For the ones who refuse to stifle their roar

“This ability to hold on, even in very simple ways, is work black women have done for a very long time.” ~ Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens

For you,

I would do anything. This is my note of love and light to you. I have tried to write you a letter, but the words keep getting stuck in my throat. All I have for you is  solidarity, is a thought, is a prayer.

So many of us need healing. Seek yours with a stubbornness only heaven can shake. Don’t hang around in the hurt, no matter how seductive that may be. You are not what you have been through.

Strength and power,


“Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” ~ Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night


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 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


Summertime livin’ (AKA Avoid facebook during the holidays because MEH)

December-time can be nightmarish.

“What have you done this year?”

“What are your plans for next year?”

“When do you plan to get married?”

All fielded by aunts and uncles with their face too close to yours, getting into your personal space about things they didn’t have figured out at 25 either.


You try your best to answer their questions without sounding like a loser, flexing your best PR muscles so that jobless becomes time to reflect and improve or some such flowery sounding thing, and then proceed to chop vegetables by the pot-loads so that you can quell the “She’s gotten lazy” whispers they don’t even bother to say behind your back anymore.

chris breezy

Then you sit down for a moment, behind the garage where no one can see you cry, and take stock of the year. My goodness, it’s been such a crap one! You’re tired of crying, so you wipe your hands and fish your phone out of your apron’s pocket. Facebook is full of disgustingly happy people. Three people are engaged. Thulani got his PhD. Salome got accepted for Masters at Yale. Must be nice! Jane is off to the Seychelles on a baecation. Mmm! Must. Be. Nice. And then you’re like WTF?! because there are like, five people either pregnant or giving birth. Gahtdamb! Where have the years gone? We’re getting old.

Summertime, and the livin’ is heavy.

Pause. Lemme tell ya what I know for sure: rest is a lifestyle. If I am constantly looking to “get there”, to “arrive”, to “make it”, then I will always be agitated and restless and peace will elude me. Hey man, don’t get me wrong, progress is a good thing. I have ambitions too. But I can’t keep looking at my life and thinking that everything in it is wrong. You know, something about the day of humble beginnings and all that. You’re not where you used to be. You lived through your worst and you’re still here. You’re stronger than you know. You did the best you could wethu.

I never want to feel like I have arrived. Never be complacent. Despair says, “Circumstances = stuck”. Hope says, “This is just a delay”. My faith must continuously be active.

You put your phone back in your apron, stretch your back and smile. This isn’t the end for you because you see it now. You see the most delicious thing about life and it’s this – it goes on.

Merry Christmas,


“We were sad of getting old, it made us restless/ Oh, I’m so mad I’m getting old it makes me reckless!” ~ Adele, When We Were Young

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

Monsters in My Head – For Suicidal Girls Who Struggle to Get Over 

I was sitting in a seminar room with my classmates when our lecturer, after finally poking and prodding an answer out of me, said “Yes! That’s good. Why are you so apologetic about it?”
A few weeks after that incident a friend of mine, a writer I ‘met’ on Twitter, said something similar. I was working at the publisher where his latest book was published, and I was speaking with him on the phone about some admin tasks I had been given to do for him. I must have sounded apologetic then too, because he said to me, “Why do you sound so timid?”

He had read a review that I wrote for a book last year, and in it I had been scathing and fierce in my analysis. Anyone reading it would think “She’s something fearsome. I don’t want to mess with her.”
I realized, once these two virtual strangers said this to me, that I don’t trust my ideas. I don’t trust my mind, and I never have.

I grew up in an environment where silence was king – we were meant to be seen, not heard. I mean, of course we spoke. Mundane speech occasionally, but never the deep stuff. Never the thoughts you really wanted to speak. We were taught to be apologetic, even about things we were not at fault for. We learnt early that our voice, our opinions, don’t matter. I spent most of my childhood in my room, reading, or in front of the TV watching cartoons. But mostly in my room, reading. Escaping. I had to get away from the unsaid things, the heavy unsaid things that choked each and every one of us daily.

And so here I am, a girl who lives in her head but never vocalises what’s going on in there, because I don’t know how. All the monsters, they never out unless I write them out. Writing is the only way I know how to speak.

You’ve heard it said that in a crisis people’s responses are either to fight, or flee (flight). My response is to freeze. That monster stays getting the best of me.

Sometimes that freezing is a mental one. Fear, you know, freezes intelligence. Every time I’m afraid, I find that I can’t think. It’s like writer’s block, but for your brain, and far worse.

