2013 May 30: A woman, a mother, a teacher, (a lesbian)

All of who I am.

by Silondiwe Mathebula

I am a woman form a very rural, cultural background of the Zulu clan in South Africa.
A clan  with a rich history of kings like King Shaka and Cetshwayo; history that is noted all around the world. Zulus  /amaZulu are warriors, heroes, they are cultural and they stay true to their roots. This means as a woman from this clan you have to know your role as a woman. I will give more clarity on this. The role of a woman in this case is getting cows paid –  ilobolo for as you are married off to a man. You become a wife, bear children for your husband, stay home and take care of those children and your mother in law.
But what happens if one goes against these norms and pursues a different way of life, a different way of love, a different way of living?
It’s simple you get labelled the black sheep of the family, you have defied the rules and roles of culture, you are considered an outcast, an embarrassment.

I was raised well so all my life I knew that the right thing to do in life as a woman is be attracted to the opposite sex. As I reached my teens, peer pressure pounded on me, all my friends were dating guys and the cutest boy in school wanted to date me. I bended to the pressure and suppressed voices that I could not understand in my mind and in my heart that constantly crafted thoughts about other women and how it would be like to hold them in my arms and do things that lovers do. These were suppressed throughout my high school life at boarding school. Three years after high school I found my ego still battling with my ID and my super Ego trying to help me find the balance. My ID yearned for women right here and right now, my super ego wore an angel ring around her head and reminded me of all that I was taught at home around the fire when my grandmother told stories of princes and princesses like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. It reminded me of Sunday school scriptures that spoke about Adam and Eve and the religious education I found at school that ensured that we know the heaven and the hell, and that if you do wrong you shall burn for all eternity. I went with my super ego and I met someone, a man. I convinced myself that it is all in the mind, I can do it, I am very much capable of loving him.

Five months later there was an embryo attached to the walls of my endometrium in my uterus, there was a heart beating, life was being threaded together inside of me. Through all the confusion and sleepless nights of praying, blocking back tears with my thumbs, I chose to keep my baby. Now I was going to be a mother to a very beautiful son. My yearning for women never stopped because now I knew how it felt like to be with a man. (Some people still confront me and tell me that he was not a real man, you should have got a real man, and then you would not want women). My yearning rather grew more because I knew there was a side of me that wanted me to explore and embrace. A side of me that is colourful. I accepted my fate and told my mind to let it be and allow my heart to love however it wants to love. It was the tensest, emotion filled, and most difficult journey I had to take.

Questions that kept on being thrown to me after it was known that I am a lesbian were: “you are a beautiful woman, why do you want to waste yourself and your time with other women.” And the most predominant ones were: “you are a mother, you have a child which means you know a man, and so how come are you lesbian?
How are you going to raise your son?
Should he call you Mom or Dad?
You are also going to make that child to be gay.” At the beginning, I never knew how to answer these questions, now I tell them, “my parents are straight, but they never raised a straight child.” I also tell them that being intimate with a man and having a child does not pacify my emotions because my emotions do not reside in my lower part of the body but they reside in my heart.

I love wearing pants, I love shopping in the men’s section, not because I am trying to be a one but because those are the clothes I feel comfortable in.  At times I use to try as much as I can to hide my dress code when I go home, I would wear skirts and pretend to be what I am not. And people would be telling me that I will confuse my child and the people around me. It was not until I first created a safe space in my mind to accept myself that I was free to be who I am and embrace who I am anywhere and everywhere even in the community that abominated homosexuality in the name of religion and culture.

Now I am a student teacher, at one point I was told by my university lecturer that when I go for my teaching practical’s I have to “look like a teacher.” She continued by saying that I must not give wrong impressions to the learners because my job as an aspiring educator is to instil good morals in children. For her looking like a teacher means I wear skirts and high shoes and “look like a woman”. I did that in my 1st year at university until I had conversations with myself and asked why I have to put on a façade in the classroom, pretend to be who I am not.
What will happen one day when I am a qualified teacher and I want to marry a woman, do I continue lying and say my wife is my roommate, a sister from another mother?
Rev Ecclasia De Lange who was an ordained pastor of the Methodist church in Cape Town, was expelled from the church because she chose to come out to the church as a whole and openly say that she wants to marry a woman. They criticized her of intending to impose her views on marriage equality and homosexuality on the entire church community.
As a teacher I also face such accusations. Parents say that they will not have their children taught by a lesbian because it will make their children think it is a right thing to be a lesbian. I argue and say I teach their children better than the straight teachers. My sexuality does not have anything to do with my profession. I know a friend who teaches at a catholic school, she stays with her partner but she says that is her cousin.

