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Life Lessons for the young and mature…

I had mistakenly thought that I had it all figured out because of knowledge acquired in blogs and books, but life has surprised me.

I have realised that the saying “Experience is the best teacher” is indeed very true and below I list my 3 main life lessons.

Lesson 1: Every man for himself

The way I feel so strongly about this, I even wanted it to be the title for this post. This idiom makes more sense in my life right now. So, let me share a bit of my story.

When you arrive at a new place (e.g. First year University) you literally have no support except the support you receive from people at home. Once you done with grade school, you are considered an adult and expected to act accordingly.

Oxford dictionary defines ‘adulting’ as “The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult”.

When I moved to the University residence, I experienced so much change that made me understand what it truly meant to be an adult and do things for myself. Suddenly, I had to manage all aspects of my life and see myself through everything.

Though I had friends from the first day, but I soon realised that there were so many things I had to figure out all by myself without any help. Everybody has their own business to attend to, so as soon as you get to University you have to immediately start being independent. It’s like being thrown at the deep end and being expected swim and survive somehow.

So indeed, the saying “every man for himself” made so much more sense. You have to realise that everyone has their own life to live and won’t be able to attend and give you attention all the time, and that’s okay.

Lesson 2: Age means nothing- own race own pace

After experiencing the challenges above, I had this mindset that probably I came into university late because I took a gap year. I thought my classmates would be younger than me but I was pleasantly surprised to find different types of people. There were people who had graduated already, people who like me took a gap year and even people who had been working before and discovered their passion then decided to go back and study.

This showed me that age is nothing but a number and that I still have plenty of time to figure out what it is that I really want to do. Being expected to decide on a career path at 16 is hard and we are given the impression that you will have to live with that decision forever. Even though your degree will make an impact in your life, it’s never too late to do what you really want.

The saying “Age means nothing” to me this also says, as young people we must be as responsible as the adults since everybody is seen as an equal in settings such as Universities.

Lesson 3: Everybody but you seem to have it all figured out

I’m one person who is always reading blogs about life lessons just to make sure I don’t mess up, trying to figure out the best way to avoid mistakes that would ruin my life. While I’m trying to figure out if it’s best to date that guy or not, it seems everyone knows what they want in a relationship. When I was trying to figure out what to study, everybody around me knew what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

Looking from my point of view it looks like I’m the only one who is still trying to know myself and what I really want.

It’s not until you talk to these people that you realise as humans we have the same problems. Nobody has it all figured out, at some point we must make decisions and live with consequences we don’t completely know how to deal with.

Making these three realisations took me a while but I now really understand, or at least have an idea on how to be my independent self.


About the Writer:

Palesa Makuru is a Pharmacy student who enjoys artistry particularly writing. She’s a content creator and writes columns about beauty and lifestyle on her website Pretty Palesa ( and has shared her columns for similar South African blogs.

She often echoes that life lessons are taught every day, from the motivational videos in the morning, to a friend giving advice. She considers herself an “addict” of advice blogs and the like, but she has also realised that some things are better learnt through experience.


The Love Triangle- Malema | Mama Winnie | And us

South Africa is the most exciting place to be right now. It is a period of heightened political conversations around the life of our beloved Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. This article is my expression of freedom of speech and by no means meant to serve any political agenda, but just to share some insights.

It’s been almost 3 weeks since mama passed on and this past Saturday we witnessed as she was laid to rest. The aftermath of her funeral service has lingered through the media, social media and general conversations through campaigns like #JuliusMalemaChallenge.

This campaign serves as a symbol of great humour as millions partook of the ‘challenge’. However, in the opinions of some political analysts there are very serious implications that Julius Malema’s speech carries. At the core of his speech was his recognition of the life of Mama Winnie and her significant, yet sometimes overlooked contribution in bringing about change in our nation. In his speech, he also took a serious jab at those he believed had not afforded Mama the recognition and dignity she deserved during her lifetime.

I am no political analyst; just an ordinary citizen of South Africa and to witness such complex political conversations in my nation leaves me with mixed emotions. This whole season unfolding as it does, feels like a love triangle between Malema’s zeal for Mama, Mama’s Winnie’s life and us.

Who is the “us” in this love triangle?

To me, the “us” is the millions of South Africans and other global citizens who don’t have the full context of history, who are not aware of the political complexities and frankly who are upset that this zeal for Mama’s legacy only seems to be heightened now that she is gone, and we ask the question, how do we truly honour mama?

The “us” is those who recognise the real enemy. The real enemy is inequality in various forms in our nation and across the world. Truth is, if millions of our people still go to bed hungry and live under the most degrading of human standards, we have a lot to do in honour of Mama Winnie’s legacy.

The “us” is those who look critically at campaigns such as #IAMWINNIEMANDELA because we deeply introspect and ask, can we really be Winnie Mandela? Can we sacrifice our marriages and time with our children for a greater cause? Can we suffer discrimination and gruesome physical abuse? Are we willing to be accused of crimes? Are we willing to be often misunderstood?  Are we willing to lose the best years of our lives so that other people’s lives can be better?

