By: Thanduxolo Buti
It’s the 1st of February and the temperature in Soshanguve is at its peak. As we walk around we are captured by the images of people with umbrellas. It’s so hot that even the men seek refuge under the umbrellas: while smooching what would later become my favourite summertime treat (Cool Time). For me and my friend shimmieits yet another dreadful day and the heat has been nothing but our enemy these past days. The classes are about to commence but we still don’t have a roof over our heads and in panic mode we resort to going door to door seeking help to anyone willing to take us in until we find a proper apartment. It is with the help of an old housewife who seems to know the ins and outs of her area that we would find our very first apartment. She would lead us to an estranged man who lives alone in a huge house layered with pictures of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. This was one weird house but we had no other alternative.
Having been on the search for days, the first thing we would do of course is to take a bath and to our surprise there was no hot water and no electric kettle. As if that was not enough, there were no plugs to charge our phones and in frustration we resorted to taking a well-deserved nap. I was about to head off to dreamland when my very flat phone rang and to my surprise it was my friend from the Eastern Cape. She never calls so what could she possibly want (I thought to myself)? After much contemplation I would answer the phone and what would await on the other side would be a message that would forever change my life. All she said was “I’m so sorry my friend, I know how close you were” and I already knew who she was talking about. How could it be that “She’s Gone”, we were just laughing a couple of weeks back and she seemed to be healing quite well.
Confused and lost couldn’t come close to describe the pain and anguish I was feeling. My Mother was gone and never to be seen again, she would only live in the memories that would replay like old tapes every second. I would find myself alone. How does one begin to comprehend the fall of my heroin who fed twelve children with a hawker’s wage? A woman of honour and pride, every day of her life spent tending to everyone’s needs but hers. It is through her sweat, tears, strength and perseverance that I am in this big and scary house. I wanted to do her proud by furthering my studies and going to University. Despite her never stepping foot in University she would always encourage us to go further with our studies and not settle for less like she did. All these conversations shared in the candid moments we would have almost every evening. This woman led by example sand he didn’t just preach. Her family came first before anything else in the world.
How do I move on? What’s the point, she’s gone. Can the world stop for a minute and as I take one long breath, it is then that the sea of tears would come flooding out. This would be the day I will always remember as the day I lost my hero, but how does one hold on to the memories without holding on to the pain? I can tell you it’s been quite a long journey but with time eventually comes healing. I find solace in the fact that I try in everything I do to commemorate “Nobanzi Whelemia Makopo” my fallen hero. That way I keep her spirit alive. I will forever remember her as one of the strongest and bravest women to have ever walked on this earth.