time to shine

BASED ON A TRUE STORY
OF
EDWIN MAKITLA When I was in primary school in tembisa I
discovered that there was something wrong with
being a pedi. I think it was when I was in Grade 1 when I first
heard the words “you don’t look like a pedi boy”.
I was confused by it but then the girl who said it
to me pointed at another pedi girl and she said
pedi’s look like her”. The girl had darker skin than
mine and it was very nicely pointed out that she had a nose that spanned across her face. I think I
shrugged at the statement but somewhere inside
me that was affirmation of my beauty in a city
where I was a clear minority. We were labelled (PIT) – pedi in tembisa. It was
supposed to be funny but I always wondered by
the Batswana, Basotho and Mavenda who
dominated the school were not given labels. I
figured it had to do with the fact that the
acronym existed so poking fun at us just made sense. I heard the term more than once at some
point I would interject before someone even said
it. “Yes I’m a PIT. Haha move on.” I probably
didn’t say it with that much attitude though, I
was not aware of the prejudices around me. I
was a child. I will never forget the day one of my friends told
me that all pedi people are evil and they use black
magic rituals. I went home and asked my mother
about it she said those things did happen, but
they happened in Mamelodi (where my friend
was from) as well. For a very long time I had a complex. I rejected
my culture. I rejected my language and all African
languages in fact. I spoke English no matter what.
With the other African languages, I feared further
rejection and ridicule for being the PIT who
butchers Setswana or whatever language I was attempting to speak. I hated that I was Mopedi Honestly. I was
embarrassed to say it when people asked me.
And when they asked me if both my parents
were pedi. that would pour salt onto my wounds.
I remember when my mother told me that her
father actually had some Pedi origins from Lord knows when I was so excited. I started telling
people that. I used it to explain my beauty. In high school I had a friend who told me she did
not speak sepedi anywhere else but home
because people always made fun of her. For
some reason that was the day I decided I was not
going to allow anyone to tell me that there was
something wrong with my language or my culture. When we studied history and I started
speaking to my mother about the politics of our
country I started to realise why I had been
treated like a ‘lesser black’. 4years later I was accepted at university of the
Witwatersrand. Where I meet challenges, I meet
new friends, different Diversity of people. The
tone of my language was English, I adopt this
language and I reject my home language.
All my friends, classmates, studentmates, where from different place, city,provenances, I took
English as my home language. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about the
fact that I once resented myself, my names and
my entire being. When you reject who you were
created to be you are uncomfortable in your own
skin. You are not free to embrace everything
about you and you even fail to explore what your heritage is because of you don’t want it. At
home when you are with your sisters and
brothers you are proud and you are so self-
confident but when you are out there in the
world there is a part of you that seeks approval,
that is insecure and just sad. I believe that I was not aware of the self-rejection
that the prejudices I faced created but I do know
that even today I have traces of what happened
to me. I am not completely confident when I
speak sepedi with people who are fluent because
I know that I am not as proficient in my mother- tongue as they are. What comforts me is the fact
that I am in love with my culture and my
language. I am proud of my names and I am
more than willing to teach someone how the ‘E’ in
my surname and second name are pronounced. I believe that self-identification is important. Not
so that you can bring down others or elevate
yourself above others but just so you can
understand the dynamics of your society and
understand where we come from. When you are
aware of the sad mentalities that were drilled into the minds of our ancestors instead of hating
yourself and the people who ridiculed you, you
will be proud of yourself and your place in
society. You will start to educate yourself and
those around you because you know who you
are. You will be able to walk with your head held high because you are aware that some would
rather you kept it down. You will be proud because you will know the
horrid stereotypes that are impressed upon your
people and you will explore the nuances that you
are faced daily. You will be aware of the
comments that are made with malice and those
that are just real intrigue. YOU will know who you are and you will be
proud of who you are. There is no need to try
and fit into a mould that was never made for you Written by: Edwin Makitla Based on the true story
Of
Edwin Makitla
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