Ribbons of Hope
By Veronica Nkwocha
Listening to Zahara’s Loliwe inspired this post. I love her sound and its distinct South African vibe.
Welcome to the 21st Century, she teased me. My friend, much younger than me but one with whom I shared lots of laughter and affection. It was 2008 and she was shocked I was only just joining Facebook. After our fits of laughter, I spent inordinate amounts of time tracking old friends, some I had last seen at University in the early 90s. There were joyful reunions and happy tears, finding new wrinkles, bald patches and widening waistlines from having babies or may be eating a bit too much!
I typed a friend’s name and because it was quite common in South Africa, I couldn’t tell which of the many search results was him until I typed same against our university and it returned a tribute page to him; he had passed away in the years we had lost touch. I thought to myself how sometimes, life doesn’t give one any more chances, no chance to say goodbye, none to say thank you for being a dear friend or to have a shared drink or a smile. It took me many days, filled as I was with an overwhelming sadness to contact the admin, his younger brother, who had kept his memory alive.
He was happy to hear from me especially as he had gaps in the memoir he was writing about his beloved brother, gaps that could only be filled by friends who attended university with him. I filled him in as best as I could all the while stunned, that he was indeed gone.
Mxolisi. I first met him as a quiet first year student (I, in my final year) who had recently arrived Nigeria from South Africa after the trauma of the apartheid regime. He appeared delicate but the strength in him was evident, he had endured so much and still had pellets from the agony he had suffered. He was soft spoken, ever smiling and he regaled us with tales about his homeland. He told us about his much loved family and how he missed them. We in turn allowed him into our lives as though a brother although we butchered his name to his consternation. He became especially close to my younger brother with whom their shared love of Political Science nudged them towards long winded discussions on the future of Africa.
‘Kolisi’, thanks for bringing kindness on those long days when life as students needed cheer. You were a shining example of the tenaciousness of the human spirit, calm in the face of chaos, even when your life was falling apart and you were torn from your home. I’m glad you were able to go back after completing your Law degree and your call to Bar, to give back to your community even if it was shorter than you would have wanted. Thanks to Sibu who kindly listened to my blubbering shock and has become a brother; in losing a friend, I gained one.