#FriendlyFridays – Getting friendly with Sistah Sankara
Busisiwe Kani- the name already carries so much weight. She is very creative- and I’m saying this because I read a story she wrote on Facebook, on a man’s point of view. People (myself included) believed that “she” was a man, until she revealed it. I smiled to myself, because her creativity reminded me of how I got people to believe that I was a man too. She reminded me of myself again when I found out that she was on her journey to publish a story she shared with her Facebook audience. In fact, Busisiwe reminds me of myself, in many ways. Please read and enjoy:
Busisiwe Sankara Kani
Q: Who is Busisiwe Kani?
A: I am conflicted on whether to give a formal or honest answer. Formally, I would give the whole “Busisiwe Kani is a goal-driven and dedicated young woman” type of answers that we desperately google the day before an interview. However, I am at a space of honesty in my life at the moment; especially since my response is not dictated by any need of acceptance. Honestly, Busisiwe Kani is a ball of rolling emotions that is mistaken to be dancing by the “you are my role model” audience. I am steadied and centred by the determination I have to not only reach my full potential and ability to take in the punches of life but to claim the strength I know I have to fight back. I am driven by my process of “becoming” and motivated by the woman I grow and groomed to be daily.
I believe life is a joke but the twist is that it manually makes us laugh by tickling us. We are all basically forced to laugh or we live a life of death.
Q: On Facebook, you are “Busisiwe Sankara Kani”, please tell us how much Mr Sankara means to you and why you chose to add him to your own identity..
A: Thomas Sankara is one of the greatest revolutionaries, not only in the Afrikan continent but on a global context. What I admire most about him is that he did not render the struggle of Afrikans a baseless rhetoric by quoting and preaching on ideology but most of his lessons are taught on what he practiced, not merely lip service. That to me, is a true revolutionary- a man of action. Thomas Sankara addressed and sought to redress every issue that affects black people; from the emancipation of women, disconnecting ties of colonialism and the forced relations with colonialists and the general liberation of Afrika. A close friend of mine and someone who has been of great influence in my black consciousness journey, Bonga, is actually the one who started calling me Sankara. We have a saying that practically applies to everything, that is “remember the Sankara method”. Somehow, through that, I ended up being known as sistah Sankara in my circles. I chose to add him to my identity because I aspire to be upright person whose way of life is aligned with the realization of liberty of Afrika and its people- black people.
Q: Take us through your journey of discovering your artistic side.. (At what age, how it all started etc)
A: My late grandmother, Nkumbikazi Dingana, taught me how to read at the early age of 5. She was a domestic worker and would bring me old books from where she worked, then she would first read the stories to me. After a while, she would say “ndidiniwe, khawuke undifundele nawe ngoku”. To be honest, most of the time I did not know how to read the words but would merely recite what she has been telling me over the days. When I could not clearly recall how the story went, I created the story by analyzing the pictures that are usually drawn in kid story books. What encouraged me to continue “reading” the stories was how attentive she was even though she could obviously see my tactics; she would laugh and gasp at my dramatic expressions of the book.
After her death, I did not carry on the tradition of reading for a long time until grade 6. I finally read a book called The Moonraker’s Bride, I read many novels after that. In grade 7 I was inspired by my English teacher, Zimkhitha Magaga, who is a writer herself. She took me under her wing and nurtured the artist in me, I would say. She wrote poems that I would perform at school events and around Port Elizabeth.
That very year, I was 12, I started writing scripts/plays in my old 72 pages books. I would read these to my friends and even act as all characters, changing voices and all. I have been writing since and I promised myself that one day when I have a laptop, I would write and publish my own novels and like Nicholas Sparks, have my novels turned into movies.
Q: When I asked for your email address, I was impressed to find out that it summed up the person that you are becoming, and yet you say you created it while you were still in high school, tell us about the younger Busisiwe (her interests, dreams, hobbies, etc)
A: Younger Busisiwe is a superhero, she believed she could make biryani out of umphokoqo. I did maths and science at high school and let me tell you this- it was horrible. Okay, it was not all that bad I managed to be in the top 10 list. In grade 11, I realized that my dreams of becoming anything science related were unrealistic. Mathematics is an equivalent of all things criminal to the mind, body and soul. I was fortunate enough to be taken for work experience at St Georges Hospital and I did not enjoy anything. At all. From there I knew I had to do some introspection about what my aspirations were outside what others expect of me.
