Taking baby steps to learning the skills of using a fork and knife

By: Palesa Matjebele

Setting up a formal table is a headache, but it’s a nightmare when you don’t even know how to use the cutlery. We’re not born holding a fork on the left hand and a knife on the other, so being unable to use them is no sin. But then again, it’s important for one to learn to use them, it’s just a great way to protect ones ego as it saves you from the embarrassment.



Familiarising yourself with the use of cutlery is just important, not that you have to use a knife to cut through pap when you are at home. But going to a restaurant, and scooping on a Greek salad and a sticky steak is not amazing either.

Kitchn helps with the basics of using a fork and a knife. They say there are only two methods of using a fork and a knife, the American and the European way. We’re in South Africa, and sadly there’s no Mzansi way of using the two famous cutlery pieces, so we might as well adopt the globally acceptable manner of using the two. The American method is quite complicated; you hold a fork in your left hand and the knife on the right, that’s when you cutting the food into smaller pieces, after that, put the knife down and hold the fork with the right when you eat. And the European method is easier, the fork remains in the left hand, and one uses the knife to carefully put the food on the fork.

Now that you have an idea of using the two great pieces, you might want to do some home practices, just before showing off your skills in a restaurant. Viners advice that one also familiarise with the setting of a table, because a well set table have a lot more than a tablecloth, cutlery and a plate full of food; sitting there can be confusing. Viners give out these six things to watch out for when sitting in a formalised table:


  • Knife blades face towards the plate while the fork tips faces up.
  • Dessert fork and spoon lies on the table. The fork pointing to the right, and the fork pointing to the left.
  • Side plates are placed on the left side of the table.
  • A salad plate is small, and placed on top of the dinner plate. There’s also a soup bowl lying on top of the salad plate.
  • There’s a napkin cutely folded and placed on the side plate.
  • There are two glasses, a wine and a water glass. The two are always placed on the right side of the table.



Sitting in a table with unfamiliar or formal individuals is a problem, one mistake, you are written off. Such people care about even the littlest things; they are just pay attention to detail. Etiquette scholar gives out some table manner lessons on how to act, and what to do when surrounded by such people.

There’s always a napkin or a serviette for every individual seated around a table. The only way one would be considered a civil member of the society, is if they take the napkin found on the table and place it on the lap; when you have to use the bathroom, place it on your chair and when done eating, place it to your left side.

Just because you have dished the food does not mean that you can eat already, you have to wait until everyone else is done dishing and seated. For very formal events, one has to wait for the host to tell them to eat before they can even touch the food.

When it’s a serve yourself situation, you have to be mindful of your behavior. You can’t stand up when everyone else is seated, you seat down and wait for the dish to be passed onto you, always pass to the right. There’s always salt and pepper shakers on the table, first taste the food before putting on any salt or pepper; some people don’t like it when you put salt into the food, they feel that you are communicating their kitchen incompetence.







Nompumelelo reflects on all that she had gone through and is surprised that she can still smile

by: Palesa Matjebele

In her teens, Nompumelelo Caluza was already a mourning mother. The 25-year-old got pregnant with her first child when she was sixteen, and shortly got pregnant after giving birth. This time around, it was with twins. Both of pregnancies went well, until all of a sudden, Nompumelelo had to be rushed in to hospital for a premature labour. The twins, Lubanzi and Lukhona were placed in an incubator, sadly Lubanzi died.



Nompumelelo took a lot of loss in her life. She lost her parents when she was barely ten; her childhood was filled with nothing but pain. They were two at her parents, and her brother also passed on. The little Nompumelelo was taken in by her mother’s siblings.

Nompumelelo grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, south of Durban, as a troubled child. The year 2012 had to be the worst year for the teenager, there was just too much going on. She was an expecting mother of one who happened to be in matric. On her first month as a senior, the young mother had to give birth and go back to school. A few weeks later, she got pregnant again. Just when she was preparing for the end year exams, she went into an unexpected labour.

‘’Everything was good. I thought the pregnancy was normal, there were no symptoms. I never had any complications during the pregnancy, the premature labour came as a shock,’’ she shares.

After giving birth, Nompumelelo was filled with mixed emotions. She was shocked by the sudden labour, she was sad to have lost a child but at the same time, she happy to be a second time mother. In the midst of it all, the family was always there for Nompumelelo, and they supported her through it all. It took a while for the now mother of two to come in terms with the loss, but believing in fate sped things up.

