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Epigraph Is Set To Introduce The Public To The Next Crop Of South African Literary Voices Lefoko La Kgosi Publishing, a relatively young publishing company will within a week unleash the first volume of what it calls its “literary mixtapes”. “Epigraph – My Heart Is My Alibi” is a collection of whispers. It is a canon of short writings from eight different writers spread across three provinces. It is the introduction of writers to themselves, to one another, to the publishing world, and to the reading public.An epigraph is simply defined as either "an inscription on a building or stone etc. or a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme". Both dictionary definitions are entirely relevant in the description of this collection of ordered and random writings, all different in style yet common in the great impression they have on the reader.It is Vladimir Nobokov who observed that “We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.” As you page from one heart to the other through this book, you will be confronted by ghosts, regret, loss, victory, rape, leadership, love, heartbreak, humour, pain, tears, identity, teenagehood, adulthood, adultery, lust, vision, dreams, greatness, architecture, space, relationships, death, hope, faith, spirituality, beauty and yourself. "I've always had a favourite author, and I had decided that having read many books, he was the only author whose material I would collect. Epigraph convinced me otherwise. The way in which it is written is like no other book I have seen as yet. Reader, you will be captivated." Epigraph – My Heart Is My AlibiISBN: 978-0-620-58949-9 www.epigraphbook.blogspot.com

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My Heart Is My Alibi

Khaya Ngoma § Prudence Ndala § Joy Bongani Mathebula § Lulamile Sifuba

Mbali Mavundla § Vincent Mmusakgosi Malatsi § Patamedi Jonathan Lebea § Naledi Chirwa

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Epigraph—My Heart Is My Alibi

Lefoko La Kgosi Publishing

[email protected]

076 162 3430

Layout and Typesetting Copyright © Lefoko La Kgosi

Cover Design Copyright © In Art Graphics

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,

stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means,

electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without

the prior written consent of the authors.

Short extracts may be used for review purposes.

Published and printed in the Republic Of South Africa.

First edition, 2013

ISBN 978-0-620-58949-9

Copyright © Naledi Chirwa, Khaya Ngoma, Mbali Mavundla, Lulamile Sifuba, Prudence Ndala, Joy Bongani

Mathebula, Patamedi Jonathan Lebea, Vincent Mmusakgosi Malatsi and Masingita Mzilikazi Masiya.


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I collect whispers and anchor memories in the sand after I have cleaned the hour glass. I am a connoisseur of moments and words, a seed whose genealogy

is of scribes who did not just alter lines to hammer phrases, but scribes who permitted meaning to mean something. —M. M. M.

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Introduction VII

The Space In-Between Khaya Ngoma 09

Variations Of Amy Prudence Ndala 16

Nomthandazo Joy Bongani Mathebula 22

Vision So Great Lulamile Sifuba 28

The Things I Lost Mbali Mavundla 36

Leadership And Love Vincent Mmusakgosi Malatsi 52

Dark White Patamedi Jonathan Lebea 61

The Mask Naledi Chirwa 68

Bonus Read 75

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Epigraph is defined as “a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the begin-ning of a document or component. The epigraph may serve as a preface, as a summary, as a counter-example, or to link the work to a wider literary canon, either to invite comparison or to enlist a conventional context.” Epigraph – My Heart Is My Alibi is a collection of whispers. It is a collection of short writings from eight different writers spread across three provinces. It is the introduction of writers to themselves, to one another, to the publishing world, and to the reading public.

Epigraph came about as a result of me falling in love with the writers’ thinking and writing. When I approached all of them with the idea of publish-ing their contributions, their first response was that they are not writers, and I stopped trying to convince them that they are when I saw that we all agreed that they are thinkers. I wanted to publish their thoughts. That got them in-terested. I also wanted to assist them in building a reference for a writing ca-reer, should they decide to take it up.

With no single theme, I asked the writers to write about the proof in their hearts – topics they relate to and feel comfortable with – whether fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry and with no limits beside word count.

It is Vladimir Nobokov who observed that “We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are mean-ingless.” As you page from one heart to the other through this book, you will be confronted by ghosts, regret, loss, victory, rape, leadership, love, heart-break, humour, pain, tears, identity, teenagehood, adulthood, adultery, lust, vision, dreams, greatness, architecture, space, relationships, death, hope, faith, spirituality, beauty and yourself.

Epigraph will go on to become a platform for the unearthing, developing and presenting of writers right through to their first books. Through Lefoko La Kgosi and envisioned partnerships, I endeavour to introduce a brand of new


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writers to South Africa and the rest of the world. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first volume of Epigraph – My Heart Is My Alibi. P.S. Epigraph is NOT free. Epigraph is a GIFT. Your Word Is King, Masingita Mzilikazi Masiya (@masingitamasiya) Lefoko La Kgosi Publishing (@teamlefoko) Managing Director

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The Space In-Between

Khaya Ngoma @khayangoma

Aspires to be an ambassador for architecture and to bring to the human race the understanding of The Space In-Between. He is an Archetectural Designer by

profession and hails from Ekangala, Gauteng.


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I am a man who operates in a space that cannot operate without him – the space between atmosphere and utmost fear. Thus I invite you to my space – a place of storage for my creative opinions.

