Time to learn from a girl

Time to learn from a girl.

co;ors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I looked back at her and I saw a Strong, Intelligent and Beautiful Black Girl- ’’

 

So today I had a learning moment for me and my 8 year old. You see opposite of my parents’ home there is what used to be a park.

I guess their neighbourhood is what is considered by the 80’s black middle class as a nice neighbourhood. I think mostly because it was made up of mortgaged homes, which was a rarity in the early 80’s for black people in our communities. People living in what we have learnt to learn in the new millennium as the suburbs had water inside, water flushing toilets, electricity, bathroom and red stoeps outside which was synonymous to being rich. People living in these homes behaved in a manner indicating that they were ‘better’ than the rest,

This is neither a political lesson nor a learning moment I referred to in my opening paragraph. It is just context.

This privileged living was disturbed by a group of displaced black people who built their shacks in what was zoned to be a playground, which was just opposite the so called homes for the wealthy.

This created a very big noise from the ‘wealthy’ neighbours of the suburb.

As I have said, my parents too lived in this ‘posh’ neighbourhood and they made their noise too about the intrusion. However, they were the only ones who were nice enough to provide water  for the new comers since the shack dwellers had neither water nor basic sanitary facilities. This went on until my father were the only ones my father got tired of paying high amounts of water supply and intervened for the municipality to provide water for the displaced families.

This for me was a learning moment, by my father. Not in many words but deeds.

The people are still staying opposite my parents’ home still in shacks and still with no formal toilets and still uses the one tap that my father asked. They are about 20 different typical South African households. They have now mixed very well with the neighbourhood because, eventually people in ‘exclusive’ houses saw that they are just normal people who are displaced and desperate. They are good neighbours with beautiful homes, still shacks but still beautiful. They do the best they can under the circumstances.

People who are displaced and desperate”

 

So, getting to the story.                                                                              All my son’s friends around here are from houses opposite us, I mean the shacks. He prefers playing with them because they just get him, I guess. His best friend is Nasiphi because for some reason he thinks we are related and I never said no because why? The more relatives the merrier.

The boys his age do not play with girls at all. This is a strict rule. I think they are ‘macho’. Two of his best friends are cousins Piece and Rainbow, they are raised by their granny maMpondo because their mothers died. They are very healthy and happy kids. Piece and Rainbow have two more cousins who are girls and as I have said, girls are a no no. Having said that, I do not know how Piece and Rainbow handle this complication of having girls inside their homes.

“She is beautiful”

Here is the learning moment I was coming to all along. Early this evening, as I was cooking we heard a knock. My son looked at me with questioning eyes, ‘who could that be?’. Immediately my father shouted ‘I am not here, unless it is the reverend’ My mother shouted ‘come in’ twice, but the person still could not open the door.

My son went to the door and I was behind him. ‘Viola’ it was Buhle, one of Piece and Rainbow’s cousins. Buhle asked for me from my son. I said come in girly. ‘MakaEndi (Endi’s mom) can I borrow crayons, I want to do my homework’. Ahhhh Buhle. My mother responded from the other room. ‘who let you out of the house in this cold? Why are you alone in the dark? Where are your brothers (cousins, brother are same thing here)?’

Come in Buhle I said. She looked cold and scared. I think mostly because of my son. Remember there is this unwritten code among them that they don’t play or talk across gender lines. Buhle must be 6 years old. She is beautiful, even her name stands for Buhle (Beautiful ). I brought her to the kitchen because I wanted her to forget a little about homework and not having crayons. I poured her half of my hot chocolate. We sat there and drank. This was my way of trying to get my son to talk and chill with a girl his age.

I asked him to share his biscuit and he frowned, so I insisted without embarrassing him. I opened a conversation by asking my son how old did he think Buhle was? He shrugged his shoulders. I asked again, he was getting irritated so he retorts ‘mommy I don’t know girl things maybe she is 18 or 10’. To that my Buhle responded ‘how could you not know how old I am Endi when I know you are 8 and your birthday is in October. I know you speak more than our language and that you write well than Piece but you are same age’.

