water (part 3): Zaneliza – How the Water Moves


I remember the year the Tsunami hit. It was the early 2000s, and we were in primary school. Suddenly we all had to discuss what a Tsunami is, why and how it happens, and how many people had died versus how many had survived. We were astounded at the determination of that tide, and the powerlessness of those running from it, weak in the face of such a frightening and mighty moving body of water.

But destruction is not water’s only expression. In thinking about Msaki’s latest offering, Zaneliza – How the Water Moves, I had this – the strength of water, and how it can take on a life of its own, and even (joy!) give you life – foremost in my mind.

So I called her up and we had a young chat about “loss, hope and the wave-like rhythms in between those two states of being”.

Dusty: Cool! How are you?

Msaki: I’m good. I’m (pauses) hectic. I’m trying to leave for Cape Town so I’m trying to wrap up things today. And I need a PA, so I’m tryna put out an ad.

Dusty: I was actually wondering, how do you survive? I hate admin, personally, and I’m like ‘How does she survive, how does she raise a baby, be a wife, be an artist –’

[Msaki is an independent artist and does all her own management and bookings through her company, One Shushu Day  Artistry. She’s basically superwoman. Jokes. But close 😉 She has also been featured on popular house tracks.]

Msaki: Am I surviving?

Dusty: (laughs)

Msaki: I’m up between 3 [AM] and 5 [AM], doing my stuff, like I said.

Dusty: Ja you can’t get me up at that hour for anything, except if the house is burning.

Msaki: (laughs) Ja that’s my time. I actually wrote a song this morning because I was just like uh-uh, need to block off all the nonsense of the admin that’s creeping up and I just had to sing.

Dusty: Yeah. (pause) Okay well the last time I wrote about you, I wrote about the EP [Nal’ithemba], this was when it had just come out –

Msaki: I love that blog post!

Dusty: (laughs)

Msaki: Ja, EP indala mfondini, what was it – like 2013?

Dusty: Yeah it was 2013, I remember because I was listening to it a lot in my last year at Rhodes.

[The EP sold over 3000 copies – all independently. Msaki plays for mostly smaller audiences, and prefers to connect with listeners this way. Her latest project was crowd-funded largely in part by her network of supporters, people she has met and connected with over the years, musicians and music-lovers alike, her “Golden Circle”.]

Msaki: For some reason when you’re playing to smaller crowds, it’s easier for people to want to buy at the end of the show, ‘cos they really get to connect, you know? Like I’ll do shows in someone’s lounge for 60 people, and almost everyone will walk out with the EP. Stuff like that happens, because it’s difficult to hide your soul, it’s difficult to hide the message [in that atmosphere]. The proximity physically also lends itself to a proximity spiritually because people are examining you from up close and the energy is right there. It almost beckons you to share the essence of the music more. I find that in small gigs I’ve got less disclaimers, I’m less stressed about what people think, you know? But in the festival gigs I’m always like, ‘Oh my gosh – are people bored? Am I playing enough upbeat songs?’ and I’m wondering if they’re not twiddling their toes waiting for Zahara.

Dusty: (laughs) So the message of the EP [the first offering] was hope and love – what’s the message of this [album]?Is it resistance, water …?

Msaki: Oh man (pause). I didn’t realise how much loss I was processing through this album, and trying to figure out how you express or share that without it being full of despair. Just thinking of the waves coming in and the lapses in between and the ebb and the flow – there’s something about the water, cleansing, that made the loss bearable. So the theme of hope is always there, it seems like it will be a central theme to all my work. At the same time this album…it kinda like leaves you in the middle of the sea there bobbing wondering if a rescue mission is coming or not, you’ve gotta sorta figure it out for yourself. (laughs)

Dusty: Ja.

Msaki: It’s more real life. There is a song full of hope but it’s also like, ‘What next? Where do we go from here? And what do I do with all the stuff that’s sore? It’s asking more questions, and I guess I’m imperfectly processing some of the things that make me sad about being young, about being in this country, about the reality of losing people and the reality of losing dreams and having to pick yourself up and do another day when things aren’t working out.

