Followers of this blog (do I have any?) would have noticed that not much has been happening on here for quite a while now. Gone are 2009 and 2010 when I averaged two articles per month and wrote for a literature website.
Then again I suffered from severe and chronic sleep deprivation from July 2008 until the end of 2010. I used to fall asleep at the wheel while driving on the N1 towards Bryanston, which is quite a busy road any time of the day. I struggled to keep awake at work to the point that narcolepsy medication was the only cure. The modafinil worked fine (although it is hideously expensive and I am being euphemistic), my micro sleep was kept in check and I managed to hold onto my day job.
I realised afterwards that I did activism work after hours while having a very demanding day job and that it was simply not possible for me to live healthily with so little sleep. I did not realise it then because I was either too busy with some tedious issue at work or writing indignant emails to the medical director of the South African National Blood Service while dishing out advice and trying to prevent people from killing themselves.
I think my personality has changed. It is either that or it is some pre-the-big-30 existential murmur.
I was previously constantly ill and I jokingly called myself a virus-whore since I picked up the 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Swine Flu twice. Nice. Besides the swine flu I was constantly down with some kind of virus and I was very frequently burnt out completely. Burnt out normally meant a one day hiatus and then slogging again at top speed.
So when the big-30 loomed closer I realised what was wrong with my life. There’s a saying that says “charity begins at home” and I realised I was too occupied trying to kick-start the then stalled activism scene in South Africa and I was almost criminally neglecting myself.
Luckily activism picked up speed in late 2010 and there emerged a new wave of citizen involvement to the point that the same government with which we had so many tiffs introduced a motion for the protection of all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN Human Rights Council. In 2008 I would have laughed at the idea and would have considered it impossible.
Much has changed between 2008 and 2011. Jon Qwelane was finally found guilty of hate speech by the Johannesburg Equality Court and South Africa’s UN behaviour nudged more towards advancing the South African Constitution.
Since then an NGO called the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) was formed by some high profile and commendable persons. In short, even though South Africans still face an onslaught in the form of the Protection of Information Bill, inter alia, we have a mobilised and more vigilant civil society, case in point: the Right 2 Know Campaign (of which SA GLAAD was a founding signatory along with about 400 NGOs).
I am healthier now. I do not jokingly call myself a virus-whore anymore. I am quieter although I have met the most exceptional people on my journey and am much more conversational than I was in the past.
I still fight some activism battles but I choose them carefully. I have resigned myself to the fact that the majority will still be nonchalant and complacent and have this sense of entitlement that someone else has to fight their battles. I won’t be duped into a proxy fight anymore. When my partner-in-crime and I started out there was very little help from the outside and we had to learn a lot and do everything on our own. I do still have deep gratitude for the handful of individuals who provided us with their kindness, assistance and guidance.
It took an extremely hateful article to awaken me politically and in that sense I do not regret its publication. The domino effect meant that the parent company of that sad tabloid started to act more conscientiously and now is starting to disallow pig-ignorant commentary on some of its websites.
I used the one letter word “I” a lot in this article and not without reason because it is my focus. I do not care if there is no “I” in “team” because I was never a team player anyway. I have always looked on from the fringes speaking up for the underdogs in my own community.
Some may ask if it was in my self-interest to have gone through those years and I will say “yes” despite seeing all that is foul out there. If we live in a better world, have our rights protected and advanced then I benefit as well. Note, Ayn Rand acolytes, this is not your cue to the promote the “Virtue of Selfishness” ;)
I am not abandoning what formed a great part of my life and lead me to the greatest people. I am just more focussed now. Today is coincidentally #FollowFriday on Twitter and it was very rewarding to receive very heart-warming thanks for our efforts just now.
So, regardless of whether anyone reads a word of this this is my catharsis. I might even start to write on literature sites again and even though that I have found my voice again I am doing so with quiet contentment; in my brave new world.