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Over the last few years, beginning with the very first Fees Must Fall protests, this country taught me that using your voice is one of the most dangerous things, especially if you have the nerve to be black, a woman and queer all at the same time. It has been apparent time and again that black women and queer people are always the first to heed any call to protest and the response is always unnecessarily brutal. It was with this conditioning that I woke on Thursday morning, stomach clutching with anxiety as I prepared to join thousands of other Cape Town citizens in the march for our lives.I’m still not sure why I decided that this particular protest would be my first or if I even had a choice, it felt like the only thing to do at the time .

 I realize some may think this is an exaggeration but the news cycle of the past week has shown us beyond a shadow of doubt that women and queer people in this country are being terrorized. The urban bible that is Wikipedia says “Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentional violence, generally against civilians, for political purposes. It is often used with the connotation of something that is “morally wrong”.” With this in mind, consider that every day you don’t hear a horror story feels like a glitch in the simulation when the opposite is supposed to be true. The statistics, If you have the stomach for it, will boggle your mind. So no, this is not an exaggeration, South Africa is a terrorist state with women, children and queer people bearing the brunt of that terror. 


So back to Thursday morning, feeling more black, queer and woman than I ever have I donned my all black fit, jeans and a T-shirt for ease of mobility, sneakers for comfort and a bandana around my wrist, just in case you know? I carried a small backpack with water and milk, again just in case. Over the past few years I have seen countless threads of how to make it out of a protest unscathed, physically at least. I have seen think pieces on what not to do and how to navigate once the police arrive so I was as prepared as I could be. A group of us managed to get a couple of hours off work to join the protests and I have to be honest, a part of me was glad that I’d be surrounded by white and white passing women. I allowed myself to relax into the illusion that their privilege would build a wall around me too because I know what happens to black women and queer people at protests, I had a plan to get out of this in one piece. 

The meeting times and places were all confused so our group decided to go straight to the statue and along the way we joined a multitude of black-clad cis presenting (mostly)white people, after all we were in the CBD. I don’t want to harp on about the people that showed up  because it’s about bloody time they got involved but it was interesting to see the way they carried themselves. So self assured, striding confidently right into the vortex which felt to them like ‘trying to get to the bathroom at Trenchtown’. Watching them, I got the sense that this was such a cool adventure for them. Not to nullify what they did by showing up but it was apparent how comfortable they were in the space, not a single white person at the protests seemed concerned that there was a group of policemen right there. Which was very interesting to me because we’d all  been shocked and disgusted by the video of the police using water cannons and other means to try and disperse the crowds just the day before, so surely there’d be some apprehension right? All the while I was making sure to hang around the crowd periphery and making sure I had an exit route in my line of vision, you know, just in case.

I want, so much, to talk about the circumstances that led us to this day, I want to get into the things said at the podium of this specific protest. I even want to speak on my own experiences but I am overwhelmed by the difference with which we navigate the world. Laugh with me, I’ve lived in this city for ten years, I should know better but here we are. I am frustrated with myself because instead of celebrating the victory of a successful protest, I am struggling to get beyond the many black, queer, women that were broken by the system versus the relative comfortability of my adventure in the fringes of white privilege. There is an unquestioned right that white people have, a right to exist and occupy space and time. A right to move through the muck with no worries about the police or government silencing them. I remember looking at my group, my friends and feeling like I was a fear monger because I’d insisted everyone have a bandana and water in case tear gas came into play. I insisted we not go into the vortex because I was afraid but I felt like a fraud in their eyes when nothing happened. 


It made me wonder if the previous day’s skirmishes happened because there weren’t as many white people striding around like they owned the road. Later on that day a black queer friend told me how a policeman had jostled them at that very same protest saying things like ‘if you fall down right now who will be responsible for your injuries?” Was that because the bulk of the crowd had left? Is this harsh and unfair treatment only saved for people that look like me? My group was so bummed out that we didn’t get to hear the president speak and I felt guilty for not feeling the same way but I remember all too well the live ammunition and lives lost at Marikana. I was more than happy to head back to work.

It took a couple of days for the ball of anxiety to unfurl in my belly after the actual protest. I kept watching the news and the timeline to see if any black women and queer people’s lives had  been sacrificed for the cause yet again. The dust has kind of settled and all we see is more violence, one begins to wonder what it will take before we see any real change.



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“I’ll meet you in the next life, because this one is tainted.” Rayaan

 The young lovers were doomed from their first meeting. In a country as homophobic as Zimbabwe how could their love flourish. It started off with stolen glances over homework, holding hands after the church service because this is what best friends do. For all they knew this is how all best friends in the world felt for each other. That hard pound of the heart at first sight, melting into the ease of familiarity, finishing each other’s sentences.

At 16, the age of exploration Tari and Helen began to push the boundaries, just a little bit. Wrapping their arms around each other’s waist instead of just holding hands. Chaste kisses on the lips instead of stolen glances over homework. It felt forbidden and delicious as first love tends to feel and the questioning looks of peers and teachers didn’t penetrate their bubble of bliss. Neither of them truly understood why something that felt so right could be a wrong but they knew not to speak to anyone but each other about it. Of course this only strengthened their bond as ‘us against the world’ became their bff motto. 

