by POWA Women's Writing Project

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781920196684
Publisher: Jacana Media
Publication date: 10/01/2012
Series: Breaking the Silence
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 132
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

POWA's vision is to create a safe society that does not tolerate violence against women, where women are powerful, self-reliant, equal and respected. POWA's mission is to be a specialized and multi-skilled service provider which contributes to the complete eradication of violence against women in society. POWA provides counselling, legal advice, court support and shelter to women survivors of domestic violence.

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Breaking the Silence Sisterhood

By Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd

Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd

Copyright © 2012 POWA
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-920196-68-4



by Patience Nozithelo Mkosana

Sisterhood is love
Love so sisterly and selfless
Selfless so sisterly and kind
Kindness so sincere and warm
Warmth so soothing and sisterly

Sisterhood is a way of life
Life so full of compassion
Compassion so sisterly so strong
Pillar of strength so gallant and sisterly
Sisterly so brave and gallant

Sisterhood is lion-hearted
Lion-hearted so sisterly not lily-livered
Sisterly shoulder so huge and mighty
So mighty to comfort and appease
Sisterly soothe so tender and relevant

Sisterhood is giving
Sisterly hand so timeous and helpful
So helpful so courageous and so empowering
So sisterly so sincere
Sisterhood so life-saving and true

Sisterhood is forgiving
So forgiving to see the future in a new light
Together we overcome, we victorious, we thrive
Forgiveness so sisterly it emancipates from the chains of sadness
Sisterhood that gives birth to enfranchisement

Sisterhood is a way of life Life so full of
compassion Compassion so sisterly so strong

* * *

My Sister Could

by Namhla Stemela

I was born alone yet you lifted me to the pedestal you keep locked in
your throne, your heart.

Never have I needed anything that you did not provide, my everything.
You have kept me cupped in the palms of your heart; your manicured
care always cured me, my very own care bear.
Not only are you my sister but a magician too, turning drought into
flourishing, NO DOUBT.
Older and bolder you carried me on your shoulder the world you taught
me, an oyster.
We have walked down almost every avenue of our Sisterhood, carving
the pavements with memories, miniature monuments.
I have travelled the world through your wisdom, for those reasons you
will forever reign in my queendom, my freedom.

* * *

A Chant to My Sisters

by Mbali Langa

Those who don't buy into media prescribed roles of self being,
Sold by unreal images housed in boxes Tied by pretty red ribbons,
Carrying capitalistic notions of informed beauty Branded by impersonators
Just second-hand imitators of megalomaniacal beings
With self-perceived supremacy, Blood hounds
economically feeding on ebony's insecurity a fevered symptom in the
lineage of my mahogany

This is a chant for my sisters

So I come to expose their get-rich roads Built on the infrastructure of our
suffering cultural codes
With their adverts they bulldoze our homes
Demolish our kids' values and leave our morals in shambles

A cry for help dimly calls

So I chant to my sisters

Those who bounce to their beats
And buy into the hype of their illusionary types
To take a minute and realise that consumerism is a trap so tight
Locking many of our sisters' minds
So I call to those divas caught up in hussle fever
To realise that true grace is not achieved by enriching a shopkeeper
Or pouncing around half naked proclaiming you're single either

So to all the single ladies, all the single ladies
Young, old and about to be married
Look within to achieve self-gratification
Materialism only promotes a constructed satisfaction;
A reality essentialised by useless commodification

This is a chant to all the sisters

Grounded or caught up
It's time we act now

So I call to those divas caught up in hussle fever
To realise that true grace is not achieved by
enriching a shopkeeper

* * *

The Ladies Take Tea

by Jayne Bauling

It's a once-a-year thing, the five of us
drinking fragrant tea from fine
flowered cups with matching saucers,
eating tiny iced cakes, crooking
our fingers and naming ourselves
Empress, Queen and other lofty titles,
wearing our best dresses that
we gigglingly call frocks,
not forgetting, never forgetting
bruise-raising blame
unpaid maintenance
confiscated salary
imposed pregnancies
custody hearings –
not for a minute forgetting,
only taking tea and titles for this
one afternoon, once a year.

