You are the woman who gave life to me, the woman who brought me into this World, the woman who raised me, nurtured me, fed me, taught me and disciplined the hell out of me when I got out of line (more often than not).
No words can even begin to express how grateful I am to have such an amazing woman like you in my life.
Mum, I hope you know that I am here solely because you are here. Mother dearest, I am, only because you are. I have always and will always love you, that is a known fact but to be honest, as a child I never completely understood you.
You were always the strict parent, you always took the role of bad cop, you were always the one with the wooden spoon in hand (“spare the rod, spoil the child” they say..). There were multiple occasions where we would argue, disagree and fight, and at the time, my arrogant, self-centered, naive little self was far too busy rebelling to realize that you had so much more pertinent issues going on in your life and I’m truly sorry for that.
When I was young all I was concerned about was being ‘cool’ and doing what all the other ‘cool’ kids were doing. My friends had a massive influence on my life and a large part of my childhood was spent trying to please all those around me. As much as I had a strong sense of who I was (I have always prided myself in this), I was still very susceptible to my peers and you were well aware of this, as you silently watched me grow up.
Seeing through all my mischief and playfulness, you and Dad knew exactly what I was capable of and you continuously pushed me academically and I am really grateful for that. It is because of your tolerance, belief and trust in me that I blossomed into the intelligent young man that I became after leaving primary school.
My high school years were a roller coaster ride for the most part. Even though I desperately wanted to go to a school closer to home (with the rest of my friends), you were still very adamant about sending me to boarding school (in a land far far away…). At the time I never understood why, but now as I write this article alone in my Cape Town apartment, 1700 Kilometres away from home, I get it.
You have been building me up from day 1, carving out my future, always keeping my best interest at heart, even at the times where I thought that you were doing the exact opposite.
If being away from home along with crashing headfirst into puberty wasn’t bad enough, when I was in grade 9, 2006 I also saw the departure of my father, who was and always will be my hero, my idol and my best friend. I still remember the day when you told me that he was leaving the country to go back to Tanzania. I cried tears of pain and agony that day, a day that I’ll never forget. I was angry, I was sad, I was mad, I was frustrated, I was pissed off at the world. This was easily one of the lowest points of my life, and to this day I am still left with so many unanswered questions.
It was a very dark time for me and nothing seemed to make any sense whatsoever. As confused and lost as I was, you still stood strong whenever I looked in your direction, never did you show any signs of weakness despite the fact that at the time you were probably as confused, if not more, than I was. I acted out on many occasions over the next few years, as I struggled with my own demons. Drinking, smoking, coming home late, not coming home at all, getting locked out the house, getting mugged (because I was high out of my mind) and even once going to jail (it was just a holding cell, for the record).
Looking back at it all, it is quite clear that I just wanted to be away, away from the pain, away from the memories, away from my thoughts, away from my feelings, away from my reality. I honestly struggled coming to terms with the fact that Dad wasn’t around anymore, and I’m really sorry for taking out my frustrations on you. It was very inconsiderate and selfish of me, especially considering the fact that you were now left with a whole family to raise on your own and an entire life to rebuild from the ground up.
I really don’t know how you did it Mum, honestly I have no clue. In hindsight it really seems like it was in plain view all along, but somehow your brilliance was hidden from me throughout my childhood, it is only recently with age, that I have come to realize that you managed to hold everything together while you were fighting your own battles, climbing your own mountains and waging your own personal wars.
How one woman can raise a family of 5, go through a separation after +25 years of marriage, start and run her own business in a foreign country, put her kids through the best schools and universities, find time to entertain 7 (at the time of writing) energetic grand kids, continuously support her entire surrounding community and still manage to stay sane, loving, caring and extremely humorous throughout, is truly beyond me.
To you Mum, I pay homage. You have shown me how to be strong, focused and level headed regardless of what the world thinks of me. You have taught me how to care for myself and those around me, you have taught me the importance of vision and constantly working towards one’s dreams, you have instilled in me the desire and ambition to succeed in my own life while still prioritizing the uplifting of all those that are around me.
Your life is the epitome of self-sacrifice, love, discipline, determination and all-around faith.