I love how the CEO of the Business Women’s Association of South Africa put it, “Mama Winnie had uncommon courage.” It is this “uncommon courage” displayed that has the nation on its feet and why Malema’s speech was this impactful.

Mama Winnie was a gift to a generation and she lived out her purpose as best as she could. If indeed the “us” who say we love Mama and we honour her, for her contribution to the rights that we enjoy today, then we need to rethink how we express this love in our generation.

In my opinion the struggle journey continues. Yes, Apartheid as an institution of racially segregating people was destroyed legally. But the after effects of Apartheid still live on. We must take the baton from Mama Winnie’s generation and recognise that we also must tackle socio-economic inequality head on.

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Dr ‘Gogo’ Esther Mahlangu lives in the ordinary & it’s a true masterpiece…

Of late two major moments in history have touched our lives as the nation of South Africa and the global community at large. As we mourn the death of Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela, we remember what she stood for. Hers, was life of a true political veteran; hated by many but also loved and adored by many. Though the pain of her passing rests in the hearts of many people, the liberation ideals and what she stood for even in her last days give hope to many South Africans and people around the world.

Seeing the tangible fruits of our liberation ideals come to life through the well-deserved recognition of Gogo Esther Mahlangu is truly worth celebrating. Gogo Esther Mahlangu and her work is not only a national treasure, but a global masterpiece. We have witnessed through the media – congratulatory remarks abound, as the University of Johannesburg bestowed upon Gogo Esther an honorary doctorate. And I join in with the rest of the world to announce and congratulate Dr Esther Mahlangu on her achievement.

There is this amazing proverb that I love, it goes along the lines of “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” Proverbs 18:16. Indeed Dr Esther’s love for her Ndebele traditions, art and her consistent pursuit of excellence has made her take a well-deserved seat amongst the great.

You know for me, what makes Dr Esther’s story remarkable is not her recent honorary doctorate or her collaboration with companies like BMW , Belvedere and icons like John Legend. For me what makes Dr Esther, Mama Winnie and many other heroes’ stories great, is what they do in the ordinary. In what I have read about their lives, I can sum up that they wake up each day, in the ordinary mundane moments where no one is looking and applauding and live their truth.

Dr Esther developed a passion for painting at the age of 10. Though she has travelled the world and has been exposed to various artists and changes over the years, Dr Esther’s staying power has been her refusal to succumb to global pressures by remaining her authentic self. A vivid example of this, is how proudly she wears her Ndebele traditional attire wherever she goes.

Dr Esther and many people who change the world wake up each day and live their authentic best. They do what they love, they honour their craft and, in many ways, begin to reap the rewards. Many people in our generation want a seat amongst the great, but it seems they live more for the external; once in a lifetime external recognition. And that can be a disheartening process because we spend more time in the ordinary and mundane activities of our lives and thus that’s where we should seek to win.

The extraordinary moments in history like an honorary doctorate or a noble prize come once in a lifetime and only received by those who stay loyal and focused on their crafts and truth. My friend Joy Ntetha recently echoed that “Our greatest freedom comes from working towards being courageous with our truth…” and this resonated because living one’s truth is not easy, but it is worth it all.

My enjoy life tip is this – do what you love from a pure heart not trying to receive an honorary doctorate or a Nobel prize, if it happens – thank God, but don’t let that be the driving engine. Keep doing your best not for human recognition or glory, but for love.

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iBanguwe! (Be yourself)

I was watching a show on YouTube and they were interviewing a famous singer. The singer shared interesting insights about the struggles of the music industry. She shared that though she had always been clear about what she believed God called her for in the industry, it hasn’t been an easy journey for her, particularly because she has had to deal with being negatively compared to others.

There was something that caught my attention when the presenter asked how she stays relevant and does not compete, but rather compliment her music compatriots. She said, “Everyone is talented differently. You often hear people say, ‘oh how I wish I had that person’s gift’ and they often don’t acknowledge that they also have a great gift that we need in society.”

Why did this catch my attention? I guess it triggered my thoughts around authenticity even further. I have been thinking and having dialogues about what I have experienced and come to observe. We are living in a time where people struggle to be themselves but want to be what the world celebrates as the ‘ideal self’’. Of course, there has been many points of view about this and the root cause of this stems from different things. The most common argument puts blame on social media and the general media at large.

Though I acknowledge that social media has created a facade in terms of how people do life, I still think that this occurrence has been evident in our society even before the social media buzz. I have even witnessed this phenomenon in old people and people who don’t have social media.

One of my mentors said something powerful, he echoed that the only time you are your true authentic self is the few seconds you born. After that you are handed over to guardians (i.e. family, society, etc) and shaped into being whatever it is they desire.

When 2018 began, I prayed to God and said “Father, I want to be Bongeka again, please reveal who you are to me again and I will serve you with my entire being”

Waking up each day and being real with God helps me to be real with myself and thus be more real in my social relationships.

My friend, the greatest gift you and I can give ourselves is to be ourselves.

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