I never imagined how hard this would be – I never imagined this day at all. I am here in your spot doing your work, talking to the customers you have always been here for, writing on the pages that are filled with your handwriting, sitting in your chair behind the desk…but today they find me standing here in your place! As I see the shock and sadness register on the faces of our clients who are hearing the sad news for the first time, I ache all over again, my throat constricts and I fight the tears… it’s so hard!
I was your teacher, I showed you the way, I taught you the ropes, I learned to trust you and you learned to trust me, and I saw a light of deep intelligence burning brightly behind your glittering eyes and in no time at all I could leave you with the big responsibility of looking after our family business and never worrying at all because you were so capable and you loved your work so much – and you were so damn good at it too!
You cut the apron strings so confidently and grew more sure of yourself every day … You told me not to worry and because I had other things to do – you gave me wings to fly. That was exactly four years ago and we have never, even for one second, had to doubt your ability – or your loyalty – and I also know deep in my soul how much you loved me, my friend.
But oh my heart is so heavy since our world changed in that moment last Saturday evening. Stunned, shocked and disbelieving our family was plunged into mourning when that phone rang to tell us the news that you had been in an accident… we were hearing words we didn’t want to hear – No! No! NO! It can’t be true… Make another call please will someone tell us it’s all been a big mistake and you are fine, you are watching a soccer match with your fiancé… but it is true my dear, dear friend, and you are gone forever…
I want to rage at the world for allowing drunk drivers on the roads, I want to rage at the driver for being reckless – and a drunk, but he died too – I even want to rage at you for staying in a taxi when you realised the driver was drinking still – Why? The witnesses say he was speeding, there were beer bottles everywhere, he could not take the bend, lost control and at high speed went somersaulting through the air…they say the passengers never had a chance… When, when, when will there be an end to drunken drivers?
I am older than you – you called me “Ma”; I am your employer – but you never called me “Boss”! I shared your highs and lows, sadnesses and joys even as we so excitedly looked forward to your wedding day – You knew my heart too and would know from just looking into my eyes if it was well with me or not ; Some weeks when I was busy and travelling you would call saying, “ Ma, I just wanted to hear your voice, to know you are well!”
In this wounded country of ours where there is still too much focus on black and white hatred, we need to stop once in a while to simply appreciate the small corners of our homeland where there is love, respect and joy in friendships and partnerships which quietly build bridges across man-made divides… You are black and I am white but together we were forever true to our own motto: “It’s got nothing to do with the colour of your skin, and everything to do with the colour of your heart!”
I will never forget you Sannie Mokwena!