Still I Rise: My biggest fears are…

By Lindiwe Dhlamini

I need peace!

More than anything in the world I just need peace and there is only one way to get it. As I grow up I realise that life deals us a bad set of cards every now and then and they differ depending on our lived experiences and the intersections of our struggles. Some may argue that you have a choice of how wisely you play however more often than not, some people do not have a choice. The latter way of thinking makes me feel like I am being complacent with a lot of things that I am struggling with and, in turn, deciding how to put them down to paper. At the same time, how do I write everything I want when I have so many fears of what the outcomes will be?

One of my biggest fears is that I do not want to use the ‘Still I Rise’ journey as a way to justify anyone’s actions, especially those who are directly involved. Also, I do not want to appear as a person who is writing to lambast Blacks in public and family members at that, that’s just not who I am.

Moreover, the last thing I need is to be untrue to myself because it will mean that I have wasted my time leaving my studies, Injabulo Projects, friends, comrades and the chimurenga in search of pseudo healing. I fear that, if I am not completely honest with myself and those involved it means I have compromised the one thing I need more than anything in the world and as I said in the beginning…

Peace.

I am very scared of what lies on the other side of all the fears that I have but, at the same time I am looking forward to what the future holds.

The ‘Still I Rise’ journey is very personal, and as it’s been said; ‘personal is political’. Some of you are probably wondering why I don’t go to therapy like most people. Well, I have tried therapy approximately 6 or 7 times but it never worked. Also, it is a ‘class issue like one of the comrades would say. Or maybe it is because this journey needs to be shared publicly with hopes that it helps someone out there.

As much as I am scared of how the world would respond, what does it mean for me to be silent? To silence myself? What if I could be helping someone out there who might have gone through something(s) similar? I have questions that may never be answered and maybe I will find the answers along the way.

When I left Cape Town in search of peace I did not know what I had to do it in order to get this peace. All I knew is that I had to take a step forward in search of this peace. I have been battling with how much of this journey to share with the people who are following ‘Still I Rise’. At the same time there is burning fire inside of me to just spill it all out, as honestly as possible.

Since my arrival at my first destination, I have been asking myself the question, where do I start? I thought to myself; it does not matter where I start, all that matters is that I start somewhere. When I published the first article I was worried that I will be called all sorts of names because of my colorism issues, depression and changing my name etc. but, now I do not care what people think, this is about me and the peace that I so long for.

As stated in the previous article; changing my name is linked with a hurtful and shameful past that I had kept hidden. Some things have been concealed for over two decades. I believe that the universe does whatever needs to be done in a person’s life at the right time, thus dropping all the important things in my life to embark on this journey because my soul is not at peace and the universe wants to fix that. Lindiwe carries a lot pain, shame, and now that I find myself at this point where I am ready to open up about it, I am fucking scared I will not lie. I am lucky that I have a supportive family and friends, further, the new found mentors and all the wonderful people that the universe has brought into my life to keep me strong and encourage me to continue no matter how tough it gets.

Meeting my mother: the beginning of the journey

The first, and biggest task of embarking on this journey was to talk to my mother whom I had not spoken to in many years, nine to be exact, following that on and off for two years. The reasons for our estranged relationship are plenty, and I am being cautious not to appear as if I am lambasting and shaming her. After all she is still my mother and I love her.

She is a strong Black womxn who made mistakes in life. No one is perfect.

I never really got to know my mother and have that ‘mother-daughter’ relationship like most of my friends and I have always envied that. At times I would be angry at my friends when they would backchat their mothers, telling them they have no idea how lucky they are to have their mothers present in their lives. After the first nine years of not seeing my mother, at school it was very hard hearing other kids talk about their mothers. I remember in grade 8 when people would ask me about my mother, I would tell them ‘she had died’. As bad as that was of me, it was better than having to explain where she was, because I myself did not know.

The 22nd of April 2016 is a date I recorded as one of the milestones of ‘Still I Rise’. It was the first time I had seen my mother since a particularly intense conversation. Our last conversation over the phone had ended with “do not ever call me again, I will call you when I am ready” and I was overwhelmed. This caused a major anxiety attack.

After speaking to her and letting everything off my chest I felt like I removed a huge weight from my shoulders. I feel that speaking to her now, during a time where I have been working with womxn and children’s issues for a while and understood better that as Black womxn we are dealt a bad set of cards, made it easier for me to open up cautiously without doing more harm than good. I was able to look at her as my mother, a Black womxn who made mistakes and did whatever she could to survive.

One of my fears is that some of the things that are going to come out are going to be triggers to a lot of people and I apologize in advance. I have already been receiving messages from dark skin girls who said the first article reminded them of how they were treated growing up because of their dark skin tone. But, silence is no longer an option for me because silence means complacency and that ship has sailed. Pity it didn’t leave with the 1652s.

For more of the series click here.

Lindiwe Dhlamini is a Fallist, social justice activist and a student at the University of Cape Town currently studying towards a postgraduate degree in Gender and Transformation at the African Gender Institute (AGI). Lindiwe is the Founder and Director of Injabulo Projects an NPO that conducts an Anti-Bullying project in high schools, an Incest survivor project and LGBTIAQ+ support project.

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