By Thato Magano (@ThatoMagano)
As I was looking over the spectacular view of the manor, I realised this is what love feels like. I decided to let go, I made the change and the brace choice of saying yes to myself and the vision I have for my life each and every day and to live in an environment that supports that vision. I also realised how thankful I am for all the friends that stuck with the record and are finally seeing the tape turn and are listening to the melodious tune it’s playing now. And that is the greatest act of love I have done for myself.
As a light departure from my usual laments on the South African story, its socio-economic and its people, I am writing about something light-hearted: LOVE. I have never wanted to write a column about love, ever. Not even when I write poetry are the proses ever about being in love or being loved silly. But the past three weeks I’ve been consumed by this concept and what it means, how it develops and how it expresses itself.
I’ve always worshiped at the church that preached love as a doing word, as a verb, love as an action. But in all this time, I don’t think I fully grasped what I was saying by aligning my thinking of how love works with these adages.
Perhaps it might be that we are in that pernicious month when the lovely (read dreadful) Valentine’s Day is upon us and most of us behave as if we’ve never been loved even when there’s everyday evidence to the contrary. Yes, I know, there’s different types of love and V-day is for the romantic type and there is nothing wrong with celebrating blah blah blah but sometimes the way we go about it, I often wonder what it is all for. Anyway, I digress from why I am writing about love.
When this year started, my life placed at me two choices. I went on a trip almost five hundred kilometres outside of Johannesburg to the heart and heat of Venda and thought that I would be back home (read Joburg) in no time as it would be an unbearable long term experience. In thinking that I was taking an exploratory trip to understand what the two alternatives were offering so I can make an informed choice, I found myself on the phone three days later on a Wednesday morning with a friend making a decision that I now believe is the reason why the concept of love has consumed me over the last while.
I made the decision without realising it. It was only when I was on the phone with my friend that I realised that I had made the decision. I was choosing a life many of my peers and all of the cool kids that I know would never even dare to consider, moving those kilometres and living in what almost feels like pre-civilisation. But something in me assumed me that for this point in my life, this is what I needed.
You see, I had checked out of my Jo’burg life a while back, 2012 to be precise. I’d been looking for a way out since June of that year and at first I thought the way out was to pursue a graduate degree at a certain business school in the America’s but that fell apart spectacularly and I had to find a way of functioning within the city. I eventually did but I knew that the only way to remain sane and to see the future I wanted for myself was to find another way out. The city had become painful because a lot of my time was spent analysing the socio-economics of the black condition, particularly within the ‘debt-ridden’ middle class. I know this because I had a million rand bond in Fourways at age twenty six (that I really didn’t need) and I was told that this was something to celebrate.
I spent too much of my time decrying the black condition to a point where I think, in fact I know, some of my friends found me tedious. The economics of how we live as black people in this country are hard enough but in the city of lights, Jozi Maboneng, they are brought to the fore tenfold and I was tired of it. I was tired of being unanchored and dispossessed.
But then in late 2013, life offered me a ‘get out of jail’ card to a new world and a new life and I held on to it. With some complications, cries and frustrated moments, it took a little over a year to get to the point where I got in the car and drove all those kilometres. And not to say the time in between was wasted as some great achievements like the establishment of Vanguard happened.
Since I’ve been in Venda, I’ve come to realise how truly loving is IN doing. On my first week here, I realised that there was a gym opening up a few kilometres down the road from where I live and when I went to inquire, I discovered it is owned by a black person. My heart leaped for joy as I had stopped going to gym because my militant consciousness didn’t allow me to pay the Virgin Active membership anymore, because it meant that I was giving back more money to white capital. I also realised that the local Spar where we buy our supplies is owned and managed by black people.
I thought then this is what black heaven could feel like as a result of the joy I felt because my whole pain about Jo’burg was how we participate in an economy that does not empower us and sure you can argue Spar is a white owned franchise but the rationalisation is that in my everyday action, the bulk of the money I spend goes into the hands of a black business owner and for me that is more important for now. We will get to how he can own his own franchise business once I’m settled in the neighbourhood.
But then this past week, another thing that totally blew me away happened. I discovered a Manor nestled atop a hill on the N1 to Thohoyandou that is wholly owned by a black woman. I immediately alerted my friends and made them aware of such for weddings and all the special events we spend thousands on travelling to the Cape supporting white business.
As I was looking over the spectacular view of the manor, I realised this is what love feels like. I decided to let go, I made the change and the brace choice of saying yes to myself and the vision I have for my life each and every day and to live in an environment that supports that vision.
I also realised how thankful I am for all the friends that stuck with the record and are finally seeing the tape turn and are listening to the melodious tune it’s playing now. And that is the greatest act of love I have done for myself.