Beauty with ‘ubuntu’

2017-08-22 06:00

AUGUST is the month that we officially recognise as Women’s Month. Many men grumble that all months are women’s month in any case. I guess there is a bit of truth in that, but that is an argument for another year.

Several events have made this month an interesting month in many ways. The decision by the speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, to allow for a secret ballot in the botched vote of no confidence stands out as a bold move by a strong woman.

Leading to that motion, the criticism of the president by MP Makhosi Khoza will be remembered as another bold move by a politician. This can be seen by how many other disillusioned ANC members of Parliament voted for the motion from the safety of the secret ballot.

We applaud all these achievements where women have stood up and have been counted for their resilience, determination and love for the country.

However, in a month like this, there is also a lot of flattery going around aimed at women. I have one or two issues to whisper in the ears of our beautiful women.

If you openly ask most men coming into South Africa what it is that captures their attention the first time they set foot here, a great number will tell you about the infrastructure, but the few will tell you the truth. It is the beautiful women across the races.

This is not to say that most men are coming from countries where women are not beautiful.

Beauty has many dimensions and proportions, both in quality and in quantity. What astonishes most men, especially those coming to this beautiful land for the first time, is the balance between these two, quality and quantity.

Other sisters from other countries might not always agree with this but again the few honest ones will also agree that their sisters in South Africa are beautifully endowed in many aspects.

Now I am aware that this might irritate some feminists who might be quick to point out that it is not right to speak of women in terms that reduces them to physical beauty as if there are mere commodities.

I am not saying that.

A few weeks ago, I took a flight to Nairobi, Kenya, in east Africa.

Aboard Kenyan Airways, my heart melted in the hands of the Kenyan Airways flight attendants. It was not just their beauty and the sing-song of their Swahili but their kindness and hospitality. This was only an appetiser of the beauty of the people who I encountered once the plane landed.

I have flown with South African Airways countless times and I am yet to meet a genuine combination of beauty and kindness in the attendants.

Once I was almost arrested for wanting to remain with my laptop. It could be just my bad luck locally. This is what I am saying.

One does not need to be rude to be a feminist, or to fight for justice. The examples of Mbete and Khoza show that even in that calm demeanour can rest the decisive spirit that can move mountains.

We often talk of beauty without brains as a disaster but so is beauty without ubuntu.

Akunyimaye kunde akuepusha kuvimbiwa (Swahili) — one who denies you beans helps you to escape bloating.

• Myke Mwale is a Dominican and an alumnus from UKZN and Saint Joseph’s Theological College, Cedara.

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