‘’I was expecting to go home with two babies, but instead I took one home. I had to remind myself that everything happens for a reason, and that God was in control,’’ she says.

After Nompumelelo and her fully recovered baby girl were discharged, she tried getting the little Lukhona a birth certificate, but was told that she could. The system picked up that she gave birth in January, systematically; it was not be possible for her to give birth again in October. Lukhona and Zekhetholo are nine months apart, so their age gap created confusion.

‘’I had all the proof that Lukhona was my child. The doctor had given me letters confirming that I had a premature labour, but they somehow couldn’t believe it,’’ she says.

The young mother says she went to home affairs so many times with no help. She recalls being given the run around. Every time she went back, she was helped by different officials and each one kept sending her home with an empty hand.

‘’I would go and stand long queues only to be sent back home. I would spend the little money I had on transport, and get there to be told that I should come back after six months. I would return again after the given period, and be told a different story,’’ she recalls.



Things were different now that Nompumelelo was a mother of two, so she had to stay home and raise her children. She dropped out of school few months before writing the exams. She had two kids, but only one qualified for a child support grant. Her family advised her to go and look for a job so that she could fend for her children, and her aunt took care for the children. The young mother got a job in retail, and things got better because she could worry less about money.

‘’I made sure that my children were taken care of. But the birth certificate thing was always at the back of my head, I could not be entirely happy,’’ she says.

The young mother had plans to go to school, and she registered for exams at her local school. As the exams approached, the mother went and asked for a study leave at work, but was told that she had to choose between school and work. Because she needed money, Nompumelelo chose her job over education. Few weeks later, after exams, the young mother was told that she would be working for the last month.

‘’I got retrenched a month after I dropped my exams. I was left shattered, I had lost a job and a chance at writing my matric exams,’’ she shares.




The young mother was lucky to find another job. But the pressure built up as years went by, the kids had to go to school and Lukhona still didn’t have a birth certificate. Nompumelelo had to go to the Isipingo home affairs branch every now and then. As a result, she would always be late for work.

‘’It had been five years of trying, but Lukhona still didn’t have a birth certificate. Every day was a struggle,’’ she says.

Everywhere she went, Nompumelelo would seek different opinions from different people. One day she met a lady in a taxi, and she brought up the issue, it was then that the lady advised her to go to a local radio station and share her story.

‘’The radio station really helped me, I went in there without any appointment, and they quickly helped me. Soon after that, I got help,’’ she shares.

The mother of two couldn’t be any happier. She says her child can now go to school like any other kid. Little Lukhona started school few days ago. The school had refused her entry, but promised to take her at any time of the year, as long as the birth certificate issue was sorted.

‘’Lukhona and I are so happy. she has always wanted to go to school. She used to cry every single day, because she couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t go to school while her peers did,’’ she says.




How to try and live life with no limitations even when your mobility fails you

By: Palesa Matjebele

Medical issues relating to legs are quite serious; they affect both men and women, but more especially women. It no longer happen that only elderly people suffer from issues like swollen legs, arthritis and lymphedema; younger people can also develop such problems depending on the state of their health. Things like high blood pressure, heart diseases and being overweight contributes to the medical issues that may require lifetime treatment.



The lower part of the body plays a significant role in the human mobility. Bahle Nteleki, a podiatrist and founder of Nteleki and Associates, a private podiatric practice explains that the main reason why a lot of people have problems with their legs, is because the lower part of the body takes on a lot of strain with all the everyday physical activities.

‘’Because the legs carryout most of the mobility responsibility, it gets exposed to numerous internal and external factors that can cause pain and discomfort,’’ he explains.

A professional nurse, Sibusiso Zikhali says that issues relating to leg problems cannot be pinned to one specific cause. He explains that while any individual of any form and shape can develop conditions relating to legs, being overweight increases those chances.

‘’Excessive weight may result in decreased mobility. And when one is unable to move around, what started off painful heels can grow into something much more complicated,’’ he says.

Bahle lists skeletal and muscle injuries amongst some of the core contributors of leg problems, saying that they can either be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity and the early treatment method. After sustaining an injury, one may think that it’s nothing serious, but Bahle discourages self-diagnosis, saying that it can result in a bigger issue.

‘’Conditions which affect the legs can be classified according to which part of the legs is affected. The sooner the problem is medically addressed, the better chances for the patient to fully recover,’’ he says.

