Impilo yakwaNtu/ the Life of the Living.
On some June nights when the nip of the cold is bearable, I look to the heavens in search of the moon and its alignment. Evening walks have offered an escape to, and often from, the sanity of lockdown blues, a breath, to catch a moment to connect to the possibilities of life offered by the silence of the dark abyss.
I walk, at the same time, to hold my space, in vigilance and with caution. I hide from flashing blue and red lights, akin to my forebears’ Apartheid inspired curfew nights. Brutality of which reminds me of the Sharpeville massacre and Soweto Uprising. There, where blue hope towards freedom stained the soil with red dreams by the cusp of dawn.
Gravity of which is still felt by the numbers today, closely by George Floyd’s family and the loved ones of the late Collins Khosa.
I search the Pleiades (Silimela) that signal the start of the Xhosa year for answers. I remember S.E.K. Mqhayi’s poem A! Silimela! (Ah! June Star) speaking to the Frontier wars, amidst tribal and racial factions, on honoring one’s heart and standing for others, even at the face of death. As LGBTI and queer people we at times carry this tension within us, when we sometimes find our hearts drowning deaf to the sound of conflicting directives that toggle us between self-detachment and acceptance.
This youth month reminds us of the agency surging strong within us, that keeps our hearts alive even in the coldest of detached nights. Owning the brightness, we carry, as the stars gifted by Phalo, is also allowing our light to truly emanate from deep within ourselves. During global pride month we can recognize that embracing that each star is different, and accounting for the othered and isolated, we see each other’s light beyond our vision of privilege. We align ourselves with God, with the moon and stars, grouping together and equally shining brightly against injustice, holding space for those who need a moment to breathe, and belong.
Here we become them, and they, us.