Dusty: The line “Living water for the war over your heart/ Waterfall” [from Weight (for the war] stuck out to me, and it gave me a sense of watering in your life, watering the dry spaces, watering the dryness.

Msaki: If you listen to the pressing of a waterfall when you’re right there against it, you can’t mistake the power that’s there. Continuing from the EP; even using the water metaphor, I spoke about how You are not my strength/ You rock the cliff, the edge, the drop, my landing of love, I almost pictured myself jumping into a waterfall, like free falling into a waterfall, when I wrote that. If you think you’re jumping from the cliff into water (and the water is meant to be a metaphor for love), you’re mistaken because you’re standing on love, the rock is love, the cliff is love, the water is love, the great force around you when you’re in the water…that was when I decided to become a musician full-time because I realized that grace had been covering me the whole way and it will continue to do so, and that love is ready to meet me if I take the leap. So that water theme extends itself into this album, but now it’s looking at the different qualities of water and also what that speaks to my heart. Waterfall, nyani – you realise that God is fighting for you. There are clues that are telling you this all the time. You’ve got your own inner turmoil but there’s an outer fight that also manifests itself on the inside. But there are so many clues on the outside saying ‘Look around, keep going’. That whole line, that’s kind of where it’s from. The waterfall was a very obvious sign that love is fighting for me. The power, the rushing noise, and…thing of a war cry. Hence that line that you’re talking about.

[Weight (for the war) is the first single off of the new album. It begins with Msaki chanting the words “FRIEND FIRE FREEDOM FEEL/ WISDOM WONDER WORRY WISH/ BLESSING BURDEN BROTHER BREATHE/ WAIT WAIT WAIT WEIGHT” acapella. In later verses, she changes the last line to the refrain, “WADE WADE WADE WADE”. The pause after the acapella intro is followed by a guitar playing a note suspended over a bar as she sings about the blues. Enter the drum, which together with the chorus, creates a marching sound that increases the urgency of the song. As it progresses, more instruments are layered in, until the point when the song reaches its dramatic turn, ushered in by a stripping back of all the instruments save for the urgent drum, and the subsequent introduction of a soaring orchestration. By the time my favourite line, “LIVING WATER FOR THE WAR OVER YOUR HEART/ WATERFALL” is sung; the battle has raged, and the war –punctuated by the rousing, rallying cries “ZIYADILIKA IZINDONGA!” and “MAKULIWE!” – is steady on the way to victory. An earnest ‘call to arms’ that’ll rouse the faith of even the most doubtful Thomas. If you haven’t already, listen to it below.]

Msaki: Can you hear Kwanda? She’s trying to pull off my ears, can you hear her in the background?

Dusty: (laughs) Yes I can hear her with her little sounds every now and then.

Kwanda: *indistinguishable baby talk*

Dusty: (laughs) She’s so cute.

Msaki: Hayi sana ubusy ubusy ubusy.

Dusty: (laughs) I have one more question. You were saying [elsewhere] that it is hard in the music industry, to keep the message central, to not get distracted by the machine. What are the things that you do to remind yourself that the message is important, and to keep the message intact inside of you?

Msaki: First thing is to surround yourself with a community that isn’t afraid to point out your blind spots to you. I’m in an industry where ego is king, and depending on who you’re working with, that kind of stuff can become more apparent than the inner journey. If I spend my time with like-minded people that know what music is for, and have a heart for artistry and creativity, and community, then I think I’m in a safe space to go explore, to go to different places and come back and know ba kukhona abantu that are gonna be able to tell me that I’m going astray. That’s sort of the outer section. But now…Like this morning I had to wake up at three and fight for my own union, you know? Because that’s what music started as for me – it started as a way of communion, a way of communing with myself and with God. It’s a space where I can also listen for what song is being played to me. It’s so easy to stumble into every day and completely be absorbed by your To Do List and everything that you’re chasing as well, and things like trying to organize an event for a friend. All those things can still be good and you’re busying yourself with things that are good, but it still might mean that you’re distracted and you’re missing out. Sometimes I need to reset, to listen to God even more than myself. And sometimes these songs are not even to be shared, they are just for me to get something, the things that I need to meditate on and think about and acknowledge as truth for myself. Especially with so many messages that are telling us that we’re worthless, that we’re unlovable – that’s pretty much a very strong message out there. ‘You’re only good as your next this…’ There’s so many things, and I have to fight for a space that’s more real, and that’s where I’m writing from. Uhm, I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with writing from a point of confusion, or from a point of being hurt, or processing the stuff that’s out there, I think it’s really important; but my reality, wholeheartedly, should come from the secret place, or the place where I’m quiet. (laughs) I don’t know how to say some of these things, because even that, I’m exploring it through my music.

