To our mother

I am tempted to believe that my mother was the inventor of the term ‘– spare the rod, spoil the child-‘. My brother Zibusiso and I received the highest beatings in the hood. Not that we were notorious imps. No ways! But my mother brooked no-nonsense and a slight departure from her laid down rules automatically meant that there was going to be wailing and groaning in the house.

It was known in the hood that no children came ‘straighter’ than maZondo’s children. As we grew up,  we got to understand that the only way to avoid the stinging pains was to toe the Law according to MaZondo to the letter. This was my first institution in the instruction of compliance. To avoid a scolding or punishment we learnt to do things correct at the first time. We would bath and go for an inspection (funny enough she always knew where to find the dirt). She would run her finger down our ankles and surprisingly peels of dirt would roll off earning yours truly another bath (this time in cold water). I do not remember how many times I re-washed my uniforms before they passed her inspection.

No child in my mother’s house slept beyond 0600hrs no matter what day it was! The blankets would be swept away followed with utterances inclining to the fact that no one in her house slept until the sunrays went to the extent of warming their rear posterior. This act taught me to compulsively wake up earlier than the time she would pounce. This enabled me to get to class around 0630 hrs, just in time when my Grade 5 teacher Mr. P. Moyo would walk in, dump his newspaper on the desk and go for his first smoke. Between me and Sir was an unwritten treaty – I would come early and tidy his desk and wipe the chalkboard clean and in return I got to read his paper while he smoked. By the time the school bell rung I would know the log standing of Highlanders and Liverpool, I would have tried to make sense of Boyd Maliki’s cartoon and would be able to pick then President Banana ushering the late Yasser Arafat through Trade Fair stands. Thanks to my mother who made it a point that the sun never got to reach my rear posterior while I was still in the blankets.

She was our first teacher. I remember how she made it a point that I knew how to write my name and the 1-10 numbers before I entered school. That grounding took me past the guys who had been to crèche and rarely did I not take the number 1 position in class.

She was our first pastor; I recall how she would make me read chapters from an old and tattered Zulu bible that she had inherited from my preacher grandfather Nhlanganiso Zondo. When the Religious and Moral lessons came at school, I had an idea of most of the biblical figures used in the bible. She also made it a point that we went to church (despite that she did not go herself, she eventually got saved many years later on when I even had left home to work in the capital).

She taught me how to clean, cook, sew, cut wood (yes!), how to till the land and how to care for other people. My mother never chased anyone away; we shared whatever morsels were available equally. She taught me how to look after my siblings. I carried Phakamani and Nosizo on my back, spoon-fed the brats and was their substitute mom. This prepared me for the arrival of my daughter Michel. The first hands that received her were mine; we spent her fourth and fifth months together from 0600-1800hrs whilst till scouting for a child minder. I took her to baby clinic countless times till I was on first name terms with most of the sisters at Berea clinic. The newspaper vendor knew us as inseparable and she would always throw a massive tantrum when I had to leave her behind. Till today we share an inseparable bond like Siamese twins. Thanks to the lessons from MaZondo.

I can write till tomorrow about all the benchmarks that my mother plied into our lives. At the time of institution it felt like a painful bore but every day when I rise I give thanks to all the beatings, scoldings, forced reading sessions and domestic science lectures. All the good I am I to my mother and father. However this largely goes to my mother for she conceived and raised me and went on to help shape my mind.

Here is to a mother, a teacher, a disciplinarian, a mentor and a visionary. Here is to Thokozile Sarah Ncube (nee Zondo), mother to Nqobile Michael, Zibusiso Christian, Phakamani Andrew, Nosizo Mercy, Thabo Peniel and grandmother to Nokunqoba Michel and Siyabonga Sarah.

Happy Mothers’ Day magogo and all the mothers in the world. Because of you we have reason to anticipate and believe that for sure the sun will rise tomorrow!!

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[…] When we were young we found it difficult to share our food portions with visitors who would have arrived unannounced. But my mother would have none of it. Whatever was in the plate was meant to be part taken by all in the house irrespective of the number of the unscheduled guests. It always miffed us but no one could dare challenge our mother. https://phindelamuses.com/2011/05/08/to-our-mother/ […]


One can never understand the rod under the mother’s hand until they are grown up. Great piece of prose.

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