From a young age I had the urge to tell my story to the world. I felt a sense of injustice, and till this day there’s still a lingering bitter taste in my mouth because of the things that I witnessed and went through in the past.
Let me take you back.
It was a normal day for me… I was seven years old in the year of 1991. The late South African president Nelson Mandela was just about to be released. I remember feeling a tinge of excitement in the air but I couldn’t pin point exactly what it was.
I stayed in Dube, Soweto with my parents and five brothers and sisters. My mother ran her fashion business from home and my dad used to commute to work every day. I have vague memories doing laundry with my mother. I have a memory of her walking us to school and the umbrella that she carried on that day. It was transparent with scattered colourful cartoons on the opened umbrella. It was drizzling, and I remember watching the droplets of rain rolling off it.
I also remember her giving me money to buy a pack of sweets, as well as the joy that I felt when that happened. And these are the only few memories I have of her in my mind, and the picture that she took with my dad before they had their own house. I don’t remember the sound of her voice but I remember the smell, and warmth of her arms.
1991…towards the end of apartheid. A war broke out at a hostel (where mine and industrial workers used to stay) near our home. This is where the old Maponya Mall used to be. As per routine, everyone knew what had to happen. As soon as we heard gunshots and teargas, we would all run into the house to take cover, and we did that. I remember doing that.
While on the phone, a bullet came through the window and killed my mother instantly. I remember hearing her scream. I remember everyone in the house screaming and someone calling her name. I remember seeing her lying on the floor. I remember the blue and white polka dot dress that she was wearing and the blood that surrounded her. I remember.
My younger sister and I were taken to our neighbours house and before we left the door, we were met by a group of journalists. I remember crying, seeing cameras click, being asked questions…in my head it was hectic. Later in the night, I saw it on a very short news snippet on TV and I felt that they didn’t tell my story correctly. I don’t know what happened to me on that day but I vowed to tell the world my story: how unfair it was, how hard my parents worked having started a business during extremely turbulent and dangerous times while raising six kids. I was angry and confused but mostly confused.
And so the journey began when I was seven years old. My father raised all six of us. I later found out about journalism and pursued it relentlessly until I became a journalist because I had the mission to tell the world my story. Growing up without a mother and being raised by a single parent had it’s own challenges. This journey has been filled with loads of pain and joy, and has led to the start of POUT MOVEMENT: a self-empowerment movement for young women. While growing up, we were encouraged (by my dad) to find creative ways to get transport money to go to school by selling sweets or chips. This encouragement allowed me to find opportunities that were available for free to build myself and career. I was encouraged to look inwards to find solutions or overcome challenges. I was taught to be self reliant hence the self-empowerment movement. I overcame the bitterness from my mother’s death because my dad never acted like a victim in fron of us. I overcame the bitterness by doing things which made me feel good which included doing drama at school, public speaking, art classes, dancing and playing netball. Everytime I felt good, I wanted more of that feeling. To tell you the honest truth, doing that…saved me.
I have failed many times where I felt I wasn’t good enough, where I attempted to start businesses which failed and when I gave up because of fear… and in the same breath I have been successful with most of my goals and sometimes have to pinch myself because of what I have achieved.
I hope you find strength, courage and hope when you come to this website. I hope your faith is renewed and your dreams are affirmed. I also hope that you feel comfortable enough to share your views, experiences and advice so we can grow from our stories.
Most importantly I hope that you feel that you have a place to belong, and a place where you can find comfort and solutions to your problems. I will share my journey as well, and would love to hear your journeys as well. You are here on earth for a purpose. If anyone hasn’t told you that, allow me to let you know that the space and time you occupy on this earth has a reason and a purpose. Your existence is not a mistake. Your talents, efforts and presence are there to contribute to a greater and bigger reason. If you don’t know that reason yet, then you have come to the right place.
I recently connected with the journalist who wrote about my mother’s story when he was in South Africa. You can read it the story here http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-witt-twitter-small-world-1025-20171023-story.html
Always remember that you are POWERFUL beyond measure, OUTSTANDING for every effort that you make, UNIQUE for there is no one like you and TALENTED because you are blessed with the ability to contribute to society. You are POUT.