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Home: South Africa

A Place I Used to Call Home

Did you know that South Africa is currently going through a war and the only people dying are women.

The killers, they are our men.

So when asked who I am?

I say: “One of the lucky ones.”

When asked who I want to be in the future?

I say: “I want to be a free woman.”

They ask how, in a place such as this?

I say: “One day we will conquer. One day we will walk on our rich grounds again. Not rich from the bloodshed but rich from the love we share. One day we will speak of home like we used to.”

South Africa used to be a home, but now South Africa is merely just a country.

Let me describe to you this place I used to call home.

Home used to be a place I felt secure in even when my walls were down.

Home used to be a place that kept me warm even when the windows were open on a winter's night.

Home used to be my happy place when the world mistreated, mis-used, and left me misunderstood.

Home was the very place that taught me to be comfortable in my own skin, to dance with the sunset, to dance under the moonlight with assurance that I, too, would see the sunrise.

Never did I want to leave home and never did I think home would leave me wondering: “Will it be me tomorrow?”

What home never taught me is that I, with every other women born and raised in it, would die at the hands of it.

What home failed to teach me was that even with a guard and a lock by the door, there is no assurance that my mother would see my smile again.

I remember 21-year-old Zolile Khumalo, shot and killed by who she once referred to as her home at a place she once knew as her home.

What home failed to teach me is that in the blink of an eye I would need to seek for refugee because with every corner I turn to, I wonder if I’ll make it to the next.

Home used to be a place where we shared plates of Pap, Chakalaka, and Braai meat (what Americans refer to as barbecue). Now home serves us with burnt body remains: Our Sister's ashes, I will not forget Karabo Mokoena—abuse, killed, and burned by who she once referred to as her home.

Home was a place that once regarded me as a flower. Now at home on every channel, it’s been reported that another woman has died at the hands of yet another man.

Men, never did I think that you’d be the reason for these wildfires.

Home used to be a place that picked me from the ground, caressed me gently into the garden, and watered me.

Men, I know Home taught you how to harvest so how dare you reap fruit you did not sow?

How do you take life you never carried or ever will carry for nine months?

How dare you change the dynamics of my wardrobe and how I choose to express myself because now, now I choose to cover up and I pray to God as I exit through these doors that I do not look attractive because I do not wish to draw attention to myself on these streets I used to call Home.

Oh, Home, how I trusted you! How dare you take away my innocence because you spotted my adolescence? We will not forget Timothy Omotoso, 59-year-old televangelist who sexually assaulted, raped, and human trafficked 30 girls.

Home, will you do something! Not only was he the thief of the night, but this was daylight robbery.

Home was where sunrays penetrated through my curtains at 5 AM in the morning waking me up to chirping birds. SUNRAYS PENETRATING THROUGH MY CURTAINS, that was the only penetration I knew of.

Home, why have you left me with no choice but death?

What used to be sounds of chirping free birds are sounds of women running for their lives, longing to be free.

How do I save them?

Oh God, oh God why have you forsaken us?

Home used to be a dome filled with shalom but now Home is no more.

Forgive them for they do not know what they do.

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Home: South Africa
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