Father’s Reputation, Protection for the Family

Amaqhabane (Comrades) toyi-toying in their numbers to our home. I was alone in the house that day – you and mum at work. It was about 3pm in the afternoon. I was around 14 years old. In the height of the open resistance against Apartheid. When the clashes between ANC / UDF and Inkatha were brutal. Seeing this mob at our gate for some reason did not arouse any fear in me. I walked towards them. And asked, “Ngiganinceda?”( How can I help you?)”

The leader of that march who later worked for the family and I came to know as “Musa”. Don’t think I ever knew his surname. He was seething. I think my cool in the face of this serious confrontation annoyed him even more than the reason that they had made their way to our house. “Uphi uBab’ uMsomi?” (Where is Mr Msomi?) he demanded. “He is not home yet,” I answered. Unshaken. He then said, “We are here out of respect for Bab’ uMsomi. We were about to attack (the name of the boyfriend) and then we saw uS’celo (my sister) in the car with him. This foiled our plan. His Uncle is Inkatha. He has done many bad things. So we need to take him out. And there your sister is. We know uBab’ uMsomi. We could not do anything to hurt his daughter”.

But little Dudu Msomi was really not following the logic. So I ask, “So if his (the name of sister’s boyfriend long forgotten) Uncle is Inkatha,  why do you have to kill him?” Oh not a good time to be logical, Dudu Msomi!!! Musa saw red. ” Don’t ask any questions. We are here out of courtesy. Please tell uBab’ uMsomi to tell uS’celo to stay away from this guy. Next time, we will not hesitate even if she is with him. Okay??”

Off they went. Singing. Toyi toying. I think Musa came back another time to talk to Dad. Details are not clear. But I recall he came to work for us. We were cordial towards each other. But on occasions I think he did remind me that my fearlessness could have been costly that afternoon. But also it seems that that brief exchange changed something in him and he did reflect on a few things. I guess that is how he ended up working for us.

On this Father’s Day Mr Msomi. For who you were and are. I never saw you standing on podiums giving political speeches. And yet people always knew and respected that you stood on the ‘kosher’ side of the liberation struggle. We had stories of African children in private schools being harassed and their parents called Izipimpi because how come they could afford to attend such schools. Not once did I feel unsafe. Threatened. In fact I was protected.

There were mischievous forces who tried to turn the community against our family as the landowners by sowing seeds and rumours that you were Inkatha because that was seen as tantamount to the betrayal of the Struggle. No Qhabane ever believed any fake stories because your heart and soul were known. In your quite nature. Your inner strength. Your reputation protected us during Volatile times. You always told us of the New South Africa. You never wavered. Doubted. You were offered many opportunities to go into exile. You turned them down. You wanted to be with and amongst your people even if you would not achieve things that you may have in a different environment. You never stood on podiums. But people knew where your loyalty and love laid.

I am passionate about this country. I am passionate about contributing to my fellow human beings. I am in large part who I am proud to be because I am my father’s daughter. Happy Father’s Day Nomndayi! I am sure S’celo is hugging you tight as she remembers this story. The boyfriend was unfortunately killed at a later stage. Black on black violence as such attacks became known as were a symptom of the liberation struggle. My Daddy’s reputation saved my sister’s life and we shared our sisterhood for a few decades before she passed on in 2006. Thank you Daddy!

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