Zakithi, 4:44, Jo’burg

Listening to 4:44 takes me back to a sunny Saturday afternoon in the parking lot at 44 Stanley, Auckland Park, with a fiercely intelligent and beautiful person.

The time might as well have been four-forty-something-PM.

We’d just finished having a lunch meeting and talked shop. She’d roped me in to help her business, Zalwa Creative, by writing copy for a website project she had put together, commissioned by a UK-based Nigerian architect and property developer.

The gig was a step-change moment for my writing business.

She turned on the engine, thumbed her phone, CarPlay and Jay Z came on and his life stories, flow, bravado, and especially in this particular album, sensitivity and emotional delicacy, filled the spacious Mini.

I exhaled, ‘Aaah man! The new Jigga. Nice.’

“Themba this guy is talking like a grown man on this album. It’s beautiful.”

‘It’s my first time hearing it. Sengizwe abantu abambalwa beyigxeka the latest offering.’

“Check it out for yourself, and we’ll chat. Kodwa, you’re in for a great listening experience, that’s all.”

I think Jigga struck a chord with Zakithi because from the conversations I had with her in the few preceding weeks, she was taking giant leaps with her career and testing herself out.

She changed jobs and landed a bigger role in another advertising agency, and she’d moved house to a new and bigger abode.

She was straight up flexing her intelligence by making those moves. It was beautiful to see.

It was even more beautiful to have long conversations with her. The writing project was an opportune moment to begin talking to her often, from work and eventually onto personal topics. It’s mostly from those interactions that I got to know her.

And her mind was quite an experience 🔥.

What also made me appreciate Zee was that she was the type of person who made interesting career moves and enjoyed sharing the knowledge that came from those professional adventures.

As I reminisce about her intelligence, her sincere and honest spirit, writing this note, it hits me that I’d do almost anything to listen to her speak on the other end of the phone.

Just as I’d do anything to have a conversation with my Dad. Mahlobo om’hle kakhulu.

Better yet, lemme set up a table, lemme break bread and talk face to face with them. If wishes were horses.

These are two people I readily listened to. It didn’t matter what topic under the sun they were discussing.

And coincidentally, both of them were headstrong, passionate people, and they both spoke their thoughts and feelings openly.

Izinja zempilo.

A hat tip to the greats who worked, walked, laughed, loved, fought for and followed their convictions in front of me.

You’re never too far away from my thoughts.

Ntomb’ yakw’ Masoka.

Mzimkhulu.

Ndima.

Mfazi onamanxeba ngasemva njengamadoda.

You were discipline and courage personified.

Mlung’ omnyama.

Miss Ideas and Knowledge, all day, err’day.

Such an eloquent talker.

Oh, and did she speak life!

Almost always laughing.

Feisty.

Fair.

A stickler for standards.

Sister-nswembu.

Top of the food chain.

If confidence and poise were a person.

ZAKITHI … the words you said during our chats, the actions you took to grow yourself, the way you handled challenging times in your life, and the beliefs you strongly held still have their imprint intact.

You made quite an impression.

You left signature skid marks of the gestures you made, the steps you took, the person you were.

The words you uttered still echo.

I move through some of the moments in my life with you in mind.

And jonga … I cherish those lengthy after-the-office phone calls/brainstorming sessions from which I gleaned insight from your life and work.

Seeing you do your work, having access to your mind and creativity was good for my thinking and writing.

I miss you.

Isandla sidlula ikhanda ntombó 🙌🏼.

By THEMBA JAY

A Wordsmith: I write and edit. I speak and facilitate public conversations.

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