The expert explains that simple things like homecare grooming have a huge impact on the developing leg conditions. He says that feet also want some extra care, and a little bit of attention.

‘’At times people may exercise poor nail-cutting techniques. During the ‘bathroom surgery’, the skin and nails may get damaged resulting to infection of painful ingrown toenail.’’



Some sufferers are lucky enough to still move around as much as they want, reason being that they only have minor issues that can be managed by just applying ointments. While for those who are on the other side of the fence, everyday activities are a mission; these sufferers not only have limited choice of the type of shoes they wear but every aspect of their life is affected, they cannot stand for long due to pain or numbness. Some of the most common leg problems that take a toll on a sufferer’s lifestyle are:

Arthritis- the issue affects joints. The joints inflame, and result in stiffness, pain and overall reduced mobility.

Edema- the condition is caused when the fluid is trapped in one place, causing the feet to swell, and the sufferer experience pain and difficulty in walking.

Lymphedema- is by far worse leg condition, there’s an extreme excessive growth, there’s discoloration on the affected area, and skin gets prone to infection.

Venous Ulcer- occurs when venous valves that control the flow of blood does not function properly, as a result, causing open wounds that starts off as rash.

Corns and Calluses- the condition may be overlooked, because it’s mild in most cases. But some people develop them in multiples and under their feet, and walking becomes a challenge.



In most cases, the conditions may only be treated and managed. Because every condition is different, treatment also differs. For Edema, treatment can be done using an appropriate method where a specific issue will be managed appropriately. Pain can be relieved by the intake of painkillers recommended by the doctor, and only taken on minimal.

Swellings require the sufferer to be more cautious, they need to make sure that the legs are always protected and resting on a pillow whenever they are seating. Treatment for ulcerations is complex; Bahle says that the treatment and prescription involves identifying and managing possible predisposing factors.

‘’Ulcers require regular dressings of the wound. Patients are required to visit their podiatrist weekly for regular check-ups of chronic wounds as they can quickly complicate and result in hospitalization and or amputation,’’ he explains.


Footwear Education

People suffering from issues related to legs can’t always wear the shoes that they like, both experts advice that they don’t force things, as it may only lead to much bigger problems.

‘’There are different kind of shoes available to patient, but patients still feel like their choice is still limited in terms of style,’’ Sibusiso explains.

‘’It is not always easy to give advice to patient, because people of have certain ideas and beliefs around the type of footwear they should be utilizing,’’ Bahle adds.

With over five years in the field, Bahle had had to advice patients with the kind of shoes they should wear. For years, he has described characteristics of good footwear as:

  • Good fitting shoes. These are not tight on the toes or around heel area.
  • Spacious Toe-box. The area around the front of the shoe allows space foot all toes to be evenly spaced.
  • Sole/support. The sole of the shoe is supportive and soft.
  • Heel height. The height of the shoe is not raised but is with the same horizontal plane as the rest of the sole.
  • Heel cup. The heel cup of the shoe refers to the boarder around the back of the shoe. This should firmly hold the heel and not disturb or rub against Achilles tendon.
  • Laces and straps. Laces and straps should not be tight or pressing on the foot.
  • Material of footwear. Some footwear can consist of plastic or extremely hardened leather. This is not ideal as this may affect the skin and space within the shoe.




How menopause kills the bedroom joy for women

By: Palesa Matjebele

There is a lot said about sexual issues related to men and their sex lives, less can be said about the ones women are facing on a daily basis. The first ever study to ever be conducted on a woman’s sexuality shows that 50 per cent of postmenopausal women have serious problems in the bedroom.

The study reveals that majority of postmenopausal women find no pleasure within their sexual relationships, mostly because they experience vaginal discomfort during an intercourse due to the dryness. Dr Trudy Smith and Dr Carol Thomas, specialists specialising in women’s health say a lot of women suffer in silence thinking that there’s something wrong with them. The specialists say that there are treatments available, making the condition manageable.

“The changes that happen in the body as a result of menopause are normal, and there is no need to suffer in silence. Women need to be encouraged to ask for assistance, and not to be embarrassed. Convenient treatments are available and consumers need to speak to their doctor or pharmacist about their options,” Carol explains.

Out of the 21 percent women who participated in the research, most of them had positive things to say about the treatment, and their men were also happy about the results. Trudy says patients have an option to choose a treatment that’s convenient for them, she says the local oestrogen therapy be directly administered directly into the vagina, or patients can be given vaginal tablets, cream or ring.