I think a lot about death. About how suicide seems sane, though it is not usually thought of as a rational act. The girl who does it seems to have taken the rational, not easy or cowardly, way out. Having surveyed the heaviness of life against her, found her options for “getting over” wanting, she took her life. This life which she was given without her permission/ consent. This life which she was pushed into without being able to choose what circumstances she could be born into. Doesn’t birth, her birth, any birth, seem to be quite the violence? Being born is unfair.

And? What can be said for all these things? How do we, girls born into a world that sets us up for failure, and disappointment, and yet expects us to rise; how do we get over? Can we?

Not waving but drowning. Source:

Maybe can is not the problem for you. Maybe it’s do. Do I want to? Get up after the millionth time? Try again after having tried a million times before?

How many


can she be knocked down


she realizes

there’s no more



Yes, life is war. Always war. It follows then, that to find peace we must fight for it. And we are our biggest enemies. And our greatest allies. But the decision is always ours.

“You block your dreams when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith”, Marty Manin Morrissey said. So I must feed my faith, I must find a corner of the world, or a corner in myself, to grieve my disappointments and fertilise my faith. I’ve heard only a mustard seeds worth is necessary to begin. So you fell again. Begin again. Because dying may be easy, but living will be worth it, in the end.

How you got here was not your choice, but you are here now. It was God’s gift to you, you can be.

And you are meant to be.



“Are these jottings morbid? I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with toothache, thinking about toothache and about lying awake.’ […] Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep thinking about the fact that you suffer.” ~ CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

“You can live through it. It’s working for your good.” ~ James Fortune & Fiya, Live Through It

It’s Becoming Harder to Root for Black Men

Trigger warning: street harassment, molestation, rape culture, misogynoir 

I wasn’t going to write about this, but it’s been a week and I still get anxious every time I see him.

Writing through this may not make me less mad about it, but it will ease my troubled mind somewhat. For some of us “poetry is not a luxury, and writing is not a past time. It is survival. It is revival; it is the healing process of probing deeper into the collective memory of the soul“. (Word to Taylor Dominique Mason )

I was fixing to get into a taxi at Bree when one of the taxi marshalls groped me in full view of the people in the taxi. I immediately hit his hand away and told him, “Please don’t touch me.” The women in the front row laughed. Unfazed, he held out his hand; as though we were doing some kind of foreplay, and smiled like I was being a tease and actually liked that he had just violated me.

not a public space yo

Source: BuzzFeed


What I really wanted to do was kick him in the balls and tell him to go to hell. I wanted to turn to those women and call them out on their endorsement of such appalling behaviour. But what, if I was able to inflict any type of pain, would that achieve except retaliation? 100 bucks says the people at Bree would probably pull me off him, or he would turn even more violent. They did think my ordeal was funny, after all.

I love Black men. I am always the first to root for them. As a matter of principle, I never even use the N word, though I am myself Black. Heck, I want to marry a Black man one day. If you read this blog, you’ll know I’ve written about my love for him too (Ubuhle bendoda: on the beauty of a Black man.

But I’m finding it harder to root for him, and I am painting ‘him’ with a very broad general stroke unapologetically, because I can. He has a whole army of fvkboys who will come to his defense always, anyways.

Being a Black woman in this country is traumatic. On a daily basis there are at least 10 men who insist on calling me “My size” / “Sweedat” / “Lovey” etc and/ or pulling my arm and demanding to see my tattoo, get my number, start a conversation. Where is it safe to walk down the street without being a accosted by seventy men? And when?

From an article I wrote for The Con about a year ago:

“From the time a girl enters puberty until the age men stop seeing her as ‘desirable’, the idea that her body is not her own is systematically imposed on her. On any given day, as she moves from A to B, she will have to fend off unwanted attention, she’ll be whistled at, grabbed, groped, insulted for not responding, and, in some cases, the attack becomes serious. For many men, there is just no desire to see street harassment as harmful – it is just harmless fun, and is often perceived as doing women the ‘favour’ of complimenting them. But harassment on the street is nothing less than an attack on women’s bodies.

[…] Men’s failure to empathise with women is also because the harassment is not really about the women themselves. It is about male sexual entitlement and it is about performing manhood – perhaps more for the sake of other men than for women.”

I have conversations with my girlfriends almost weekly, I see tweets and Facebook posts from friends almost daily, about such experiences. No matter how many times we say, “Leave me alone”, or show no interest, or put earphones in to block them out, they just don’t seem to accept that “No means NO”. This is rape culture, how a man can assume that each woman who passes by is fair game, how he can touch her intimately without knowing her or asking for permission to do so, how he can grope a woman in a public area because he knows no one will challenge him, how he can be amused by her anguish, how he  can forget her face and move on with his life while she panics each time she sees him… The list is too long.

