Letter to Matumelo


It has taken me over 10years to write this letter to you…so much happened between us in such a short space of time. So much pain, joy and tragedy.

We met in 1996 when we were 16 years old. My father was to marry your mother. My mother had died when I was 12.


I was excited to have a new family. It would make my then single parent family a ‘real’ family. We were both in Umtata for school holidays. You and I had already begun chatting on the phone since we were born in the same year. We had been chatting for a few weeks.


I came over to visit you at your grandmothers in Southernwood. You made me watch the video of your granddads funeral….ALL of it. Something I would soon learn you would do quite often. You idolised the man. You spoke about him all the time. Just like I idolised my mother and spoke about her all the time. Our immediate connection was a spiritual one. We were both still deeply attached to our ‘dead.’


That was not our only connection though. We were both deep thinkers, both poets.

We would engage in long discussions about life at 16.

While I could get derailed by my love of boys, you were always quite solid in your depth. I imagine that you were quite a loner and reader, but our personalities balanced so our years together were a series of fun, laughter and corruption.

In high school we were a powerful couple you and I.

Although we went to different schools, we had the ability to create fun and partying wherever we went. I always had a people personality so I would be the life of the operation, you were a chief strategist so everything we did as a mob of girls, was your plan. I was the party, you were the execution.

We were a formidable pair in our teens.


Everything naughty, I did with you by my side. My first drink, my first spliff and my 1st sneaking out the house are all memories of you. The thing about you is that you were ahead of your time, so you knew HOW to be naughty…without getting caught. And I got to come along for the ride.


We shared a bedroom and secrets for many years. We knew each other’s dreams and fears. We knew what to say to piss the other one off. We knew how to fight and make up. We knew how to manipulate situations to go in our favour. We knew we were a team. We knew we were loyal to each other.


We always had separate friends…you and I, together had the ability to merge the two groups and have crazy episodes.


I remember when we were 18 and just discovered weed. We (about 7 girls) would buy a full chicken or two and chips, smoke; eat and then pass out by the pool like lazy crocodiles. That’s how we spent December 1998. That, and going to parties with the boys you grew up with, bumpimg the TKZee album in a convoy. We lived the life of BadGirls in the safe environment we called sisterhood.

You and I were soul mates. We were in tune with each other’s vibrations. We were each other’s darkness and light. You and I committed to our relationship and gave each other realness.


We would sleep with the radio on because I was in love with music, then I would wake you up in the middle of the night when a beautiful song was playing. I did that to you all the time…and you never complained.


Many people think me being crucified all the time is only now, but that is only because of social networks. You saw me being ganged up on when we were young and you provided a place of solace for me. You knew when we were young that I get backlash and you never judged me. In fact you used to laugh about all of it. Every time the world turned its back on me….you were always there. You were truly a good friend to me.


Of course our relationship was not perfect and eventually a lot of distance came between us when we hit our early 20s. Life’s realities became a little bit heavier to carry.

While every family is dysfunctional, we let ours break us apart.

The time we spent together started to get less and the phone calls stopped….we started to become strangers. Neither one of us knew how to reach into the others world, without confronting the family dysfunction. So we let each other slip away.


At 25, in October 2005, I flew down to Cape Town one weekend, located your old friends and broke down about having a bad feeling about something. I did not know what. My impulses just said go to Cape Town, so I went. I returned to Johannesburg the next night for a gig. It was raining heavily that night. There was a thunderstorm. I had a beautiful show and got into a random fight with my dancers. I threw a crazy tantrum, one which I had to apologise for at a later stage. My spirit was just off.

I went home. In the morning I got a phone call that you had been in a car accident and died.

You always said you would leave in the rains.


Owing to the colourful nature of our family dysfunction, I didn’t really get to say goodbye to you. I don’t even know where the accident spot is. I was not included in the family process. We had drifted so far apart that I couldn’t even stand up for our bond. In spite of the fact that everybody knew we were inseparable…..everybody also knew that in the end….we had died.

So I didn’t get to give you a beautiful speech at your send off….I didn’t get the chance to play ‘Missing You by Brandy, Tamia and them like we promised each other when the song came out. We said whoever dies 1st, the other has to play that song at the funeral. They didn’t ask me to speak, so I didn’t play our song.

I’m sorry things got so bad….so bad that I never got to say goodbye properly.


I tried to visit your grave a few times……but I found no peace there…perhaps it is because you and I never got to have this conversation.


It is your birthday today….you would have been 36.

I miss you Tumie…..everybody who witnessed our love, saw the dance of soul mates…..and in your own words……



I carry our memories in my heart and I welcome you as my guardian angel…..I will never forget the times, laughter and joy we shared. I will never forget the pain too. I remember your beautiful hair and your brilliant mind with fondness.

Here’s to 36 gyel!!!!!!!!


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