Before I reveal these spacious thoughts, I would like to plead with you to bear with me while I reveal my reasons for visiting your library this season. The first reason is that I have been quiet about my true thoughts ever since I entered this space called life. The fear of being incarcerated in meaningless disputes is the primary culprit. It ends here, now. In as much as I am a fan of the "silence is golden" movement, that golden skin worn by this silence has been rather heavy on my heart; I can even feel the concrete foundations of my stomach resting carelessly on my pancreas.

This reminds me of how I kept quiet when a certain woman came to my office one Saturday afternoon. I was working alone that day – overtime, as they call it in the nine-to-five world, in the quest to escape my deadlines. She used to frequent the office, it was her daily routine in fact. She was part of the interior decor. She decorated my every thought. Anyway, after her very friendly handshake, she stared at the drawing board for about two minutes and then, while she picked up an old drawing sheet, she exclaimed, “Wow! Did you actually draw this with your hands?” Obviously I did, but to survive the confusion, I answered and questioned, “Yes, I did. Why? What do you see?” With an impressed look on her face, while caressing the lines on the sheet with her black polished nail, she replied, “My God! Your hand is as ac-curate as a machine. I cannot only see your ideas, but I can feel them too.”

Of course, at this point I was aware of the fact that she had not come to pay her usual visit. So, as I was blushing (this is very natural for black men as well, regardless of what they told you), I quickly expressed my gratitude, changed the subject and continued working. She worked with me to the point of infinite ecstasy and creativity.

I am not one to give in to temptation that easily. No, this is neither arro-gance nor confidence – it is simply a fact. That woman was my pencil. Yes, she seduced that space in my brain where creativity reigns. She in turn sur-rendered to every stroke on paper as I gently rubbed her straight curves with the foreskin of my index finger.

The second reason is found in the book of perception. Even though count-less books have been written about relationships, you still find many un-healthy relationships out there. Is it because people don’t read these books? Do these books really offer sound advice? Or is it that people just choose to stand firm in their failing ways? The answers to these questions are prone to be more subjective than objective. This is exactly what I don’t want us to waste our precious time on.

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We need to understand the fact that the spaces we occupy, whether by liv-ing, or working, or playing and everything in-between, are as alive as we are. If they were not, how would we be able to live inside them? Could a dead space contain a living, inhaling and exhaling creature? By spaces I am refer-ring to architectural spaces. I am talking about architectural relationships. Welcome to my story.

This is where we are: every component in a building has a relationship of some sort with other components. Every component is shaped in a way that will allow the adjacent component to fit in that space, and the space between such components is called relationship. Every colour stands next to a differ-ent colour. The paramountcy in the relationship between colour and shape is that none of these two elements can occupy any space in the absence of the other. Space, therefore, is dependent on the relationship between these two components – a good relationship. Colour gives visibility to shape, and shape gives magnitude to colour. This is inarguably a good relationship. Whoever, whatever and wherever you are, you are occupying space. Therefore you are creating a disturbance or, in some cases, a good contribution to the relation-ship between shape and colour.

This brings me to a certain way of thinking I want to challenge. In our de-sign offices, we often spend time arguing about form and function when de-signing buildings. There is a huge space between designers who love to mini-mise the cost of buildings by ensuring that no single brick is used in a super-fluous manner and those who put more care in aesthetics than cost. I, myself, am still struggling to decide as to which side I belong. Nonetheless, I believe I am that space in-between.

On one hand, I carry the concern of cost, while on the other hand I tightly hold on to the ambition of making a statement. After all, who would want to live in an affordable hideous environment? Who would want to marry a spir-itually mature “unbeautiful” wife? Getting carried away? I don’t think so. Re-member, we are talking about relationships here. The relationship between colour and shape is the same as that of aesthetics and function; love and beauty.

Therefore, it is utterly disgraceful to walk on streets shouldered by bad relationships; to see doors and windows opened in the quest to bring some fresh air into sour spheres. If the air could speak for itself, it would refuse to occupy some of these spaces. Some of these faces are even shy to brag about their open spaces. They look like they are asking me the question I’m trying not to ask them. While I’m still not enjoying that walk, another street would be screaming an uninviting shout, and yes, I wouldn’t visit. At that time, all I am yearning for is some kerb appeal...

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Variations of Amy

Prudence Ndala @stonecasspir

Aspires to be a writer that can reconcile the creation with the Creator literarily. She

is currently a stay-at-home Writer and hails from Orchards, Pretoria.


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Dear Amy,

I’ve never told anyone this because it’s one of those things you just don’t share, you know? We girls keep so many things hidden, even from our circle of friends. I should have told you this a long time ago. Perhaps you could have avoided some burns.

A friend of mine once said, an older sister really, that with some situations, she wouldn’t speak of. She would just let me burn a little. Burn, I did.

A girl I knew, Amy, let’s call her Amy Yellow, was quiet and sweet. She met Amy Blue. They weren’t close right away, but with their friendship growing, they individually grew too. Amy Blue met a boy – tall, dark and handsome. I know it sounds cheesy, but he really was that good looking – chocolate skin, heavenly voice and a bowl of talents. It was love at first sight. Another cheesy entry, but nonetheless true. Amy Blue and... let’s call him Bass Boy… ex-changed numbers. They began getting to know each other.

One Sunday service evening, Amy Yellow and Bass Boy were talking rather cosily and Amy Blue noticed but ignored it, thinking nothing of it. Within a week, Amy Yellow and Bass Boy were dating. Amy Blue was admittedly caught off guard, but of course you know boys do this all the time as if there isn’t anything wrong with it. They flirt and call it innocent; they cheat and call it nothing; and they hurt and call it a mistake.

