Friday, March 21, 2008

Dear Mummy

Sawubona Make.

Forgive me foza, for writing this in English. Not only am I cc'ing many non-SiSwati speakers in this letter, but I am a victim of my surroundings, where I have sadly learnt to think in English and read more English in a day than I eat pap and borewors. I do promise though, that someday soon I will write to you in um-free, like-free, free flowing SiSwati. Can you believe how long it has been since I ate a nice succulent, perfectly marinated, open-fire cooked, sizzling, juicy peace of borewors? It is almost illegal. The things I would do to have that for all breakfast lunch and supper! Atleast I still have my mama to welcome me home with a braai complete with salads (real salad, not leaves put together on a dish) and fanta . Maye vele naleFanta has been versatile lately, remember when it was just Orange. Where did pineapple cherry and grape creep in? Unbelievable. But we have to accept it right? Change. And that is the subject today, of my letter to the most admirable woman I have ever known.

25 years eh? How does it feel? How does it feel to have known me since I was negative 9 months? To breastfeed me and watch me develop into a jolly girl (I was jolly), and to an imperfect young woman? What are the fondest and worst memories you have of our 25 years together? Remember the time you used to beat me atleast three times a day with a yellow plastic belt (where on earth did you get that monstrosity), or when you encouraged me to run away and but gave me the home phone number incase I felt like returning? How about the first time I learnt to talk, what was my first word? What was my fifth? Im sure it was "chicken". Remember when I first learnt how to cook? The day I came home from the usualy long day in school and made the most horrible, saltiest chicken stew that man could dare to taste? And yet you coached me on, and you forced yrself to dutifully swallow half-cooked rice and salty chicken with half a bottle of cooking oil with a smile on your face. I enjoyed the cooking lessons that came after that, and I am now proud to say my stew is lekker! And it has a decent amount of salt.

Did you ever imagine what Id look like? When you studied and taught in the US, did you ever picture me studying here? What were your dreams for me? What do you think of me now? Tell me again, the story of when I came home one day with no uniform, no schoolbag, no socks and no shoes. Did your jaw handle the drop? What about when I saw your first tear? When Mandela came out of prison, holding hands tightly with Winnie. You gave me a look of courage, and helped me develop a spirit of perserverance. You would never let me fail, even if I did. And how come you always favored my brother in our fights? First of all, he was the one that started everything, so of course me I had to burn his clothes. Where do you get your ideas from? How do you manage to raise your children with such grace?

The world is different now that we dont live together during the year. I am witnessing a presidential campaign between a black man and a white woman, I am learning everyday about my responsibility as a young (I am young) Swazi woman in this fight for survival, where we can't just think about our own survival and then turn on the TV and call it a day. I am learning more everyday, what it means to love, to care, and to be concerned, with my name nowhere in the picture. I always remember your quotes, your funny statements and your looks that say a thousand words. Many of our friends and relatives have died of AIDS, thank you for always letting me know that "the power of the mind and your faith in God is way bigger than anything you will ever see". We take small steps, but I assure u, Mama Fakudze ... that we are getting there. If we get there paralyzed and beat down, we still are. Thank you for teaching me that we can always change. Ourselves and our situations. Mostly, ngiyabonga for teaching me that we can change with grace and style.

It is hard to imagine a woman that is beautiful, an overcomer, hard-working, God fearing, most loving, holding 3 fulltime jobs of motherhood, marriage and education, continously smiling, always cracking jokes, fierce, calm, a dreamer all in the same package. It is hard to think how you raised 3 very different children and 3 grandchildren (none coming from me in a while jo) with the same morals and principles, how you know when to talk, when to listen, when to cry, when to smile, when to scold and when to comfort? I can't possibly think there is a woman out there that fits my description of a "powerhouse", a woman who, just by existing, will get me out of many troubles, talk in my head and tell me the truth even when it hurts. And yet, that woman found me in 1983. That woman is you.