Left: K Funk + right: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Their message is clear – our bodies belong to them, they are here for their pleasure. Because you know, I generally woke up wondering how I could please randoms. The idea that I love myself is beyond their understanding. I look good because I want to, not because I’m looking for validation. But looking good is besides the point, because even on a Frumpy Fred day, some dude thinks he can come up to me and try to be all up in my space. The clothes aren’t the problem. The attitude is.

The liver! It still shocks me shem. I mean, it shouldn’t, but every time something happens I’m like, “HOW is that an acceptable way to treat a human being?!” Like, there’s no logic to the messed up way that men insist on performing this masculinity schmasculinity.

But we will overcome.

Have you seen this video of men talking about ST? You’ll laugh. Shout out to Tiq for being the real MVP. We need more men like you. As for those men making this about them. I can’t even.

All of the SMH,


“When Black men are willing to do the work to challenge their own internalization of oppression and reject the dehumanization of Black women and themselves by proxy, they engage in a very radical self-love. […] Many Black men fear this because in their eyes, not dominating Black women means admitting to being weak. They have mistaken the utter weakness, destruction and oppression that patriarchy is and the fragile volatility of patriarchal masculinity for strength and courage. It is neither. It is an endless book of matches placed there by the hand of White supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Black men use them to set Black women on fire as they too die from smoke inhalation. My desire is for us to live and thrive, not to burn.”

–  Trudy/ Gradient Lair

Just a Moment –

When we were students we would to trek up the hill of the University, get to the top and head to the Monument building, which overlooked the city. Once there we’d scream our frustrations out into the air, till our voices were hoarse or at least tired. Aaaaaaaah! We’d roar, ferociously. It didn’t solve our problems but it was the release that we needed.

I think I need a Monument Moment.

A question’s been bugging me for the longest: How do we mourn in an age that doesn’t appreciate humanity? How do we mourn when we’re saturated with concerns, causes, epidemics, craziness? How do we mourn? A life vanishes and we are forced to do business as usual. Like it was nothing, like it was Thursday.

I have no idea what it’s called, but there’s probably a name for it in some social science. I’m talking about being an intensely sensitive person. If you are sad, you feel it deeply, (depression, bleh). If you’re happy, you feel it with the heat of a fire that can turn coal to diamond. Sometimes, ‘feelings’ are how you know when something is right or wrong – you know, like when something about an interaction doesn’t ‘feel right’, or when you need to make a decision and a certain path ‘feels off’. Sort of like your gut, or intuition, discernment. The great thing about hypersensitivity is that you’re super aware of everything happening around you, and so nothing goes by unnoticed. The bleak thing is you tend to carry people’s ‘heaviness-es’ like they are your own, or you don’t apply wisdom and your emotions overtake your judgement.
The downside of empathy is having to cope with the weight of the world on your back.

There’s a little song by Laura Mvula, ‘Can’t Live With the World’, that I like. In it she sings:

You can’t live with the world on your shoulders
Take my hand and you’ll see love will find us
You’ve been lost in a dark place a long time
Come to me, say goodbye to your struggles
Remember how far you’ve come
From the start till the end
Depend on me
You can’t live with the world on your shoulders

It’s great because it’s a reminder that we can’t believe ‘the hype’ of our own feelings. Sometimes we’ve got to breathe, take care of ourselves. We can’t navigate any of it as though we were an island. It’s okay to reach out.

Audre Lorde said:

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

We so desperately want to know that our living means something, to be part of something greater, but you can’t change your corner of the world if you’re weary. I’ve heard it said, that love is a revolutionary act. Yes. Love is activism.

It’s hard to mourn in an age that doesn’t appreciate humanity because there’s so much coming at us that we can’t keep up with it all. There’s so much wrong with it and we feel helpless. We can’t fix as much as we’d like to – is it any wonder that we even get desensitized to the pain?

Ever get fatigued sometimes, when you log onto twitter and all you see on your TL is more stuff to get angry about? Or when you’ve spent a little while confronted with challenges that won’t come right, and your frustration just keeps building?

For those who have the tendency to feel every hurt – don’t. Take a moment, a Monument Moment, and press the Off button. Then keep it off. Nurture. Find a way to love in this world that hurts and is hurting. Internalize that. Remember it. Press the On button. Reload. Then, as fiercely, relentlessly and compassionately as you can – love.

Love and light,

“There she waits looking for a saviour, someone to save her from her dying self. Always taking ten steps back and one step forward. She’s tired, but she don’t stop…”
– Laura Mvula, ‘She’

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭3, 13‬ (ESV)

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:

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)

Guest diary entry: “Love: unrelenting fighter you are.”

