Saturday, January 24, 2015

On Education and Happiness (by Karabo Morule)

Guest Post: Karabo Morule

KB is a wonderful person. And not just because she always remembers my birthday. I don't feel an introduction is necessary as the beauty of her guest post articulates her warmth, compassion, intelligence and mojo better than I ever could. I am truly lucky to count her among my friends and heroes.

KB and a super proud Grandmother


On Education and Happiness
by Karabo Morule


Education has been a strong pillar in the foundations of my family. In particular it is a pillar passed on from my parents and from their parents as well, as evidenced by the number of professionals in my family as aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings: teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants, architects, even an actuary, shock horror, and many others. Education, formal or informal, was a way of helping people progress in life - doing better that what one's lot was expected to be, especially being black in Apartheid South Africa. It is still globally acknowledged as the best way to progress through historically established social structures such as class, or between the have- and the have-nots and to break through the cycle of poverty. And seeing so many people in our family do "so well" because of their education brings great happiness to our elder family members, who see this as evidence of great custodianship of a family legacy.

To consider happiness from the other end of the family, from the perspective of this particular youngster, I have a yearning to learn more about my elders and forefathers and foremothers. I have a yearning to learn about what their life was like, and what the life of their parents was like. I love to hear stories about my grandfather, Oupa (Jacob), such as how he used to be the chauffeur to a Nationalist MP but that through this occupation visited many cities around the country and even Windhoek, but that during downtime, used to cycle with his brother 180kms sometimes looking for a piece of land to purchase and own with his savings. I love to hear stories about my grandmother, Nkgono (Mmeiki), such as when my dad recounted his trip to England to complete his studies as a Fellow of the College of Surgeons and how they flew over Egypt, she remarked, "Egypt?! How can you fly over a place that is in Heaven?" somewhat dismayed (alluding to its reference in the Bible). I love to hear stories about my grandmother, Koko (Deborah), who relocated from a school she founded in Limpopo to work "in the kitchens" of Johannesburg after her husband, my grandfather, a pastor, passed away leaving her with six young children to look after with the help of relatives living in Alexandra and Soweto in the 1950s and 60s. Koko also used to be the cook and cleaner of a boarding house in Houghton which was home to seven expats, three ladies and four gentleman from Europe who used to remark that they like South Africa but just missed the TV (which hadn't arrived as yet in South Africa at the time). And when the children of tenants of this boarding house outgrew their school uniforms, they would give them to my mother who would then wear them to her school, but merely cover the school badge as it obviously differed to that of her school but she loved how smart the uniform was. That donated uniform belonged to a school which my sister and I would one day attend, something which was beyond my mother's wildest dreams given the times and the fact that it was a prestigious school set up by founders of English provenance.

A manuscript page from Timbuktu

I yearn to hear about the stories of my birth land - the stories which Sol Plaatjie wrote, like the epic tale of Mhudi, the first novel by a person of colour ever published in South Africa; like the novel Chaka by Thomas Mofolo which is a fascinating tale about the great statesman and warrior, a tale which also seemed to have a tragic feel to it making this written account exceptionally unique. I love to hear stories of Ancient Nubia and Kmt, of warrior women like Queen Nzinga, the story of Adolf Badin, and in our more recent history, the stories of Thomas Sankara and Patrice Lumumba, all of which I generally randomly came across. I love to hear about the manuscripts in Timbuktu in Mali, which infer a history of reverence towards education by Africans from many centuries ago. I long to learn more about this history, a history which seems more difficult to access as it often isn't documented and often only passed down through oral tradition, a history which is my mission to get to know better, for I know that this will make me happy.



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In writing a blog about several topics in which I admit to being a complete beginner, I am going to have to rely heavily on the people I am writing for who cumulatively know most of what I am likely to learn already. I would love it if some of you found the time to write a guest post on the subject of happiness or learning. The framework I use for thinking about these things is what I call the '5 + 2 points' which includes proper (1) exercise, (2) breathing, (3) diet, (4) relaxation, (5) positive thinking & meditation, (+1) relationships, (+2) flow. Naturally if you would like to write about something that you think I have missed, I would love to include that too. If you are up to doing something more practical, it would be awesome if you did a 100 hour project and I am happy to do the writing based on our chats if that is how you roll. Email me at trevorjohnblack@gmail.com 

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