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South Africa: Busisiwe, Rest in Peace

Earlier this month, the South African blogosphere lost a blogger, writer, artist and poet, Busisiwe Sigasa (25). She started her blog, My Realities, at the end of last year with the help of Sokari Ekine.

Busisiwe, whose name means “the Blessed One” in Zulu, was also known as Latifah. She was born in Soweto, South Africa. After finishing high school, Busisiwe obtained a diploma in computers. She also studied Ceramic Design.

According to Sokari, Busisiwe was hoping to become a professional photographer/photojournalist:

Despite much hardship and disadvantage, Latifah is determined to attain her dream of becomming a photographer/photo journalist and hopefully she will soon be able to publish some of her photos on her blog. It will not be easy due to cost of internet access but I believe she will do her best.

Busisiwe went public about her HIV positive status in 2006, which resulted from a rape incident. She encouraged others to do the same. South Africa has one of the most severe AIDS epidemics in the world and some people have dubbed it the “rape capital” of the word.

She posted poems on her blog about her experience as a person living with HIV, her belief in God and the difficulty of being a lesbian in South Africa.

The Fact Remains
– By Busisiwe

The fact remains….
I’m not looking for sympathy or feeling sorry things happened this way
Nothing anyone can say will change anything because
The fact remains….
I am now counted in the statiastics because
The fact remains….
Dont tell me i should have never allowed my story to be published
because….The fact remains….
You dont know how i feel-no one does and the
The fact remains….
Dont tell me what people might say or think because
The fact remains….
Its not going to change anything
Dont ask ask me who was my rapist because it makes me mad
But mad as i can be and for everyone’s sake and my own
Life goes on and still
The fact remains….that

I AM INFECTED!!!

A day in AIDS hospital
– By Busisiwe

There are various and different smells all over the room
Its smells terrible and making one feel like vomiting
Is it the smell of pills? different crowds of sick people? or is it the filthy smell of HIV itself?

When is my turn? She asked:

Where am I going to end?
When is my turn?
When is the virus going to take over my fighting and willing body?
When will it all go away?
BECAUSE….
As strong as I can be
It is within this solid and concrete body of mine.

Tears in the sister's eyes
– By Busisiwe Sigasa

She’s been hurt , harmed and destroyed by these dogs called”men”

Marks and scrars never to disappear have bee left in her body.

She’s been taken for a ride and made to believe she was going to win this time around,by our falsely imposed justice system….the fucked up justice system!

One keeps on asking and wondering….When is is all gonna go away?

When will women be taken into serious consideration by our country,its citizens, the gorvenment and its ministers?

You’re beaten up,raped and molested

Yet, no matter how hard you cry no matter how high you scream…

They just keep on passing you by.

They enjoy your screams. laugh about it. they mock you.call you names.

They praise their stupidity and foolishness about you.

They share their cowardly insults about you while forgetting the most importnt lessosons to be learned and perceived in life about life…love each one as brothers&sisters so did say GOD!

Zanele Muholi, the programme officer for the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), wrote her obituary in Behind the Mask:

This week I mourn the death of yet another lesbian friend of mine Busisiwe Sigasa, who at a tender age of 25 died unexpectedly.

Busi Sigasa, a brilliant writer, poet, friend and former colleague at the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), has passed away. This happened hardly three (3) months after she embarked on a new position at Standard Bank.

Busi passed away on Monday afternoon, 12 March 2007, at her Soweto home in her mother�s presence after suffering from short breath and other complications. She had just started taking her new medication as she had suffered from sugar diabetes and epilepsy.

Sokari describes her as a fighter:

She also was a fighter. She stood up and spoke out about all those things that most people do not want to hear. She was not afraid to stand up as say she was raped, declare her HIV status and that she was a woman who loved other women. I didn’t know her long but I have her face in my mind, her photos and most of all her words. On Friday, Breaking the Silence: positive Survivors – published by POWA as an annual writing competition, was launched and a piece by Busi was not only included but she received one of the prizes. She had everything going for her. I have not made many real friends here in South Africa – actually apart from V and M who are not even South Africans there are only two and Busi was one.

In another post, My sista friend Busi!, Sokari explains how they first me, helped her start her blog, My Realities, and the last time she heard from her:

I first met Busi last October when I came to South Africa and helped her start her blog “My Realities”. She was so happy – she tried so hard. I talked to her most days and on the 4th I took her a desk top computer that another friend of mine had given to her. Again she was happy. We were supposed to meet on Saturday at the LGBTI fest but she phoned to say she couldnt make and I said no worries I will see you when I get back from Durban. Busi had a job – working nights from 10pm to 7am. She was exhausted. Her CD count had dropped again to just over 200. It was hard for her but she tried. She was so tired from the night work. The last text I got from Busi was on Sunday at 16.56

She was buried in Soweto Saturday, March 17, 2007.

Busi, rest in peace. We will remember you.