“Only small doses of oestrogen are needed to treat vaginal symptoms of menopause, and the vaginal response to local oestrogen therapy may be long-lasting, provided that you take it as indicated,” she explains.


By: Palesa Matjebele

I use a taxi to work, there’s no fun in that! I’m always late, it’s just so frustrating. Firstly, there are no taxis and when you finally GET one, there’s a convoy! I just hate it all so much, I always wish I could just be the driver and press on that accelerator but I know very well that a wish is all that it will ever be. When I’m not sleeping myself through the long distance, I just distract myself from all the stress by reading all those newspaper titbits and all those adverts and billboards.

‘’Smile more,’’ ‘’ Be a friend to others,’’ ‘’Tell someone they did a good job,’’ these three phrases always  catch my eye, I’m not evil and I totally agree with what is being communicated, I mean it doesn’t kill being good to others but sometimes we over do these things. With all these things being communicated every minute, everyday, they grow on us overtime and when they do, we overdo them to a point where we focus too much on being good to others, on treating others better, and we focus on loving them better. I feel like we lose ourselves trying to be there for everyone else. We are constantly giving and giving to everyone else but ourselves!

We forget that the same lady, the same guy on the mirror also needs all that. How many times do we hear the words ‘’Be good to yourself,’’ ‘’Tell yourself, you are good enough,’’ and how many times do you tell yourself, ‘’You can do it.’’ It just never really happen, we are too hard on ourselves. We never give ourselves any credit; instead, we would rather just tell ourselves that we could have done better! I don’t know, maybe it’s just the way we are raised, we are taught everything but to be good to others.

We are too hard on ourselves, we expect nothing less than 110% and anything less is just not good enough. With all this unnecessary pressure, we expect people to be kinder, understanding and easy on us! How are they going to be easy, kind and lenient when we are not; ever heard these words,’’ Dress how you want to be addressed!’’ It’s the same thing with this kindness that we expect from everyone else, people don’t know how to treat others, they learn how to treat us from how we treat ourselves.

I always thought by being nice on myself, I would grow a big head. I always felt like ‘’Uh! She doesn’t matter!’’ I’m such a caring person; I think it just comes natural, effortless. As I grew older, I started reflecting on myself, and I started questioning my values and what I thought was a caring nature. I thought maybe I was not really kind, if I was then what makes it difficult for me to unconditionally love and care for this one person, for Me!?

Every single day I still have to convince myself that I am worthy of the same attention I give to others, all the affection I show others, all the care and kindness I give to others and all the love I give to others; all this and more. I know a lot more other people can relate, it’s okay to admit that you have wronged this person, that you were difficult on this person and that you were horrible to this person. No justifications, because then you will be able to right your wrongs.

Another thing, what if the same person we tell they are just the same as us; they are very hard on themselves, like you and I, they just never give themselves a pat in the back for any good thing they accomplish!? Then all that would be useless, it would equal to nothing, it would just be pouring water on a rock, the water never sinks in. So for us to say we are building a better loving society, it has to start with every single one of us. I have to love myself, you have to love yourself, she should love herself and he also has to love himself so that we can all come together and love each other; this way it will be effective.



By: Palesa Matjebele

It’s not easy, if it was easy everyone would do it, there would no point! Life is all about challenges and I think that’s what keeps fun and interesting. We need challenge; we need hardships to keep us going and keep us afloat. Think of it this way, how life would be like if we could all be doctors, if we could all be black or if we could all have the same body type!?

It sure would be super boring, what’s the adventure in that. Same is boring, we need variety. I know we sometimes use other people’s lives as frame of reference and it’s a problem. Everyone has their own journey, some make it too soon and too young while some have to go through a lot before getting to where they are supposed to.

Have you ever compared your life to other people’s lives? –I subconsciously did it all the time, and you know what! It’s bad idea, it brings nothing but misery, and it’s a joy killer. We are different and we are all going to walk different paths, just because we sit in the same desk studying the same course doesn’t mean that we are going to graduate and be employed at the same time. There is what we call fate, we may dream but we must always remember that we have no control over our lives, there’s a Man up there who does that all too well!

If you thought that you were brought here to chill and live like Bill Gates without having to sweat a day in your life, you need to wake up and smell the coffee; life is not about that bass. Even the bible says that we have to work, we have to sweat and we are going to have those sleepless nights while soaking our precious pillows with nothing but tears.

