Yasser Booley

Andrea Nomasebe Dondolo

Country: South Africa


Andrea is cultural activist, writer, storyteller and award-winning actress, having worked extensively in theatre, radio and television, as well as being traditional Xhosa praise singer (imbongi) and bead craft artist. She began Human Movement Studies at the University of The Western Cape and later completed a Drama diploma at the New Africa Theatre. Some of the highly successful professional productions she's featured in are Beading my Soul in collaboration with The Mothertongue Project, Dancing 2 Patterns and Good Heart at the Baxter Theatre and Romeo and Juliet, Ufeziwe okanye Inkohlakalo, Giants and It's My Life at the Artscape Theatre. Andrea also facilitates storytelling workshops for adults and children's programs at various national festivals. She featured in international movies such as The Final Solution and The Piano Player and landed parts in local television series such as Big Okes, Backstage, Madam and Eve, Thetha Msawawa, The Ringmaster, Stokvel, Unchain my Heart, Home Affairs making her a household face and name in South Africa.

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Remind Me and I will remember

I remember Hewu
I remember Eastern Cape
Windswept hills, whistling valleys,
Ice cold sweet waters
Laced with earthy rusty aroma

I remember Eastern Cape
With its bareback horse riding men
Its women with big washing bundles balanced systematically on their heads
Numerous housewives with big wood bundles skillfully placed on their heads
Newlywed grooms showing off their nice, elegant cut tweed jackets from Jozi
Young makoti`s busy collecting freshly dropped dung to paint their newly built houses

I remember Eastern Cape
Its narrow paths charmingly leading you to the river
At the riverside young maidens teaching each other
The enticing titillating hip swaying sensual dance [ukutyityimba]
Young boys competing to see whose isagweba will hit a bird first
Smaller one`s teaching themselves to whistle

Oh! Remind me and I will remember
Old men sitting under a big shade next to the kraal catching the sunset
Happily clad in worn out Stetsons, long warm military jackets
Shiny old army boots, without a care for the scorching heat.

Smoking pipes on one hand, an ancient worn out newspaper on the other
Pipes puffing away into the future reminding me of my grandmother`s pain tainted lamentations `Wemk`ujujuju oomaqegu amdaka, wayomlahla eGoli umntanam u-Mabhudlela
Kwandonga ziyaduma, kwamntanam wendele phi, kwanyama ayipheli kuphela izinyo lendoda!
Bathi unxiba izihlangu epidural, zamakhulu amanje. azuguga msinya, ngenye zomthwala zimbuyise
[Choo - choo the train that took my child Mabhudlela to Johannesburg- the rumble city, gold city, where are you married to my child?, meat city where meat is so abundant it never runs out only the men`s do. They say now he wears expensive shoes, worth so many hundreds...they wear out easy, one day they will bring him home.]

I remember Eastern Cape
Its women putting Vaseline on their cracked hands & soles
Young women using red hot metal combs, stretching their hair in a bid to have it silky
Burning it smoke rising from their craniums, air stinking of burning cat hair-like hair

I remember Eastern Cape people
Aged women usefully smearing old tractor oil on their legs
Never mind the legs then looking as shiny as aging English table legs
I remember seeing these people

I remember seeing horse riders preparing for the long journey to eBisho from Hukuwa
Horses clad
Nostrils wide open breathing out warm sweet
I remember watching in awe as women beaded their seemingly tattered dance skirts
which I must say took my breath away when they were finished.

I remember times
when we would sit in the sun
with my cousins and laugh at grandma "Bongwe"
patiently separating the best corn from the bad
to show off to other villagers
how nice her land was through her crop and its bearings.

Remind me and I will remember UMatshangisa
my elder paternal uncle's children's nanny singing her sweet songs
Her feet stamping hard on the ground causing a soft fuzzy surge of dust to rise
up, up, up till it disappeared somewhere halfway up her skirts.
Her shirt sleeves rolled up to her elbows
Busy as a bee sifting amarhewu and umqombothi
for the men to take with as they left early with the horses to Ebisho.

I am reminded of the countless times I longed to be in those buses
bumping against sweaty mama's in the hot summer heat.
Bodies swaying gently rocked from side to side
to a land where the mind becomes a pen
that scratches and scribbles, jotting down this and that.

I remember times when as a high spirited girl
I would watch dust trailing behind the Mayibuye bus
as it snaked down the Enqobokeni rock passes
taking me further and far away
from the mountains I loved.

Like a carefully but tightly packed parcel I would rock from side to side
as my mother always over dressed us
for this journey with layers of jerseys
and every now and again a blanket, an attribute of her Sotho origins.

I remember how I consoled myself for missing out on imibhiyozo,
I would picture myself with a big chunk of tender lamb and rice in my plate.
This was a ritual we observed when we reached Lady Frere, Kwa-Nonkunzi
where we stayed with mama as she worked at Glen Grey hospital.
Toiling away as a low paid nurse tending to people's lives,
I always wondered why & how she couldn't heal my broken heart
From the dreaded disease called cultural imibhiyozo deprivation.

The nice chunky meat was from a generous sheep
that offered us its meat which never failed to warm our hungry tummies.
My grandpa always slaughtered a sheep when we arrive for holidays in honour of us passing our exams and when we left. I remember my mother's excited face like a small child opening the white mealier meal packet that held our share-a hind leg.
Mama:Usiphe ntoni utata kule gem? Me:Umlenze mama.

How remembrance is, remind me, and I will remember.
The time when I danced with my bottle top etched sack cloth skirt
and the few times when my distant cousin [I still haven`t figured out how we are related] who always seemed to be near, taught me and cousin Khaya to dance the boys dance,
"umteyo", through his fire lit shadow.

Remind me and I will remember
how I was a girl during schooldays and a boy during holidays
hunting birds and herding turkeys. On an odd day out of Kaleni's sight [my grandpa]
riding the strongest of the male goat, damn goats smell but the ride was nice

Remind me and I will remember
the day we were sent to go buy
brown sugar at Romani village
and we got lost.

How we had to skid down 50-70 metres long dongas
and how with our hot burning behinds, ever present distant cousin Thulani found and beat us because us city heads wasted his perfect afternoon
He carefully flogged us on the hands so the adults wouldn't notice
because we were sissies for being lost, we disturbed his rest as he had to search for us.

Oh how I remember, sweet precious blessed memories.
remind me - I might remember ...

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