Dusty: (laughs) It makes sense. Thank you.

*This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

*Zaneliza – How the Water Moves, will be available in stores April 16th, 2016. If you struggle to find a copy, email oneshushuday@gmail.com to inquire.

Love and warm waves,


“The tides are in our veins.” ― Robinson Jeffers

“Though I walk through the valley low, I’ll fear no evil. By the water, fill my soul, no matter where I go.” ― SUTRA, The Water

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.”
― E.E. Cummings, 100 Selected Poems



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: A Mother’s Encouragement to Her Daughter


My mother as a young woman


It’s my turn to write you an email, though I was flirting with the idea of jumping on the next flight to PE instead. That would have been drastic. You, me and of course other sons and daughters of Man, are fellow travelers, often coming to the same crossroads, same rivers, mountains, same onslaughts. Same thoughts. That’s why mind could not help seeing and dwelling on these “stops and go” or Mt Seir’s if you may. I must have dwelt longer than the red robot of the stop and go demanded because all of a sudden the jolt came, from my GPS, I guess, to say MOOOOOOOVE! Except that it (the GPS) did not use those exact words. It said instead, asked rather, “DO YOU NEED AN EASY LIFE?”

That threw me, completely, maybe coz it was unexpected, and I even had to move from the TV area to my bedroom. And I couldn’t help answering it, “I don’t need an easy life”. I did not feel coerced to say that, and it gave me some life, some impetus, to engage with great grace, my gears, from that stop mode to the move mode.

Suddenly it did not matter that I’ve been sleeping when the green light cane on, it did not matter that the other motorists were looking, and that some were even beginning to honk with irritation, it did not matter that they were aware of that lapse on my part. I just wanted to go with the flow of that moment ‘coz it was birthed by the One who is never going to leave me. The one who is never going to overtake me. You should see the dramas that play themselves out after a stint at a “stop and go”. Hilarious, and sometimes downright dangerous. People just overtaking so you won’t have to retard (sic) their progress with your lapses again when you get to the next “stop and go”. But the GPS Joe, He stays with you, sticks closer than a brother! I did not know how this letter was going to turn out. Again, the GPS just led the process.

You know what my greatest excitement is now as I conclude this? I know you will understand, not only because you are one of the most brilliant minds I know, at that age, but also because you have your own Teacher and Interpreter.

So I am beating a retreat for now. The onus is upon you. Are you going to hunch your shoulders, collapse, collapse in a heap,  and beat yourself small because of your lapses? You are way too smart for that. The grace to move from that position is there for the taking. Seize it by force, every second, every minute, hour, day, week, month, until you reach your destination. Your mantra? I have the mind of Christ, I have the mind of Christ, I have the mind of Christ! Coz, truth be told, you have!


Saturday, 13 October 2012

**This letter was written by mother to me in response to my panic about life at the time. Thanks Dimaa, you brought the sunshine.

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Here’s to Your Hustle! – Part Four (Finale)




by Nokuzola Charlene Ndlovu

twitter @ooeygooey




Remember how simple birthdays in your childhood were?

It turns out things are more complicated than you expected this year. Firstly, you need to figure out what your social media strategy is. You go into a bit of an existential crisis because you don’t know if you should comment on every single post or just the ones you actually like. Also, there are those weird humans that you want to unfriend because they just said “HBD”.

Secondly, you’re not even sure that you really want to celebrate this year because now you’re on the wrong side of 20. And birthdays just remind you of what you coulda-shoulda-woulda done better. You thought you’d have arrived by now; you thought life would make more sense and it’s terrifying to look ahead and still see a heavy mist obscuring your future. You’re afraid of the unknown.

