Till death do us part?

2011-06-11 14:59

The words “until death do us part”, ­depending on which side of the ­gender fence one sits on, resonates of a lifetime of bliss for some, but sometimes a prison for others.

As a black girl growing up in the ­townships, you are told by your female elders, and witness your female relatives also being told during their traditional marriage rituals, that at some point the marriage is going to be tough.

I’m sure Christian counselling advocates the same thinking, but as a woman you have a responsibility to endure the hardships – sometimes even the cheating – and you have to do your best to abide ­because your mother, her mother, and their mothers before you have done so for generations.

Very little is said about “romance”, “happily ever after” or any of these nuances that ­Hollywood films try to sell.

The one thing I also noticed from township life is that romance is hardly ever seen or even heard of with elders, let alone public displays of affection, especially the kind displayed by some white folk and, again, in movies.

You can imagine how touching it’s been for me, a black woman going through a ­divorce because I wasn’t willing to be “obedient”, to see images in the media of Albertina and Walter Sisulu being so loving towards each other – so touchy, so intimate . . . and publicly, nogal!

As the nation mourns the passing of MaSisulu and tributes pour in about her iconic life, I was and still am so touched by the love she shared with her Walter. The kisses were very public, the touching so intimate, and the love so clear for all to see.

The authenticity of it all is awe inspiring. I have the utmost respect for all struggle icons and recognise fully the suffering that the struggle left on many families, not the least of all South Africa’s political “royalty”.

But I am also beginning to learn and watch how, in the most part, the struggle has left some women and men emotionally empty, struggling to retain normalcy in their ­intimate relationships.

They are psychologically only inspired to live the course, whatever it may be at a time – and right now, it’s a struggle for economic emancipation.

What it has inadvertently done is left some wives and husbands lonely at home, and ­relationships empty because someone’s got to make the money and climb the ladder of social prominence.

What it does is inspire a generation of go-getters, who are not well equipped to ­handle relationships because their biggest source of influence at home is not ­inspiring much on the subject.

I believe that as enormously important as it may be to revere, respect and remember the two iconic Sisulus for the sacrifices their family has made, we must also revere them for the incidental inspiration they left behind for us as a nation.

This is respect in relationships, appreciation for partners, loyalty to family values ­(because admit it, none of their children or grandchildren would probably be the high achievers they are today if they didn’t first get the inspiration from their folks), and just the cuteness of love in all its fullness and ­richness.

Perhaps their love story is well documented, but I believe that in their deaths they have also inspired a new meaning, a happily abiding one at that, of “until death do us part”. I’m inspired to still believe in love, thanks to Walter and Albertina Sisulu.

» Moeketsi is a manager in the CEO’s office of the Media Development and Diversity Agency 

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