We celebrated Africa Day on the 25 May and it just really got me thinking for the longest time I never truly embraced my Xhosa heritage. I battled with this for the longest time. I recall a time when I was in grade one and my best friend Tegwin use to suck at her stringy blonde locks during class and I found this weirdly fascinating. For as long as I could remember I always wanted to be like all my Caucasian friends, to tell you truth I was the only black girl in my group of girlfriends growing up. The words ‘coconut’, ‘oreo’, ‘white girl’ followed me wherever I went.
The way I spoke my own language was never good enough for the black children in my school, they assumed I was better than them, more privileged because I did not live in the township and they had a problem with the fact that I was picked up by my grandmother from school every day.
Even when I look at my former dating life the very first boy I ever had a crush on was Steven and my best friend had a crush on his twin brother Kyle. Tegwin and I would sit on the playground talking about double dating the twins, where we would go and what we would talk about. The only time I really knew I was black was when my aunt refused to buy me jelly shoes and opted to get me leather shoes instead, going back home from school really put a lot of things in perspective for me, but I still battled to fit my culture into my everyday life.
I was the biggest fan of the spice girls and whenever we would play Spice girls at aftercare my friends always insisted I be ‘Scary Spice’ and I would plain out refuse or I would sit out and watch. I was not willing to be the black girl in the Spice girls. I want to be Emma Bunting “Baby Spice” from the Spice Girls.
The latter years of High School were spent with a few of the women I still call friends today they were all black and my best friend Pelisa who was mixed race we were also scrutinized because we as a group of young black women spoke really good English so good they called us fake.
I truly came to embrace who I am when I visited family in London I spent six months in Canning Town, London living with my family (my aunt and my uncle) who are a mixed Xhosa and Congolese family. Living with my culturally diverse family I really learned to embrace who I am and my Xhosa culture and roots. While my uncle spoke French in the house, my aunt and I spoke Xhosa every day and my cousin only knew how to speak English it’s not real English thou it’s a street version of English called cockney/London slang.
London is a country with a melting pot of cultures and nationalities and it really makes you appreciate where you come from. I arrived at the realization that coming from the country and culture that I do is such a privilege and I didn’t come across one African national living in London who was not proud of where they come from, the various languages they could speak, the amazing African delicacies they ate daily and the strict cultural upbringing, morals and values they had adapted living in a first world country.
I found myself tweeting in Xhosa and listening to African artists all my friends back home were quite surprised but I was indeed coming into my own person. I also decided to cut off all my stringy, limp relaxed hair and decided to be natural and embrace the hair I was born with. You can call it a divine intervention, I call it growth and appreciation of who I am. I am no longer that black goth girl who listens to death metal and who wears all black or the girl who carried her skate board around with a ton of snap backs (I was an Avril Lavigne want to be at some stage) that was not really who I was, I was discovering various facets of who I was.
I am now a Xhosa farm girl from Hamburg and Peddie in the Eastern Cape, who can speak five languages (isiXhosa, English, Zulu, Sotho and Afrikaans) who can trace her ancestry as far back as Germany and Swaziland and yes I’m still discovering all the other cultures that fall in between.
I’ve learned in life never be afraid to come into your own embrace your beauty, your uniqueness, your mistakes and look forward to discovering more of who you are.
Yours in Peace, love and happy vibes
– Vuyolwethu Hole (meaning our Joy in isiXhosa), don’t ask about the surname i don’t know either