When you were 5 years old the unknown excited you. The night before you spent the first 10 minutes of bedtime rolling around and tossing your bedclothes because you couldn’t get to sleep. You couldn’t wait for the cake and the cards and the gift you’d clearly described to mom. A pink BMX bike with a matching helmet.

Birthday morning your mother wouldn’t have to shake you awake because you’d be up as soon as you heard the first strains of “Happy birthday to…” wafting through the passage into your room. Five lit candles and a grin with two front teeth missing. The cake wasn’t a Pocahontas one and your gift was a pair of pink and blue sneakers but you were so caught up in the excitement that you forgot to be disappointed.

Nothing turned out the way you’d imagined but everything was as it was supposed to be.

I never, ever imagined that I’d be where I am today. I never really believed that the argumentative 8 year old would turn into a lawyer. I never planned to be a person who writes and sings and is a Beyoncé body double when Bey wants to crowd surf (full disclosure: actually the last is something that I’ve been working on for a decade now so that’s not strictly true. I always knew I’d be that).


It’s like every single one of my choices – the good and the bad – have been woven together to form this multi-coloured tapestry that is my life. I couldn’t see it at the time but when I look from a distance there’s a clear pattern emerging. It’s starting to make sense. I’m starting to see purpose. I’m starting to see the refining power of fire and storms and loss.

I’ve learned that the secret to winning in this hustle is being more like my 5 year old self, who thrived on surprises and never let the fear of the unknown paralyse her. My 5 year old self thought Pocahontas was real. My 5 year old self knew how to hold her hopes and dreams with an open hand, on the other side of disappointment there was always something better.


At this sta1511757_10152076420183877_4198178901909940293_nge in my life I’m discovering that university graduation is the end of the beginning. I’ve got a long way to go. Like Dorothy on the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz, I’m encountering companions I should take along with me and enemies that I will need to overcome to reach my destination.

Now that I’m done with school, the hustle I’m on right now is these two things: learning how to build my platform as a writer and speaker; and planning a long term move to Brazil. Life has never been more exciting and more difficult!

Learning things the hard way isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes it’s necessary. Difficulty is not something we should avoid, often the path towards your destiny is littered with obstacles, steep slopes and pits that you don’t see coming.

In the journey that I’m walking here are the three things that I’ve picked up:

1 Don’t confuse significance with recognition.

Significance is something that comes from the inside of a person, whereas recognition comes from an outward source. I am innately significant and loved- that’s true whether I’m growing in recognition and fame or stuck in a cubicle. I am important! We ought to find our identity from our significance and not from accolades or achievements. Even in a place of not being recognised we ought to know that we are valuable.

2 Be brutally realistic about your present circumstances and wildly unrealistic about your future.

This is something that Jon Acuff taught me in his book Start (read it!). When you’re hustling you need to live in today but dream big for tomorrow. My current brutal reality is that I don’t have enough money in the bank to live in Brazil for 3 years. I’m financially unfit right now. But if I come up with a budget, work hard and ask family and friends for help I can raise enough to live for 3 months there. And then I could get a fantastic job as a legal consultant with an oil company where I fall in love with a young, hot single Brazilian man who will marry me and give me beautiful babies and citizenship – behold my wildly unrealistic future.

3 The booty hop is actually what will solve the world’s biggest problems.

There is no Nobel Peace in Sombreness so people need to stop taking themselves so seriously! Life is hard but it’s also so full of really funny things like the pastor who says the word ‘beach’ during a service and causes a church split because he’s offended every woman in the congregation. Talking about submission can do that too. We need laughter, spontaneity and humour in this hustle because it’s good for the heart.

These are the things that I’ve picked up on my journey towards awesomeness and as I get older, I’m hoping that I look more and more like my 5 year old self.



About Zola

Zola Ndlovu (aka Shula) is a 24 year old woman who was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She moved to South Africa to pursue her studies at Rhodes University, where she obtained a degree in Economics and a degree in Law.

Zola has been the teacher’s pet since pre-school and this explains why she chose to spend the first five years of her adult life studying.

During her time at Rhodes, she held various leadership positions and was involved in campus societies including legal activism and Christian societies.