Amy Blue admitted to her sister that she was hurt and torn, and does not know how to be a good friend to Amy Yellow. Her sister then shared some-thing ridiculous with her, that she had a bet with Bass Boy that he could nev-er get Amy Yellow. He went out with her just to prove a point and win a stu-pid bet. If you’re smart of course, this is the part where you think to yourself: “Thank God I dodged the bullet”, but Amy blue was sixteen. You and I both know “smart” is almost unknown when you’re sixteen.

Amy Blue didn’t know how to deal with this. A mature and good friend would consider telling Amy Yellow that Bass Boy was a fake but also consider that it might not look genuine pertaining that she herself was attracted to Bass Boy. Amy Blue, however, acted as the perfect teenage girl – stupid. She kept quiet about it but still pined over Bass Boy. After sometime, Amy Yellow and Bass Boy broke up. Amy Yellow tried very hard to mend things while Bass Boy pretended to be the perfect victim. He refused to give it another try, claiming that she had hurt him quite deep. Boohoo!

Amy Blue thought the best way to help Amy Yellow and to help herself get over Bass Boy would be to help them get back together. Honestly, this girl was the worst kind of puberty bliss. Amy Yellow said yes, which clearly showed how they were both very flawed and childish. Unfortunately, I’m sure

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even you can guess… it didn’t quite work out that way. Amy Blue just ended up spun in Bass Boy’s web of charm and deceit. Amy Yellow moved on with her life, deciding that perhaps it was never meant to be.

Amy Blue and Bass Boy had an affair of sorts. It was neither a relationship, nor a friendship. You could call it a fling. This would be expected by you and me now that we are older from a guy like him, but Amy Blue knew no better. Soon after, Amy Blue met Amy Gold – Bass Boy’s girlfriend. This was a very weird situation. On her way to her sister’s house, Amy Blue learnt that along the way she treads lives Amy Gold. She had found out recently that they were officially dating but had hoped it was untrue or would change soon. Amy Blue got to her destination – a passage leading to the taxis taking her home. Just when she got to the end of the passage, a taxi halted in front of her and the door opened. Bass Boy walked out, smiling, and closed the door. He noticed Amy Blue and his face turned to the colour of ash. Have you ever imagined something like that happening? I mean it obviously was not a fling for him and Amy Gold. What twenty-something year old guy travels joyfully to see a girl who does not mean all that much to him? Amy Blue knew that that was when she should have left. Any girl knows you cannot win in such a situation. You shouldn’t even try.

A while after this incident, Amy Yellow calls Amy Blue telling her that someone told her Amy Gold and Bass Boy were getting married. Although this turned out to be untrue, it was the final knock-out punch Amy Blue needed to get her ass moving.

The thing I want to stay in your head while I tell you all of it is this: alt-hough it was an absolutely horrific time for Amy Blue to get over Bass Boy, she got spiritual enlightenment. Her daily prayer was for God, if He could hear her, to please take away the feelings she had for Bass Boy. She prayed that the remnants of care and attraction she had would just dissolve because the more she felt these feelings, the more she remembered she had disap-peared behind this guy’s charm.

A year later, Bass Boy re-emerged, claiming to just be checking up on an old friend. He confided in Amy Blue about his father being sick, and she be-came a listening ear. I know you’ll agree with me when I say there should have been a big banner on her face with the words “DO NOT ENTER”, maybe then she would have been careful…

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Joy Bongani Mathebula @joymathebula

Aspires to tame two beasts: the stock market as a trader and the business world through the marketing industry. He is an Assistant Brand Manager by occupation

and hails from Ekangala, Gauteng.


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“For some of us, love has to struggle to pin us down before it can claim victo-ry. It has to summon all its strength before it can rest peacefully knowing it has introduced us to its ways.”

She looked at me and said, “Please promise me that you will let me know should you not love me anymore”. I smiled because I knew that day would never come. See, I met this girl, this misfit, as those around me put it. I had seen many from her clan but this was the first time I came so close to any of them. She lured me in. She was a different species – a creature deemed vain because appearance mattered to her; a mistake that didn’t know what the word ambition meant; an error that didn’t believe man could run with horses; she was the exact opposite of me and man did I love her. We were insepara-ble: we had spent so much time together that we shared a face, shared a walk, shared struggles and a few victories.

Sometimes I would leave my place in the morning with the intention of seeing her for ten minutes, only to come back running hoping my folks would still be awake to hear me knock way after dark. We were young and we were in love.

No, my friend, I don’t think you understand what I am talking about. This I am confident of because not many of us have seen a man in love. A mighty steed in its carelessness would not deter a man in love. He spares nothing; absolutely nothing. The fuel that fuels the fuel in spacecrafts runs through the veins of a man in love. There was no beast I wouldn’t face to prove my love; no weapon waging war would I not face to fulfill my role as her shield. It was not a mystery, I was in love.

I tell you, without any formal training this young girl taught me the patterns of manhood. Without trying, she kept me on my toes, kept me com-mitted, and kept me wanting more. I think it could be the way she looked at me or the way she addressed me. I am not sure what it was but she had me and she had me good.

She said to me, “Promise me that you will let me know should you discov-er that you are not in love with me anymore”. Spring rose and fell. Gcina had permeated my every pore and I didn’t wish it any other way.

