A letter to my little sister Asanda

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When I was 19 and took my sister in after my Step-mother passed away, she was the last living parent between the two of us and I was going to somehow play the role of a Mother\Sister\Guardian.I could have not imagined the journey that was about to begin. At first I thought: how hard could this be? I mean people do this all the time? Little did I know that my whole life would be completely undone and for the most part I would be better because of it.

These are things I really struggle to say to her most times and I really just don’t know how to put it into words not verbally anyway so here goes.

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Dear Asanda:

I wish I was gentler with you, that the harsh words that I’ve used in my attempt to be stern and to enforce discipline to some extent wouldn’t leave dents in your heart that could never be fully undone. I wish I could create memories with you, that you look back on when you are stuck in a rut in life and you are in a dark space and you look back and you laugh, memories of light days when I showed grace even when you least deserved it. I wish to fill your mind with words of constant encouragement, that I’ve give you when life hit. That my words would echo in your heart louder than any critic ever could, that you may always know there is more in you to sustain you than you can imagine, that you may always recite Psalm 139 as well as you did for most of our years and hold on to it fight to remember it hard, that you know no one can take that away from you. Life will always remind you of all that you lack, of all that you’ve lost and I hope that in me you will always know you have a safe space, you have enough

space to share any crazy dream and I won’t laugh or disqualify you have enough space to put down whatever burden too heavy for you to carry and I will receive you and love you even after the worst kind of confession. I pray that you won’t live life thinking of our parents from a place of pain, that you never got a chance to see them, to inherit a somewhat unconventional taste in music like I have (UB40s Groovin is my Jam, thanks Dad) because you had no choice but to listen to whatever they listened to for the longest time. I hope you always know that even though they never said to you at a time when you could understand that they loved you. That they would have spent every waking day showing just how much they loved you.

I was so desperate to be perfect for you, to say that right things, do the right things and always be the model example of how your life should be but I am flawed. I tried to hide this and with multiplied failed attempts realized that maybe instead of striving for perfection I should strive at progressing in front of you, strive at being better each day, living everyday showing you what it means to be loving to those who don’t love you, to be gracious to people especially yourself. To teach you the art of letting go, constantly letting go, of the things you cannot change, of the people you no longer have, of the need to want to perfect yourself even at the expense of being not being genuine. I pray I may teach more about God simply by living my life than I can by speaking. I hope you will always know that I spend every waking day wanting to be better for you. If I was given a choice now after all these years which 4 year old I was would choose, I would still choose you.

I am looking forward to all that life has for you and I hope you’ll forgive me for all the times I was selfish with my time and space and was so obsessed about myself and what I needed and wanted that I forgot to let you in, the times when I was hard and broke you down instead of loving you up. I love with a love I can’t explain, a tender kind of love and I hope everything out of everything this is what you’ll know.

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My Thoughts on Zozibini Tunzi Miss South Africa 2019

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Growing up my Father never allowed me to have long hair, whilst the other girls in my school had shiny heads ordained with all kinds of stylish braids of various patterns, I was always subjected to a boys cut. Making me look more like a Manqoba then a Nqobile and I must say I hated it. I would admire my friends but I knew as soon as my hair grew long enough for it to be plated my Dad had a haircut appointment looming nearby.

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I remember always feeling ugly even though I was in Grade 3, I was aware of the fact that my hair was different, very different and once I was asked by another girl why I was using the girls bathroom and not the boys. This only added to my pain and for the longest time I thought if only my hair was different, if only I could style it,I would look like a girl and use the bathroom in peace. My favorite shows at this age consisted of Totally Spies, That’s so Raven and Kim Possible to name but a few (Shout Out to 90s kids who know what entertainment is about!!!)

Needless to say, I don’t have fond memories of my Primary school life in terms of hair and when I look back now there just weren’t any women, none that I knew of anyway that were rocking short hair and being called beautiful with it.

I remember this one time my Step-mother took me to the salon without my Dad and told me I could do anything I wanted, I styled my hair into what was called an “S-curl” and walked out feeling like my dream of beauty had finally come true. It was short lived because my Dad wanted no such thing as soon as the curls were gone I was ordered to return to the Barber and remove “all that nonsense” as he called it. My Step-mother risked her life for me that day, and I will love her forever for it.