Her dream is to see women empowered to live out their God-given purpose. Shula is a nom de plume that she adopted after starting her blog – she is a writer and speaker who enjoys singing and playing her guitar. She is also a Milo cereal addict.

That concludes our #HTYH series. It’s been fun! Thanks for reading these cool posts, and stay tuned to theDSD for more awesomeness. 🙂

Love and light,


“March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.” – Kahlil Gibran

This too is PURPOSE

I have said before and will keep saying to anyone who cares to listen, that like many of my favourite authors I am obsessed with the idea of “being” and “belonging”. We are always becoming, shifting and navigating the spaces in which we find ourselves, bending that space to accommodate that interesting (elusive?) thing we call “who we are”. If we find it difficult to bend that space, we often bend “who we are” to fit into that space instead. Something which some may call compromising our character. But I digress.
Since I last wrote you (yeah I know, it’s been forever. Askies) I have gone through a great deal many phases of emotional testing. Some tests I have failed spectacularly, others I have triumphed over victoriously. At the heart of each misery – because each phase was a test of how I responded to misery – was whether or not I felt I was walking in my purpose.
To explain that term – purpose to me has always meant that which we were born to do. I believe that to love is our greatest purpose. To give is part of loving, and so love is our supreme purpose. How we live out that purpose, or walk in it, how we use our gifts and our talents to give to the world, those are the details of the Reason for why we are.
Now in those phases that I failed incredibly, the one ‘conclusion’ (it was really actually an assumption based on hurt pride) that brought me low was, “My life is insignificant to the point that God has forsaken me, and I am not walking in my purpose, never will, because I’ve never meant much to Him.”
What I failed to understand is that a 9-5 does not constitute “walking in my purpose”. That is a minor detail. More than anything, I have come to realize that “purpose” is not what I do – purpose is a state of being. More specifically, it is the state of being where you are meant to be at that moment, which for me is in the will of God. I have never thought of purpose in that way before, and to be honest, that definition frees some of the tension of having to “prove myself” to the world. (To be clear, it is not a definition that replaces the one I gave before it, rather it complements the one offered previously)
If there is one person who I can offer as a true example of someone who is the perfect cross between someone who exemplified the “being” and the “doing” of purpose, it would be the incredible Maya Angelou. I cried real tears when I heard that she had died. It affected me something fierce because she meant a lot to me. Unlike the death of others whom I have loved and admired though, I immediately received a great sense of peace shortly after I had cried my last tear. Not because I didn’t know her personally, but because I felt that I was satisfied with how she lived, that she used every ounce of the life she was given and left no unfinished business. Maya had to overcome so many hurdles in her life. If you had met a younger, angrier, more hotheaded Maya, you would have never guessed what she would accomplish later. And you know the darnedest thing is that her greatest gift to the world was not her singing, her poetry, or her literature – it was her hardship. Hardship is what gave her the material for her autobiographies, her poetry, her music, and so forth. Hardship is what showed the world that greatness is living inside each one of us waiting to be expressed, and hardship is what showed us that even dark days will do us some good in our future. Even in that moment when she was a pimp, a prostitute, a teenage mother, she had greatness on the inside of her. When she expressed this in such a way that the whole world could grow from it (her greatness I mean) we all understood the “doing” of her purpose.

Preach, Maya. (Source: browngirlsconnect.com)

This truth about hardship was echoed to me the other day when I texted my mother an anguished complaint about how helpless I feel sometimes, about not having a 9-5 and being financially dependent on the generosity of others. Her response, “This too is PURPOSE. It is NECESSARY. It will pass. Make the most of it.” She read my mind. And she is right; just as Maya Angelou reminded us, every experience you have ever encountered, even the seemingly insignificant ones, prepares you for what is to come.
**I know I’m inconsistent with the entries in this blog. I’ve gone into a sort of writing cave past few months. Most of my literary energies have been expended on my novel-in-progress. Anyways this is the one place where I write and upload when I feel like it, not when there’s pressure to do so. Bear with me?
GOD made everything with a place and purpose… (Proverbs 16:4 MSG)

A Naked Walk Towards the Knowledge of Self

I’m uncomfortable being in the nude in front of other people. It doesn’t much matter if you’re my friend (obviously a girl friend – DustySoul don’t play that, no thanks) from van toeka af and I’ve been naked in front of you before. It’ll still take me a minute to change into my nightie or get into the day’s outfit. It’s just scary for me, to be all exposed and vulnerable to someone’s inspection and commentary like that. Older cousins and aunts always say to me, “What is it that you have that we don’t?”

