still loved my father to distraction and when he told her to come home, she was beside herself with joy.  She arrived he asked her, “What are you doing here?  Go back to where you came from”. I cannot begin to comprehend the enormous amount of hurt she felt.  She and the two smaller kids moved into a caravan on my uncle’s yard for a while until she was on her feet and she returned to Port Elizabeth.
I thought her return would be happy ever after but it was not to be so.   Leopards never change their spots and life continued as before.   It was during one of those holidays at the wild coast when my mom’s families were down when they noticed that my mom had been beaten.   I don’t remember why the three older children were in a caravan park with my father and the rest of the family were in the cottage but my father came to us and told us my mother was leaving again and she had decided that she did not want to take us with her.   I was devastated.
I did not know at the time that he had told her the same thing and so we were separated by lies.   For years afterwards, my mother blamed me for choosing to stay with my father.   That blame lay heavily on me for many years and no matter how I tried to convince her otherwise, she did not believe me.   It hurt me deeply. When my mother eventually overcame her love for this madman, we were able to sit and talk about how it had come about that we had been separated like that.
My last hiding I got from him was during my Matric exams.   I only had one more exam to write and that exam was the next day.  I wrote that exam with a dislocated jaw, bruised ribs, swollen and blue eyes and lacerations down my legs from the horse whip.  The children in the class laughed at me until the teacher told them that they were lucky not to be beaten as I had been. 
I had one more exam to write before finishing Matric.  As soon as I could manage it, I asked Patrick to run away with me to find my mother in Port Elizabeth and for us to go to the Welfare for help.
I was living in England and my father still contacted me, phoned me and asked  me how I was.   I give monosyllable answers as though I am speaking to a stranger but sometimes find myself telling him something that I think he might be impressed with.   Why do I still need that acknowledgement?   Why does he brag about me to others?   Perhaps being diagnosed the same week with cancer, we finally found a place of reconciliation.  I was sad when he died … for he was alone and with no one to hold his hand.  But I am pleased that he cannot hurt me with his words anymore.  He never, ever stopped pushing Patrick down my throat, telling me that he saved me from the devil.  It was anything but.   When I think of him now, it is only to wonder how his body looks in the mausoleum that the Ama-pondo buried him in.  He was an elder in their tribe so he had to be built above ground so no ground would touch his body.  What a waste of a charming, intelligent, popular, charismatic person.  He loved us in the only way he knew how.