the goodbye letters (#3)

the goodbye letters




  • a means of limiting or regulating something
  • the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events

Dear Control,

The funny thing is that my struggle to let you go is part of the problem, isn’t it?

On Sundays when I lie in bed and think of the week ahead, I like to know that I’ve already sorted out what’s coming ahead. But sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we plan for it to.

Sometimes life is the maybe, the what if, the in the event that. Sometimes life is full to the brim with variables, and all we can do is let it be.

That drives me crazy. I like for things to go according to Plan A, to be set, to be certain. To complete the sentence with a full stop, not a question mark. Finality.

I lowkey think I wasn’t built for the variable, but I know that’s not the case, hard as it is to accept this truth.

So I’m breaking up with you. I’m letting you go because I know that if I do, I open myself up to a life of adventure.

I know that if I do, there is an endless world of surprises waiting for me. Some are good, some are bad, and that’s okay. Both these will make me better, if I learn from them. If I l view surprises as art, then I can appreciate the creativity of life.

I know that that a hand that is closed cannot receive.

I know that a mind that is bogged down with details and blueprints cannot expand.

It’s not me, it’s you.

This is farewell, and I’ve sealed it with a prayer and a mustard seed.

So then, goodbye, old friend.

And good riddance!

Forever free,


“For now he knew what Shalimar knew: if you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” -Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon


Ideas make the world go round

“If bands make her dance imagine what knowledge can do…”

That line comes from last year’s 16 for 16s project “No Time Out”, presented by Motif records, combining the efforts of 16 artists/ entertainers to commemorate the uprisings of June 16 1976. That line struck me as profound because, well, it is; and it’s witty. But also, it struck me as profound because it captured well the essence of June 16 – young people who were so moved by the knowledge of an idea that they took to the streets for it. An idea so powerful that even though apartheid thugs responded to schoolchildren in uniform with bullets and teargas (bullets and teargas bafwethu – BULLETS AND TEARGAS!), they went anyway. Imagine that.

The artists who collaborated on the song. Source: Motif Records

The artists who collaborated on the song. Source: Motif Records

One of the wonderful things about this millennium and all its technology, is how it has enabled us to ‘hear’ more voices, particularly from groups marginalised by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (to borrow hook’s term). To be sure, there are still those who do not have access to many of the luxuries of the technoratti, but for the most part now more than ever before, we have more platforms to speak out and be heard (and connect) widely across boundaries.

The downside is that less people are willing (or is it less brave?) to think for themselves. That is a little pessimistic, I know, and I do think it is great that we can have conversations across the diaspora and engage with one another intellectually. I guess it’s just clear to me, that ideas make the world go round, and I wonder – are we as passionate as the youth of that day, or do we lack something to believe in that will move us as poignantly as they were?

The entire world moves on the axis of ideas: the idea of money (which is only given value by how we esteem it, what we accept, collectively, it can and should do for us), the idea of power, the idea of potential. I’m just hoping that we are brave enough to step out and express a few of our own, unapologetically. Already there are some who have taken that leap, innovators and trailblazers in art, politics, commerce, science… And I commend them. They are what’s right with this world. No matter how pessimistic I can be about our generation and our future sometimes, something always pulls me back from that into an ocean of optimism. That thing is the knowledge that the bright future I’m looking for isn’t hidden in history – it’s in you and me.



“The whole point of being an artist is to make a statement with your art. So I don’t have to tell you who I am. You can listen to that record and say, ‘Oh, I get that girl’.” Lalah Hathaway


Nalithemba: On finding hope, daring to dream and beating despair

The way to measure the quality of any experience is to ask yourself whether or not you dread its end. If you’re counting down the seconds till it’s over, chances are it was a bad one; but if you dread its end, honey you probably got a good thing goin’.

This is how I rate most of my listening experiences: the best albums are those which carry me from track one to the last, through every interlude, pause, rise, climax, simmer; as though guiding me on a sweet and inspiring journey.

It’s that time of the year when those of us in the bubble that is Grahamstown begin to bemoan the confinement of our little town. We’re getting impatient to leave this space. We’re bored with the monotony of lectures and deadlines, and so we whip out our ipads and Blackberrys and make plans for the December and early January months, eager to start the vac. We’re on the phone with our parents and friends from back home on the daily, longing for a slice of home. We’re suffering from cabin fever! *pulls hair out*

It is in this shuffling-my-feet state that I have been moving day-to-day, restless for this phase to end. It’s full of so much uncertainty and it would seem, chaos. I’m constantly having to encourage myself, to spur myself to take on the day, to get out of bed. I’ve been looking for hope.

And fortunately, hope came to me when I least expected, but most needed, it.

The weight of despair is enough to anchor any dreamer into resignation, but if you’re like East London based singer-songwriter and artist Asanda ‘Msaki’ Lusaseni, you hold on to the hope that ‘one shushu day’ (one bright and hot day) things will turn out alright for you. She’s recently released her EP, Nal’ithemba, and it was this little four-track offering that sang away my doubt and despondency.

Asanda has been singing for a long while now, and she decided to take the plunge and focus full-time on her music career after being a student of law and art. Her movement, “One Shushu Day’, is, as she describes it, “a dreamer’s statement of hope”, an assertion that even in a world where ‘making it’ becomes harder each year, dreams still do come true.

“Harbouring Hope (Nalithemba)”, last track on the EP, captures what Asanda and the One Shushu Day Movement are about:

The sea is patient

The moon lights a path from her womb to the raft

Oh, we’re waiting

Believing in promises born in the dark warmth of dreams

Hope needs concrete

Believing is hard as her dreams turn to rust…

She prays for the dreams in her heart not to wither away

Please let these dreams sail

Burden is heavy …

Let these dreams sail

Dawn is breaking the sleep of the ones that are harbouring hope


Nalo, naliya

Dear Wind, carry me now, beyond the limits of fear…

This hope anchors my soul

The sea has spoken I believe

I’m alive in the promise made for the deep of the sea…

 Her exhortation to hold on almost brought me to tears – the combination of her sound, her melodies and her lyrics came together to form something quite like a balm. To hear it is to heal.

All I wanted was for the listening experience not to end, for her guitar to keep playing in my ears; but as the old adage goes, all good things come to an end. The best things, however, never really end. They leave proof that they were there: and though “Harbouring Hope” marked the end of the EP, it stamped courage in me, I knew hope was worth the effort, and when she sang it, I knew I could trust Msaki’s encouragement to “Hope on bravely”.

**To order a copy of Msaki’s EP email

Hope and dreams,


“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair

‘Qui audet adipiscitur.” (Who dares, wins.)