My First Family Lessons

What jokers- the whole lot….I remember when my grandpa died (mom’s dad), I was at boarding school and the principal called me out of a maths class (yay) and asked me if my grandpa was a sickly man? Then said I have to go home….when I got there (gran’s house) people were laughing, I mean as if it was a comedy night.That’s my family- we are about life going on. We are a strange bunch with a lot of things fused and inter locked to make up who we are. I must say I’m extra proud, of the women in my family. Most of them have really worked hard and persevered and continue to face adversity with strength and laughter.

I’ve learnt some pretty nasty things from my family as well. The men here live as kings… I sometimes wish I was a guy. To wake up (my food is made) eat (someone washes my dishes) bath (someone cleans after me) be outside the house after 7pm (yes I’m 26 and I have a curfew). Who is talking of inequality when having breasts equals the ‘natural’ desire to wash dishes?

I like that I’ve always seen myself as a person with 6 mothers, my mom has 4 sisters and I count my gran. They have all mothered me in some way and continue to do so even to date. My family doesn’t know the meaning of ‘private’ ‘silwane sini leso’ (what’s that) everything is to be shared or told to someone, and then it becomes the new joke. I remember when I got my first patch of pubic hairs; my mom was so excited, told my gran-who then made me show her….super embarrassing!

One of my aunts recently threatened to hit her sister’s husband mistress-it sounds as violent as she meant it in isiZulu ‘ngizokugxoba’ picture a rock hitting against another –something like that. I have a ‘criminal’ cousin, if people give me problems I sometimes jokingly say ill have him sort them out (pity he wasn’t there when I was mugged).

As I’m maturing (I  hope)I am finding it easier to understand my family, for example I have a great aunt who calls me ‘umabhalane’ a clerk and she calls all people with a  degree that because to her that’s pretty hectic stuff. She gets very excited when I speak English….she is sweet. This represents a sensitive part of  my life…….my aunts complain that I don’t know enough about my culture and language and I’d like to say because ‘you never taught me’ but that’s rude so I just apologize ,take books out of the library and listen to Ukhozi fm(isiZulu radio station). I was so proud of myself when I ‘ngasina kahle’ zulu danced well at a coming of age ceremony. (It’s amazing what we can learn in a day).

My family is great for strength and laughter and everything in between these two words. If I want a pity party I do it alone or maybe with friends because my family gets on with things and I love them for that-bunch of jokers.

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