Lula Bliss in a Nutshell
Lula means easy in isiXhosa, it’s also my baby brother’s name, who was named after Brazil’s Lula da Silva. I grew up in three places in South Africa, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Johannesburg. These are three of South Africa’s major cities. I’ve named my journal Lula Bliss or Easy Bliss because I believe in bliss. Throughout time, the world has given us an illusion that it’s falling apart, it keeps us on our toes and we need to fight, stand up to challenges and rise to whatever it is that we must rise to. I see sad things happening around me, the saddest thing is a loss of identity or not having one at all. South Africa is a complicated society, where you have the extremely poor and very rich.
I was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg at Florence Nightingale Hospital. Until my parents separated we lived in Kagiso, in the east of Jo’burg. I don’t remember much of living in Kagiso, we left when I turned four. We moved to Port Elizabeth with my grandmother while my mother was looking for work and her own place to live in Jo’burg. She came to fetch us after a year or so, it was exciting to back with her living in Yeoville. Now, Yeoville was promising for the new South Africa in 1993, my mother worked for an NGO and was a typical communist living together with comrades in the struggle. The fast urban pace of Yeoville was something we adjusted to very fast, my siblings and I. We went to crèche and lower primary school there, we eventually had to move and leave our cat, Kitty, behind. We lived in a block of flats, where many kids like us saw their parents getting together, drinking and celebrating one thing or the other all the time. There’d be street festivals, house parties and jazz concerts, where the kids were never left behind.
Things begun to change in Yeoville after the elections, I’m not sure how the story goes but we left in 1996 to be with our grandmother in Port Elizabeth, once again our mother stayed behind. Our great treks lead us to Pretoria.
Pretoria is where I experienced the fast pace of urban life, popular culture and begun experimenting with all sorts of things. Living in a block of flats, meant there was a limit to how much we could entertain ourselves. One of my hobbies was walking to the mall and going to the perfume store and test all the perfumes there. Sometimes I’d go to CNA, one of SA’s biggest stationery and bookshop. I’d read books there and steal sweets until the shop closes. Now, when a random pre teen is in your store everyday and doesn’t buy anything, this is bound to reach suspicion with management. I was eventually banned from the shop for shoplifting. This came as a surprise to my mother, or maybe not. I don’t know really. I never shoplifted and (got caught) ever again after that incident but I got busted for other things like smoking, drinking and hanging out late at night in clubs. The smoking begun when I was 13years old, I’ve never really stopped since then. I’d take random breaks but I still smoked. I also started getting high on marijuana. Drinking to get drunk. This all happened by the time I was fourteen.
With this said, the kinds of stories I want to document about South African youth, especially young women, are the effects of our post democracy – which made so many promises. Some of the promises are being fulfilled but we’re still left with scars of wars unknown to us. The children of activists, “communists” and the like have been raised in these urban environments, which were obviously seen to be better than townships and a step up from the group areas act, where we can all mingle and be happy. The mingling of races is an issue that I don’t want to dwell too much on because I believe South Africa is that melting pot of culture. But what’s happening to our identities? Are they unique? Are our ideas authentic or are we being fed dreams by media?
I’ll use my journal as a space to share stories of young women, living in Jo’burg. How did they get to Jo’burg? How they view their culture? What it means for them to be South African women? Where do they see themselves in world class city like Johannesburg? From university students, to women in the working world and the arts, I’ll compile a journal of some of the most powerful women I know, while telling my own stories in between, of how I grew up and why I am so interested in popular culture, its pros and cons, its mandates and prerequisites. Where do draw the line and decide who we are!