Dear Athlone, I am a child of your soil

Dear Athlone, I am a child of your soil

I was conceived, born and raised on your streets. From Gleemoor, to Silvertown to Garlandale Estate, to Crawford. I am a child of your air and your soil. My family stretches across the expanse of your tar-skin, from Lansdowne to Manenberg, from Bonteheuwel to Belgravia.

At the centre of this city, you lie: open and reaching. Equidistant from each coast. What did we call you, before they wrapped you in this name of the English governor? Will you remember it to us – your true name?

I felt a pull to create a space, where we could listen to you. We come full of stories and questions; full of joys and tears; ungrieved losses; bursting with wishes we dare not speak. But I thought if we could put our feet on your soil and feel your rhythm run through us, maybe we could listen differently. Maybe we could breathe out a bit deeper. Maybe we could slow down enough, to really take the time to listen to each other and let our words sit in your air, before watering your sand.

These letters are an experiment. Born out of a deep longing to have a different kind of conversation with, and in, the community I come from. Conversations that are gentle while still honest and challenging. Conversations that assume the best of ourselves and each other: where we are generous in our listening, and where there is space for us to make mistakes, to be wrong and to hold these with kindness and compassion. Conversations about who we are, and what we are, and how we came to be: our herstories, our family histories, our ancestral wealth and memories. Conversations where we truly listen, not merely wait to speak. Where we can sit quietly with our wounds, and yet not make them the whole of who we are. Where we can sit with our humour, our laughter and our joy, and yet not use them to ignore or cover over our pain. Conversations that reflect the fullness of who we are, on our own terms, based on how we see ourselves.

The moutain taught me that listening is how we show love. The sea taught me that hearing is how we truly see.

And so I open this circle:

may we speak with love
in a way that inspires us to listen with love

and from this place of truly hearing
may we begin to see each other in love

All are welcome.

your daughter,
Toni Giselle