School holidays came and Tari’s mom insisted she join a tennis club and like any self respecting teenager she made sure her best friend was enrolled right along with her. That summer consisted of mornings at the tennis court and afternoons and in the back of a car as they explored more than just the new found freedom a car license brings. Long lazy drives, picnics in secluded areas and feasting on more than just the food sis Rudo had packed. 

One day it was simply too hot to be traipsing around back roads so they decided to hang out at home. No one ever bothered them when they said they were studying anyway. Caught up in the euphoria of feeling blood roaring in the head, feeling the heat rise up from every inch of skin, new and unrecognized desires, they forgot to lock the door to the bedroom and the maid forgot to knock again. In that single hard heartbeat, all three knew life would never be the same again. 

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“admittedly I didn’t foresee being so mediocre early into adulthood” Msomifaya (Twitter)

Darling Gemini

What is the meaning of life? For what purpose was I brought into this world? Every new day is exactly the same as the one before and I am so over it. Nothing excites me, the sheer monotony of it all brings me to my knees. The rainy days and the sunny days all blend into each other so much it’s hard to tell what season we’re even in but that could be the global warming they told us was coming.

Do you see that? That list line, so typical of me to veer off into a subject no one asked for to try and lighten the situation. Am I just being funny? No one knows but I have to catch myself before I do it again right now.

I am so bored Gem, bored of life, of living, of going about as if I were a robot. Did I ever tell you what a clever little sprite I was as a kid? So outrageously social, oh the pranks I pulled. I had energy and such a zest for life, voted most likely to change the world by my peers. Admittedly, i didn’t foreseeing being so mediocre early into adulthood.

Was it the trauma of not being able to live as I wanted? Could it have been all the deaths that plagued my family in my formative years? I have no answers, only more questions and honestly I am tired of being so morbid. Let me gather myself, its the weekend.

I hope you are better than I am today and I will write again soon, hopefully with a better outlook. Do something wild this weekend on my behalf darling, LIVE!

All my love

Star

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“I collect insults like war trophies”  Sanelisiwe Kene

Darling Venus

Your last letter simply shattered my heart. What a travesty this life is. Born, without your consent, then doomed to a life so mediocre and bland because you have to wear the skin and live in the way they prescribe. Oh the stories I could tell you, I’ve been through it all.

What do you see when you look at me darling? A queen? A flamboyant peacock strutting around in my all glory. Do you think I’ve always been this confident and self assured? How marvelous would it be, little duck, if we didn’t have to tuck bits of ourselves away just to make ignorant comfortable.


I remember the days when I craved my mother’s tolerance. I understood the first time I came out to her that there would be no love for me any longer. Her devotion to that white Jesus meant that she willingly discarded a child she baked in her belly for months simply because I refused to be the cookie cutter version she expected.

To some degree I am grateful for that harsh rejection. Who knows if I could have been such a phoenix had that fire and brimstone not forged my character. Of course it’s not necessary to go through such bulshit to become the best version of yourself but I collect insults like war trophies, baby, I have elevated.

So chin up, your time to rise will come. Keep at it, don’t stop, don’t quit. Better days are coming. I simply won’t have it any other way.


 Remember, always, that the family of your heart is lifting you up to the light.


All my love 

Gemini

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John’s ex wife must have been some special kind of bastard, Janet mused as she looked at the three children foisted upon her. She was young and beautiful and this was not part of the Janet Life Plan. Of course she loved John but she hadn’t really believed him when he said she had to love his kids too. Children belong with their mothers, that was just the way of the world and John was just going to have to make a plan because she didn’t plan on being an instant mother at 21. Janet debated what to make for dinner while the children continued to play outside. It had to be a healthy meal but also decadent enough to make John putty in her hands because she intended for their talk to go her way tonight. Finally deciding on sadza and pork bones she got busy.

“Eh blaz, hanzi neboys handei timbonoita one one ka tisati tabaya kuden, “ John’s friend and coworker Dennis said. They had just finished another long shift at the canning plant. All John wanted was a cold shower and an icy beer in the company of his woman and children. She would be in the middle of cooking now, he thought, with the children watching tv. That picture drew him and he decided to pass, “Nah boss, I have a woman waiting for me at home, handidi kuzonyimwa waiziya?” They laughed and said their goodbyes at the gate and John got into his car and beelined home.

The scent of food hit John right in the gut when he opened the door and as he walked further into the house the lemony smell of a clean home and his woman’s lavender settled his spirit. He’d been feeling off all day, just a little unsettled but now he was home and all was well. He walked into the kitchen where the kids where happy to see him and the sweets he always brought. The commotion drew Janet from the kitchen and when he looked up he felt a sharp bolt of electricity work its way up his spine. Shrugging it off, John walked towards Janet and kissed her lightly “Hesi mudiwa Janet,” he whispered.

