Monday, 18 June 2012 PAGE 27

And by the way

Cold dates
AT THE weekend two friends and I visited the cooling towers in Orlando, Soweto. “Cooling” being an apt word on this particular Saturday, as it happened to be the coldest, most miserable, bone-numbing day of the year. In such weather one’s eyes water, the nose drips and one is too numb to wipe away the mess because one has lost all feeling in the face. Rude weather. Anti-social weather. Undoubtedly, stay in bed weather. Which probably explains why the rest of our party of eight or so decided to do that. Not that they bothered to inform us they wouldn’t be coming, which is why our own rare dependability meant that apart from an obviously freezing skeleton crew we were the only ones there. My passionate dislike of cold weather is well known, but another thing that never fails to get me really angry is the lack of courtesy and general flakiness of some people. If I were ever accused of flakiness, I might wither away and die of shame such is my aversion to rude behaviour. Unfortunately, it has become a widespread phenomenon. A few weeks ago I planned to meet an old friend with whom I was once, briefly, romantically involved, for lunch. It was a Saturday and to be clear, he suggested the lunch. But come the day of the date, there was silence. I did not hear from him. He ignored my efforts to contact him. I was livid. It was a weekend, and though I don’t have a Paris Hilton-style social life, I had declined other invitations on the day, all of which I had turned down because I had committed myself to meeting with this wannabe titan of a man. The attributes I displayed that day, and I’m not talking about the code-red fury, are commonly known as manners. Though, nowadays I’m starting to think they’re not that common after all. When I eventually heard from him a few days later, his response was: “I was busy”. And I said something like: “We’re all busy, honey. Congratulations – you’re alive!” What I really wanted to say would have been peppered with foul language and probably would have included a death threat or two. I’m proud of myself for showing restraint in the temper department but regardless, his flakiness and the inherent selfishness that comes with it cost me a day of my life. I stayed at home, but spent the day in a bad mood. I’m sure many have been in a situation where, having committed to being somewhere or doing something else, the moment arrives when they yearn to get out of it. It happened to me, especially when the engagements involved early morning starts. The alarm goes off and I feel as if the universe has deliberately singled me out for cruel and unusual punishment. But I still get up, paste a smile on my face and follow through with whatever nice or mostly not so nice obligation I have for the day. Reliability is the most underrated of virtues. But it is a virtue nonetheless. Not least it shows that you care, and have regard for the people in your life, be they friends, colleagues or even those so painful that an hour of forced conversation makes you feel like you’ve done a 24-hour endurance race. There should be a special punishment for flaky people. May I suggest an eternity of icy cold Saturday mornings at the Orlando cooling towers, waiting for dates who never arrive.

WARM: Auma Obama in Joburg to promote her new book, And Then Life Happens.

GIVING: Auma hopes her memoir will give people a better insight into their own family relationships. Pictures: ScOTT SMITh

Obama in her own right
Carly Ritz


uthor, activist and philanthropist Auma Obama also happens to be the half-sister of American President Barack Obama. In South Africa as part of her memoir tour, And then Life Happens, she acknowledges that her last name has certainly captured the world’s attention and opened various doors, for which she is very grateful. But this woman is deserving of accolades in her own right. Adjusting to the icy June weather on her arrival from Nairobi, Auma spoke to The New Age from a cosy room at the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg. An elegant and warm woman, if she was tired from her travels, no one was the wiser. To say she has “complicated family dynamics” is but to scrape the surface of the Kenyan-born author’s life, yet she penned the details of her journey with honesty and insight. It can’t be easy to have the intimate nature of your struggles in black and white for all to see, but Auma is more than comfortable. “I always wanted to write a book; my family is so diverse and multicultural and people are always so intrigued.” “A cathartic process” is how she describes putting her story to paper. It has allowed her to understand her own family so much more. “If, for example, the nature of my relationship with my father helps someone else, it was worthwhile.” A reflective story, Obama hopes that people can relate to the book and, in tell-

Obama is a big name to carry, but Auma does so with grace
ing the details of her own relationships, might garner some awareness of their own. While it’s a story about a young girl trying to find her place in the world amid uncertainty, adversity and change, it is certainly not just for a female readership. “I originally wrote the book in German, but had it translated to make it accessible to more people,” she explains. In essence, hers is a universal account. Her story unpacks the issues that so many have to deal with; from the patriarchy that is so deeply rooted in her family’s Luo tradition, to the loss of loved ones and the tensions that accompany the clash of cultures of her worlds, having left Kenya to study in Germany. Siblings of the same father and different mothers, Barack and Auma did not grow up knowing each other. Auma only met Barack for the first time in 1984, while both were still in their 20s. “I felt a kinship with him automatically.