One is the magic number. This is a journey I must walk alone, with God of course!

My body is entirely my own, and even though I have the same things most women do, the fact that they belong to me makes them different. Or not. I’m not sure yet. Anyway, I always just gulp it down and force myself to be exposed anyhow. Mostly because some friends consider me to be shutting them out if I don’t allow myself to be naked in their presence. For them, being in the nude in front of them is giving them the chance to exist with me in one of my most vulnerable spaces – to share that moment so that we can grow from that weakness to a strength bolstered by love.

I’m in a space right now in which I feel exposed. Everything that I thought I knew about myself did not hold up against this storm. The storm was a post-modernist haze in which everything was meaningless and confusing and uncertain, and I was stuck in this mist. I literally woke up, maybe after a dream that pointed me to it, and sulked because I realised a scary truth about myself. I realised that I’ve been so used to standing in people’s shadows, existing in relation to them, that when the time came for me to stand alone, all I could think was, “Flip! How do I even do this?”

The post-modern haze is not my permanent state of being. I’ll admit, I’m not sure who I am right now, but I refuse to live in a mist of confusion. God showed me that I was under the wrong impression about who DustySoul is, and He stripped off all my old ideas and now here I am, naked before Him. What can I say? Except to surrender to Him, allow myself to be vulnerable in His presence, and watch Him bolster my new strength by His Love?

This is a journey for One

So I’m pulling away from walking in the shadows of others. It’s hard. Frequently I slip into that comfortable habit of fading into the background, but I’m doing the whole baby steps thing when it comes to this walk.

I hear Him saying, “Sometimes you will have to walk alone. Walk anyway beau”, and this keeps me focussed. Here I am, naked, exposed, vulnerable. I’m walking anyway, with a spring in my step.

Inspired by Love,

Dusty Soul 

So many times I define my pride
Through somebody else’s eyes 
Then I looked inside and found my own stride,
I found the lasting love for me
If I’m searching for my spirituality
Passionately I must begin with me

There’s just me…
One is the magic number

Jill Scott, One is the Magic Number

“And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.” – Hebrews 4:13 (Amplified Bible)


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 (http://sboshlestar.tumblr.com/)

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)

Lessons from my hair (Part 1): The rise of the Afro

I’d forgotten how tough the kinks in my hair can be. So now I was in front of the mirror, fighting with the knots in my afro and cursing my nappy head for giving me such grief so early in the morning. I was about to give up, when God used my hair to remind me a few things that I can learn about myself. 

 I’m not shaped like the rest. I am black, round, lumpy, hard, soft, resilient, tough. I am an Afro. 

Getting wet doesn’t always deter me. It just reveals a different side of me. Embrace the many facets of my being, because I am an Afro. 

Today you push me up into a round sun right on top of your head, tomorrow you twist me to suit your mood, but my texture remains the same. No matter how you choose to see me today, I’ll always be an Afro.

To know me, you must feel me, spend time with me, and travel the pathways of my head. I am an Afro. 

The lovely Busi Mavuso

I don’t mind the parts of me I’ve lost to the floor. There’s more where that came from. I am an Afro. 

Don’t underestimate how far I can stretch/go. I am an Afro. 

So you need a little patience when handling me. Bear with me though, I am raw… I am an Afro. 






I am an Afro. You’ve tried to pull me apart, but watched me RISE instead. 

Today, I will approach life with the same stubbornness. Hello world.

Morongoa Masebe (a.k.a. Afroetic Wisdom)

Afroetic Wisdom









I have added a video of Maya Angelou’s poem “And still I rise”, because one more thing my hair has taught me, is that I should be resilient and rise in the face of being pushed, pulled, and stretched around. Enjoy.  


Dusty Soul