From humble beginnings in a small Eastern Cape club, South Africa’s Zahara has hit the big time in a spectacular manner walking away with 8 awards at the South African equivalent of the Grammys, known as the SAMAs. Thus it was that the missus, a couple of friends and I waited for her to turn up at the Walter Sisulu Gardens for a performance. She was two hours late and a lot of people left. It was worth the wait despite the briefest of apologies from her. She is still living on a huge amount of goodwill from the fans with some of them expressing their anger to radio stations that she does not own a car and unfounded rumours circulating about how she is being exploited by her management team. She has gone on record to repudiate them.
I remember standing on the hallowed turf of the National Sports Stadium and staring open mouthed at Tracy Chapman as she strummed her guitar talking to us about a revolution and seeing Zahara perform brought back those memories. I do not like it, though, when Zahara sings in English, the words sound like a literal translation from the vernacular and contrived. Her songs sung in Xhose are beautiful and yet it Is to her song Destiny, sung in English, that I turn for inspiration.
The lyrics and delivery thereof are awkward. The message is excellent and speaks both of her own personal journey and what should serve as a lesson to the rest of us. I do not know what mistakes you have made in your life or what issues you are facing. I certainly have my fair share of challenges and I know what it is like to fail to fall asleep.
You stay awake, your mind swirling with negative thoughts of where did I go wrong, why did I make this mistake, the decision was right at the time and so on. You can choose to dwell in that space with negative thinking because it is like a baby’s comfort toy. However, it is a dangerous place to be if your questions reinforce negative self esteem which ends up becoming a self fulfilling prophecy opening the door to a downward spiral. Rouse yourself with the kind of positive thinking that looks to first calm the mind down, then explore potential solutions to the problems that your mind is determined to list for you. By the time you fall asleep, you have hopefully convinced yourself that you should try and resolve your challenges, not by complaining about what you do not have but by using what you do have; a skill, talent, loose change or whatever the source of hope.
Then you wake up in the morning, will yourself to get out of bed and one foot after another onward to the shower for life waits for no one. To put it in the most primitive manner possible if only to elaborate on the stark choice you face, consider this from Darwin: “All organic beings are exposed to severe competition…As more individuals are produced than can possible survive, there must in every case be a struggle for existence, either one individual with another of the same species, or with the individuals of distinct species, or with the physical conditions of life. Each organic being…has to struggle for life…As natural selection acts solely by accumulating slight, successive, favourable variations, it can produce no great or sudden modification.”
Short of winning the lottery, which you cannot do unless you buy a ticket, you will not obtain the sudden modification that Darwin writes about. You can, nevertheless, have access to those slight successive favourable variations by acting on your environment, going forth to look for the business deal, the introduction to someone more favourably placed than you are or selling your idea to a bank manager. The thing is you have to “take up your mat and walk” if you are ever going to walk again.
It is cold out there and by ‘out there’ I am referring to your mortgage, rent, school fees, bills and money to feed the children. These things do not and will never fade away. You have to meet them head on and get up each time you are knocked down. Take nothing for granted, save during the summer so that you are covered in the winter of your days even if it looks like that a winter may never occur. It is old age wisdom that many have neglected or ignored to their chagrin. Many of us have read all the right books and at an intellectual level can dispense wisdom. The reality is right there in front of you every day and how you choose to react daily and plan proactively for tomorrow are the best ways to move forward.
So when we say “light a candle, instead of cursing the darkness” it is about this and other such challenges in any facet of life career, business, political or whatever your poison is that we refer to. It is not easy but that is why Innerzela is there; to inspire and to discipline without all manner of fancy words but with direct language about the way it is and the way it could be. As Shaw wrote: “Some people see things as they are and ask ‘why?’ I dream things as they never were and ask ‘why not?’