We just started talking as though we’d known each other always. He has a great sense of humour and is so easy to get on with,” says Auma. Barack was also clearly moved by the meeting and explains in his own biography how meeting his sister changed his life and offered so much insight into the family he never really knew. Obama describes their first meeting: “I knew at that moment, somehow, that I loved her – so naturally, so easily and fiercely, that later, after she was gone, I would find myself mistrusting that love.” The siblings are very close and Auma attributes the reason they get on so famously to having similar interests. Both harbour a deep compassion for other people and making a difference in their respective worlds. Auma has relished being able to share this part of her life with her brother. Being related to the most powerful man in the US is going to draw attention to family and friends, but Auma is quick to put the situation into context. “People look at our family and expect so much, but I always say we are a just normal family with an exceptional member among us.” Like the rest of her family, Auma is extremely proud of her younger brother and what he has achieved. And in the chaos of life and work, regular travel and communication keeps the siblings in touch. Auma Obama is project coordinator for the humanitarian organisation CARE

Saving African indigenous music
Sibusisiwe Tongo

A MAMA FIRST: Jennifer Lopez is also caring. Picture: REUTERS

J Lo gives to the kids
SINGER Jennifer Lopez has donated new equipment to a children’s hospital in Panama City. The 42 year old visited the hospital ahead of her upcoming South American tour and concerts set to kick off on Thursday. “As a mother, children are the most important thing for me,” contactmusic. com quoted Lopez as saying. – TOI

oo little is known about South African indigenous music, according to the South African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) Foundation. Established in 1961, Samro has been investing in music education for five decades and it wants to encourage indigenous African music research among young people in the country. Andre le Roux, Samro endowment general manager, said: “Not enough is known about South African indigenous music, as during the apartheid years our indigenous music did not get sufficient academic focus. “If we do not research or support the research of the music traditions, of the songs, the composers, our legacy and heritage, they may be lost for future generations.” He said indigenous African music research was established because of a need identified by the esteemed Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo, who noted the lack of research in the field. The Samro Foundation is to give serious focus to organisations’ investment in the arts, with specific attention to music development. It has coughed up R1.13m for 113 prospective music students to study music in South African universities.

JAZZY: Songstress Sibongile Khumalo Picture: FATI MOALUSI Le Roux said applicants chose their field of study in the supplied four categories of bursary: general music study, music education study, music composition study and indigenous African music research. All the categories are established on the basis of the degrees and fields of study available in South African universities. On the selection criteria, Le Roux said: “There are three panels of adjudicators, one that selects the general music and music education study, another for composition study and another for indigenous African music study. Each panel has a separate set

of criteria, process and chairperson. “The overall criterion is that of merit, in other words, the best achievers in each category. “Our bursary programme started in the ’80s, so most universities, music departments and prospective music students are aware of them. “The bursaries are also available on various websites, social media and publications and our forms made obtainable electronically.” He said that, beyond the bursary, they started the SA Sings project in 1996 and are now producing Volume Three of SA Sings – a book of choral music scores in both tonic sol-fa and staff notation – which includes information about the composers, their backgrounds, origins and influences “so we, our children, and those that come after them can not only sing our songs in the way they were intended, but appreciate from whence they come”. The foundation has been supporting music education through NGO music schools, music education projects, funding at tertiary level and overseas study at the height of the pyramid. Le Roux said: “The standard of music in South Africa is very high in classical music. Many of the top international soloists and performances go on to achieve in overseas competitions and perform internationally.”

These are yesterday’s


Dec 21 – Jan 19


Jan 20 – Feb 17


Feb 18 – Mar 19


Mar 20 – Apr 19

By Barbra d’Engle (

You may face irritating challenges but must consider the facts, yet be open to suggestions that might seem too radical for your conservative approach. You won’t let on that developments shake your composure, so control your temper and your stress levels won’t rise.

Today’s developments could shake your ideas up a bit, for you might suddenly realise that you have little control, if any, over how things are going to work out. Single Aquarians might find a romantic connection at the gym or health shop.

Your anger may be aroused by the actions of another person close to you today. While you enjoy the company of exciting people, there could be a few souls in particular who shake your composure. The unusual is exciting, but don’t let stress trigger impossible behaviour.

Everything that happens today will be unusual and confusion and emotional reactions could make it tough. If you’ve wished for something exciting and novel, you might just get it. Stick to the common sense approach and don’t lose your temper, it’s unnecessary.



Apr 20 – May 20


May 21 – Jun 20


Jun 21 – Jul 21


July 22 – Aug 22

Expect things to happen in the oddest way today. Listen carefully and try to work out how things will go. It could be too easy to do things against the flow and exhaust yourself in the process. Recognise that the energy of the day is unique and needs a different approach.

You are in an adventurous mood, but you could get into hot water and end up with more trouble than you really want, or get an unexpected compliment. Ingratitude could make you really angry, and you could surpass your attempts at being sarcastic, which is bad for harmony.

You love being right, but are too apt to jump to conclusions now and might regret your words or actions. Review the facts in business and personal matters – you may miss something important. Don’t let a bad temper spoil any important personal relationships.

A change of scenery is what you need, so seek out new venues to ignite your creativity. Try not to waste time on interesting but irrelevant things. As long as you can remain stable and not lose your cool when things move in strange new directions, you should be fine.


Aug 23 – Sep 23


Sep 23 – Oct 22


Oct 23 – Nov 21


Nov 22 – Dec 20

You occasionally do take a chance on something new. In fact, the urge for anything out of the ordinary could suddenly add stress to your finely balanced organism. Today you’re likely to feel energetic, but also impatient. Try to direct your energy to achieve your goals.

You certainly will get everything done, but it won’t be without effort or cost. You’re effective, but ready to fight when things aren’t going the way you hope. If you find yourself alone, it could be because you have stepped on tender toes or offended sensitive feelings somehow.

A phase of unusual development might temporarily change your plans, but don’t use this uncertainty as an excuse to lose your temper. The plan that you choose may not work out as you hope, so be flexible. Spend the evening with your favourite people.

You may have a hard time believing that you don’t just need loads of energy, but also a plan. Impulsive actions could lead to difficulties, so be wary. Financial prospects can improve if you adopt an unusual approach. Romance is enticing, but dangerous if you’re dishonest.

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