REMEMBER ME WHEN I’M GONE FOR……I
– By Busisiwe Sigasa

Wrote stories for the nations to read
Stood without fear and told my story
I smiled and greeted without judging
I influenced positive living to the sick
I planted seeds of hope to the hopeless
I groomed and growed the younger ones whose parents died
I created artistic designes with my hands
I crafted and drew beautiful pictures
I installed educatioanl reasoning to some
I taught represented the minority to the majority
I made nations aware
I wronged some and made some happy
I survived against odds
I swallowed my medication even as hard as it was it was sometimes
I did so to remain strong and to llive my live regardless of my status
I fought for women to be taken into serious conideration by our government
I wrote and said “my” spoke word
I fought and showed many that there’s nothing wrong with being diabetic, epileptic and HIV
I represented many of the HIV infected lesbian sisters
I told the truth nevermind the judgements
I lived and I’m still living
I loved and prayed to my GOD
I prayed without hesitation , for , I believe/d
I was a big sister to my younger sisters
I listened to my mother’s teachings
I became friends with father
I’D DIE FOR MY FAMILY, I LOVED THEM SO!
I captured moments with my camera
I brought forth what was unseen to the nations through the power of image,pen and paper
I struggled to make it life
I was taken for a ride by some whom i thought were friends
I showed my rapist how strong i was regardless that he poisoned my blood with his HIV
I beieved and prayed
I stood low and respected all regardless of their age,colour and size
I say along with others
I had a unique voice
I had a message to deliver and a vision to see
I tried,i fell and i never succeeded sometimes
I was patient while to some i was strange
I was loved by some and was hated by some,STILL i did my thing
I loved and appreciated beautiful women
I loved her more than life itself
Some would say…
I am full shit! but spiritually i was full
I was fed with GOD’s glory that’s why I praised HIM
I praised HIM more than i praised friends
I am my mother’s daughter
I made history and marked historical books of this world
SO………
REMEMBER ME WHEN I’M GONE!
FOR..without no doubt i’ll and i am in peace with my maker and creator.

Kachumbari and Mangaliso Jere
As far as I know, Busisiwe is the third African blogger to pass away. First, it was Kachumbari in July, 2006. We learnt from his cousin, Samuel:

My name is Samuel. I live and work in Nyahururu, Kenya.
Kachumbari, the Kenyan Villager was my great friend. I knew his real identity and he had given me the password to access this blog, and four others on blogger. I also have his password for his e-mail, zaleo77@yahoo.com.
Why all this?
Kachumbari is no more, he is gone where we shall all go, one day…
Please join me in wishing him him well… and family too…
Thank you all.

Kachumbari, who started to blog in January 2006, was killed in a car accident in Nairobi, Kenya. Samuel explains further:

It is true that Kachumbari, the kenyan villager, has passed on -he is dead. He was killed by a ‘hit and run’ motorist while on a visit to Nairobi City. As you may have read in one of his previous posts, he had recently set up a shop in Nyahururu town. The shop is selling a large variety of goods, mostly small fast moving items from China, like nail files, toys, cards, key holders, watches, sun glasses, e.t.c. Such shops are commonly called ‘mali mali’ shops. His wife has already decided to relocate the shop to Nyeri, Kachumbari's ancestral home where most of his relatives live, after some time.

On the fateful day, he had gone to Nairobi to buy mechandise for the shop. He had travelled on a Sunday afternoon so as to spend the night in the city, start shopping early in the morning and then return to Nyahururu in the evening. This was not to be. He arrived safely in Nairobi and decided to visit his brother-in-law who lives in ‘South C’ estate. While waiting for a bus to town at around 8.00pm, and in the company of the in-law, a car lost control and hit him and another person. Kachumbari died while being rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital by a good samaritan. The ‘hit and run’ car drove away and nobody was able to read the number plate.

His real name was Anthony. He was 33 when he died and left behind two children and a wife.

Then, Mangaliso Jere (27), of Mangaliso's World passed away in January 18th, 2007 in Malawi. Blogger Austin Madinga wrote about his death:

A good friend and fellow blogger, Mangaliso Jere, left this world today in Mzuzu! I really have no words to describe this brother only that he was a cheerful lad, a hardworking techie and one who loved his motherland. Rest in Peace Dear Brother!

Mangaliso died after having a minor surgery to remove a growth from his nose.

Blogger Nyambuzi started Mangaliso's World 2 in his memory.

5 comments

  • Thank you Ndesanjo for this beautiful piece and for the acknowledgement of Busi’s short life. I shall print this out and give to her mother. Speaking to her aunt recently she told me they were so surprised at the numbers of people that turned out for Busi’s funeral “like a celebrity” were her words. I told her mother and aunt of all the messages from people who only knew Busi by her blog and in cyber space – they were incredulous and very proud. Thank you.

  • […] Global Voices Online ? Blog Archive ? South Africa: Busisiwe, Rest in Peace A moving post by Ndesanjo about fallen African bloggers, focused on Busisiwe Sigasa, a South African poet and blogger who passed away from AIDS (tags: africa blogs AIDS) […]

  • Boitumelo

    I never knew her but wish I had. As a victim of rape also(although I consider myself a survivor), I could have learnt a lot from her. She was very talented and positive about life. She was not afraid of anything, of what people will say about her status. She was one hell of a strong woman. Indeed South Africa has lost a very inspiring and dedicated person at a young age like that, – gosh; what has South Africa turned into. Who knows, she could have been our first female president. May her soul rest in peace and may God give the rapist what he derserve.

  • Proud black south african

    May she rest in peace!
    South Africa is one place where segregation
    of the sexes should be made MANDATORY!
    The men of south africa WILL NEVER HAVE MY RESPECT!

  • Phumzile Sigasa

    I googled the surname Sigasa. Not to my surprise, there were lots of articles about the recent cruel murder of Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa, a lesbian couple from Soweto. I read about their lives and was immediately inspired. Whilst, browsing other sites I came across the story of Busisiwe Sigasa. I read some of her poetry and postings about her life. It brought tears to my eyes. I too am a young, black female from soweto and cannot help but be moved by the courage of such phenomenon women. I too am a Sigasa. I did not know them personally but it feels like they have always been a part of my family and shared the same values and principles instilled in me by my parents. I encourage all young women to take charge of they lives and always be true to themselves. May their beautiful souls rest in peace.

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