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We're celebrating friendships blessed by our ancestors

When the bond is strong, mates become family

Asande, Soso and Zipho.
Asande, Soso and Zipho.
Image: Lonwabo Sigabi

The abundance of gospel warning us to “be careful of your friends” is generously affirmed in African homes.

A childhood friend’s father would assert “there’s no such thing as friends” whenever asked if friends could come over. Of course, he’d rip a giggle before giving the green light.  

Retrospectively, it was his due diligence as a father to raise awareness around how toxic friendships can be, especially over investing in ones with little to no reciprocity. I could go on an entire tangent on how this lesson has proven transcendently relevant.  

There are, however, rare occurrences when you meet and make friends with people who create and restore faith in the divinity of friendship. A recent interaction with friends and acquaintances reminded me of this said divinity. Walk with me...  

A few weeks ago we welcomed my amazing friend Soso to the "Dirty 30s". Wow, even I can’t believe I'm suddenly welcoming people to the third floor! Backstory, we met and belonged to a mutual friend group at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape and have since maintained an impervious bond. The group was much larger but Soso, Asande and I are its surviving members; you know because "there’s no such thing as friends”.  

I want to say we are bound together by our individual connections to the Dlamini clan. Soso’s late mother was uMadlamini, like mine and Asande’s maternal grandmothers.

On the morning of Soso’s formal birthday lunch, I saw her mom in a dream, dressed for the occasion, colour schemes and everything. This told me that since her passing she’s been an omnipresent guardian, watching and protecting over her daughters. I knew that we had her blessing for fun to be had and her youngest daughter to be celebrated. We obliged, and fun was had.

It also told me that she has been watching tentatively over the friends that her daughter has kept and that I was privileged to have her child and her family in my life. This is because guardians do not just show themselves to anyone, it is a gift, a blessing. The blessing translates further when I consider just how much of a gift and blessing her child has been throughout the varying seasons of my life since befriending her. Usebenzile Dlamini.  

Madlamini’s visit also affirmed value I had witnessed early in my friendship with Soso – that is to be her friend is to be acquainted or familiar with her family. Her family knows us, she’s brought them around us and us around them. I think this is important in any genuine friendship. Please invite your real friends around your family if it is safe.  

The soirée was held in her hometown eQonce (King William’s Town). She and her sister, Khosi, welcomed and accommodated us – her friends living in different parts of the country. Upon arrival, I felt such a warmth and sense of being welcomed, I felt loved.  

I was overcome by a strange feeling of nostalgia as though we were visiting relatives in the multitudes as cousins and sharing whatever little sleeping space was available. And true to form, I crawled into a double bed with Asande and another friend Tamara. It was childhood again! On the other hand, I felt like I was in varsity again and it was just another Friday night out. Nostalgia! 

We turned Khosi’s house into a sorority because we all did our make-up, prancing around comfortably half-naked. It was as though it were a gathering of the goddesses. I joked that we looked so beautiful we deserved to be seated beside Pharoah. 

We made our way to Mpongo Nature Reserve, where we held a formal lunch with speeches, the whole shebang. Soso’s older sister held an opening prayer that I am certain touched all of us. The familial speakers painted a picture of resilience and concurring hardships in unity with family.

Their dad, Mr Yankey of SA, as they fondly refer to him, spoke of the hardships of losing a wife but still standing tall because he had his daughters as pillars and vice-versa. The importance of turning to one another as family in times of hardship as well as embracing the community that each of you have outside family was affirmed. The right friendships matter. 

Returning to Cape Town, where I live, I felt entirely revitalised because of the quality of experience. I felt as though existing in Soso’s world united me with some very powerful and educated black women who are making strides. I felt recharged and loved.  

My faith in protective, soft and nurturing masculine energies was also restored.  My divine feminine energy rejuvenated.

Thank you, Soso. 

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