For how long are we supposed to lie, suppress our voices and feel that we are outcasts?
It is about time we speak about who we are.
I am complete, I am an African woman from the southern parts of Africa who hails from a Zulu clan, I am a mother, I am teacher and I am a lesbian. If I eliminated one of these from me then I will not be me.  I will be living a lie to please the world that thinks they are the Gods and hold rights of plotting my destiny in the palms of their hands. I want to be free. Let me speak, let me live, let me love, let me teach.

*ID = identity

About the author

Silondiwe is a proud lesbian mother, university student, poet and writer.

Silondiwe mean we are preserved. My grandmother gave me that name because my mother was not married when she had me. So if I was going to be born out of wedlock, it meant I was also going to be taken as my granny’s child, so she named me.
My mom said that my grandmother believed that great things are going to come through me,  and I will grow up to be a strong responsible woman and take care of the family. So through me balondiwe

This entry was posted in Community, Creating awareness, Education, Exposure, Family, Gender naming, Institution, Intellectualism, Johannesburg, Know Your SA Queer History, Life Stories, Networking, Organizations, Praying, Professional black lesbians in South Africa, Readings, ReClaim Your Activism, Records and histories, Relationships, Secrecy, South Africa, Visual history is a Right not a luxury, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Women; Voices; Writings; Education; Traditions; Struggles; Cultures, Youth voices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to 2013 May 30: A woman, a mother, a teacher, (a lesbian)

  1. Ramazan Ngobese says:

    ID=IDENTITY powerful lines eish yazi nami ngifunde lukhulu course @ home I always lie about my Identity thanks a lot Silondiwe Mathebula

  2. TPeachezZ says:

    Can Relate In So Many Ways!
    Have To Say…Very Powerful And Inspiring!

    • Poetic Butterfly says:

      thank you for reading. im glad that my story is not only mine, it helps me too to know that there are people who can relate to me and get inspired. it keeps me writing more.

  3. TPeachezZ says:

    Can Relate In So Many Ways!
    Have To Say…Very Powerful And Inspiring!

  4. lesegokk says:

    thank you sister

  5. Zama says:

    Wow!!!! This is a true story,a real deal.

  6. rea says:

    wow…. so proud of you friend…

  7. Reblogged this on butterflythepoet and commented:
    this is one of my first articles / short stories. i write poetry a lot, i suprised my self when i started writing lately. this is the first of the stories about me in the quest of finding myself and accepting myself. i am still going to write more until more things become more clearer. it does not end her..

  8. clear peaceful mind says:

    Story of my life. Thanks for sharing

  9. Pearl Mali says:


  10. LeeCute says:

    Awuuu this is some deep stuff right there mngani, you are a good writer keep up the good work.

  11. inspiring and well written..keep up the good work,would like to read and engage more to your ‘writings’

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  14. paulakey245562841 says:

    I am many miles away, across the ocean and in the land of ice and snow. I have been a white lesbian teacher in a Roman Catholic school. I taught the Gospels and used the Good Samaritan Parable to illustrate that the most despised in His society (Samaritans) could be the hero of the Parable. I had to hide my sexual identity for over 30 years. Now, I am free to annouce to the world that I am a happy married lesbian. We each have a story on the path of human existence regardless of our race, religion or skin colour. We are all God’s children. Love to you all from Canada. I have a website stories4hotbloodedlesbians.com that celebrates lesbians world wide, their history, their happiness and global issues confronting them.

  15. Pingback: South African Woman/Mother/Teacher/Lesbian

  16. phoebie maseko says:

    Its hard being butch and a mother I’ve seen a partner go thru hell with it

  17. Thobeka ngcobo says:

    I love thandiswa mazwai with all my heart,i love afro soul,i am a lesbian who is a mother to be and the father is gay lol,its such a blessing to me,i never thout it could ever happen,am 19 he’s 24,am studying law and he studies education,we’re both at the university of zululand..our dream is to be a family but still embrace our homosexuality.am proud of us n thumbs up to you thandiswa…always had a crush on you girl,i am the femme by the way

  18. I rarely leave responses, however i did some searching and wound up here 2013
    May 30: A woman, a mother, a teacher, (a lesbian) | inkanyiso.org.
    And I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you do not mind.
    Is it just me or does it seem like a few of the remarks appear
    like they are written by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are writing at other sites, I’d like to follow anything fresh you have to post.
    Could you list of every one of your social pages like your linkedin profile,
    Facebook page or twitter feed?

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