Cape Town, the Mother City, so beautiful and peaceful, called. I was young and full of life, I had just landed a dream job and creativity flowed through my veins like streams of water. See, I had always said that the advertising world was for me but I didn’t know it knew me by name. A Loerie nomination and pockets as thick as McDonald’s South African burger – I was living the life.

Short and dark, an accent designed to tame the wildest of beasts, so soft and yet so proud, a thinker I stumbled upon. She didn’t have me at “hello”,

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no; “hello” was too expensive for me. I was crippled. For a man who spent whole days devising communication strategies, I couldn’t utter one word. She knew what she wanted and was going for it. It was the first time I felt like my contribution would be worthless in a conversation. She intimidated me and I think she was aware. She loved art and loved philosophy – she was drawn to all things that challenged the human mind; all of them except me.

Needless to say, time and chance happened. Nomthandazo was her name, raised by a single parent. We met at a gala evening. It would seem she was a close friend of a colleague of mine. I won’t lie and say she was the most beau-tiful lady in the room – she neither stood out nor was she the loudest. There was something about her though that kept me entertained – she was smart. Her subtle contributions and the care she took in listening to others during conversations really left my jaw on that navy blue carpet. She managed to keep me quiet for well over fifteen minutes. I know fifteen minutes is not long, but that is only because you have not met me. I watched her leave with her friend and I smiled. Now this smile was not from a man smitten, but it was from a man who knew that no matter how much courage he displayed in the past, miserably he would fail if he attempted to ask for a number.

As is customary, time elapsed but unfortunately memories didn’t yield so easily. It would be another eight months until fortune forwarded an oppor-tunity for a meeting with her. Things were a bit tough in my life as evidenced by the fact that I was on my way to see a friend of mine who was in hospital. I decided to use the train because my car decided to take leave from work. I bumped into this soul and amazingly she remembered my name. That was unexpected. We spoke until I forgot I was going to the hospital. “You have got to try Cadbury’s latest offering, Chomp. It is better than any chocolate you have ever tasted”, I said, trying to steal some time with her. “Oh my word, Chomp? Are you serious Mnqobi?” “It’s better than Lindt, I promise you”, I insisted. She agreed to get off with me and go try this great product. Maybe it was the way the wind blew her hair or maybe the dimple on her left cheek, but at that moment I had struck gold and I had no intention of taking it to the bank. I wanted to keep her.

These meetings would continue for about six more weeks. She made me think and I made her laugh. She had my head in the clouds and hers laid com-fortably on my shoulder. We were like teenagers and at that point I had re-newed strength and I excelled in all I did. Once again, I was a man. Yes, I was a man in love. “Of all the things that I love about you, your ability to make me laugh stands out,” she said looking at me as I gazed at her admiring the beau-ty that she was blessed with...

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Vision So Great

Lulamile Sifuba @lulamilesifuba

Aspires to be a restaurateur, calligrapher, writer and Pope of the Apostles. He is a Junior Pastor by occupation and hails from Daveyton, Ekurhuleni.


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You know as well as I know that each and every individual on planet earth has a portfolio of dreams – dreams that need to be fulfilled. This, therefore, leaves me with an impression that we all have silently whispered to our hearts, “I am fashioned for greatness”.

I also know that after you have scanned through your heart and have seen the “greater you”, you become excited, ambitious and determined, yet a few minutes later after you look away from your heart, you see the realities of life and these realities take you captive in the chains of fear and that causes you to question the authenticity of your greatness.

These realities vary with individuals: one person did not receive love from his parents and thus thinks life is unfair and doubts anyone could believe in them, while the other believes that the only way to make it in life is to have all your financial holes closed. Circumstances genuinely make it hard for us to believe that God has genetically fashioned us for greatness.

What puzzles me is that even if we don’t believe that we are fashioned for greatness, deep down in our hearts we know that this greatness is ours and that’s the irony of the matter. It takes knowing for one to break free from the chains of fear. Jesus who is the expressed image of greatness once said: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” It’s not the truth that sets people free, but it’s the knowing of the truth that sets free.

Proverbs 4: 24 (MSG) “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” If there’s one thing that God wants us to keep watch and protect is our heart. Life and the greatness waiting to unfold out of it begin in your heart. You protect your heart, you protect your life. Life, therefore, does not begin at forty, but it begins in your heart.

This life that you continually see in your heart is bigger and wider than the life you know. The life you see in your heart is far more real than the realities of life you have experienced. This life cannot be captured in words – it can only be felt and lived by you. Life is delicate; life is special; life as we know it comes once.

What if this great life you see in your heart is God’s dream for you? “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious to God.” 1 Peter 3: 4 (NLT) Other translations call this “inner beauty” or the “hidden man of the heart”. This supposes that there is me underneath me and this me is pre-cious, beautiful and complete. This inner me refers to my heart.

The reason God wants me to keep watch over my heart is because He is a “heart-God” and connects with me at heart level. My heart is the deepest sense of me therefore my heart is the real me. The inner me, my heart, is brave enough to always look at life through possibilities. The moment I sup-press the realities of my heart, the more I look at life through fear because I

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will be allowing the world to define me through my externals (qualifications, background, and race).

