5 Drum readers share one positive thing their parents taught them that they still live by today

A boy learning to count with his father.
A boy learning to count with his father.

Toxic parents, childhood traumas, reparenting. These are some of the words thrown around on social media as thousands of people discuss the scars they carry from their childhoods and how they've had to go to therapy to recover. 

Younger millennials and Gen Z are opening up more and more about their mental health and the healing processes they are going through. 

And most of it stems from their childhood. 

But while a large number of people have childhood traumas they are recovering from, for others, their parents did one thing so right that they gave them a fighting chance. 

Drum readers tell us what that one thing was that they will always be grateful to their parents for. 

He is now a grown man and a father, but when Modise Kabeli thinks back to his childhood, it was his mother’s magazines that helped him grasp the English language better and he was able to polish up on his Sotho as well. He says being raised by a single parent in Aliwal North in the 1980s was not always easy.

“My mother left for work at 5.30am every day and she walked to work where she was a machine operator at Bokomo,” he recalls.

“She did not have time for much. She was only concerned that I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and that I went to school and that I passed at end of each year. Everything else I took care of myself,” he chuckles.

His mother used to love reading magazines.

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“But those magazines that she bought religiously really helped me with Sesotho and English. I do not even think she was aware of her contribution. She religiously bought Bona and Drum Magazine and I would read them from cover to cover. That helped me improve on both languages which then assisted me later in life and in my chosen career of communications,” he says.

Poliswa Sejosing says she was raised in Mthatha by a civil servant who had her hands full raising four children by herself, but one thing her mother did was to always tell them how beautiful they were.

“It may seem like it’s something silly, but it is one that I always go back to. Umama was always affirming us that ‘you are beautiful’. When I was in my teens and coming into my own as a young woman it really helped, and it is something that has stayed with me throughout my life. As a child I had different hairstyles, some were a hit and others were a miss, but regardless of it all, I knew I was beautiful because that it what my mom had drilled into us. It has been a major confidence boost for me.

“It then came to a point where it did not matter what anybody else said because I knew, without any doubt that I was beautiful. That really helped me when I was self-conscious. And as I am now raising my children, I am aware of it and I want to build their self-esteems,” she says.

Oyanga Ngalika says her mother taught her independence.

“My mother always hustled. She was always strong and she worked hard. It is a trait that I have taken from her,” she says.

Oyanga says sometimes her mother would knock on doors and did not get positive results but that never deterred her.

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“She never took no for an answer. We never went to bed hungry because she hustled and she tried out different business ventures. She was always on the grind and as I reflect I realize that without saying a word, she taught me independence. No one is coming and I need to handle my business and never depend on a man for anything. I am grateful to her for that,” she says.

Zubenathi Jezile is a Cape Town based engineer who appreciates her late mother for making education a priority.

“My mother was not an educated woman, but she valued education very much. I do not come from a well to do family but whenever I needed something school related, my mom always made sure I had it. That motivated me to work hard at school and I was an A student.

“You know how sometimes kids would lie and tell parents they had to pay for this or that at school? I never did that because I knew that my mother would break her back making sure that I had it because school was always a big deal in our family. She took care of everything, and my only job was to do well at school, and I did. I will forever be grateful because I am who I am because of the sacrifices she made for me.” 

In primary school Lwazi Mluma was teased for having big ears and it was not until his mother sat him down and told him to own his ears that the teasing stopped. Kids even compared him to animals with big ears.

“I remember this one day, I came home and I told my mother about how I was being teased at school about my ears. She looked at me and said ‘without those ears, you wouldn’t be the person that you’re. Own up to it. You can’t change them.’

“Then she started showing me pictures of male celebrities with big ears, including the likes of Will Smith. From that day I wasn’t affected by other kids’ comments about my ears. I wouldn’t even give them the rage they expected when they teased me about my ears. I embraced my imperfection, and slowly but surely the teasing started disappearing because I was no longer feeding the monster,” he adds.

Today Lwazi works for Sesame Workshop International South Africa, a non-profit organization that encourages and teaches kids grow up smart, kind and caring – something very close to his heart.

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