Nokwanda Dlamini

My five feet tall mother carried me across the South African border removing me from the depths of poverty into the nourished lands of South Africa. Uneducated her options were limited but we always made due. She worked as a cleaner, a domestic worker and baby sitter. At the age of seven she whisked me off into the farms. She had gained employment as a domestic worker for a minister. The farm was an isolating place only truly home to the animals that roamed the land, grazing in the grass. Too fearful of the wrath of the ostrich that had chased me up and down the slope to many times for me to trust that it was no threat, ready to poke me if not strike me at any given moment. I hid in the solitary confinement of mine and my mother’s room. The silence bothersome and frightening led me to speaking out loud in order to drown it in my own voice. For what seemed like a very long time, that was my life.

Until the day everything changed. My mother had discovered a treasure map held in the key which was to open an unknown door. The door which was brown and made of oak tree turned out to the one to the left of our room. When we opened it, the door cricked and she swore me into silence. All we were going to do was look. There were rays of light in the room because the window was curtain-less. The was a spider web from the couch to the window. As we gazed into the room, petrified into silence we realised that this was a storage room cluttered in furniture and household items. Turning to our right my eyes met what was to become the most important item and aspect of my life. It was box shaped, its sides looked like they were made out of wood, the front of it was a glass screen. It had buttons at the bottom. I had seen it before but this time it felt like it could see me. A television set.

A television set is no ordinary thing to me. It saved my life. It made what am and continues to shape my identity every day. So, then years later at the very end of my adolescence I sat next to a lovely grey-haired man who asked me what my major was going to be. I said journalism because I wanted to return the favour. For the younger children that were now at home, without friends, without an education or simply seeking to be entertained. I wanted to create a platform that would embrace them as they are, while also creating a safe space for them. So, when I considered journalism and chose it as my major I did because I am passionate about television and journalism promised to provide me with all the skills needed in order for me to able to achieve my dreams.

I always think that my mother provided a lifeline for me when she jumped the border with me. She saved me from abject poverty and poor education. Although our life wasn’t easy, as we’ve lived without a home and my mother has never found a proper paying job. I know that travelling so far from home triggered wonder-lust in me. There is nothing more that I want do than to see all corners of the world. To meet the people in their common areas, appreciate our differences and similarities. Smile at the wonder that is life. But also investigate the truth and tell it to the world when it needs to be known. It is because I love travelling that wanted to be a documentarian to create documentaries that speak boundless truths to a thousand souls.

But when I began to do journalism I found myself waiting to learn how to be a documentarian until my first year was over, then my second, and then my third. Now finally in my fourth year I get to do what I have always wanted to make a documentary. Yet I am left feeling unsatisfied feeling like a greedy vampire that sucks a human dry of their blood, I want more! More time to learn, more time to experience television production, more time to explore my creativity. So, although my time at Rhodes University has come to end as I am in my final year, I realise that my time in the education sector as a higher education scholar has not. It was learning that I did not love journalism which made me realise that my true love stems from the more creative side of production. Film and Television to be exact. So, watch out for the films you watch in the next couple of years because it might have my name on the credits.

Finding my career major did not easily come to me. It was by trial and error. But there are whose mistakes to make in life if only they all lead you to truly finding yourself and where you belong in the world. And now all I can do, is wait for when the time right for me to share my stories with the little children who like I used to, are staring at the television set but for all the right reasons.

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