the goodbye letters (final)

the goodbye letters



/ʌnfə fəˈɡɪvnɪs/

  • not willing to forgive or excuse people’s faults or wrongdoings
  • anger or resentment towards someone for an offence, flaw, or mistake
  • feel angry about or wish to punish an offence, flaw, or mistake

Dear Unforgiveness,

It’s so hard to say goodbye.

Holding onto you was how I punished the perpetrators of my hurt. It’s how I would mete out justice. Felt like if I let you go, they get away with it, and that just made me angry as hell.

But you’re too heavy for my shoulders, comrade. I don’t get to keep you and be free from pain, too. How’s that work? How’s joy and love and peace live in the same house as vengeance and resentment and bitterness?

The weight of your presence makes me a prisoner.

The wrongdoing isn’t mine to punish – you had me believing I was qualified to play judge and executioner, but I won’t be fooled anymore – I have better things to do than to hate the people who (and the things that) stole my joy from me.

Even sans apologies – I choose to forgive.

I acknowledge all the harm done against me, but I will not be held hostage by it!

This is for my emotional wellness. This is for victory.

Listen man, I’m not about to be besties with the people who hurt me, but I can release them from the really big, really unhealthy room they’ve occupied in my heart.

And I’m forgiving me, too. Yes – I forgive myself – over and over again. I am worthy of that bit of kindness.

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

So then, goodbye, old friend.

And good riddance!

Weight-less and free,


“Hard time forgiving/ Even harder forgetting/ Before you do something/ You might regret friend/ This time I will be/ Louder than my words/ Walk with lessons that/ Oh, that I have learned/ Show the scars I’ve earned/ In the light of day/ Shadows will be found/ I will hunt them down.” Seinabo Sey, Hard Time

“People withhold their forgiveness, thinking that it makes them badass. But really, the unwillingness to forgive is merely the wishing that things were better. You wish that you had better, you wish that someone else were better so they could have treated you better… it’s you making wishes. And that’s not badass. To forgive is to be able to look at the person and say “I accept that you weren’t any better than what you were”, “I accept that you were you and couldn’t have been what I wished you to be”, “I accept that things were the way they were and weren’t any better.” The ability to forgive is intertwined with the ability to accept the reality of the way things are/ the way a person is or was. You stop wishing things and you just accept. And hope is what says to you: “One day you’ll have what’s better.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

the goodbye letters (#4)

the goodbye letters


/sɛlf/ and /ˈsabətɑːʒ/


  • the act of undermining a personal cause
  • any underhanded interference with personal productivity and work
  • the act or process of hampering or hurting ourselves
  • the act of deliberately stopping ourselves from achieving success

Dear Self-Sabotage,

I’m a perfectionist. It’s a strength, and it’s a weakness. It’s a strength because it pushes me to excel, but it’s a weakness because if I weigh the chances of success, and decide that they are low, I tend to get stuck; or worse, I don’t even try.

You’re that inner voice that keeps telling me I should be working harder, and if I’m not, I’m already doomed. You’ve chained me to a work ethic that’s rooted in believing that I’m not doing enough because I myself am not enough. And so my efforts feel like I’m punching a wall.

I know some of your other lies, too: “No one will care about what you have to say!” and “It’s already been done – except better!” and the most severe, “You’re running out of time – your window of opportunity has already passed!” It’s the most defeating one because it kills hope; and well, “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”.

I can barely think for all the lies you scream at me. And that’s your whole point isn’t it? To stop me from thinking, and therefore doing, and being.

I’m enormously talented. Yep – I said it! The opposite has been so ingrained in me for so long that it even feels like a lie to say this – but it’s true. And it’s for that reason –my talent, my drive, my opportunity to give to a world so in need of love and beauty – that I am parting ways with you.

The enemy within, making way for the strength to fight the enemy without.

I will not doubt my success, anymore.

I will not expect to fall as I rise, just because rising feels so far from the ground.

I’m going to touch the sky!

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

So then, goodbye, old friend.

And good riddance!

More than a conqueror,


“Unless we learn to know ourselves, we run the danger of destroying ourselves.” 
― Ja A. Jahannes, WordSong Poets

“So I forgive what was taken from me/ I will be free from the picture you paint you see / Tell them ‘these troubles are out of your hands’/ Tell them ‘you’re free to use them to clap and dance.’” – Seinabo Sey, Pretend

water (part 2): “…we have come to be baptised here…”



Koleka Putuma. Photo: Andy Mkosi


I often wonder why I feel as if I am drowning every time I look out into the sea

This and feeling incredibly small 


Every time our skin goes under

The reeds remember that they were once chains

And the water, restless, wishes it could spew all of the slaves and ships onto shore

Whole as they had boarded, sailed and sunk

Their tears are what have turned the ocean salty

This is why our irises burn every time we go under

Every December sixteenth, December 24th and December 31st

Our skin traumatises the sea

They mock us

For not being able to throw ourselves into something that was instrumental in trying to execute our extinction

For you, the ocean  is for surf boards, boats and tans

And all the cool stuff you do under there in your suits and goggles

But we, we come to be baptised here

We have come to stir the other world here

We have come to cleanse ourselves here

We have come to connect our living to the dead here

Our respect for water is what you have termed fear

The audacity to trade and murder us over water

Then mock us for being scared of it

Koleka Putuma, Water

I’ve been thinking about Koleka Putuma’s “Water” (seriously, do we walk the same earth as her? Her poetry is out of this world) and the line, “We have come to be baptised here” is playing on repeat in my mind, and I feel my body and soul craving a baptismal of sorts. A watering. A watering to halt the withering.