It’s shocking that my obsession didn’t stop even in adulthood because at some point of my childhood I concluded that beauty was about hair the more you have of it the better, the girls with the silkiest, longest and most stylish hair in my opinion were the most beautiful. I was on the furthest side of what was seen to be beauty if this was the case.

What I didn’t understand at this tender age, is that long after I could afford the hair of my own choosing and achieve my standard of beauty I would still struggle to see myself as beautiful because what the young me was never told is that beauty has more to do with the inside than what you look like on the outside. That you can tick all the boxes in terms of external beauty and still struggle with low self-esteem and confidence.

I had a really low self-esteem even in my adult years and it took me a while before I could completely make peace with my appearance accepting my body with what I saw as flaws and being grateful I was able-bodied and capable of so much as well.

Now it would be absolutely indecent of me to speak of the current Miss SA without mention of our very own Ntandoyenkosi Kunene- Mthethwa, who is the formely elected Miss SA from Mkhondo I remember seeing news of her when she became Miss Mpumalanga thinking to myself that she’s truly is destined for greatness, you can come from humble beginnings and eventually share platforms and rub shoulders with the stars. When she won the Miss SA I just remember the entire town being abuzz and how so many young women set their eyes on her and celebrated as if her success had also become their very own, It had to some extent she opened a door for all those who could never imagine it possible. I think the most powerful message for me will always be that if you are meant for greatness it will search wild for you and even though she’s moved on well with her life after being crowned, started a family and has married the life of her life she will always be what makes Miss SA most memorable for us, because in that moment we all had grabbed hold of her victory and it still serves as a constant light beam reminding us that impossible is only as real a concept as what you perceive it to be.

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Which brings me to my thoughts on the newly crowned Miss SA.

Zozibini who hails from Tsolo in Eastern Cape, a 25 year old and a Public relations graduate is also just so beautiful to me.

As a child I wonder if my perception of beauty would have been slightly better if Zozibini was elected then. I wonder if I would have changed my constant obsession with longer hair if I just saw that the length of my hair says nothing about the depths of my heart. I wonder if exposure to all forms of beauty as opposed to a certain kind would have freed me from all the shame. Now I am not in any way looking down on or disqualifying people with weaves or long hair, I own a few of my own weaves and I in no way think that hair is the only factor we need to consider when we explore our views on beauty. I am simply saying to some extent it does have an effect. Representation matters.

I have seen the beautiful growth of the natural hair market, from a time only a few items were designated to maintaining natural hair to know where you see multiple isles with options and the child in me rejoices. Zozibini is so striking to me because I honestly feel more younger women can benefit from seeing beauty in its most natural form, according to me anyway. And Women are beautiful not only because of their appearance as I feel I am not stating enough but also how they carry themselves, how they treat others and this cannot be reduced to a petty issue pertaining hair. Excuse my long rant.

I really wish the younger me could have experienced all that Zozibini represents, because honestly to her hair was unfortunately everything. I hope this beauty knows that what is in her heart is more beautiful than what the outside would ever portray. I hope somewhere a child out there feels more comfortable with the way she looks. I wish her all the possible success in her journey and I honestly find her strikingly beautiful.

Congratulations to her!

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Greenway Woods Resort

Greenway Woods Resort, a popular White River hotel, is a premier destination offering a quiet place for guests visiting Mpumalanga. As the resort s a mere 30km (10 minutes) away from the famous Kruger National Park, this lodge has become the best place for anyone in search of affordable accommodation near the Kruger National Park.

Greenway Woods is tucked away in a serene corner of Mpumalanga. Surrounded by towering blue gum trees, and with the air filled with the scent of pine trees, all guests staying at this White River hotel can expect a rejuvenating stay. They cater to the needs of all guests, including families looking for a cosy getaway and tourists passing through the area and are in search of a stopover. They also host conferences at thier world-class conference centre. 

Greenway Woods resorts was by far one of the smallest hotel/ accomodation areas that I have stayed at. You would think this would disqualify it from having good service but quite the contrary. We enjoyed a wholesome dinner served by the friendly staff at Greenway Woods, we were quite central to many activities in Mpumalanga and all of this at a very affordable price. This is definitely for those who want to be budget friend and want to spend more on other activities outside of the area where reside.

