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By: Mduduzi Nhlapo

Mduduzi Nhlapo

For me this is a wide topic, a topic I don’t think literature can capture justifully but for the purpose of imagery and all other devices that literature captures, I want to help you see things my way. However I don’t promise this can be done in 500 words. Three names come to my mind when I think of what this word denotes, even with its connotations I think I could still conclude on these three names. Bonang Matabane, Sibusiso Mnisi and Stanley Motjuwadi. The word friend is not even fitting as experience, sacrifice, love, support and care have graduated these gentlemen to brothers. I will make reference to other amazing individuals I share great friendships with but for the greater part of what I have grown to define friendship for myself to be…these are the pioneers God has purposed for my life.

From these gentlemen, I received love beyond themselves but they sold the person I am even to their families. Never have I seen what I knew to be strangers in their immediate families become so welcoming and adopting of a foreign blood type to their own as these families did for me. By each of these guys’ mothers, I was treated like an equivalent of the immediate  son. Should I call this my dedication to the three legends in my life?

Stanley Motjuwadi I will always see as the planter. When for the latter years of High School I behaved like an obstinate teenage boy, I always had this young friend I found in primary school who appeared to be too old for his age. Always telling me to stop this and stop that. This young man who always reminded me of my sinful ways. I was a churchgoer so I knew what sin was, and so he appropriately found me to qualify for that criteria. Stanley always preached to me, he challenged why I called myself a Christian but found pleasure in heathen ways. He invited me to his church, especially when he was preaching there. God knows he used to irritate me at times with his sermons but I knew it came from a deeper place. It was love and care based. He had found a greater purpose and wanted to show me the light too, so he planted a seed as the word of God rightfully appoints us all to do. And this he did with love to an extent that when I got born again, two years after leaving high school, it all made sense to me. All those things that made him ‘’too deep’’ a few years ago became clear to me. Grace, faith and righteousness, only then I got it. I will forever thank God for sending that angel in my life. He made my early days of Christianity much easier. I was so prepared by Stan for this walk that I am still on, and even though the wheels have turned so hard to the extent that I am now the one trying to plant that same seed he diligently planted with me in him, I still love my friend the same way he loved me beyond transgression. Here is a quote from ‘’Stan the man’’ that I will always live by: At the time when I was in the midst of bad company and acting in contrast to my true character, Stan said…”Mdu, separating yourself from low-minders is not pride but purpose. You need to stop wasting your potential and maximize it’’

Then there was an individual that started off as an enemy. In fact, at some point he almost took my girlfriend away from me physically because emotionally she was already lost to him. Bonang Matabane. I call him the motivator. That is one individual who honestly and truthfully believes I am capable of anything, at some stage that was negative but now its positive. Bonang is always the guy to remind me who I am, what I can do and what I can be. That boy believes in me so much it scares me at times. I used to think that he was just being a supportive friend hence, merely fulfilling his duty to be there for me until I received a text message from his mother one day disclosing how much I mean not only to her but ‘’Bones’’ as well. When, on another day, we were at Wits together trying to enrol for our future courses in ‘’big school’’ and she fought all the way to the Deane’s office just for me. That’s how much Bonang and his mother, who is a lawyer, believed that I’m meant to be a lawyer myself. Each time I have doubted my ability to pursue this, I believe God has brought ‘’Bones’’ in my life to remind me of my purpose. And of all my three brothers I think this is the one I’m sensitive of the most because he acts the toughest and we all know what that usually means.

Lastly, if you know me you know this chap. Whether you have met him or not, you must have heard of Sbu Mnisi. Also known as ‘’my twin’’ and when people really want to get creative and edgy, he is sometimes referred to as ‘’my soul-mate’’. The better part of my life and days I spend with this monkey. This guy and I, sometimes along with Bonang, have done the craziest things. The best times of my life I have experienced with this boy. People sometimes ask, why are we so close and my answer is constant: Sbu and I are able to do the things we do and be the way we are together because we have established this friendship in and on Christ. We have taken care of that first and I believe it is Christ who allows us to be mad together without sacrificing the substance on which we are strong. Without Christ as the centre, there is no ‘and mdu’’. Sbu and I can argue and resolve in one breath. He is not my fan and I am not his, what he needs to know, I will tell him and vise versa. I am his brother and I say and do out of care and love. Sbu and my queen(my mother) are the two most important people in my life.

I would do anything for my boys, including my girl Nombuso, Kgamane, my cousin Dumisile and other individuals who are famous enough for me to make mention of. I am forever grateful for these individuals that God has blessed me with. It has been a huge investment in who I am today and will be tomorrow. These people show me nothing but love, care and support and that’s what friendship is to me. I put them first.

Yours thankfully