“Take me to the water/ To be baptized […] I’m going back home, going back home/
To be baptized.” ~ Nina Simone, Take Me to the Water



Guest diary entry: “…the mystery that is [navigating] friendship…”

Miss Babalwa Bongeka Nyembezi

Upon being approached to do an entry for theDustySoulDiary, my initial reaction was shock – I was really quite honoured. These initial feelings, however, did not help me to decide what I would write the piece about, which explains why it took me a week and a half to send my first draft to Madame Dusty Soul, and another week to send in the final draft. On that note, let us get on to why we’re here…

The other day I uploaded pictures on Facebook, the album title being “the mystery of friendship: love”; significant because as I was uploading these photos, the thought of how relationships have evolved after the entry of social networking into the equation came up. Social networks have transformed the way we live and communicate with one another, and so changing the way we navigate real life relationships.

Think about it: before Facebook and twit pics, when you and your friends went out, did you take a photo of every moment for the memories? I’m shaking my head and maybe you’re doing the same. How much of what is on Facebook is real, and how much of it is ‘put on’? Think about your own profile and how you’ve edited it over the years to suit the person that you were becoming and the young lady/man who you are now.

I received a friend request from a friend in one of my classes recently, the next day we laughed, because we both agreed that we had now “legitimised” our friendship to the world. We may have said this lightly, but many friendships are kick-started on Facebook and blossom in reality. So social networking is great, but what does this mean for the future of friendships? Are the virtual relationships that we cultivate adding more to our lives than the real ones? Or are the people we choose to follow on Twitter meant to be merely extensions of our real life relationships, adding flavour to what already exists?

Babalwa with DustySoul at a friend’s 21st

One thing that I have learnt about friends is that they’re there to badger, bother and bend you into the person that they see you to be, the person that you don’t see in yourself yet. Only a few months of solid friendship have taught me a great deal about navigating friendship, and this was mainly through Madam Dusty Soul herself. While social networks, from blogging to Facebooking to tweeting to Youtubing to What’s Apping and whatever else you can think of, have added colour to our friendship. These only worked to fill in the pencil lines that had already been drawn by God’s divinity of grace in blessing me the way He has with bright and beautiful friendships.

Blackberries, like a plague, have spread the extent to which we use social networks

The number of followers I have on Twitter, the number of friends I have on Facebook or the sum of my BBM contacts do not make up the bulk of my friendships, this is in fact not even a percentage of the people who I consider to be a part of my close circle of friends. “One can be in a roomful of people and still feel lonely”, the modern translation of this is: in a roomful of people each one can feel lonely, because each is absorbed in a virtual conversation that draws them away from the relationships they could be cultivating at that time. So yes, we can all agree that social networks are the squiz, but how useful will they be in teaching future generations how to navigate relationships outside of cyber-space? If you ask me, I’d say let’s stop giving social networks so much value in our lives and turn that “Skype date” into an actual face-to-face catch up session with a friend. A friend that is like a brother. The Proverbs 18:24 kind of friendship wasn’t brought close by your *BBM big hug face* but by your real hug, and real compassion for him.  

Yours in Grace,


“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – CS Lewis

** theDustySoul would like to apologise for disappearing so long on you! Hope this guest diary entry by Miss Babalwa Nyembezi has blessed you as much as her friendship has blessed me. Love, DustySoul

Lessons from my hair (Part 2): The revenge of the Afro

Tlotlo and Tsepo

“Men who have long hair are a disgrace. Women with long hair are beautiful. Long hair is a woman’s crown of glory…” So go the words of the Apostle Paul in a letter to a church in Corinth.

Some theologians have argued that Paul’s words were said not to marginalise women, but to encourage them to separate themselves from being identified along with the prostitutes of the city. Others have dismissed his statement as chauvinist advice meant to advance the standing of men in the Christian church.

Either way, Paul’s letter reveals some attitudes that people have towards certain hairstyles.

Tlotlo Daly

You see, some hairdos are associated with certain behaviour because in many social groups, a specific hairstyle is required in order to be considered a part of the group, or to create a sense of solidarity amongst members.

For some people, such as my good friend Mathabo Tlali, hair is a way of making sure they are not considered part of a certain group.

“I was debating with myself about how I feel enslaved by societies view of ‘beauty’, and began to question why I’m not confident when I have natural hair as opposed to having a weave or anything that’s not ‘naturally me’,” Tlali says.

Mathabo Tlali (Photo by Ettione Ferreira)

Growing up, her mother was the sole chooser of her hairstyles, but with age she began to realise that for her, beauty did not have to just be a weave or relaxed hair.