Spier Hotel and Wine farm

Sometime this year my bursary foundation hosted their annual leadership Summit and used the Spier Hotel and Wine farm as the conference area, this by far has been the most beautiful place I have been accommodated in and I always leave wishing I could have stayed longer. Spier is the one place I would definitely go back to for a “Baecation” because of all the open spaces and breath-taking views. I have never stayed shorter than a week at Spier and honestly I wish I could be there for a month at a time. They have various art displays from their reception area to the buildings right outside of their conference area and the place in is entirety is just too amazing to be described you must experience it yourself.

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Spier, in the heart the famous Cape Winelands, is more than a hotel. It is a destination in itself. One of the first hotels in South Africa to be Fair Trade in Tourism certified, Spier offers visitors a variety of authentic experiences – from food and wine to outdoor activities – in beautiful surroundings.

Inspired by creativity and craft – both old and new – they’ve meticulously restored the farm’s beautiful Cape Dutch buildings. Inside these as well as across our grounds and in the Spier Hotel, you’ll find artworks from the Spier Art Collection – one of the largest collections of contemporary works in the country. This is just one of the many ways Spier supports South Africa’s arts community. https://www.spier.co.za

For the avid wine lover there is lots to offer as well, I was not there for leisure but got a glimpse at the Wine Tasting area and like everything else it was other- worldly.

If you ever you are in the Stellenbosch area making a trip to this Wine Farm and Hotel it is absolutely be ideal. It ticks all the boxes for me.

Farm Inn Hotel

The Farm Inn is a privately owned Country Hotel and Conference Centre on the eastern outskirts of Pretoria, just 20 minutes from Central Pretoria, 45 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport and 50 minutes from Johannesburg. The Farm Inn is a great getaway, an ideal conference venue or the perfect setting for your wedding. The Farm Inn has that special something extra – a wildlife estate within the city. http://www.farminn.co.za/

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Nestled on a rocky outcrop under the African sun, the Farm Inn Country Hotel’s unmatched hospitality and the warmth of thatch, stone and natural materials make it a luxury ‘home away from home’ for guests. Amidst the serenity of park-like grounds, guests can enjoy the magic of a wildlife estate with 23 indigenous species, including lion, leopard and cheetah.

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Having been there last year sometime, I enjoyed the scenery and also the wild animals that they had there. The Farm in is great for people who enjoy wild animals, if you have young children it is spacious enough for them to run around and has many little hidden treasures that if you take time to seek out you can indulge yourself as well.

Hippo Hollow

I have had the privilege of staying at a few exclusive holiday destinations, whether it was work related, simply for leisure or by some spontaneous gesture by friends and I have compiled a bit of an overview and also an opinion on each one of the places that I have been to.. A few years ago I went on a staff retreat to Hippo Hollow and I can only sing praises about this place. One of my memories include seeing a few Hippos during breakfast and also enjoying the beautiful view which was visible from my room.

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Hippo Hollow Country Estate is a comfortable, family-friendly hotel situated on the banks of the Sabie River near Hazyview in South Africa. It is an ideal destination from which to access nearby Kruger National Park and the spectacular sights of Mpumalanga Province. https://www.hippohollow.co.za/

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Situated just outside of Hazyview, between the Drakensberg Mountains to the west and the low-lying bushveld of the Greater Kruger Area to the east, Hippo Hollow is a wonderful base from which to explore the Mpumalanga Lowveld. A myriad of activities await you; from ‘Big 5’ safaris to helicopter adventures and more.

Some activity highlights include Blyde River Canyon tours, cultural experiences at Shangaan River Club and encounters with Africa’s largest land mammals at Elephant Whispers. Those seeking leisure can relax in a hammock by the pool or watch the hippos, crocodiles and other wildlife congregate at the river. However you choose to spend your time, we hope that you will leave Hippo Hollow feeling relaxed and refreshed, having experienced the timelessness of Africa.

Hippo Hollow is an ideal place to visit if you are going with a large group of family of friends. If you like me are a nature lover and don’t mind sun soaking and making memories, Hippo Hollow is ideal. They had excellent service and It was quite an experience to be there.