Dinner was a loud and boisterous affair with everyone gushing their compliments to the chef. Janet felt a little glow of satisfaction and had to remind herself to keep an eye on the prize. After delegating Saru , the eldest at nine, to handle clean up Janet asked John to take her for a walk down the street. “What’s bothering you mudiwa? You’ve been quiet all evening” John said as they walked out the gate. Janet walked a few paces in the gathering dusk before responding ‘ Joe, you know I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you right? The thing is I’m just not ready to be a mother “John stopped walking and just looked at Janet in shock. She said rushed on to say “I know we spoke about it but I didn’t know that I would feel this way. Try to understand mudiwa, I’m only 21” John abruptly turned around while Janet was still talking and stalked home

The Life And Times :7.1

It had been several hours since the man sitting in the last pew of the hospital chapel had moved. Father Amos had been in and out of the chapel most of the day but every time he came back in this man would just be sitting there with his head bowed. He had a break coming up and decided to go and see if he could help. Instead of going up there and asking questions or offering platitudes he sat next to the man and crossed his hands. He had the feeling that nothing could be done to console him but he hoped sitting with him would be some comfort.

“Forgive me father for I have sinned” Kumbira said and startled the priest who had zoned out into an almost meditative state. “It’s been 15 years since my last confessional.” Father Amos looked up. “On this day and many days in this past month I have cursed God and I’m not sorry for it. The two closest women in my life did not get along from the day they met. I tried as best I could to build a bridge and bring about some common ground but I grew weary. As long as they were not using me to score points against each other I ignored the tension. My mother grew advanced in age and she needed care. She wanted to come live with her son but my wife was against it. We had a stranger come in to take the role of carer.

Then my mother took ill not 3 weeks ago and nearly died. Maybe if she had been living with us it may have been different. My sister came back from her self imposed exile and told me she is queer, whatever that means. She also told me of a side to my mother that I can’t comprehend. But I can’t ask her because she’s sick you know? My wife, ah Christ, my beautiful Stella. Jesus, jeez! Bloody buggering hell I’m going to kill that sonofbitch!” Kumbirai exploded as he surged to his feet. Father Amos stood with him and put his arms around Kumbi for comfort, still he said nothing. “Fuck me fuck me fuck me,” Kumbirai chanted. “ I want God to come here and fight me. He clearly has something against me because this is not ok Father. It’s not fair. Your god must come and face me so we can settle whatever the issue is. My child is dead before he even got a chance to live. My wife is barely hanging on and I don’t know how my mother is cause I haven’t had five minutes to check in on her. I can’t do this, how am I supposed to live? This is too much, how can all this misfortune fall on one man. What have I done to deserve this? Tell me! I am good and kind and help the poor. I’m a fair boss, why is this happening to me? How can I even ask Stella to live, she wanted a baby so much but that bastard, that bastard I’m going to kill him. I swear on my mother I will kill him.” He fell to his knees like the words he’d just uttered had been holding him up and now with the rant done he had no strength to hold himself up. He was sitting on the floor with his head on Father Amos’ lap, sobbing when Maria rushed in.

She rushed to his side and hugged him fiercely and tried to tug him up at the same time. “Kumbi we have to go, the doctors, they have news!”

SGK

The Life And Times : 6.4

Isaiah moved back and fell into the couch. He was shaking and he didn’t know if it was rage or fear. “What have I done?”, he said under his breath. Joyce was at the phone stand trying to speak but her sobs were making he words inaudible. Tears started streaming down Isaiah’s face and he quickly wiped them away. Joyce came back into the room and knelt besides her daughter. It was only then that Isaiah dared to look. He shuddered as he saw the limp body of Stella and he couldn’t stop the tears this time. Joyce held Stella in her arms weeping uncontrollably. Minutes later, the ambulance arrived and the paramedics attended to Stella. “What happened to her”, one of the paramedics asked although the scene narrated the events itself. The question was met with silence as was the norm for such questions in this particular house.

Stella tried to open her eyes but she couldn’t. She couldn’t sort her thoughts out either. Everything was a blur and she couldn’t quite figure out where she was. She could make out voices but they weren’t close enough for her to hear what exactly they were saying. There was an annoying beeping sound and Stella hoped someone would switch it off. The fog in her mind refused clear out and she drifted away back to sleep.

Kumbirai had spent every one of the past three days in the hospital. He had been hooked to an IV earlier because he was dehydrated and exhausted. Even then, he had refused to leave Stella’s side so the IV and an extra bed had been brought into the room. The doctors said her brain activity as good but they had no way of knowing when she would come around. A part of Kumbirai didn’t want her to wake up because he didn’t know how he would tell her the news that had shattered him. “I shouldn’t have let you leave the house”, he whispered whilst holding Stella’s hand. “I’m sorry”. Stella would be shattered and Kumbirai knew he had no idea how they’d deal with it. He remembered exactly how he had felt when the doctor broke the news to him. “We tried everything we could but we couldn’t save the baby”.

J6L