Olwethu begins our conversation with a very honest and colourful recount of her formative years. “I have step siblings. My dad had children before he married my mom. I also have a younger sibling who was born after my parents divorced in 2011. I am the first born from their marriage, followed by my sister and baby brother. My parents also took in many of our cousins who came to stay with us to complete their schooling.”
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Born and raised in the Eastern Cape, the mom of three fondly recalls how her grandmother’s house, in Uitenhage, was always their holiday destination.Here, she and her cousins would play umgusha – a jumping game that you play with an old pantyhose/rope. When they weren’t boisterously vying for the title of umgusha champion, the kids would help tend to the vegetable garden in the early hours of the morning because as her grandmother always told them: “It is the sacred time where the earth allows humans to take of its fruits.”
Although her early education began in the Eastern Cape, her father’s corporate job required the family to move around the country quite a bit – from Port Elizabeth (PE) to Mthatha, then Polokwane and eventually Pretoria.
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“I always felt like the new girl in school, and that came with its own pros and cons. The upside was that I always managed to adjust, and never felt like a fish out of water because with each new move, I would say, ‘Let me just reinvent myself’.