​It takes a village. 

But not if you are a black woman.
For a black woman it takes yourself.
Your back to lean on, your shoulders to stand on.

This womanhood ring we were all born into came with secrets we were never ready to absorb.
Our mothers womb thrust us from her warm insides into the cold.
With the sounds of our fresh cries echoing out to her.
Cries she could not nurse and she could not silence.
So we soothed ourselves.
Learned to rock our own bodies.
Wrap our tiny legs into swaddled cloth.

We came into this world from someone else but crawled around it on our own.
Always searching her voice quiet or raised the way mothers have it in  the supermarket.
For her eyes oozing love over us like warm honey or a side gaze warning us that her wooden spoon was waiting for our bums.
We searched for her,
Under the bed, under the couch, in the back room but never found her.

So we clung to the rare memories we had.
Put them in a tupperware container and tucked them safely away so they would stay fresh.

If a black woman’s life in the world is a burden, it is no different when she becomes a mother.

We saw our own mother yearning, journeying for love.
Seeking for it in homes that were never her own.
We saw our mother empty, and her children unavailable to fill this void.

We saw our mother, look at her own mother in the same way.
Always wondering why love could never be found at home but in mens beds and at the bottom of brown cheap bottles.

We were all hungry children.
Not just because of:
The Civil War,
The Caspers on our streets.

Our hunger was generational because love is too expensive in a world where even our breath is a commodity.



Office Hours 

I want to sit outside.

Even if it is cold. Even if it is raining.
Because I’ll die in there.
Suffocated by that stale blistering air.

I would rather be here outside. Breathing fully with my lungs.
No matter the cloudy skies filled with polluted air.

Here my brain is clear.
I clutch on to the finite freedom I can claim for myself.
Alone. Unbothered.

Without umuzi. Without a home.
Because where would that be for me? Where would I fit?
How would I stretch myself out.

I would rather feel my hair raise, my skin bump, my teeth chatter.
Than to slip into a silent coma because of the lack of oxygen to my brain inside there.

From nine to five.
Five days out of seven.
Too many weeks in the year to count.

I would rather not.
But what will I eat?
Where will my head rest?
That building has me like quicksand.

Now answer me this, what is life meant to feed : the heart or the stomach?

I sit here suffering as to why it can’t be both.

                                -Nonjabulo Kandawire 

Tricky things….


I always seemed convinced that to be in love, really in love only came around once. I woke up from that illusion, like an ice bucket was poured onto my face to get me out of that dream.

I fell in love once. Then fell out. More like walked out, in baby steps. Each step stamping my heart with truth: the fact that this human being wasn’t the one to meet the close with. This human certainly opened up my heart. Shwoed me how fully and deeply I was capable of loving. But my heart had more beating to do on its own.

So, as I slowly etched myself away from this, I was kicked out. Broken up with and left. These words at some point scared me, the idea of being alone. It was like a horror movie I watched with half an eye open.

But then, there I was. Alone.
Alone and relieved. Relieved because I no longer had to convince myself and this person that this thing that wasn’t working, was.

It was  a “Waiting to Exhale” moment. I could finally breathe. And contrary to the fear that kept me there for so long, I was glowing on my  own. Without him.
I was actually okay.

For two weeks. Just two weeks.
And enter this new person, who hit me like a wave. Showed me things about myself I needed to uncover. We were both somewhat broken. I knew in my heart I was a distraction for her own heartbreak and honestly, I didn’t  even mind. I liked the idea of being wanted  but not being wanted all at the same time.

And so I found myself, at the bottom of countless bottles of wine and tequila, in love. Not knowing how I got there, not knowing if this was actually love. But feeling my heart ache because I wound up alone again, only not wanting to be this time. I clung to the idea of her. Of someone I didn’t know.

I dont know if I could even call it love.
It was one of those Elizabeth Gilbert stories.
The one that came right after the big one.
An afterbirth love.
A messy one.

Imagine that. I escaped heart break, only to walk straight into it somewhere else. Having to dig my my way out of it because I didn’t even know if I deserved to feel hurt.

This love thing is a tricky thing. It hides in places unexpected. So I have stopped searching for it in other people.

But even with that. I do believe that I will find it one day. That love that calms your soul and answers questions you haven’t even thought to ask, all while shaking you up at the same time.

I look forward to that, to meeting them wherever they are.

For now though, I think I’ll just pour all this love I want back into myself.
                                   -Nonjabulo Kandawire 


I think I might be in love with a dead woman. 

She’s alive in my dreams.
In them, she drinks tequila with me, runs naked with me and we share a cigarette in the aftermath.

This dead woman speaks to me.
Even though I have no understanding of her rolling Spanish tongue.
Her eyes see into me like she knows exactly where I put the thundering clouds in my mind.

I am in love with a dead woman.
I dream of being tickled by her mustache.
Waking up to hear the workings of her brain and watching her unfold herself on a canvas.

I love her like I know her.
And maybe because I do.
Because  the more I learn about her, the more of myself I see.
The more I see the woman I also want to be.

I’m in love with a dead woman.
Imagine that.
Who knew that her paint, and her words and being were so potent that it would make her immortal.

Immortal because my love her is beating and alive.

                                 -Nonjabulo Kandawire 


I felt myself.

Disentangle my coils, laying down these locks.

I saw myself.
Adorned in white, peaks of brown peeking through my chest.

By toe, by knee, by all my skin
Submerged into the blue.

I filled my lungs with a store of air and felt my being float.

Liquid rushing into my ears and the crevices of my flesh.


A baptism.

One of coming into myself.

Where my hair no longer ran from the waters but soaked it up at the roots.

Where my skin, no longer scared of the feeling warmed up to the waves.

I heard Her, the Mother, singing to my soul.
Bathing in me in ancient secrets I was only beginning to unfold.

Washed away all the self-doubt and apologies I used to hold.
Forgave myself and those I loved and lost.
Cleansing myself of the scars.

I saw myself: Real.
I heard myself: True.

Felt my heart beat with the answers I sought in foreign seas.


                                   -Nonjabulo Kandawire