“She smize”

I was also caught by surprise. Buhle is quite younger than my son but of course she has boy cousins, so she picks up these things when they speak. Buhle started opening up about her cousins and her granny and what they ate last night to how she missed her mom. She was precise in her manner yet eloquent and expressive at the same time. I had never had a sit down with her because she is so quiet. I have had one with her neighbor friend Linamandla because Linamandla always looked at me with admiration. Buhle was always with Linamand, same age girls and since they were not allowed among boys, they kept to themselves. Buhle never said a thing but Linamandla went on about my teeth and how she hopes hers will come out nicely after her mother extracted her whole mouth at the age of four. She was about five going on six. Buhle had her full mouth but she smiled only with her eyes.

When I had a proper conversation for the first time with her. I admired the way she used language even at that age. Her quiet smile and her knowing and understanding look.

that’s bravery and strength of mind

she told us about her homework and how easy it would be if she could get crayons. How she did not need help with school work. How it all comes back marked wrong when her granny helps her with it. How she would rather read a book instead of watching boys playing soccer. As she was talking, I looked at my son looking at her with both curiosity and some kind of astonishment. Because of the rule, I don’t think he has ever heard her talk too. With every word she uttered, he was curious. Almost like hooked.

I looked back at her and I saw a strong, intelligent and beautiful black girl child. When she realized that she does not have crayons, she thought to herself, the person in the neighbourhood who will definitely have them is Endi. That’s using your brains. She then decided to leave in the dark and cold winter night to ask for them, if that is not bravery and strength of mind I don’t know what is. She was carrying a knife, when I showed shocked on seeing it, she calmly said it was to cut the crayons so she leaves Endi with another piece. If that is not resourfulness and positivity, I don’t know what is. Everything about her was a lesson for me and my Endi.

After finishing my half cup of hot chocolate I asked my son to help me look for crayons. While we were looking he whispered, ‘mommy what do you think happened to her crayons’. I thought to myself, maybe this is another opportunity for my Endi to learn something from me this time. So I asked, what do you think happened? He said ‘Did she lose them?’ I asked, maybe but what if she never had them? With big eyes he asked ‘for school? Not possible mommy’. In his eight year mind it was not possible that one could not have what is required for school. ‘If I was her I would ask my mom to buy them’. I asked who her mom was. He said ‘MaMpondo’ meaning the old granny.

My son did not know sometimes there is no money for the basic necessity and that some have no mothers. I felt I might have failed him on this lesson, but then I comforted myself by thinking at least he is young. He has time to learn these things.

So I asked him about his own dad. He said but daddy died. I said so did Buhle’s mom. ‘Really mom? For real? Is it true are you just being cruel to me?’ I kept quiet but showed a very serious and a no, I am not lying face. ‘Mom why did she die?’ this puzzled me a little ‘why did your daddy die?’ He looked at me directly again with that innocence of a cute boy with no front teeth he said ‘You know it is not the same hey mom, mothers should not die, it is just not right?’ this said with some emphasis.

For a minute I ignored that and explained to him that MaMpondo is Buhle’s granny and she does not have enough money to do everything. You see you have a mother a grandpa and grandma. Buhle does not have.

He looked at me ‘but mommy anyway what do daddies do unless to carry you on their necks and teach you to pee straight? Everything is done by mothers’. I was shocked by this statement so I said but your grandpa is a daddy too? He does so much. With irritation ‘yes mom, but he is your dad and maybe he carried you on his head, but not me, he is too old’. By the way my dad is only 72 years old which means he is ancient in my boy’s eyes. After a whole second of thinking he added ’I think you are right mom, grandpas at least fetch their grandchildren from school and buy all nice things, but dads! what do they do?’. This asked with the sincerity and innocence of a boy his age. He really did not know.

It was my turn to be taught something. I looked around, most men were not working because of the economic situation and mostly women were going to work, so my son did not see the very need of daddies. With his daddy passed, he did not have much daddy experience. I must keep this in mind and try to expose him to daddies, I thought.

Having thought it over and realized that the subject of daddies role is a lesson for another day, yet I thought he needed a preamble to that lesson for later. So I told him that men were made to be providers and protectors of their homes. ‘All I am saying is that it is wrong for her mother to die, mothers should not die’ this time said with some kind of giving up. Telling him that his friends Piece and Rainbow do not have mothers would have devastated him, so I left it for another day.

