Monthly Archives: January 2014

‘Gone Fishing’


Peace and Solitude

I am the kind of person who always needs to understand how and why things occur. I become madly irritated by people who breeze over reason in order to accommodate their particular world view.

Until today.

It has been many a long year since so many things went horribly wrong at once. It seems that every area of my life has taken a hit in the last 3 months and I am left reeling.

Normally I would tie myself in knots trying to understand exactly what happened and why – and I did begin to do that, until today.

For the first time in well, forever, I woke up thinking ‘to hell with this!’ and took myself and my broken toe to the beach. I spent a wonderful, quiet day, on my own, doing nothing more demanding than watching the wave surfing at Big Bay.

I realised that a stolen day is like a restart button for humans. It needs to be pressed every now and then.

My life was still waiting for me when I got back, but at least I faced it tanned, relaxed and full of pizza!




Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Strings of Sentences


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Prayers, Sand and 2 Blue Buckets.

The washing buckets

The washing buckets

Today we buried our young colleague, Lunga Maqwelane.

We sang and expressed our joy and gratitude for his life at a memorial service on Wednesday.

Today, surrounded by police vans and in a church filled with plain clothed police officers, we held his funeral service.

It was a desperately sad day. As I walked past the open coffin to say my last goodbyes I was devastated to see that I didn’t recognise him. He no longer looked like the Lunga I had known for so long.

As a white middle age woman I had never experienced a funeral in the black community. I’d heard about them, seen a bit on television, but never been to one.

They held a magnificent service for this young man. Prayers, singing, eulogies, dancing, rejoicing, tears – it was all there. It was all so foreign to me, but frankly, quite wonderful. As I watched the older mamma’s dancing in the aisles, I knew that they had seen and experienced decades of heartache, but no matter what they were forced to face, they would always dance and sing and worship with abandon. That really touched me.

I managed to avoid losing the plot right up until the grave was being filled. It struck me then that my little brother, my sweet son, was forever under the earth, never to return. Finally, after forcing myself to be brave all week, the tears finally came.

We ended the day back at his parents house. An integral part of the ceremony was the washing of hands. As we got there we saw little blue buckets and towels laid out. I asked around to try and understand the significance, because we, (the pale faces), don’t generally do it. From what I could understand it comes from the Jewish tradition of washing away the evil. 

I knew that in the black African tradition everyone gets fed at a funeral. I didn’t think anything of it until I experienced it for the first time today. They must have fed hundreds of people! I was gobsmacked and immediately went into daft tourist mode! I stood and stared with my mouth hanging open. I just couldn’t believe that a small team, in a small house, pulled that off.

They had hired chairs and canopies to accommodate the crowds which were seated and fed outside. Being Lunga’s colleagues, we were the guests of honour and were seated inside with the immediate family and fed like kings.

White funerals – we’ll give you a cup of tea and buy a few packets of biscuits, maybe a platter of sausage rolls and that’s it! Go home, have a good life.

This was so different.

The richness of their love, the power of their passion, the profound respect they show their elders – it touched me to my core.

Today was a sad day, truly, but somehow, at the end of it, sitting in Lunga’s home, I felt blessed.

R.I.P. Meneer

LFC For Ever!!!

(Lunga’s fried chicken)


Posted by on January 25, 2014 in South Africa - Lost or Found?


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Goodnight Sweet Son

Lunga Magwelane

Lunga Maqwelane

The young chef

The young chef

'The Big Guys'

‘The Big Guys’

Lunga Maqwelane, my colleague and my ‘son at work’, was gunned down on Tuesday morning just after leaving his baby’s creche.

He hadn’t done anything wrong. On the contrary, he was a sweet and gentle young man, deeply religious, loving, hardworking, caring…get the picture?

One of his brothers, on the other hand, is a gang leader. Lunga was killed by a rival gang as retribution for the murders committed by his brother.

We don’t know all the details, but we have heard that this beautiful boy was shot 8 or 9 times. He died where he fell.

Later that night they shot his father too – fortunately he survived.

The brother’s response to what occurred was to track down one one of the killers and murder him.

At the time of the shooting, Lunga, together with his wife and his mother had begun praying and fasting, asking God to help the brother to change his ways.

As things stand, things could get very, very ugly. This could easily be the spark that starts an all – out gang war.

We loved this kid.

Personally I haven’t even begun to deal with this tragedy. As more horrific details pour through the grapevine I find myself withdrawing to a quieter place, a place of solitude, a place where I can still hear Lunga singing in that beautiful baritone…

I will miss you my young son. You were one of the nicest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

(At the time of his death Lunga had been married for less than a year and had become a father to a gorgeous daughter just 3 weeks previously.)



Posted by on January 17, 2014 in South Africa - Lost or Found?


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