a love letter to Coloured/Creole/Mixed Ancestry South African women

a love letter to Coloured/Creole/Mixed Ancestry South African women

Tuesday September 12, 2023 | South Africa

Sussie, Niggie, Ausi, Mummy, Kleinsus, Auntie, Ouma, Granma, Mama, I see you,

and I know it has taken many roads lives to get here.

I see each choice you made, in the quiet of your own home, when no one else was there to watch you choose Love instead of fear

I see each painstaking, invisible moment, where you dared to choose differently from what was expected of you

I see each time you chose freedom instead of shame

I see each time you chose to honour your heart’s whisper, instead of folding yourself back into the safety of the crowd

I was there, when you peeled back another layer of hardened skin, to touch again the first dew of softness underneath

I was there, when you surrendered to the grief —on your knees on the bathroom floor— allowing its swell to fill your heart like a Full Moon tide over granite boulders

I heard you wrestling with the shame of “I do not belong here” and the ache of “but where is the home, that can hold me?”

and I know that these are not the full truth of your stories.

I know that deep inside you, there are so many stories calling,
whispering, singing, begging you
to tell them

I know, because I have them too

I know, because I have wrestled with the fear,
the self-doubt, and the shame of

am I allowed to speak this story?
will I be heard if I do?
will my people reject me, for speaking the truth no one else is?

there are so many stories in us:
stories of deep courage, and wild knowing, stories of laughter and freedom, irreverant stories and crazy stories, stories of enduring love, and joyous resilience, stories of lives woven beautiful from the most tenuous threads

but for these stories to come into the light of day, there are older stories we need to put down:

stories of fear, and being unsafe
the words keeping us unknowingly trapped in victimhood
the tales we tell ourselves about not having power

and the old, old stories where we hold onto our mothers’ and grandmothers’ pain,
because this is the only way we know how to honour them, and because we fear that if we put down that pain, we will lose our connection to them.

the grandmothers are calling us home

back to their hearts, where we are truly safe
back to sit around their fires, to thaw the ice-fear from our bones
back to sit on their stoeps, and drink in their irreverance, their laughter, their fierce love

so we can begin to remember again, the softness
of our bodies, surrendered to the earth
and feel how held we are
how safe we are

enough, to pick up our pens, our guitars, our kokis, our voices
and offer
our stories
to the world

IMAGE: Courtney Koopman