We found many different colours of crayons to give to Buhle. I insisted that he gives them to her. He looked at me and said’ but Buhle knows stuff hey mommy?’ I nodded and said most girls do. ‘If you want to come play with my dog you can come tomorrow’, he said as he was handing her the crayons. I smiled and looked at Buhle’s confused eyes and nodded for her to agree. She said ‘okay if you think that is good, I can bring my English book maybe you can read for me’

Buhle is the kind of girl I love, forward and curious. She and all my son’s friend do not speak English but the boys never bother to learn a language from others but just play soccer, cricket, marbles and hide and seek, I guess they think there is plenty of time to learn a language. Buhle seizes the moment. Her granny is a domestic worker in a white people’s household, she was given this book that Buhle has always been curious about, now that she is invited to play with Endi’s dog, she takes it further. I do not think she really cares about playing with dogs but she wants to know what it is in the book. I fell in love with her mind yet again.

“She’s forward and curious”

“girls are Queens and Princesses

They all taught my son to speak good isiXhosa because coming from Joburg he spoke isiZulu, seSotho and English. I think Buhle thinks it is pay-back time.

This is the reason I want my son to be exposed to every kind of person, to learn. Everyone has something to offer another person. But I also want him to learn to share, whether it is crayons or his knowledge of the other language. I hope he is never scared of women or the rule about girls never turns them cruel and violent to girls. I instill the notion that girls are queens and princesses but it boomerangs everytime because he thinks they are fragile.

I want her to take them on as his equal whether at home, in the playing field or in books. I pray that he has more friends from different genders and races so he never has to look anyone down. That he understands the struggle and respect people that go through not having in life.

I hope to inculcate values of kindness and compassion to him. Respect and genuineness to situations and people.  To go out of his way to help. To be sensitive and empathetic. To be a good man to whomever he will marry. When he gets married if he does, because that is the choice he needs to make for himself, to be a providing and protective father to his family. While not married to be a loving and caring boyfriend to a girl and friend to all his friends.

There are other things I pray he becomes, like being good at school, excelling in sports and becoming a good musician but I think he needs to start by good value system first. As single mothers, we have a lot to do because it is us, and no one else who we can rely on to instill these values on our children.

Buhle taught us one or two things today. It was not just about crayons. They were the means to our enlightenment in a powerful way.

Thank you to the strong, brave, beautiful and intelligent Buhle for the lessons.

Blessings

 

By Namhla Mbunge (MakaEndi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I looked back at her and I saw a Strong, Intelligent and Beautiful Black Girl- ’’

 

So today I had a learning moment for me and my 8 year old. You see opposite of my parents’ home there is what used to be a park.

I guess their neighbourhood is what is considered by the 80’s black middle class as a nice neighbourhood. I think mostly because it was made up of mortgaged homes, which was a rarity in the early 80’s for black people in our communities. People living in what we have learnt to learn in the new millennium as the suburbs had water inside, water flushing toilets, electricity, bathroom and red stoeps outside which was synonymous to being rich. People living in these homes behaved in a manner indicating that they were ‘better’ than the rest,

This is neither a political lesson nor a learning moment I referred to in my opening paragraph. It is just context.

This privileged living was disturbed by a group of displaced black people who built their shacks in what was zoned to be a playground, which was just opposite the so called homes for the wealthy.

This created a very big noise from the ‘wealthy’ neighbours of the suburb.

As I have said, my parents too lived in this ‘posh’ neighbourhood and they made their noise too about the intrusion. However, they were the only ones who were nice enough to provide water  for the new comers since the shack dwellers had neither water nor basic sanitary facilities. This went on until my father were the only ones my father got tired of paying high amounts of water supply and intervened for the municipality to provide water for the displaced families.

This for me was a learning moment, by my father. Not in many words but deeds.

The people are still staying opposite my parents’ home still in shacks and still with no formal toilets and still uses the one tap that my father asked. They are about 20 different typical South African households. They have now mixed very well with the neighbourhood because, eventually people in ‘exclusive’ houses saw that they are just normal people who are displaced and desperate. They are good neighbours with beautiful homes, still shacks but still beautiful. They do the best they can under the circumstances.

People who are displaced and desperate”

 

So, getting to the story.                                                                              All my son’s friends around here are from houses opposite us, I mean the shacks. He prefers playing with them because they just get him, I guess. His best friend is Nasiphi because for some reason he thinks we are related and I never said no because why? The more relatives the merrier.

