702 Radio host and author Redi Tlhabi shared her childhood story of how her outspoken aunts affected her childhood and adult life.
Her revelations came hot on the heels of the weekend’s trending story about tombstone designer Lebogang Khitsane, whose sister Semati Moedi took to the stage during a live broadcast of his memorial service to allege that his wife had brought a man into his house, furthermore causing him pain. Allegations of infidelity were made.
The story has resulted in the trending twitter hashtag #Rakgadi (aunt).
Tlhabi used the hashtag in a thread where she described the childhood intimidation she and her mother allegedly endured at the hands of her aunts – her father’s sisters. In a series of tweets, she broke down the full extent of her experience and trauma. Tlhabi reflected that part of the discrimination appeared to have involved tribalism, as her mom was Xhosa, and resentment towards her being a hard-working and independent woman working as a nurse and furthering her education towards her BA degree. This resulted in her absence at times, while she was juggling the pressures of working and studying.
In a lengthy post she wrote:
“My father was stabbed to death at age 49. My mom was 35. She was educated, conservative, quiet yet tough. Her parents were educated. He grew up very poor. He turned out to be kind, hardworking & so loving to us. He was loud, streetwise, self-assured & progressive. #Rakgadi
“He always encouraged mom & took care of us when she worked night duty as a nurse & when she was studying for a BA degree. He was there! His 3 sisters said her absences, due to work & study, meant she was cheating. They remained very close to his ex-wife. Fair enough #Rakgadi
“July 26th 1987, after what seemed like a boozy, decadent night, my dad was found dead in the streets. But as he lay dead in the streets of Orlando East, with a huge crowd looking on, his 3 sisters (older than my mom) & adult children (married & a few years younger than mom) wailed.
“Before mom had even found out that her husband was dead, Bo #Rakgadi were screaming in broad daylight, that my mom had killed their brother cos 1) she was younger 2) A Xhosa woman 3) wanted his 3 roomed house. Never mind that she was the high-income earner with a company car.
“Throughout week of mourning & in the aftermath of the funeral, they told all who came to pay their respects that my mom had murdered my dad because she wanted a younger man. Some neighbors would repeat this in front of my 9-year-old ears. My mom kept her cool. She was phenomenal.
“She prayed HARD. Her dignity, grace and self-assuredness was a layer. Her friends became family. Bo #Rakgadi talked ABOUT her but never TO her. They were cowards. Her light shone so bright it dazzled. My brother Tumi & I were 11 & 9 respectively. We couldn’t fight for & with her.
“Bo #Rakgadi & adult half-siblings left our lives after Papa died. But they continued to talk. Neighbors continued to talk. My mom told us that the best way to fight back is to be excellent. I hope I have honoured that. 3 years after Papa died, my mom sold THEIR house. I was 12.
“DECADES later, long lost Bo #Rakgadi & half siblings went to Sunday World: “Redi and her mom sold their brother’s house.” This was 2012. 25 years after Papa died. I was married by then. But 12 years old when house was sold. Yet the headline screamed “Tlhabi Family House Drama”
“This issue had nothing to do with my husband. Nothing to do with me. Which 12 year old can sell a house? Yet the newspaper did what some newspapers do. Anyway, 33 years after Papa died, beautiful mom is thriving. She has gone on to live a meaningful life. Her grace dazzles.
“Remember Bo #Rakgadi said she killed Papa for younger man. Mom turns 69. 33 years later & we are still waiting for this younger uncle . & she killed Papa for a Soweto 3 room? Post that, we grew up in better houses because she worked & tried! And she’s still Xhosa. So.
“Just because #Rakgadi says something, doesn’t mean it is true. It MAY be true. But that her priority is to harm enemy (sister in law) rather than embrace her nephew & nieces in time of pain, says a lot. It is telling. Every situation has layers. To act on just ONE version? Wow!
“I take my strength & courage from my mom. She is quiet. (I’M NOT ). Her strength lies in her actions. She never buckled and allowed vindictive bo #Rakgadi to determine her destination. That’s why I don’t buckle when faced with lies & vindictiveness. I remember my mom and dad.
“My father was stabbed to death at age 49. My mom was 35. She was educated, conservative, quiet yet tough. Her parents were educated. He grew up very poor. He turned out to be kind, hardworking & so loving to us. He was loud, streetwise, self-assured & progressive. #Rakgadi”
You guys are too kind 🥰🥰🤗. .Here’s my love ❤❤ https://t.co/pUoUL7SbHJ
— Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) September 1, 2020
Oh Xhanti! https://t.co/3ixwenWwQE
— Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) September 1, 2020
Responses to Tlhabi’s revelations were met with sensitivity from followers who’ve witnessed their mothers undergo the same treatment at the hands of their in-laws.
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