Love is my favourite author. They inspired this. I hope she finds you in your secret place; lays your soul bear; and pierces your heart. I hope your heart bleeds…

Love: unrelenting fighter you are.

I remember those times

when the moon bore witness to our love.

Shining bright—the only light to guide us in the dark night.

It was the only certainty I needed, the knowledge of our truth manifested in the natural

Intended as a sign, a symbol, a reminder of love in times distraught.


When a speck of light brought illumination to a sea of blackness;

When the glow in your eyes could not conceal the past—History.

A man in dusted rubber boots dancing joyfully, treading on our dreams;

Weighting truth with truth.

Ours boxed, graved, sinking deeper and deeper into nothingness,

Light as a feather.   _

Oh, what an unbalanced scale, when the reality of it is compared to will.

An equivocation unseen, caused only by seeing.


I remember those times, when the stars sat hiding;

A sky graced only by a moon,


Half drowned by the blackness of night.

How alone it must have felt.

Overcome. Doomed. Destined to nothingness.


I remember when the moon bore witness to our love.

I remember when the moon was our love.

I remember a conflict of truths. A balancing of scales.

A blindness of sorts.

Oh how I wish we could have seen that moon, that light, that sign

A symbol; a reminder of love in times distraught

How I wish we saw a soldier adorned in the blood of her enemies;

An unrelenting fighter

But instead we saw an army of full stops.

We saw the end…


Oh how I wish we saw love

Bella Boqo

“…a soldier adorned in the blood of her enemies/

An unrelenting fighter…” Pic sourced

“I can write the saddest poem of all tonight. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.”  – Pablo Neruda

“It was my destiny to love and say goodbye.”  – Pablo Neruda, Still Another Day

Bella Boqo (left) and DustySoul

Bella Boqo (left) and DustySoul

**theDustySoul thanks her dear friend Bella Boqo for this poem: a swift but beautiful, painful and enthralling journey through the rollercoaster of being in the clutches, the throes, of love. Who can escape this mixture of the pretty with the ugly, sweet and bitter? Better yet, who would wish to? theDustySoul hopes you will embrace this poem even as you embrace Love.



Sweet dreams are made of this…

My baby sister looooves grapes. I mean, this girl has got a real bad thing for those things. Got so serious that when she was at our aunt’s for a couple of days, they had to lock the grapes away else she would have devoured the entire box (she’s going to kill me for outing her on that one, but sister, I’m on your side, the first step to recovery is acceptance, and all that *winks*)…

Actually, I don’t know many people who don’t like grapes. If they’re not into the fresh flesh of the fruit itself, they love ‘variations’ of it: raisins, juice, and of course, wine.

Grapes also happen to remind me of dreams. Must be that Langston Hughes poem, “What happens to a dream deferred?/ Does it dry up/ Like a raisin in the sun?…” that does this.

If I had to count the number of disappointments and deferred dreams I have, I’d need all my toes and fingers, and yours too. But let me count my dreams come true, I may only need one hand. Too often have I let my dreams die and shrivel like a raisin in the sun, too afraid to fight to see them happen. But I know God, and He gives us each a bunch of grapes and it’s up to us what we will make of those; whether we choose to squeeze them for all their worth and produce lively juice, or devour them real and raw, or to make the sweet, strong, invigorating wine that with time, will age into something better.

Whatever you do never let it shrivel up like a raisin in the sun. I know. I know that there are so many odds against us, but how can we give up on our dreams without trying? If we fail then we have at least a story for the dinner table; but if we fail to try, we have only the disappointment of what could have, should have, would have been.

I have had the privilege of meeting amazing people, people with dreams so big it scares me to think of them. They have taught me that if a dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough. If a dream seems pretty easy to achieve, it may not be big enough. If a dream involves only your success and does not spread this success to those around you, it’s not big enough.


DustySoul outside Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg, at the Brenda Fassie statue. Brenda had a dream that faced many odds, yet she managed to achieve much of it before her untimely death.

I’m glad I met these people, because I’ve always been one of those too afraid to dream, too afraid to put my faith out there. But I want to join that class of people who turn grapes into wine. I have to believe that dreams do come true. Lookin’ at you, you’re a dreamer friend, but you’re not the only one.

And with all we have, we can believe, dream, achieve. Yep, I’ll drink to that.

Love and dreams,


“Sweet dreams are made of this/ Who am I to disagree?/ Travel the world and the seven seas/ Everybody’s lookin’ for  somethin'” – Eurythmics, ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” – John Lennon