by Amogelang Senokwane
What a weekend to remember. The experience was amazing. I prayed and hoped that it would not turn into a mini pride and thank God it was not. Instead it was a weekend filled with reconnecting with old friends, love, laughter, sorrow, sharing, making new friends and learning from each other.
As for me, it was my first time ever being at the Constitution Hill. Coming to think of it, I passed it so many times when going down town Jozi, but I never, not even once, thought of going inside. Like what the hack!
I was happy that I got the opportunity to finally experience Con Hill. It was a different experience and it made me remember why I do not like anything that has to do with apartheid. It just stirred these emotions that one tries to hide all the time when you hear about how black people were treated. As much as I was not affected by apartheid, the story behind it affects me so much. I thank God for the spirit of forgiveness, even though forgetting is not easy.
While touring the Hill, I remember saying to my friends Sibahle “Steve” and Noluntu that, “I am so happy to be at Con Hill, but it is a pity I do not know where the Constitutional Court is.” I felt a little embarrassed to find out that Con Court is in the same vicinity. OOPS!! I killed two birds with one stone.
First day was hectic hey. All the information we had to know about the place. I applaud the people who work there, the gentleman who gave us the first tour (I forgot his name, sorry). All that history, he was just narrating it like nobody’s business and I cannot imagine how he must feel like having to tell the same sad story almost every day. I salute him.
Then we met a lovely, bubbly lady called Sis Nolu. She was also informative and knew he stuff. There was no micky mouse business with her. She knew the history behind the art sculptures inside and outside Con Court, the writings on the wall, the paintings, and even the carpet.
I remember when she was telling us about the ladder of freedom, one gentleman who was with our group mentioned that the seven step on the ladder might represent the seven days that God made the heaven and earth, I remember turning to Collen Mfazwe and saying, “it was actually six days but who’s counting.” Anyway, Nolu knew everything that had to do with her second home, because literally that is where she spends most of her time. Which, should be a lesson to many people, know your job, and when you do not know, do like she does, refer the person to someone who knows. Stop thinking you know it all.
We were then graced by the presence of a young Virtues’ woman called Kea, the founder of Bontle Bame. She shared her work and family life with us. Encouraging the discouraged and helping some with life changing decisions. A lot was learnt from her and other participants on that day.
We went back to the guest house, which was provided to us by a friend and mentor to many, Zanele Muholi. I made knew friends, Bathini Dambuza, Tinashe Wakapila and Velisa Jara, and reconnected with Terra Dick. We played games and watched a movie until early hours of the morning and we even shared a double bed. Yes, all five of us. Best time of my life. Day one came and day was gone just like that.
Day two was very different. We were moved into a hall type of setup. It was cold and it did not help that the power kept tripping, and heaters going off due to overloading of the electrical equipment. However, that did not damper the mood. We were on a mission. More guests arrived to share their stories, while my fellow, Faces and Phases participant; Steve shared her own story, which a lot of people related to.
We got to learn, understand and know how to help each other. Later we were joined by different mothers of young and old lesbians, who came to show support and encourage us, advise us, and let us know that we are not alone in this never ending war of love and hate from the people who are outside our circle.
I made knew friends again, I met Simangele Mzizi, Mbali Zulu and Liza Makoe (who is my laaitie). They are cool peeps hey. After the gathering we overloaded the car on our way back to the guesthouse, but who cared. We were living dangerously. LOL!!
The final day was a sad day indeed. When reality started kicking in that we are going our separate ways again. We were leaving our place of safety and a place free from judgment (even if it was only for a few days). It was also a day were it was time to share our stories, the stories that brought us together in the same place. All of us spoke from our hearts; we shared the hurt and pain from everyone who addressed us. We laughed together and cried together. A weekend well spent.
I was just saddened by how the conferences ended. Toward the end it was all a rush since some of the participants were travelling back to their different destinations using public transport and it was late at night. We did not get to hear the story of a legend Sis Lindeka, I personally feel cheated. We did not get to ask each other questions or advice each other. We missed the bottom line by an inch. That is just my opinion, do hate now.
I hope the next conference will be about the participant. I would suggest that guest speakers and parents should be accommodated with our schedule, not the other way around. It was our time and our stories; I feel we were robbed by time. Time is very important and it should be planned for accordingly. There is nothing wrong with giving people a time limit and allowing a certain number of people to ask questions. It shows responsibility and respect. May we the pioneers of Yithi Laba (even if not all) be invited to the next session where Sis Lindeka will be talking, I am certain that we would love to hear her story and hear her passion about what she does.
But let that note not discourage us. This was the first of many come and it was a big learning curve. Let it be noted in the history books.
We pioneered Yithi Laba Intergenerational Youth Conference. We opened up a gateway for those who will follow.
My special thanks to the cook my mother and mother to all Fufu.
To mme Dumse thank mama for fitting us into your schedule. To the organisers, photographers, and videographers to many to mention, thank you and God bless you all.
Pele ya pele ditsala!!
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