I was the captain of debate and deputy head of public speaking then and there was a national moot court competition. We were given a set of facts where, simply put, we had to write and make presentation of arguments for and against the case. My friend, Sinethemba Madolo and I excitedly decided to enter. Later we were told that only four schools from each province will be chosen, from written arguments, to go to the semi-finals in Pretoria. At this point, intense background music was playing in the background of our lives, but we convinced each other that we had nothing to lose and that we will enter the competition for experience.
We were amongst those four, representing Khwezi Lomso Comprehensive School and competing against privileged schools. We won an award for Best Legal Essay on a national level. Being in front of the panel of judges gave me the so-called eureka moment- this is what I wanted. I wanted to become a lawyer.
Every time I am under pressure and tempted to just give up, I think of that eureka moment. I think of how excited I was that I was going to make a career out of what I love- writing, oral presentations, convincing, to some extent competing, constantly learning and being kept on my toes. The fact that I get to shout “objection!” also sweetened the deal, I had an unhealthy fascination with that for some odd reason and I still do. That is how my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org was created.
Q: Most people know you as a writer, because of the stories who have shared on Facebook, tell us about your experience of writing for a Facebook audience and what inspired you to share those stories ..
A: Facebook allows for a wide range of audience and I decided to share my stories to market my talent, possibly getting people interested in buying my work in the process. Sharing stories in these spaces gives a person a sense of responsibility. This can be a good and a bad thing; it’s a good thing because it teaches consistency, and a bad thing because your audience engage with you and sometimes make unrealistic demands based on what they want over and above all circumstances. Naturally, that creates attitude because after all is said and done- writers are human.
I have three pages, my first one being Inyaniso Ngukrakrayo. It is mostly written in my home language, IsiXhosa. This story was basically a trial run, I wanted to test how readers respond to my writing. My favourite page is the second one I created and which I decided to write a book on called Just a Man, it is a variety of drama, action and mostly relatable humour. While I was converting this story into a book, I stopped posting on the page and created another, Getting Even, so to entertain my audience without jeopardizing my creativity for the book I was going to publish.
Q: You have a book coming up, tell us more about that ..
A: My book was supposed to have come out latest this year. I do not want to risk ruining relationships by mentioning any names and getting into detail as this still stings to me, but things did not work out as planned and I am currently looking for a publisher.
Another reason for the delay is that late last year I experienced problems with my heart that I dismissed as anxiety attacks, not that that is any less serious they are very serious- in fact, I suffer from anxiety too so I know first-hand how serious these are. As time passed things got worse and my health deteriorated. I then decided to focus on one thing at a time, this year my main priority is graduating.
Q: Besides art, what else do you do?
A: I am a final year law student at Nelson Mandela University passionate about Tax Law. I coach debate at Embo Black Movement encouraging youth participation in matters directly affecting them as blacks. Embo is an organisation that also teaches black history and knowledge of self, tutors all grade 10-12 subjects and also offer extra mural such as dancing, poetry, music, chess. Self-enduring skills are also supported in that we provide space for black businesses to market themselves, selling items such as clothing, accessories and CDs.
Q: How do you find balance between these demanding career choices, and what is your support system?
A: In 2013 my parents sold our home so I can further my studies without worrying about any financial constraints we had at that time. They sacrificed the security of their own comfort for my benefit, and that constructively pressures me to be the best that I can be. My family, particularly my parents Ndumiso and Nomzamo Kani, have been my pillars of strength. I cannot imagine being where I am and getting through everything without their constant encouragement and support.
Q: Because you are a Word artist, please share words that keep you inspired and focused..
A: I have what I term, the boss lady anthem.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
I will always get up when I fall
Whether I walk, run or crawl
I’ll set my goals and achieve them all.
Q: Where can people get hold of you?
A: Busisiwe Sankara Kani on Facebook.
I only have that and whatsapp, I do not understand why I would need many apps to talk to the same people.
See what I told you? Busisiwe is one of the most intelligent young women I’ve ever came across, on social media. From my conversation with her, I have gathered that, I, as a person, need to know who and what I am. Instead of letting the world describe me, let me describe myself to the world- to own my identity. I have learnt that if I keep my eyes on the ball, nothing can stop me. Her strength is inspiration to many. Busisiwe, as young as she is, has achieved so much, and the beauty about her string of achievements lies in the fact that she is focused. Her passion for developing and grooming young minds sets my excitement fire alight again.
Busisiwe, thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I know you are a very busy person, and I appreciate the minutes you spared, to answer all my questions. I agree with almost everything you said here, but I will save my response about the “not understanding why you would need many apps to talk to the same people” part. Lol. You are so on your own sister, #Andizi ..