Motivation Monday: Define your Happy Place

Do you have a place that makes you feel like this fantastic vintage Drum magazine cover?
Do you have a place that makes you feel like this fantastic vintage Drum magazine cover?

Some sad news on Sunday, September 18 led me to my happy place. Weird right. As in how can the sad face, bring on the happy face? Answer: a big hit of nostalgia.

South African Kwaito star Mandoza died last night and after shedding a couple of tears I wound my way down the a slightly dusty, not-very-well-maintained path of musical memories. I clicked through a half dozen of Mandoza’s biggest hits of the early 2000s on Youtube, feeling the need to dance and laugh and cry as I remembered one of my happy places. Where is your happy place? I have many, one of them is central Johannesburg, speakers blasting Mandoza surrounded by people laughing and moving.

It’s because of Mandoza, that I became all dreamy about my time in said happy place. More specifically, Newtown, Johannesburg where I spent a year working as a communications intern.

You see Mandoza and his club bangers like Nkatkathla and 50/50 represent some of the best times of my 20s. When I lived in Johannesburg, I felt like I knew everything (I was after all a newly free holder of a BACHELOR OF ARTS). My motto went something like this:

“Look out world, I’ll sleep when I die and never ever say ‘No’ to an adventure in Southern Africa.”

I drove to Botswana solo, I frequented racy speakeasies in dodgy neighbourhoods. I also had picnics at free concerts in Mary Fitzgerald Square and reported on HIV/AIDS home care nurses in Mamelodi, one of South Africa’s largest sprawling townships. Life was exciting and fantastic and foreign and meaningful. Mandoza’s toe-tapping, raspy voiced township hip hop reminded me of all the early 20s bravado I felt in 2002/2003 and what feels like a million years another lifetime ago.

I used to yearn for my happy place like crazy when I first moved back to Canada, but now a few more happy places later, I’ve realized there are  a bunch of well defined locations on the globe where I feel maximum contentment in my heart and head. Now, Newtown – Rainbow Nation vibes and all – is but one of them.

So please by all means, watch the video above and let me say ‘welcome to my happy place: walking and dancing across Mary Fitzgerald Square to Mandoza.’

Where is your happy place? Here are a few more of mine:

Haida Gwaii

Cape Town

Jasper

14 thoughts on “Motivation Monday: Define your Happy Place

  1. What a lovely story, it’s amazing how events can trigger memories and take us back to happy places. I often don’t like to return to my ‘happy places’ because they will undoubtedly have changed over the years, and I want to remember them as they were, not as they are now. Sounds like Joburg was quite an experience for you!

  2. I’m probably not the only one who has never heard of Mandoza before (not sure how popular Kwaito is in the world), but your post speaks to how particular music can be connected to a travel memory. I was just reading yesterday a list of the “worst songs ever”, which included Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”, which is, yes, bad, but it reminded me of dancing in a club in Vietnam back in 1999 while it was playing (I remember it because we were all making fun of it). Not quite a happy place memory, but a good one.

  3. Beautiful story and what a fantastic happy place to have! Having just come back from Africa, I can totally understand the impact it has on you – and it will also be my happy place for the rest of my life!

    1. Nice! What part of the continent were you on? I loved South Africa but Botswana also has a little piece of my heart.

  4. Nice story. My happy place will be the place where I spent my childhood. But back to reality it’s Scottish Highlands, Devon and Wales.

  5. What an awesome post! I have never been to Africa but it is definitely on my list. I am so happy that you have discovered your happy place 🙂

  6. That’s such a lovely story, and although I’ve never heard of Mandoza I can really tell how much he meant to you. Your adventure sounded amazing and I’m glad you’ve found your happy place again!

  7. It seems when you first get hit with information that someone you related well to passes its a shock. But then with Mandoza you have his lyrics in your brain forever. He left his legacy and memories of your fun in South Africa forever also!

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