It sure takes a village and thank God that it does!
Yesterday I saw a neighbor that I hadn’t seen in years uMzwakhe Msane. He’s a few years younger than me and his grandmother lived next door to our grandmother.
I have shared my childhood stories with you so much that I think you might be tired of hearing them, but if you read nothing else about my childhood, read this.
It really did take a village to raise us. The five families on our block were like one. First home from the main road on Mjoka road was ours, then behind us was gogo MaCele and then Mjoka homestead. Back opposite of Mjoka is Msane, back opposite of kwagogo MaCele is kaKhulu Manyova. So basically we had Khulu Manyova, khulu MaFanyana, khulu MaHlongwa, gogo MaCele and gogo MaMkhwane (uGila) as our support structure, growing up.
One time when Jules, Ge and I got extremely ill and had to be separated from each other, the three khulus each took one and no prizes for guessing who took me… Khulu MaNyova of course. She was my angel on earth and I miss her so much.
Ge went to Khulu MaFanyana Msane and Jules with Khulu MaHlongwa Mjoka.
Back then people had hearts. People were loving and caring. You didn’t have to be a blood relative, to receive care and support. Simply for being alive, you were valued and loved.
Having lost his mother at a young age, I must say that my dad was given a lot of mothers along the way and it shaped who he became.
I also attribute my empathetic side to the women who embraced us and loved us as if we were their own flesh and blood, when they didn’t have to. I would be amiss if I don’t mention Mamncane MaMntanjani, auntie Khonzeni and auntie Phasika. They all formed the village of women it took to raise us.
Young independent mothers out there, please don’t feel like you have to be superwoman. Let the pride go and accept help from neighbors and friends once in a while. You don’t have to be it all and do it all.
When I look at all the parenting mistakes of my parents, I am even more appreciative of the extended family that helped to balance things out for me especially.
When you have strict, overly religious parents that expect perfection from you at all times, it’s fun and refreshing to have a carefree grandmother-figure to spoil you and let you be a child with mistakes and imperfections. Khulu Manyova was that for me.
When I look back at my mother’s undiagnosed and untreated depression, I am even more thankful for the time I spent with the khulus and gogos, because had it not been for them I would have grown up only knowing one way of being. The shouting, judging, harshness and abrasiveness which I now recognize as depression would have been my norm. The beatings, which wer often stopped by khulu Manyova would have been my only frame of reference for raising kids, had I not had a grandmother who didn’t believe in beating up children.
I wouldn’t know that I am lovable, had it not been for these women showing me love for no reason. These women shaped me into the person I believe I am today. I am able to embrace people’s children because they showed me how. I am able to protect and speak up for children because these women would have gone to war for me.
I want to inspire more people to be like the women who raised us. This village of love, care, compassion and selflessness must never become extinct. No matter how civilized we become, let’s never forget the village that raised us and let’s be that village to others.