The pain, the tears and all the trials and tribulations are what makes us resilient; I don’t think I would appreciate money if I didn’t have to wake up at 4 am, 5 days a week and sit in front of the computer and have to deal with not so friendly sources.

Not every challenge is meant to break us; in fact, we grow through what we go through. Challenges are not meant to destroy us, but they are meant to build us into these strong beings we are. When we go through it, we may not see it, it’s only when we look back and be grateful for what we once saw as an unfair trial.

Speaking of fair and all that; I always hear people say weird thing like, ‘That’s not fair!’ and I’m like, ‘Life is not fair’. No it’s not; we just have to work with what we have. Like what’s ‘fairness’ and who said that it has to be fair! Some people are out of touch with reality, sitting there and complaining about fairness!

Anyways it’s all good! Now back to reality, we need to stop comparing ourselves with other people, it’s not worth it. It’s high time we look at improving ourselves instead of imitating others, the only competition is that person you see on the mirror. Like I won’t even deny it,  I did that almost all the time and it didn’t change much, the only thing it changed was my appearance and attitude. I would wake up ugly with eyes swollen, on top of it, grumpiness would be all up in my life. I’m sure you can imagine the ‘grumpy meets ugly’ kind of situation, horrible hey! You can’t be grumpy and ugly at the same time; something has to work for heaven’s sake.



by: Palesa Pertunia Matjebele

If countries could move in actual and not only Scientifically so where they say some weird stuff about the Earth moving at 360 degrees, then South Africa would be saved; I mean it’s so sad to wake up in a shameful country where people get fame and fortune for dancing with no undies, well if that’s even dancing! Zodwa Wabantu has gone national and on her way to Internationals after pulling a Kardashian on us; talking about dancing your way to the top…Levels!

Mzanzi is moving at a very dangerously fast pace on its quest to be a mini America, the deeply rooted valuable culture deteriorates per second as everyone now wants to be an American for some reasons, unlike in that American dreamland,you would find a 40-year-old still living under their mama’s roof and repeatedly asking that annoying same old question that goes like ‘’Ma, what’s for dinner?’’ guess it’s quite funny as you would find an 18-year-old American teenager owning their own car and apartment, while a 16-year-old in Britain is this big shot soccer player or a business owner; but my friend come back here, a 21 year old is still struggling to get past high school while a 25 year old is struggling to get a Higher certificate in some College buried somewhere in downtown, while busy saying stuff like ‘’ Oh no; it’s not yet time, I’m still young!’’ like what time ah-ah, it’s puzzling!

South Africans will amaze you with that Hollywood imitations, busy pulling some weird stunts they see on TV like slashing a cheating boyfriend’s tyre, this is Africa, ‘’bazo’k Trapa Goed!’’ jail will navigate you mama and a mugshot sure turns no one into a model! Busy posing for Instagram with clothes you wouldn’t even dream of stepping out of the house with…we see you photo-shoot models!

I guess it would be cool to sometimes wake up in China or something, just to get a break from this joke of a country where nothing good seem to really be going on, a country where stupid things make trends while great achievements are put at the backseat with no recognition, a country where a 13 year old has the right to make a choice of partner and can be authorised for a free abortion without a parent while a consensual sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 is a rape offense, a country where people strike for bizarre things like wearing skinny-jeans to school! A country where 30% is a pass rate, where one fails all the subjects and still progresses onto the next grade if their parents sign off some sort of a consent form.

Guess the brain don’t matter no more, well speaking of brains, let’s talk common sense; people don’t meet employable requirements, you know, essential things like qualifications and yet complain that foreigners steal jobs and what not, so if all citizens do not study Med cause of the hopeless 15-30 percent pass rate at Science and Maths then we should not have Doctors at all, there should be no Qualified persons because we are all too cool to be smart, apparently smart people are nerdy and nerds are weird and super uncool!

If it’s meant to be a joke then it must fall already, #MustFall as we always say; what’s there to be proud of? The fact that we broke the World record and got first place for Alcohol consumption? The fact that the very same alcohol is the cause of deaths both in car accidents or those incidents where one would get drunk and stabs the other? For the fact that the very same alcohol causes health complications onto kids whose mothers drink while pregnant? Oh, or for the fact that South African ladies can really handle their alcohol very well, come in brown or green bottle!