Keeping up with the Joneses

I find it hard enough to keep up with myself, let alone the Joneses or the Molefe’s or even the Gupta’s –  in fact especially the Gupta’s, those guys seem to be everywhere. Just the other day I read a New Age newspaper and there they were again, go figure.. All I have is this WordPress site.

I seem to run from plane to plane and back again, and when I look back, I can’t seem to remember who the Joneses even are, let alone which town they call home.

Thank god I still recognize my kids, but I could swear that they had more teeth the last time I saw them.

Who has time or energy for Mr and Mrs Jones.

Mrs Jones just got the latest Land Rover for her birthday. That’s lovely, but I spend more days in a rental car than my own, and can’t remember on which level I parked at the airport. You tell me which is more important to me.

I do think that Mr Molefe has a gorgeous new home in that estate in Joburg with the sewerage pipe running through it.

I’m just grateful to count the number of nights that my girls share my house with me in a month.

I keep planning for the future. I keep endless mails. The ones I fully intend to revisit, because I need time to digest them, and act on their contents.
I mail myself website pages too, to read later, you know…when I have the time. I make notes on the books I need to read, and have kept more recipes than I have days left on this earth.

But I already have a pile of books on my bedside table, and a pile of laundry in the wash basket. Quite frankly I reckon it should be more important to read the books than do the laundry. Tell that to my boss when I pitch up at work in front of an auditorium full of people wearing nothing but Cry The Beloved Country.

Yes I still haven’t read that one!

You see it’s all relative, this keeping up thing. I don’t have the time nor energy to care about other things, because I’m busy surviving my own chock-a-block life.

13581236346445762_2pxiLodn_cI get up each morning and marvel that I get paid to do what I do. And actually, that’s more than enough.
I know who my best friends are, and don’t give a hoot where they live nor what they drive. But I do know what it sounds like when they laugh or cry.

I’ll get to read the books one day or maybe not.
But right now I need to get home in time to prepare for the arrival of the tooth fairy tonight, and that’s more important than anything.

Keeping up with the kids.

On black women, property ownership, and unconsciously discovering being privileged.

She called me Paul. Then realized that she’d got it wrong, and recovered by saying, “You’re white, and all white men look the same to me.” The room erupted in laughter, and so did I.

Without knowing it, Kagiso Msimango, author of “The Goddess Bootcamp” had given me a perfect launching pad for my talk to a very large room full of black women commemorating Women’s Day. She had allowed the audience to laugh at my expense, and I needed that. Given that I was the only white person in the room, tasked to deliver a talk about investing in property, and taking the stage after a previous speaker who had thrilled the room with stories of what black women had done to rebel against the former system, it was a tough gig to say the least!

womens day 1It is no secret that women have had a historically tough time in South Africa. The shackles of male dominance still bear scars – deep scars. Apartheid in particular did black women no favours and to think that twenty years can turn it all around is foolish in the extreme.

My own insecurities furnished me with a momentary, cold, sweaty vision of being booed off the stage. But I needn’t have worried.

What I was to discover was that the women in the room were tired of being treated as unequal, were tired of rights written on paper but not actioned, were tired of waiting on empty promises of property deliverance, and they were ripe and ready to seize the reins of financial independence and gallop off into Fiscal Freedom to the sounds of the Eurythmics – “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.”

As the narrator of this potent message of economic empowerment I could have been absolutely anybody.

The more I spoke about the keys to financial independence, wealth creation, and conscious liberation, the greater the level of excitement and the brighter the eyes that beamed back at me. I had expected some interest, but this reaction surprised and overwhelmed me.

I couldn’t help but wonder why the message was new to so many in the room. These were middle and upper management government employees.  Women on a good salary. Surely they should know about the power of investing in property, the potential and the growth. The wealth creation that results from an investment that is sure to deliver a return in the long term. The fact that one needs to live somewhere, and that if that property is not yours, you are paying somebody else for the right to live there.

Things that my parents had taught me.

And therein lies the rub. I suddenly felt overwhelmingly privileged. The cost of generations of people owning no property of their own has given rise to a young generation that by and large squanders money on expensive cars and on the instant gratification associated with the trappings of success – through no fault of their own.

Nevertheless, there is an underlying current and cognisance of a better way. There is a real yearning for the knowledge to acquire wealth beyond the immediate. I felt no blame, no finger pointing. Rather a sense of responsibility. ‘I am responsible for my own financial freedom, and I want it, please teach me how. ‘

The news is positive. The stats tell me that women are getting married at approximately 29 years of age in South Africa, and they are carving a career before they marry. More women are purchasing property on their own than ever before. And that figure is rising rapidly. Women are getting married out of community of property – an even better sign that empowerment is happening on the ground.

But real power, tangible power, lies in education. There are generations crying out for knowledge, because that knowledge results in genuine freedom. And the only thing we truly have control over is ourselves. Therefore, if we know no better, we have little control over our future.

I couldn’t help feeling that I was repaying a long outstanding debt.

I plan to do it again, because it felt good. I don’t mind being Paul.

If Women’s Day is about celebrating empowerment, liberty, and economic freedom, can’t we do better than to make the day about free massages, facials and bubbly?