Losing own language is losing blackness

Image: 123RF/ iqoncept

Memories from childhood tend to be a bit crossed in places. Sometimes I put the wrong date to an event or place a person in the wrong year and/or event.

But I do believe that it must have been around 1993/ 1994 that kids my age started leaving township schools to go to town, to attend white schools.

I was enrolled at Mashupye Tladi Primary School at that time, the first school to be built in Zone 4 in the township of Seshego.

I was in standard three or four. (If you need that in grades then you are probably too young to be reading my columns).

I too had wanted to go to those fancy schools in town, but there was one hurdle. I had started school early and would need to be set back two grades to "correct" it. There was no way I would do that, and so I stayed in the township.

Looking back, I realise that that is exactly where our deep desire as black people to be assimilated into whiteness began and where we started to regard proximity to whiteness as having made it in life.

It is that very generation that started to breed children who would not be able to utter a single word in their mother tongue. Whiteness may have been an aspiration, but our assimilation to it has certainly left us worse off, in as far as being a "people" is concerned. I find that we are constantly needing to have conversations to root ourselves, because we have been so unrooted.

Take the issue of ancestors for example. The church, which is white as hell, has done an incredible job of alienating black people from the idea of ancestors. Obviously this is laughable because the church demands that we believe and pray to a dead man.

I grew up in a moderately "Christian" family, my first conversations on issues like ancestors began outside the home.

And they began because I have spent almost all of my life trying to feel again the way I had felt when my mother was alive.

I wanted to remember again how to exist in a world where you are loved incredibly and be doted upon. If there is one thing about the world that I believe completely it is that my mother loved me insanely.

What I believed was that there was no way that love could be ended by death.

But it also made me quite shameful, why was I so intent on finding my dead mother and not just trusting God? Why was I not spending that time trying to find Jesus and his dad?

But even through that shame I started to seek out healers. I started first by going to a psychic. I didn't get much there, but I wanted something that would connect me to my mom again.

And so I went to see a medium, these are the people that are said to be able to feel, hear and see the spirits of dead people. I didn't tell a lot of people about this. My father is hearing this for the first time here.

This was a mind-blowing experience.

Both had been white because I felt I had made a more sanitised choice. I hated myself for that admission.

So I challenged myself, I would find a black healer and so I did.

The experience has been rewarding. I have never felt more grounded. I don't judge Christians; people have every right to believe in what they believe in, but they must allow us our dead loved ones while we leave them to theirs.

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