Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Slice of Life: ​Koko’s words kept me going

 

 

I have a recurring memory around this time of year. I’m not sure why. It could be because the academic year is coming to an end or because it’s my grandmother’s birthday month.

Bear with me, though; I can’t remember the details in full. It’s like a strip of film worn over time. I went to visit my grandmother, Koko. It was something I did regularly on Sundays. We were having a conversation in her room. She sat in her chair and 18-year-old me across from her. Her hair was covered in the same white head wrap as usual. I remember that because of how it framed her full face and showed off her copper-like brown skin.

Again, no other details come to mind when I try to remember the nature of the conversation. I only remember one thing — the words “fetsa ka skolo” in Koko’s voice persistently ring in my head. These words carried me through my years of university. I had to finish school. I had to complete my degree to honour my grandmother’s sacrifice.

For the past four years those words have carried me through uninspiring courses, meeting multiple school deadlines while working on a few side hustles and defending my art in colonial academic spaces and at home where no one understood what I was doing.— Multidisciplinary artist and honours student Oratile Papi Konopi (22) as told to Zaza Hlalethwa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa studies Digital Democracy, New Media and Political Activism, and Digital Politics.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

More top stories

Council wants Hawks, SIU probe into BAT’s Zimbabwe scandal

The cigarette maker has been accused of giving up to $500 000 in bribes and spying on competitors

How Alpha Condé overthrew Alpha Condé

Since the coup d’état, Guinea’s head of state has been in the custody of the military officers. But it was the president who was the primary architect of his own downfall

‘The Making of Mount Edgecombe’: A view of history from...

Indian indentured labourers’ lives are celebrated in a new book, Sugar Mill Barracks: The Making of Mount Edgecombe

Case of men arrested with 19 rhino horns is postponed

Alleged rhino kingpin and a Mpumalanga businessman appeared in court on charges of the illegal possession and selling of rhino horns
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×