Lifestyle

‘An arbitrary experience in a supermarket made me feel seen, acknowledged’

It’s cold. I’m tired. And I’m sitting in Münster, Germany, on a bleak, cobble-stone floor, with no idea about what to do. I’ve organised accommodation for the first three nights of my stay here. But I can’t gain access to the flat before 3pm. I’ve SMSed the proprietor from my SA cell number explaining my…

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We’re all born naked, everything else is (a) drag

By Pierre Brouard When Caitlyn Jenner recently visited the Academy for Young Writers, an LGBTI-friendly school in a working-class New York neighbourhood, she was expecting some flak. In particular, from two youngsters, living non-binary lives, who had been vocal in their criticisms of her. Caitlyn was privileged, they said, had made disparaging remarks about “men…

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Love, loss and Atticus

“I hope to arrive at my death late, in love, and a little drunk.” Atticus. “I will arrive at my death late, and drunk with love.” Charlie Mathews. I never thought I’d fall in love. I am not talking about that delusion that’s a bit like a moulded jelly dessert – which, when left out…

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What it feels like to be a mother

“Sorry, you can’t pick her up. She vomited up her feed so it’s better to leave her.” The nurse in the neonatal intensive-care unit is polite but firm. I nod numbly as I look at my daughter, lying in her incubator and waving her arms like a sea anemone in a tank. Three days before,…

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Umngqusho, koeksisters and defining South African culture

Being a vegetarian I never imagined that I would find myself (happily) plating 12 dishes of a braised sheep’s head and fried chicken feet. But these are the kinds of delicacies you end up serving if you’re ever tasked with showcasing South African food. “Smileys” and “walkie talkies” are what they’re called in Khayelitsha, where…

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Home is where the soul grows

I don’t like the idea of “nationalism”, it sounds divisive and exclusive, but on days like Freedom Day I secretly wish I could hold a more legitimate claim to this country, which has adopted me. In thinking about this, a poem I came across on Facebook recently comes to mind. It is entitled “Diaspora Blues”…

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Social media has made us lonelier and more neurotic than ever before

I am guilty of posting some of those “Look at my life” statuses, the “I am so witty” tweet and the occasional “My food is calorific” Instagram post. But frivolousness aside, why is it that we live in a world where we’re more likely to put up a Facebook status about self-harm than actually talk…

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Hallowed be Thy name (and the non-sense of property ownership)

“Hello be Thy name.” That is what I used to say as a seven year old at boarding school, in my pyjamas with knees pressed on the cold floor of the dormitory. “Oh cheeses!” I would say whenever frustrated. A fellow boarder pointed out that I was blaspheming the Lord’s name. That I was saying,…

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Lessons on language while in Beijing

By Curwyn Mapaling Naturally, when you attend a symposium or a conference in another country, you expect to learn, to share, to travel, and to explore. There’s so much to learn when entering a foreign country for the first time – everything is new, everything is interesting. I was recently selected to attend the Yenching…

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The unbearable whiteness of being a middle-aged Afrikaans male

When I was recently asked to perform a few of my songs at the private birthday party of an old fan from the Voëlvry era, I agreed. “I don’t like performing at private parties, but at least these people won’t be a bunch of potbellied Afrikaans right-wingers,” I said to my wife. “This guy says…

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