“In us God desires to exhibit the priceless treasure of Christ’s indwelling; every nation will recognize Him as in a mirror the unveiling of Christ in human life completes man’s every expectation.” Colossians 1:27 (Mirror BIBLE) God wants to exhibit Christ not from heaven, but from within our hearts. He also wants to awaken us to the truth that this Christ completes every man’s ex-pectation. Christ meets every demand of our dreams. If we can come to the point of realizing that Christ is experienced in the heart and not in church, or in revivals, or even in the pages of the Bible, only then we will experience the life of our dreams.

God’s desire is to transform us. There is a difference between transfor-mation and change: change is always external – I Change because I want to fit in and the more I change the more depressed I become. Transformation on the other hand is an opportunity to exchange perceptions with God. God wants us to view life as He views it. God’s perception about me is that I am beautiful. God’s perception about me is that am precious. God’s perception about me is that am complete. The vision that God laid in my heart is the truth about me.

I’m not experiencing this truth about me because I’m not accessing my heart through God’s perception, but I’m accessing my heart through my own perceptions which I learnt from the world or my reality experiences. I can on-ly experience the realities of my perceptions. I live out whatever I chose to believe.

This engraved greatness provokes us to the point where we find ourselves asking questions like “What is a vision?”; “What is important about a vision?”; “What purpose does it serve?” We ask these questions because this vision is heavily laid in our hearts, because it’s in human nature to figure things out, and because we have heard too many success stories and have grown an am-bivalent feeling towards them. One thing our hearts are afraid of is mislead-ing information, and thus such questions pop up solely to protect us from any lie we are prone to believe about ourselves. This read might help us to discov-er why we are destined for such a greater, happier and freer life.


We all have been inundated with too many definitions of what a vision is. This happened either from the centre of the pulpit or from self-help books we’ve read or even from great philosophers like Plato and Socrates. Some say vision is “the ability to imagine the future”, some say it is “the bridge that connects the future with the present”, and others say vision is “set goals”...

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The Things I Lost

Mbali Mavundla @fabianirose

Aspires to be all that words can be through writing and reciting poetry. She is a performer by occupation and is currently studying journalism,

and hails from Kwa Zulu Natal.


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I never wanted to burn poems, but the day I started losing things, I set my heart on fire.

I know what it’s like to be without God – to be left dead at your front door, grasping for a hand to bring you back to reality. I never cried because tears reminded me of saltwater in oceans that lay naked facing the open skies where thirsty eagles take advantage and lost souls scream for help from sink-ing Titanics.

I wanted to be a girl soldier, but not to be met with pity either. My sacred object was someone – I did not just lose her, I lost myself. She was home and I was her favourite everything. She had her being intertwined with my own, yet I fled the scene leaving her null and void. Yet again, my heart was numb, I never meant to, but I did. All it took was a matchbox and a willing heart. Down that scrappy road I led her and watched as she took her last breath. I lay there still, pain riddled, my heart puzzled non-stop as I wake to realise that I never meant to. I tip toe around this house like she is still coming back, trying to wake something from these ashes the pain left behind. I wonder how the phoenix does it. The scars will not heal – my lungs won’t stop breath-ing. For that life You took from me, it’s been a cold shoulder ever since.

Her memory stays with me though. It’s been a different kind of me – noth-ing good came out of it but they say He knows best. I’d trade You anything for that number to heaven to hear her voice and thank her for the life she gave me – such a precious gift.

I’ve seen boys feel pain like scarred bellies of pregnant women about to give birth to dead children, so I know I am not alone. I kept writing, but the rhymes were never the same and the metaphors were broken. My heart can tell you more on a Sunday morning than it can on any day.

I saw her as pale as the shirt she taught me to bleach. I’ve been crawling here since with emptiness. I fell in my brother’s arms and he said, “You are stronger than these rubber bands on your wrists; take them off, they are holding you too tight”. I held Melody’s hand instead a bit too tight. She looked back at me with eyes like falling icicles. I felt her drown in my pain. These are the things I have lost.

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Camouflage One day I will sit on top of all these poems and cry The only odds and ends I’ve ever learnt to hold close Somehow find a way to leave me without hope or warning signs like “STOP! STOP! You are getting too close” And when you hold things too close they get suffocated and nostalgic Don’t hold anything too close Touch nothing but yourself Pray with your eyes closed, knees bent and heart open Breathing like the Abu Dhabi women covered in black veils And allow nobody but God to see them at chaste I am tired of smiling but I am not always sad I prefer counting clouds as if there is something singular about Raindrops floating on an open sky Do children understand the prayers they recite To a God that stays hidden behind that sky? When somebody stumbles on your heart, they step on dead weight Leaving distorted footprints – this is not the moon Nobody wants to go on being reminded of every scent Of a somebody they have forever desired to hold and some have not let go And even when they had to let go, we never wanted to let go We should all just… Let go Of the hurt, the anger we fasten around – seatbelts When accidents happen we’ll get thrown out of windshields Forgetting glasses are meant to break And maybe we will break with them Because we are walking massacres Stumbling across mouse traps we set in our own houses Cutting through every grip of heartfelt pain From emptiness when our loved ones sleep forever Doesn’t that feel like suicide? Some people’s pain cannot be camouflaged