“I began loathing that superficial notion,” she explains. Tlali has a natural crop and maintains that for her, changing her hairstyle was a freeing process.

My afro is an expression of the decision that I’ve made to embrace a different kind of beauty. To stand outside of people’s expectations and look to God for my mandate. Being different often scares us because stepping out of the norm is risky. But we must step out, we must be true to who we are.




Left to right: Matsie (beautiful), Dusty Soul, Sbosh (

Some days I am that girl on campus with the lopsided afro, walking around looking like Frumpy Fred, and I’m still happier than ever. At that moment I smile because I’ve chosen to embrace who I am, flaws and all.

And so to add to the lessons that my hair has taught me, I must say: I am dark.  I stand out. I am not always accepted. I am an Afro, and I am beautiful, either way.


Dusty Soul

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (King James Version)

Honestly speaking

My mother and uncle as young children

A little girl ran up to me and pointed me towards the book she was holding. “Look!” she said excitedly, pointing to a passage from within the Book. “I found the verse you taught me, here it is…” and then proceeded to read it to me. Seconds later her mother came with her younger brother and spoke to them, “Come on, we have to go now. Say goodbye.” She closed her Bible and waved at me. Her brother ran up and gave me a tight squeeze. He’s so tiny he only reaches my knees and had to wrap his arms around my legs, but the little man almost pushed me over when he came! His small gesture of appreciation left my heart warm all over. It came unexpectedly, and the smile I had afterwards was big enough to cover the road from Grahamstown to Tzaneen.

I love children. I totally get why Jesus said that in order to get into Heaven we have to become like them. They believe so wholeheartedly, trust so completely, and live so honestly. Even if they are manipulative, they are honest in their deception because they really know no better.

TheDustySoul as a young girl

Some people, bless their souls, are “sweep-it-under-the-carpet” folks. They maintain a tradition of pretending that everything is alright when it isn’t, never speaking about the problems in the family in the name of ‘respecting elders’, and that of seeing and not hearing children. Hello to depression, because children seen and not heard put away the pain until the build-up becomes too much. Any vessel can only take so much pressure before it bursts.

theDustySoul with the late Koko Rebecca (maternal grandmother)

I hate pretending. I tried that whole let’s pretend we’re okay thing, and to be honest, honesty is better. You see, when we are honest with ourselves and with others we open up the door for healing to take place. A physical wound cannot heal completely if it is covered up by a bandage. Anyone in the medical profession will tell you that it is better to let a wound be exposed so that the body can form scars, starting the healing process. It’s the same with what’s inside of us. Healing, then, must be preceded by surrender. I choose to surrender my pain because hanging onto it will kill me. I choose life.

theDustySoul dancing on her second birthday (where'd all that rhythm go!?)

Children are usually not afraid to say that they need help. They’ll fiddle with something and finally walk up to you and say, “Please open this bottle for me?” They get that without your help they won’t be able to drink their juice. They’ve taught me that doing that brings not only the help they need, but also the courage to dare further next time. I’m done with secrecy; because where secrecy is respected the darkness of depression is king. I’m done with pushing people who can help me away, because no woman is an island, anyway. And most of all I’m done with pretending I don’t need strength from those around me and from the Source of all Power, because admit it; it takes a lot of strength to admit that we’re weak.


Dusty Soul

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32 (New International Version)

They don’t make ’em like they used to

I have a fierce aversion for old men who call me “baby”. I love old people but please, keep the seedy characters away from me.

No problem with things that preceded me. I appreciate things that whisper, “We were here first child.”

It’s funny but loving them makes me nostalgic for a time I never even lived in. Sort of like, like I’ve been here before, you know?

I like black and white photographs of my mother as a young girl and music made when gramophones were cool. I like books with that musty smell, turning the pages and living in another world for a short time. The ones in the corner, dusty and long forgotten.

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I like the stories they tell, the elderly folk, and living their memories with them as they live them again. History is never dead. It imposes itself on the future and on the next generation. Their memories make me feel like I’ve been here before. It solidifies my sense of self to know that there are people who I belong to. I looked at them and they introduced me to myself. They said I am bones and blood and spit and dust. They also said I am emotions and confusion and joy and spirit. “We were here first, but one day you will be the only thing that’s left of us.” That warms my soul, it does.   

I like remembering when I was ‘littleler’ and carrying the sweetness of nostalgia in my pocket. Memories –

Those buggers don’t die! Unexpectedly

They insist on remembrance. In a smell. In a picture. In a song.

Times have changed but at the same time, nothing’s changed. We’re doing the same things. Making the same mistakes. Pursuing the same goals. Nearing the same Exit Door.

We’ve been here before!

I like old things so don’t change who you are. Give me conversation over tweeting you any day. What we have to share is too enormous for 140 characters. Remember the days when we were knee-high?

And every sigh

Was one of contentment?

And we never slept

Angry at the other?

Oh dear friend, I hope the goodness inside of us never changes. Some things are better old.


Dusty Soul

“Is there a thing of which it can be said, See, this is new? It has already been, in the vast ages of time [recorded or unrecorded] which were before us.” – Ecclesiastes 1:10 (Amplified Bible)