The boys his age do not play with girls at all. This is a strict rule. I think they are ‘macho’. Two of his best friends are cousins Piece and Rainbow, they are raised by their granny maMpondo because their mothers died. They are very healthy and happy kids. Piece and Rainbow have two more cousins who are girls and as I have said, girls are a no no. Having said that, I do not know how Piece and Rainbow handle this complication of having girls inside their homes.

“She is beautiful”

Here is the learning moment I was coming to all along. Early this evening, as I was cooking we heard a knock. My son looked at me with questioning eyes, ‘who could that be?’. Immediately my father shouted ‘I am not here, unless it is the reverend’ My mother shouted ‘come in’ twice, but the person still could not open the door.

My son went to the door and I was behind him. ‘Viola’ it was Buhle, one of Piece and Rainbow’s cousins. Buhle asked for me from my son. I said come in girly. ‘MakaEndi (Endi’s mom) can I borrow crayons, I want to do my homework’. Ahhhh Buhle. My mother responded from the other room. ‘who let you out of the house in this cold? Why are you alone in the dark? Where are your brothers (cousins, brother are same thing here)?’

Come in Buhle I said. She looked cold and scared. I think mostly because of my son. Remember there is this unwritten code among them that they don’t play or talk across gender lines. Buhle must be 6 years old. She is beautiful, even her name stands for Buhle (Beautiful ). I brought her to the kitchen because I wanted her to forget a little about homework and not having crayons. I poured her half of my hot chocolate. We sat there and drank. This was my way of trying to get my son to talk and chill with a girl his age.

I asked him to share his biscuit and he frowned, so I insisted without embarrassing him. I opened a conversation by asking my son how old did he think Buhle was? He shrugged his shoulders. I asked again, he was getting irritated so he retorts ‘mommy I don’t know girl things maybe she is 18 or 10’. To that my Buhle responded ‘how could you not know how old I am Endi when I know you are 8 and your birthday is in October. I know you speak more than our language and that you write well than Piece but you are same age’.

“She smize”

I was also caught by surprise. Buhle is quite younger than my son but of course she has boy cousins, so she picks up these things when they speak. Buhle started opening up about her cousins and her granny and what they ate last night to how she missed her mom. She was precise in her manner yet eloquent and expressive at the same time. I had never had a sit down with her because she is so quiet. I have had one with her neighbor friend Linamandla because Linamandla always looked at me with admiration. Buhle was always with Linamand, same age girls and since they were not allowed among boys, they kept to themselves. Buhle never said a thing but Linamandla went on about my teeth and how she hopes hers will come out nicely after her mother extracted her whole mouth at the age of four. She was about five going on six. Buhle had her full mouth but she smiled only with her eyes.

When I had a proper conversation for the first time with her. I admired the way she used language even at that age. Her quiet smile and her knowing and understanding look.

that’s bravery and strength of mind

she told us about her homework and how easy it would be if she could get crayons. How she did not need help with school work. How it all comes back marked wrong when her granny helps her with it. How she would rather read a book instead of watching boys playing soccer. As she was talking, I looked at my son looking at her with both curiosity and some kind of astonishment. Because of the rule, I don’t think he has ever heard her talk too. With every word she uttered, he was curious. Almost like hooked.

I looked back at her and I saw a strong, intelligent and beautiful black girl child. When she realized that she does not have crayons, she thought to herself, the person in the neighbourhood who will definitely have them is Endi. That’s using your brains. She then decided to leave in the dark and cold winter night to ask for them, if that is not bravery and strength of mind I don’t know what is. She was carrying a knife, when I showed shocked on seeing it, she calmly said it was to cut the crayons so she leaves Endi with another piece. If that is not resourfulness and positivity, I don’t know what is. Everything about her was a lesson for me and my Endi.

After finishing my half cup of hot chocolate I asked my son to help me look for crayons. While we were looking he whispered, ‘mommy what do you think happened to her crayons’. I thought to myself, maybe this is another opportunity for my Endi to learn something from me this time. So I asked, what do you think happened? He said ‘Did she lose them?’ I asked, maybe but what if she never had them? With big eyes he asked ‘for school? Not possible mommy’. In his eight year mind it was not possible that one could not have what is required for school. ‘If I was her I would ask my mom to buy them’. I asked who her mom was. He said ‘MaMpondo’ meaning the old granny.

My son did not know sometimes there is no money for the basic necessity and that some have no mothers. I felt I might have failed him on this lesson, but then I comforted myself by thinking at least he is young. He has time to learn these things.