* * *

Slaughtered Sisters

by Nicole Rudlin

With hands tied firmly behind backs
Our hearts bleed drops of sorrow,
Dripping, soaking into the ground
The screaming sounds so loud in our heads
But there is no sound
We are the voiceless masses
The silent faces
The blank ballot papers
Anger surges from our pores
Immersed in feelings of helplessness
Meat falling off the bones
The decaying carcass of hope
Lies lifeless
We are the voiceless masses
The silent faces
The blank ballot papers.
We are the ones who must change
Change to fit into your paradigm
Your narrowed, skewed, hurtful view.
We must wear flowering dresses with bows in our hair and pink lips,
We fail to exist if not for the gaping hole you so brutally rip apart
Bricks smashed bodies, hate perforates our souls
Protection eludes us
We are the voiceless masses
The silent faces
The blank ballot papers
But we are not victims
We do not crawl into your boxes and hide
We do not lie down and play dead because you are threatened by our might
We are powerful,
in your face,
fists in the air,
And you cannot break us
Because our voices will be heard across our beautiful land
Our faces will be imprinted into your consciousness
And our ballot papers will be marked with the blood of our slaughtered sisters

* * *

Liewe Vriendin

by Juliet Rose

Raak aan my met jou sagte woorde
Dalk ontdooi my koue hart ...
Lag saam met my oor die dinge van gister
Dalk kraak die masker van my gesig af

Min mense kan my laat lewe, lag, juig
Jy kon
Maar nou is jy ver
Weggeneem deur grootword

Kom ons bak modderkoekies en sit 16 kersies op
Kom ons ry fiets met pienk linte wat agter ons aan wapper

Dan hoef ek nie te dink aan die seer nie
Dan hoef ek nie 'n langmou hemp aan te trek op Lente dag nie
Dan hoef ek nie ant-deprisante te drink en slaappille onwettig kry nie

Dans saam met my op tafels
Drink saam met my Jack Daniels tot ons geld op
Sing saam met my liedjies uit ons kinderdae
En huil saam met my oor 'n fliek oor aborsie

Ek wil nie dink aan more nie.
Ek wil weet dat jy vandag hier sal wees.
Asseblief? Asseblief!

Hoekom is ek so moeg?
Moeg vir perfek probeer wees
Moeg om goed te probeer wees
Moeg om soos jy te wees?

Liewe vriendin ... hoekom word ons groot?

Lag saam met my oor die dinge van gister Dalk
kraak die masker van my gesig af


Sisters by Blood

by Carlette Egypt

'What's love got to do with it ... what's love but a secondhand emotion,' a song sung with so much gusto by Tina Turner, was playing on the car radio and I soon found myself singing along, much to the amusement of my colleague, Caroline, who was driving. Almost before the song ended, I asked her whether she had seen the movie portraying the life of Tina Turner and soon we were engrossed in a discussion of the abusive life that such a strong woman with a great music career had endured for years from her husband, the legendary Ike Turner.

I suddenly felt my mind reeling back to my experiences surrounded by abusive relationships for many years, having grown up in an abusive home.

Caroline and I were travelling on a wide-open road surrounded by beautiful countryside, located within the mountainous area of the Cape Winelands. We had quite a long way to go before we reached our destination and I found myself quickly brought back to the present by Caroline asking me if I knew that she grew up in the area we were now approaching, Worcester.

She very excitedly pointed out the exact house where her family lived, as she strained her neck to look back at what was still kept intact of their family home.

She then went on to tell me about her mother and how brave she was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early fifties, the mastectomies, the treatments, the pain and the morphine. Caroline reminisced about her mom's terminal illness, the hospice home-care and, months later, the passing away of her mom. Throughout her mom's suffering, she meticulously planned and arranged all her business, making sure all her personal affairs were in order.

I easily related to her pain and admired her mother's courage, especially when she shared how her mother said her goodbyes to close family and friends, carefully planning even her own funeral. I then understood and even joked with Caroline that now I knew where her perfectionism and organisational skills came from.

