You know, it is very funny. My father had a lot of money. The bastard was loaded. Hence he was nicknamed MLUNGU.
But, I never had any of that money in an ostentatious way. This means no money in my own pockets on most days. No needless toys (he hated toy guys, for example, because he said when we grow up we would go get real ones and terrorise him and the community).
I never had countless pairs of shoes. Just the necessary things I needed.
Of course, I hated what he did to me (*chuckles* that sounds like I was a victim of some atrocious treatment, doesn’t it?).
I wanted to look “fly” like my peers — plus we had enough money. But, now, I love my father dearly for all those things he did for me. And he did always say that we will remember him and a lot of things will make sense when he’s no more.
Today, nothing is truer; I miss him dearly. I, we, with my brother, talk about him every chance we get. We have come to enjoy taking his life apart and learning from it. Reverse engineering bab’ Mahlobo.
This is epic because we get to see things he drummed into our heads, the amazing life lessons more clearly now, in hindsight.
It is as if he is still around us. Dispensing knowledge, guiding us, whispering into our ears what we need to know about his life and most importantly, about ourselves, too. We grow in leaps and bounds whenever we discuss him. Even in his absence he is so valuable.
Money, in our society today, is a very important thing to have. It always has been — I mean, a lot of things get stuck without money. It is somewhat essential for our survival. It all allows us a certain level freedom to do the things we want to do. Provide for our families they way we wish to.
However, I feel we have prioritised money to a point that we find it hard to have sufficient confidence in ourselves when we are broke.
If we cannot be truly ourselves and assert ourselves and have a high self esteem because our pockets are empty, then there’s only so much that money can do for us. It likely won’t help us be at peace with ourselves.
That lightbulb came on during one of our conversations with Muziwandile. We thought to ourselves: Dad did not put much emphasis on whether we had expensive clothing or not. He did not care at all. We laughed at the fact that he always bought us ‘cheap’ sneakers from PEP store — they cost about R 50, 00 a pair. Some times, he would get us two of those each at a time.
But, here’s what’s beautiful about it all: at home, we had everything we wanted in the way of food and other things such as stationery, school uniform and newspapers and magazines. (If I am honest, I am this devastatingly eloquent and curious because of his buying newspapers every single day. He made sure we stayed abreast of current affairs and as a result, were worldly.)
Every single day, I sit with my younger brother and talk about our father. We make fun of him mostly. We get an incredible amount of wisdom from our conversations. We connect dots and things click and make sense — just like “Bra Nsangweni” predicted all those years ago.
Mr. Mahlobo was wealthy. But he raised us like he had nothing much. He didn’t rely on the money — he gave us his time, attention, knowledge, stories and love instead.
And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Baba Mahlobo. Ntombela. Shomela. Chiza. Zulu.