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Casualties of carnage I have a lot of dirt under my nails It’s starting to look like I go around digging graves My knees cannot support my weight to stand on this ground any more so than they can help me crawl across to the next life Do you really believe in the afterlife? At the dawn of permanent scars Left by life’s surprises and the devil’s paws My father looks at me and sees my mother’s eyes He hates the deception that people could look so alike Reason why we have drifted apart When the sound of my laughter hits the roof It kills him His wife could laugh in sirens That terrified his heartbeat into beating twice instead of just once Yesterday he said “I could give you ten reasons why I keep photographs in my wallet But the third one is too sad so I’ll let you keep guessing” Ever heard ambulances imitating black and white keys of a piano? Blissful – Almost sounded like empty canals We cannot escape this war more than we can escape the broken mirror glasses we use to look ourselves at If I could dance, I would dance away the orphan stuck inside me Jump so high I only needed God and a troop of Egyptian angels to tie me back to gravity From my belly button and to my crippled toes I need another Jesus crucified to save me from empty women’s souls Who leave their daughters before their wishes come true I believe in heaven every time an image of her fills me with deep sighs When did we start this war? It doesn’t matter Are there stars on your night skies still? Or are you far from dreaming? Just pass me the salt and forget the dynamics…

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Cold Wounds Underneath the pieces of this shattered heart lays an ambitious lover Underneath these judgemental lips brews the words of a redeemer If I pass up this moment with you I’ll be an underachiever But you are broken I couldn’t fix you, I’m no good Except when you were down And needed the comfort I never regret the life I chose for me Holding on to things like Jacob held on to the angel I wasn’t even angry when he left, I was broken His love made me cry Sometimes for all the wrong reasons

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Empty Does the moon glow every time the light inside your heart goes out? Or is it just on special occasions when you really need a lamp in the darkness? Or is it when the children have their eyes fixed to God on empty stomachs asking if they are going to make it through the night alive Or the next time heaven lets a Tsunami loose to sweep away the dust? Make sure you leave a raincoat or a bowl of leftovers you were hoping to give to your neighbour’s dog this afternoon when you pass by the church I saw children waking up under a bridge they call home their stomachs filled with bones as naked as your eyelids Their hands like paws of a four legged beast They dug out too many garbage bags Hoping to find the next decent meal thrown away by some man in a business suit because he did not like the salad I watched them break rotten bread to fill their mouths with something but plastic – anything Little Janie kept looking up saying “I’m watching God” Her breath sounded like gunshots and her eyes on me felt like ten thousand volts of lightning She fell on her knees begging me to take her home Her tears hit the ground like a hundred pounds of hunger wrapped in pain I could see her ribcage through that old borrowed shirt It made me think that winter felt like too cool a breeze that will not surrender blowing hard on her already goose-bumped mother-less unsheathed skin My conscience wished it could shed a fur coat that could shelter her bones, but mostly shelter my guilt Her reality stretched my imagination for a second in empathy I stayed up that night as her shadow followed me home I woke up praying for forgiveness I have never felt my hands held so tight in prayer They built a cage and I carried that cage with me until the day I needed somewhere to belong

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Leadership and Love

Vincent Mmusakgosi Malatsi

Aspires to see mankind fully maximize their identity, the image of God we are. He is a Leadership and Life Coach, Writer, Conference Speaker and Minister by occupation

and hails from Rustenburg, North West.


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Contrary to popular belief, in its most natural state, leadership has very little, if not nothing at all, to do with hierarchical structures of domination and con-trol. Leadership becomes something else of a different meaning when the obsession is with headship and seniority of power than the concern of how we can become better and more maximised in our endowments. In fact, the hallmark of true leadership is the ability to establish relationships wherein mutuality is appreciated and each individual feels essentially useful as a chan-nel of influence and value. The purpose of leadership, primarily, is not to se-cure a designated position but a determined selfless attitude to create condi-tions where human excellence will be prerogative, individually, independent-ly and mostly interdependently.

The impetus of leadership is the realization of the fact that humans share a common destiny, all are in search of purpose, one way or the other, and that success is not truly success when it does not prove to be dynamically commu-nal, interlinked and transferable. The breeding ground for true leaders is in an atmosphere charged to exude pure and sheer love for fellow mankind. Lead-ership as a result rises to challenge individuals to actively engage in a network of interactive expressive initiatives to generate and distribute value within the context of what has been agreed upon as common welfare, or, as I choose to call it, the grand purpose.

Before leadership can be converted into organised structures of processes and activities, it must be birthed out of passionate love for the people, hence passionate heart-to-heart relations become the best carriages of influence aimed at human betterment and thus efforts to ascertain this are then called “leadership”. When one begins to realize that human betterment can only be fully achieved on the basis of our imperative interconnectedness, then a spark is likely to kindle the flames of passionate leadership. Therefore, having said the latter, leadership is birthed when one receives enlightenment of how individuals can function corporately for the greater course.