I soon found myself reminiscing about my own mom, growing up with a dad who drank, who worked away from home and physically abused his wife for many years. I was relating how he used to kick her with his iron-tipped concrete boots, when he rushed her to hospital with her eye almost hanging out, and how one time he put our dog after her. My sister, Pearl, jumped in to help my mom and the dog turned on her, tossing her around like a rag doll; taking chunks out of the back of her leg.

Strangely, we never really spoke about this incident again. I suppose there were just too many incidents; it all seems so exaggerated and unreal now.

As Caroline and I continued on our journey we remained quiet in the car for quite a while, both caught up in our own thoughts. I found myself thinking back to the constant struggle it was for my mom to get money from my dad as he was always spending it at drinking houses (shebeens), having good times with his friends.

My mom used to make great efforts to put food on the table and keep our home clean. However, she would get a beating for the simplest reason. He would pick an argument if a particular shirt was not ironed or he couldn't find the other sock. We would often be sitting at the table eating and the next minute he would simply overturn the table, sending all our plates flying or he would throw his plate of food against the wall if not to his satisfaction. We always expected the peace to be broken at any time. After a major, violent outburst, he would go out and come back intoxicated and all we would long for was that he would just go and sleep when he returned.

As siblings, we used to sit on the corner waiting for my dad to come home from work, take one look at him from a distance and run home and warn my mom about his mood so that she could be prepared.

She then went on to tell me about her mother and how brave she was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early fifties

One Friday night, as usual my dad didn't come home with the week's wages and my mom took me along to go and look for him. All that my mom wanted was money to buy food and pay the weekly debts. We eventually found him. I remember walking in on a scene that changed my perception of him forever. As we arrived at my uncle's place, where he normally went on his drinking sprees, we saw my dad sitting between two women in a makeshift double bed, covered with a blanket and drinking. The fact that he was in 'bed' with these women was not what really shocked us, but more the fact that my dad, who had such a high opinion of himself and was so fussy back home, was sitting in absolutely appalling surroundings. We turned so fast on our heels, and needless to say this was another 'secret' that I had to keep.

Thinking back now, I realise that my mom was completely disempowered in the home yet thrived when out in the community. She was involved in feeding schemes for those less fortunate than us; she often cooked large pots of soup in winter, came to the school fence to hand out mugs of soup. She also always baked for our schoolteachers, much to our embarrassment at the time as she was almost always the only parent who gave so much, going the extra mile. The teachers obviously loved having us in their classes and my mom was well known and respected in the community. If we went somewhere and there was a child who did not have shoes or something warm to wear when it was cold and rainy, we already knew when my mom gave us one look that we had to take off our own shoes or jacket and give it to the child. When it was hot and my mom bought us ice-cream and another child looked longingly at us, we had to give the ice-cream to the child. This instilled in us a deep sense of caring and sharing and it soon became natural for us to give. Back home it was evident that my mom was ridiculed and trampled upon yet she suffered in silence over the years.

I remember endless discussions with my mom, encouraging her to go to the police station to report my dad, even urging her to leave him. I pleaded with her for us to take our clothes and just leave. Years later I concluded that many women stay within the situation due to economic reasons; they just don't have the means to sustain their families and simply stay for the 'children's sake'.

Caroline interrupted my thoughts by asking me about my family, whether I have any sisters and brothers. I cleared my throat before responding, 'We are four sisters, two older than me and one younger, but my dad had a son a few years after my mom's death from someone he had a relationship with while he was working in Durban.'

I hardly finished my sentence when Caroline said, 'My goodness Amy! In all this time that we have been working closely together, this is the first time I hear that you have a brother.' I heard myself respond the way I usually do when people hear of our brother, 'We don't really have a close relationship. We didn't really get along with his mother in earlier years and they live in KwaZulu-Natal.'

