When I sit and introspect, and question all things that I really know,
There are so few that I could bet my life on.
For it seems that much of the knowledge I think I possess
is made up of mere ideals that were passed on to me by someone who was deemed credible,
and I have had to accept it as truth
Whether it’s because enough people believe it,
or generations have passed with that ideal in place,
or because we are too stubborn and comfortable to ever consider a different possibility,
I think it’s safe to say
most of everything I think I know,
I’ve actually just been taught.
Before I was taught that Kgothatso is my name
and not necessarily a spiritual manifestation of the purpose God sent the spirit in this body for
I was taught to walk
taught to talk and mumble in a baby language that got you so excited every time I recited it
it’s as if you never stopped to consider that my baby ingenious thoughts existed before I was taught your preferred language to express them in.
I was taught to go to school;
taught theorems and philosophies that aimed to make me understand the world better
but when I did doubt their credibility and importance,
all that my ‘credible sources’ would tell me is
“That’s what you ought to be taught”.
And so I was taught to pass matric,
to become another qualified slave
enriching the one who actually owns the wealth beneath my feet,
while being fooled into believing that my country actually belongs to me.
I was taught bits and pieces of history;
my mind being clouded by freedom charters and conspiracy theories.
The more I was taught the less sure I became of what I actually knew as truth.
I ran to church where I was taught truth and salvation was found
and almost got swallowed into the mob mentality of it all because, remember?
“Everyone in our family was taught it,
Almost a third of the world believes it,
So it must all be true”.
I was taught to memorize bible verses about how infinitely great our God and His love is.
But when I asked why we can’t believe that He is infinitely great
enough to reveal himself to someone else as Allah or Buddha,
you taught me to stop questioning and just accept.
And so, the glorious walls of Jericho were built around “our God”,
and cries of the starving and the naked were not enough to break them down.
Instead, we carried on boxing God into our auditoriums,
hid him behind our glass pulpits,
while we patted our made-up faces,
scared to ruin our artificial eye lashes,
crying: “God come down and save your people”.
Because we are too comfortable in our suburban homes,
too scared to dirty our manicured hands,
and really serve each other.
Like we actually believed that God lived in each of us.
I was taught about Christ and how we ought to aspire to be like Him.
But behind the hypocrisy of religion,
I realized that I was being robbed of a relationship
and the holy Christian I was taught to become
differed gravely from what He wanted me to be.
I was taught all these things, mother.
Some of them for which I’m not even allowed to dig out the truth,
and expose their ugliness and deception.
Sometimes I believe even the way I look at the world, I’ve been taught.
Because everywhere I turn,
I’m forced to eat from a tree of knowledge that furthers my conditioning.
I think it’s safe to say, everything I think I know,
I’ve actually just been taught.
But I was never taught to love.
After all the twisted and contaminated versions of it I was introduced to,
love in its resilience emerged like the sun creeping up from behind the hills after a dark night
illuminating everything in sight.
And I recognized its warm, restoring and life–giving ability
and I basked in it.
I found it in a spirit delicately deposited in a vessel with the color so similar to the soil I tread on,
crowned by black rose petals that fell on the round of soft cheeks,
professed by lips that would kiss me and remind me,
I don’t have to worry if words ever fall short again.
I found it in a heart hidden by a chest that rose and fell so rhythmically, beautifully,
that I felt guilty for taking for granted how beautiful breathing could be.
See, I was never taught to love.
And so as naturally as hands create intimacy when they clasp around each other,
my hands sculptured around a waist that made me stop in my tracks and remember
that this was created in God’s image.
And for the first time I was awed at the possibility of how beautiful God can be
and as naturally as a newborn suckles on the mother’s breast for the first time,
I knew how to savor the bitter-sweet waters from a spring I was never taught to let flow
and it quenched a thirst that I never knew I even had.
I was never taught to love her.
My love for her is so loud it helped break down all those walls of Jericho I had built around the God and Love I was taught about.
She kissed my lips and broke society and religion’s spell over me
and sleeping beauty has now awoken to the realization and understanding of a God and Love that knows no boundaries.
See you taught me that mother, but she personified it.
I’m now not living off an adopted,
kind of love
but a love I came to know when I held so tight onto her bare body
clumsily, desperately trying to melt her into mine.
But then, in her gentle patience,
she helped my spirit escape my body in its erratic, uneven rhythmic movements
to join hers for a smoother dance in the heavenly realms
and I wasn’t even ashamed the Holy Spirit came to join us.
Mother I was never taught to dance
but even the earth below shook a little,
then stood still in awe of the magic our bodies made together.
This may be the only thing I really, actually know.
I’ve actually just been taught.
But the patience I have for her while she still tries to unlearn the fairytale fantasies of castles and tiaras and prince charmings in her head/
the easy flowing, natural kindness she evokes in me
even when her imperfections are staring me in the face,
and how envy, arrogance and pride become diluted in our love because
her dreams and successes have now become my own,
I was never taught that.
In her, I have come to realize the magnitude of God’s reflection in a human soul
so I can never be rude or selfish in my intentions.
I cannot resent her when she unapologetically rebukes my wrong doings
and never tolerates nothing but the truth no matter how painful or ugly it is.
And when she sits
deflated by how the whole world seems to have deemed us outlaws of love,
I carry the cross with her and never give up.
I never lose faith;
I remain hopeful
because my love for her can endure every circumstance.
Yes you may think I am too young to know anything about love
but the last time I read my bible, that is everything 1 Corinthians thirteen describes it as.
Before you condemn me mother,
before you throw the heavy cross of traditions and norms we were taught on my back,
before you nail me to it with bible verses
and put on me a crown of thorns to mock my royalty as a daughter, as a human being,
before you pierce my side with the betrayal of worrying more about what people might think over what makes your daughter happy,
before you remind me of all the expectations society has taught you and I to live up to,
remember that in everything we think we know,
we were never taught to love
and I certainly was never taught to love her.
I fall short in so many things mother
and right now,
being the ideal daughter may be one of them
especially after how well you’ve taught me.
I am sorry you see it that way.
I am sorry you see it that way and cannot see the bravery it takes for me to scrutinize what I’ve been conditioned by,
to find delight in the little I do know.
And through her
I’ve known love
and I am so good at it.
And if you gave yourself the chance to see it,
you would be proud of me too.
And you know what the beauty of it all is?
I was never even taught to love her.