Significance and influence find weight in the sanctity of heart-to-heart re-lations. The universe is mechanized and principled to function upon an inter-relation of systems. It is in the proper relations of these systems that the uni-verse is governed and kept in harmony. The law of relations determines how a unit or entity finds recognition and relevance in the whole puzzle of life. In other words, the significance of one thing is measured in terms of its relations to others. For this reason, nature provides with ample reasons to strive for harmonious relationships through the observation of these cosmic laws. Ani-mals relate instinctually whereas man is endowed with more noble faculties like spirituality, emotions, intuition, intelligence, conscience and so forth. To necessitate and perhaps authenticate harmonious relations among people as

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vital to the universal systems, we are graced with the gift and burden of love. Love is an innate desire to relate to one another in harmony and enjoy-

ment of what is at our disposal. Love is so essential to life such that in its ab-sence humanity dwindles to worthlessness and even to naught. The confi-dence of mankind is pivoted on love. The absence of love turns human life into a devastating drudgery. In fact, human life is aptly synonymous with love. We are gifted with intelligence to decide and interpret our actions in relation to God's universe and through conscience we intuitively and intro-spectively align these actions to the universal governing laws for that harmo-nious balance. The wonder of human life is that only this species is granted participative and conscious involvement in matters pertaining to its develop-ment – the rights and privileges of the Imago Dei (image of God). Leadership, therefore, is an initiative to discover and apply universal laws so that our ac-tions will be accordingly appropriated as we find ways to prosperously deal with the conundrum of life.

Consider the following:

Leadership is nurtured under the auspices of a patriotic communal spirit and weaned on the common ground of kinship. Thus leadership is relative and personal in nature and committed to properly func-tional relations;

Because of its personal and relational nature, leadership is conver-sant with the conditions that deprive the thriving of human excel-lence. This as a result becomes the driving concern of a leader to cre-atively seek for remedial solutions;

Being armed with a super vision, a leader, through the strength of creative imagination, can escape circumstances to foresee possibili-ties and through conscious decisiveness can influence current events in preparation for opportunities to obtain the realization of his pro-jected foresight;

Leadership gauges the incongruities of the current state of affairs against the backdrop of the grand purpose, vision or the bigger pic-ture;

The intent of leadership is to set in motion a revolution of positive and transformative change with sustainable outcomes. Leadership, therefore, fosters the channeling of all energy and resources at dis-posal to facilitate the fulfillment of the grand purpose…

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Dark White

Patamedi Jonathan Lebea


Aspires to change who he is in the world. He is a News Editor and Talk Show Host

by occupation and hails from Kagiso, Krugerdorp.


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It is a cold day in the old streets of the new South Africa. The weather has been like this for some time now. Experts say it is expected to change soon. Experts say a lot of other things as well. You will have to excuse me because the wind blows strongly in the face of my optimism. Seasons don't just change – in its own time, one season simply saves us from another. This once heroic season has overstayed its welcome.

7:45am on a Monday morning I find myself in the chaotic mess of Krugers-dorp's taxi rank trying to make meaning of my life in its hustle and bustle. My charcoal grey pants, shiny black shoes and worn out school jersey with its tired collar are the only things that resemble purpose in my life. I am Matthew. In this God-forsaken country, I am also, unfortunately white.

I don't know much about the history of how it happened, but I know my kind is not the preferred to be walking the soil of this African land. I heard we were a great people once. Legend has it that my forefathers came to the Dark Continent to share the Word of God with its inhabitants. What we are taught at school is that our forefathers were initially embraced by the dark-skinned settlers whom eventually betrayed them after a dispute over power relations which forced my kind to use uncommon weapons against them. This is where my older brother would always exclaim: “If you can't kill all the animals in the wild, burn the jungle”.

On the other hand, our folklore tells a story of a humble, fairer nation that lived in Africa for centuries until the most powerful king in the southern part of the continent at the time attacked, overthrew and subdued it. I am still not sure which version of the truth I am least comfortable with and which lie I'm sticking to, keeping in my mind that one of these stories is from the darkened lips of the oppressor and other from the self-vindicating tongue of the op-pressed. History has never lacked facts, just truth. The truth is I do not know how we got here, but the fact is that we are here.

Public transport is a mess – it takes me one hour from our humbled home in Krugersdorp to arrive at Zonk'izizwe College in Constantia. "Aren't there any schools where you come from?", a somewhat concerned teacher asks after seeing a number of us white kids run into the school during assembly. "It would make transport for you people easier." I wish I could explain to this woman that the problem is with our transport and not our “people”. Mr Hen-dricks usually collects and drops off fifteen of us at school and later comes back to return us all home for a monthly fee, but his taxi broke down again, this time with no certainty if it will ever be fixed. I really shouldn't fuss, at least we're allowed into the school, this in more ways than one. I have heard stories of other kids from my area being sent back home for being minutes late. "If you want to attend our schools you will obey our rules. You whites always have excuses". These are the words most of them returned to

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their families with. Besides isiZulu or Sesotho as a first language, these schools have educated

my kind on the basics and principles of hatred. As a white child in this coun-try, years of schooling will teach you three things: that you are not as intelli-gent; not as capable; and not as important as your coffee-coloured counter-parts. Yes, it is different in the schools where we come from. English in those schools is offered as a first language, and some, I hear, even allow you to take Afrikaans as a third. The greatest difference with these institutions, which ex-plains the decision of many parents to send their kids into the gaping jaws of racism, is that schools in our areas lack the facilities that most of these black schools have. The schools where I come from are dilapidated with none of the resources needed to compete with the quality of education found in the richer black schools. The teachers in our white schools do their best to give their children good quality schooling but it means nothing if universities and companies judge your ability and competency on the basis of the kind of school you went to. My mother believes it’s a blessing we're allowed into a school of such caliber. I question whether equal education should be a bless-ing. This is just one of the many of things that I hate about this country.

As I sit in class waiting for the bell to save me from my daily dose of dis-crimination, I curiously wish I could experience “African time”. Africans, more specifically, blacks, seem to enjoy their time more than the rest of us here and European time seems to be what we suffer from as the light skinned pop-ulation – a sort of jet lag that delays our enjoyment of the supposed new South Africa.