My mother instilled in us a deep sense of caring and sharing and it soon became natural for us to give

As sisters we were very close, although we had our usual squabbles and fights. There was a huge age-gap of eight years between my eldest sisters, Jacky and Pearl; the rest of us were only one year apart. Jacky worked for a number of years while we were still at school. She broke my mother's heart when she fell pregnant and married as soon as she turned twenty one when she no longer needed my parents' consent even though my mom did not approve of her choice. Looking back now, Jacky probably couldn't wait to get out of the house as she was always treated differently from all of us. We all received beatings, but she always got it the worst, especially the verbal abuse. Only years later did we understand what the actual reasons were.

My mom was often ill with an angina heart condition, high blood pressure and the inevitable migraine headaches. She would always have a vinegar cloth tied tightly around her head and that is how we often pictured her.

Once again, Caroline interrupted my thoughts by asking, 'How did your mom die Amy? You never told me.'

Once again I cleared my throat and continued. 'My mom was very excited when the time drew closer for me to go to university; she supported me with my enrollment and even accompanied me to the Student Orientation Week before the official start of my classes, much to my embarrassment and protests,' I giggled at the memory. 'I tried in vain to talk her out of it by saying the other students wouldn't be bringing their moms. Anyway, it was no use arguing with her. She cut and coloured her hair, bought herself a new outfit; she really blossomed. At the orientation she made sure she introduced herself to most of my lecturers and wanted to know exactly what the course I enrolled for entailed. I even showed her where my classes would be.' I vaguely heard Caroline's response, 'Wow! Your mom was quite a woman! She really showed an interest in your future.'

I very proudly said, 'She was, but little did any of us know that that was going to be the last week of my mom's life. During the early hours of the Saturday morning she woke me up saying that I must get her to hospital as she had a headache. Those were her last words as by the time we got her to the hospital the doctor said she was already in a coma. She suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and after three days in a coma, on my first day of university, on the eighth of February 1982, our mom died after being declared brain-dead.'

Caroline went totally silent as we were fast approaching our destination. I turned to the back of the car for my jacket and neatened the pile of notes on my lap to pack into my bag. Soon we would be doing our presentation at a meeting and I hurriedly lowered the car visor to check my make-up in the mirror, put on some lipstick and ran a comb through my hair while shuffling in my handbag for hand lotion. I came across some peppermints and handed one to Caroline as she scanned the area for a parking closest to the entrance to our venue.

Before we got out of the car, I touched Caroline's arm and said, 'Thanks for listening, my friend. I have not spoken about all these things in years. It's done me the world of good.'

'It was good for me too,' she replied. 'Normally when I drive through Worcester I don't even look in the direction of our family home, it's way too painful. It was good having someone to listen to me for a change. Everyone is so caught up in their own affairs and we are always in some kind of rush with so many deadlines. It just seems that no one really listens anymore. The sharing's done us both good.'


Excerpted from Breaking the Silence Sisterhood by Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd. Copyright © 2012 POWA. Excerpted by permission of Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Sisterhood by Patience Nozithelo Mkosana,
My Sister Could by Namhla Stemela,
A Chant to My Sisters by Mbali Langa,
The Ladies Take Tea by Jayne Bauling,
Slaughtered Sisters by Nicole Rudlin,
Liewe Vriendin by Juliet Rose,
Short Stories,
Sisters by Blood by Carlette Egypt,
Mended Pieces by Mawint Nokubonga Chauke,
Witch and Bitch by Jayne Bauling,
Bread by Sally Cranswick,
White Without But Black Within by Nkosinomusa Truth,
Strength from My Sister by Dipuo Edna Molapisi,
Girl Power by Roché Kester,
Personal Essays,
Companionship by Fortunate Sethoga,
My Circle of Angels by Nokwethemba Musi,
Inspired by Women by Nomalanga Nkosi,
"Suster" by Jade Niemand,
Love Her Madly by Coleth Sitole,
A Starved Sisterhood by Amy Heydenrych,
Forgive Me My Sister by Karen Denise Lanie,
Impilo Iyaqhubeka by Maria Shongwe,
Ndikhulele Phi? by Nokubonga Dikani,
Notes from the Writers,

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