So I asked him about his own dad. He said but daddy died. I said so did Buhle’s mom. ‘Really mom? For real? Is it true are you just being cruel to me?’ I kept quiet but showed a very serious and a no, I am not lying face. ‘Mom why did she die?’ this puzzled me a little ‘why did your daddy die?’ He looked at me directly again with that innocence of a cute boy with no front teeth he said ‘You know it is not the same hey mom, mothers should not die, it is just not right?’ this said with some emphasis.

For a minute I ignored that and explained to him that MaMpondo is Buhle’s granny and she does not have enough money to do everything. You see you have a mother a grandpa and grandma. Buhle does not have.

He looked at me ‘but mommy anyway what do daddies do unless to carry you on their necks and teach you to pee straight? Everything is done by mothers’. I was shocked by this statement so I said but your grandpa is a daddy too? He does so much. With irritation ‘yes mom, but he is your dad and maybe he carried you on his head, but not me, he is too old’. By the way my dad is only 72 years old which means he is ancient in my boy’s eyes. After a whole second of thinking he added ’I think you are right mom, grandpas at least fetch their grandchildren from school and buy all nice things, but dads! what do they do?’. This asked with the sincerity and innocence of a boy his age. He really did not know.

It was my turn to be taught something. I looked around, most men were not working because of the economic situation and mostly women were going to work, so my son did not see the very need of daddies. With his daddy passed, he did not have much daddy experience. I must keep this in mind and try to expose him to daddies, I thought.

Having thought it over and realized that the subject of daddies role is a lesson for another day, yet I thought he needed a preamble to that lesson for later. So I told him that men were made to be providers and protectors of their homes. ‘All I am saying is that it is wrong for her mother to die, mothers should not die’ this time said with some kind of giving up. Telling him that his friends Piece and Rainbow do not have mothers would have devastated him, so I left it for another day.

We found many different colours of crayons to give to Buhle. I insisted that he gives them to her. He looked at me and said’ but Buhle knows stuff hey mommy?’ I nodded and said most girls do. ‘If you want to come play with my dog you can come tomorrow’, he said as he was handing her the crayons. I smiled and looked at Buhle’s confused eyes and nodded for her to agree. She said ‘okay if you think that is good, I can bring my English book maybe you can read for me’

Buhle is the kind of girl I love, forward and curious. She and all my son’s friend do not speak English but the boys never bother to learn a language from others but just play soccer, cricket, marbles and hide and seek, I guess they think there is plenty of time to learn a language. Buhle seizes the moment. Her granny is a domestic worker in a white people’s household, she was given this book that Buhle has always been curious about, now that she is invited to play with Endi’s dog, she takes it further. I do not think she really cares about playing with dogs but she wants to know what it is in the book. I fell in love with her mind yet again.            “She’s forward and curious”

“girls are Queens and Princesses

They all taught my son to speak good isiXhosa because coming from Joburg he spoke isiZulu, seSotho and English. I think Buhle thinks it is pay-back time.

This is the reason I want my son to be exposed to every kind of person, to learn. Everyone has something to offer another person. But I also want him to learn to share, whether it is crayons or his knowledge of the other language. I hope he is never scared of women or the rule about girls never turns them cruel and violent to girls. I instill the notion that girls are queens and princesses but it boomerangs everytime because he thinks they are fragile.

I want her to take them on as his equal whether at home, in the playing field or in books. I pray that he has more friends from different genders and races so he never has to look anyone down. That he understands the struggle and respect people that go through not having in life.

I hope to inculcate values of kindness and compassion to him. Respect and genuineness to situations and people.  To go out of his way to help. To be sensitive and empathetic. To be a good man to whomever he will marry. When he gets married if he does, because that is the choice he needs to make for himself, to be a providing and protective father to his family. While not married to be a loving and caring boyfriend to a girl and friend to all his friends.

There are other things I pray he becomes, like being good at school, excelling in sports and becoming a good musician but I think he needs to start by good value system first. As single mothers, we have a lot to do because it is us, and no one else who we can rely on to instill these values on our children.

Buhle taught us one or two things today. It was not just about crayons. They were the means to our enlightenment in a powerful way.

Thank you to the strong, brave, beautiful and intelligent Buhle for the lessons.

Blessings

 

By Namhla Mbunge (MakaEndi)

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