by  Siyabulela Sekeleni, born and bred in the Eastern Cape, rural boy through and through. Well adjusted, very adaptable, loves music and animals. Radiohead groupie. Find him on twitter @siyabulelas

My mother, born on Christmas eve 1953. Parents: Robert and Persis Cakata. Superwoman some might call her. I know that I certainly would. She’s a woman I love and respect deeply. Here’s a long overdue letter with love from a regular ‘dude’, to my Xhosa African Queen Mother:


Dear Mama (Zalisa Sekeleni),
“Can’t” – a word that I have never heard you say. “You live and learn”? Yes, those are also your words.

I know a lot of wonderful mothers, none that could manage two jobs, day and night the way you have and continue to do, as a radiographer by day and a doctor’s assistant after hours.

Among your awesome feats is giving birth to and raising 6 strong grown-up young individuals, Bongani, Thandile, Siyabulela (myself), Bukiwe, Banele, and Loyiso Sekeleni;

I know I was really unruly, breaking stuff, losing house keys, that you nearly had a heart attack the day I stuck a live electric wire in my mouth when I was 5 years old.

Then when I was about 10 years old, we lived in a small village (your home) in Centane on the Transkei coast where you worked at a hospital close by. We had to fetch water from the river and wood from the forest to make a fire.

When I had a child out of wedlock you weren’t pleased, I know this  because all you said was “uqale ngeyokugqibela” (meaning:  you jumped to last step).  You still supported me all the way even though you had hoped I would know better, as my sister was already an example. That’s the only time I felt I disappointed you.

When my daughter was born you travelled all the way to Johannesburg to make amends with their family. Since then you’ve visited my daughter a couple of times and are always a call away if I need you. You’re even prepared to take time off work to help me..

When we disagree, you know just how to let me know that you think I am talking drivel. The rules are clear. You listen, you consider, and you make a decision. No two ways about it

I live alone now, and I’m proud to say that my place reflects the lessons you have taught me: cleanliness, warmth, a spirit of content. I’ve also learnt compassion and compromise (though of course some might not agree. LOL!).

Happy Mother’s Day Mamtipha!

One more thing before I’m out: If it’s true what they say about every man looking for the reflection of his mother in a partner, then I must say, jokingly of course (don’t run away now ladies 😉 the women out there might not stand a chance.

P.S. Am sure my mama wonders when I am getting married though!!

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