Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

Dad,

You’d be 65 years this week, and probably taking retirement, if you wouldn’t have taken it earlier. But it’s been 22 years since death robbed us of your witty charm.

Mom fulfilled your plans to get a second house Empangeni, for us to move there from Ingwavuma. You probably had more plans for us, that sadly we may never know. But you’d be pleased to know that we turned out alright, in spite of TB stealing you from us in 1998, and mom following you in 2004, due to pneumonia.

We knew about Khondathi, but we have since been introduced to our two other brothers, one from Swaziland and another from KwaNgwanase. Of course! However, we are all adults, and each tend to keep to our own, without prejudice.

In the brief period you spent with us, you loved us enough to engrave unforgettable memories in our hearts. Each of us remember you in our own way.

We miss your wit. We miss your jokes. We miss the warmth of your love.

We miss the curious nicknames you quipped indiscriminately, that stuck. I suspect the nicknaming is one of the things I probably took after you.

I remember you nicknamed one of the Croatia players in the 1994 Fifa World Cup uCelemba nembazo. You’d be pleasantly surprised to learn that we hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa. KK and I were at the opening ceremony where the first game played at FNB Stadium, South Africa vs Mexico. No prize for guessing that South Africa was out of the tournament early enough.

Your team, Orlando Pirates, is unlikely to win the league this season. Kaizer Chiefs is currently on top of the table, with a gap of 7 points ahead of Sundowns which is number 2.

In 2000, government banned public smoking, along with cigarette advertising. You would have quit smoking Consulate by now. Along with this ban was the change of sponsorship for Rothmans’ Cup to Coca Cola Cup, and it is now the Telkom Knockout. Cellular companies have a lot of sponsorship for soccer in South Africa these days, replacing the cigarette and beer sponsors.

That reminds me, your cellphone number, that you used on your Ericsson GA628, which had an outside aerial extender that look like the TV aerial, circa 1997, is now used by Khehla, albeit, on a more advanced cellphone than the one you used.

Remember the movie Best of the Best, whose VHS Cassette we watched numerous times? It’s been playing repeatedly lately, on DStv (the DStv is an expansion of the Mnet service, it has numerous channels now). I never knew Best of the Best had sequels up to 3, but the first remains the best.

Lately, I am formally studying history academically, which I last did when you taught me in Standard 7 in 1994. It reminded of how one time, you returned test scripts, and decided you were only going to punish those who passed the test. I got my 3 lashes for getting 82%. Fortunately, for me, the 52% I will be getting this time will not result in any punishment.

You wouldn’t believe this, uButhelezi is still a member of parliament. Yes, he is 91 years old, but I kid you not, he is still a member of parliament. He represents the IFP, though he is no longer its President after it eventually elected a new President last year. Even uBab’ uMpontshane, lo waseMachobeni, resigned from parliament in 2015, but uShenge is still there.

Of course the ANC remains in power, albeit, with the reduced majority. Since you are a historian, I would not bore you about what tends to happen to liberations movements after 20 years of liberation.

You might have been right about my high school arson case that got me suspended from school for the second time, during my matric in the second half of 1997. Before getting off the car, on my second last court appearance for the case, you had remarked, as you passed me the small bottle with some ointment to put on my eyebrows, that the other four co-accused are also probably bringing their own muti. You intimated, the combined strength of 5 different mutis will have the case disappear. Perhaps it was the combined strength of muti, or it might have been the lack of evidence, together with the subsequent disappearance of the docket, that got us off the hook.

Beyond being born into royalty, and being nurtured in the shadow of your father, through your wisdom, and conduct you earned the respect of your peers, and the community, in your own right.

As we have grown to be our own persons as adults, our association with you is the fortune we hold in high regard.

Your one and only little girl, Nu, who spent most the time with you out of all of us, though some of the 11 years as a toddler, has grown to be an independent woman, who falls in the top 1% in South Africa. You would be proud of her. She’s still as beautiful as she is intelligent.

In the brief 9 years you spent with Khehla, you would not have guessed that he would become an international IT security practitioner that he is today.

And Khandakhulu, who was only 6 years when you left us, is an IT Technician and emerging entrepreneur.

With the contribution of the 7 years I spent with you, 4 of which was largely at boarding school, I have had the privilege to serve the country in the highest political offices. I believe that the music, particularly of Mbongeni Ngema, that you, inadvertently, inducted me into, and your collection of books, that I occasionally read, had a significant contribution in my political development that led me to where I am.

While you would be proud of what we have become, I am sure that I speak for all of us when I say, we are yet to do greater things, that you and mom would be even more proud of. We are destined for greater things, and we work harder, all the time towards that greatness.

As you turn 65, you’d be pleased to know that you are a grandfather to Ayanda, Nhlanhla, Alwande and Khululiwe. They are clueless of how much fun they would have had with you if you were still around.

Of course what we have become thus far has not necessarily been smooth sailing. We have had to go through various challenges, individually, and often as a collective. But we have had each other. The bonds we formed with each other, growing up together, in the 4-room house, that you later extended, are unbreakable.

As we grow older, we have greater appreciation of how much effort you put in nurturing us, and doing your best to make sure we had what we needed as kids.

Dad, we love you. We thank you for being the greatest dad. We regret that you are not here to celebrate your 65th with us. But we carry you in our hearts, and will continue to make the best of ourselves in ways that you would have you bursting at the seams with pride. It is the only way we could honour your memory.

Happy 65th birthday Mr Sandile Nyawo.

Bayanda Mzoneli

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