There has been great strides made with regards to fairness and equality in this nation, undeniably so. The “Rainbow Nation” is what they're calling it. My problem with the whole notion of a “Rainbow Nation” is that even on a rain-bow each colour has its place.

The bell rings. Students ceremoniously flood out of the classrooms onto the field faster than they drain into them. I love break time at school. This is the one time during school hours where I am not expected to prove myself worthy to my black teachers. Ironically, this is the same period of time where one sees that racial discrimination doesn't exist further than our minds – on the field, we are nothing more than different coloured kids all taking a break from the mind control of formal education. In the classrooms we are taught who we are apart from each other, on the field is where we learn who we really are, together...

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The Mask

Naledi Chirwa @naledichirwa

Aspires to be the first South African female president. She is a freelance performer by occupation and a BA Drama student who hails from Mamelodi, Pretoria.


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In the shadows of breath, treacherous flukes mimic death while swaying to life’s hues in a desolate path. We mingle with intonate cues and wonder if we can or cannot choose when nothing seems to be true. What is true remains a clue and one’s truth is a personal discovery of sort that cannot match the truth of others unless it is worn as similar and or familiar fabric. Language, a beautiful thing, has become a barrier and stronghold against expression and emotion, yet the they merge intricately even though one or the other is left limping in the hope of having the other adorn beauty in its walk.

Becoming? I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t even know it was happening or at least about to happen, but as I was taking in more oxygen and coming alive, I was inhaling the death of self within – the self that I hadn’t yet discovered, created or imagined.

Like most of us, I brought to life a mask I didn’t even choose to wear – a mask I knew nothing about even as it covered my face and extended its limbs to the rest of my body clinging closely to all the parts that are grounded and sustained and not forgetting the sudden movement of the two. In the process of changing the different masks life presented me with, changing the portray-al of myself through each mask, the extreme belief of becoming “who and what God has intended me to be”, I swayed even further from this primal cre-ation that the Maker had molded from scratch because I had found and formed a remedy that was already simmered and prepared for me and you by another person who happens to be in the same maze like us. I have been part of a flea market as big as the earth, trying out things that I like but creat-ed by someone else who does not know about me or my existence. Who made all these decisions for me? Why is my favourite colour pink? Why do I even perceive it as a colour and not an emotion? Being taught to be critical and yet being criticized for carrying it out. Perception matters: you can either view it as rebellion or redemption.

I had often thought I knew what I wanted from the world and vice versa, and that too was part of the “becoming” of what the world had intended for me to believe and set out for me to reap. That idea was a trap and it still is in my world of confinement and imaginary liberation. This is normal because life is a cycle. Well, it’s supposed to be one until the birth of certain individuals who miraculously embody change and have it permeate the rest of the globe with just an idea or a thought or a belief that can linger through the ears, lips and hearts of billions of beings for countless generations beyond their own lifespan. Such legacies are left behind by the vision bearer before they even manifest in the presence of the baton carrier. “If the vision is bigger than you, it will outlive you and live for you”, asserts the subcontext conversation be-tween our fears and hopes, and our current setting and plot.

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I want to be big, but not so big that I can’t be big enough. These are the conversations that linger within us and are witnessed by everything and any-thing but ourselves because we do not admit to yearning for greatness and nothing else and that even in a small world, being a small great would be better than not being one at all. The world knows what it wants from you and you most probably have what you want from it jotted in and on the veins of your heartbeat... and that matters. It matters most when you consciously de-cide that it matters. It matters for you, and that too is all that matters too.

We find ourselves fighting against fighting because this world which we have personalized has borrowed us so many things and has made us believe that they belong to us; that they are a part of who we are; and that without these things, we are void, empty and “weak”. Being “real” according to the world we have created entails escaping emotions that bring us to despair be-cause embracing them could be driving us away from our repair. We find our existence to be rooted in a battlefield where the heart tries to speak; where one can be a soldier but not be brave enough to have a sword to keep only because we are victims of silence whose ground-breaking noise is only rec-orded in journals, diaries and notebooks. This mask was presented to you the day you understood what “how are you?” really means and how it actually means nothing until you poise that question to yourself for yourself. Just like me, you wore this mask like a royal crimson chador that bears and carries your inner-self in a cage. In our quest of discovering, creating or whatever makes you feel you are being true to yourself, we left behind a significant ex-istence that was meant to embody itself and nothing else – an existence that is beyond discovery because it dwells in recovery of not being found. Yes, this too might be a new idea forged into your senses, right from your hands, through your eyes and to your everyday walk that is headed nowhere dis-tinct, or just like me, it has crossed your mind the day you refused to follow a fashion trend. So you might just as well block this from corrupting the truth which was given to you and is now truth that solely belongs to you because you believe it to be yours. I mean, it was given to you, right? I believed the thought of nowhere being non-existent, but if that were the case, why is this non-existence termed, defined and understood so much that its aesthetic sense lingers in our minds whenever we think or speak of a place or state that is “nowhere” that it actually becomes a variety of places and asserting such entails explaining it? The greatest genius is one who is able to replace failure with a word that pounces and trounces with victory hanging from its heavens because feelings are run by words, and words are driven by breath...

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FB: Epigraph - My Heart Is My Alibi

Twitter: @teamlefoko


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