In my next life or, depending on your views on metaphysics, in my other life that continues parallel to this one that I am supposedly more aware of, I hope I’m a showgirl. I dream about it almost daily. The music, the costumes, the choreography, the fans, the feather boas… oh, the feather boas! That has to be the best job in the world, and if you disagree you have less colourful dreams. I’d make the most amazing, most spirited showgirl, and yet I sit in an office with two other people. It’s amazing how the music of our days drowns out the music of our hearts. The excuses are so familiar, you don’t even need to say them out loud. My days are spent in an industry where most of my colleagues have spent time pursuing other goals, other dreams and now find themselves in this ‘artist behind a desk’ state. All in repair from the mistakes made, getting ready to live the lives planned. As bright and as loud as my dream job is in my mind, my feather boa is at the back of cupboard in a Woolies packet that once carried organic eggs and wheat-free bread sticks. And my fishnet stockings are… where are those fishnets? I disappoint my next life (or my other life) in my lack of pursuit. The disappointment usually gets me thinking about legacy. * I wanted to say, ‘So I got to thinking…’ à la Carrie Bradshaw, but I feared George would stomp on my toes. Boy-people don’t understand the joy Carrie Bradshaw brought us, and the fact that girls were using the phrase ‘so I got to thinking’ and drinking Cosmos way before Carrie. Am I digressing?
According to the Encarta Dictionary, leg·a·cy is defined as 1. money or property that is left to somebody in a will 2. something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time. As well as, an adjective for something that is outdated or discontinued. The idea of legacy came up once again in a discussion with my dear friends Mpumi, Tetteh, Lelo and Keke, and their focus became spawn, sorry I mean lovely little children. The human beings they intend on bringing into the world will be their legacy. Young Lelo will be the money or property that is left in a will? ‘I, Tetteh Botchway, being of sound mind and body hereby bequeath my loving son Tetteh Botchway Jr, to my old high school.’ I’m almost certain the school would send the young lad back, unless they needed a caretaker for a few weeks. I’m not convinced our lovely little children are what will define us as human beings, and Moses Sithole’s parents agree with me. What’s your evidence otherwise? I think we’re living our legacy. Everyday we are creating the memories the universe will have of us. (I’m now singing, ‘this is not a play, or some TV show you see, this is real life. You know that, this is your life, this is real life’. I really should stop listening to KayaFM.)
When we silence the music and shove the feather boa in the back of the cupboard, we choose our legacy. Every minute we spend thinking or acting out our lives are minutes spent shaping our legacy. The people we touch, the decisions we make, and the memories we create are what we’re writing in our legacy journal. How we choose to spend our time, be it pursuing great profound thoughts and actions or cuddling the trivial, that will be our legacy. And the distinction between profound and trivial will not come from what society has convinced us to believe nor what our mothers attempt to remind us every Sunday, that difference will come from the joy we find in the activities we choose to occupy our hours.
I think the universe will remember me for my tardiness; my ‘big lesbian crush’ on Neo Segola; for my loyalty; my F in Maths; the 4382 days devoted to what’s-his-name; my appreciation for the odd and anomalous; my numerous attempts at stopping the fulfilling habit of biting my nails; my kindness; my cold feet; my compulsive obsession with catch phrases; ‘my general awesomeness, being totally rad, all of it and then some’. I hope I never fail to live my truth.
I am Thembalethu Msibi, I live my life completely jealous of two people; Nothando Msibi, my 10-year-old cousin who has perfect comedic timing, always stands up for herself, and has declared that she will be first black African female to win an Olympic gold medal for swimming so she’s hired a coach. And Wendy Modiba, the first black woman to perform as a showgirl at Sun City.
Photography: Ebony Writer: Thembalethu Msibi