#PoeticLicence: Noxolo Grootboom warmed the heart of millions of families
How president Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation was delayed, to accommodate the valedictory bulletin of legendary isiXhosa newsreader, Noxolo Grootboom, reminded me of a true tale of an labourer in India, Dashrath Manjhi.
Grootboom moved the country with love. Manjhi moved a mountain for his village.
With a hammer and chisel. Manjhi gave 22 years of his life to carve a 110m long path through a mountain, cutting a 55km trip to town down to 15km.
It is from the millions of families whose hearts Grootboom has warmed, where she gathered the strength to unleash a Spirit Bomb that was her final sign-off line: “Ndinithanda nonke emakhaya” (I love you all at home).
Before you stop reading, or start opening another tab to search the Spirit Bomb, it is a martial arts discipline that allows you to borrow energy from plants, animals, inanimate objects, the atmosphere and people.
In this discipline, from Japanese Manga, you concentrate all these energies and release them.
Grootboom unleashed the last bit of magic she had left.
It must have been heavy.
She had not been merely broadcasting news. She has been casting a spell of love for 37 years.
Her sign-off line was a chant. A prayer. She has been iteratively speaking. Repeating a sequence, reciting tones in a 37 year long poem in the tongue of her foremothers.
I remember when we were kids, in the dusty streets of Soweto, in the 1990s.
You knew someone was really mean to you if they said: “When Noxolo Grootboom says, ’ndinithanda nonke emakhaya’, you are not included.“
Mam’ Noxolo was meant for her course. We were intrigued by her last name. Nowhere in our world was there a black person with an Afrikaans last name. We had not learned enough about our history when we knew her. We were already segregated by tribes, her use of her language was another coming together for us.
“If you are mean to other children, next time you go to town, you will not be allowed to use the Manjhi pathway”. I would accept this from a person who grew up in Gehlaur village, in the Gaya district, in India, in the 1980s or 90s.
Both Manjhi and Grootboom began their quests from a death.
A news presenter, Thandi Mesatywa’s death, gave life to Grootboom’s destiny.
In 1959 Manjhi’s wife Falguni Devi's death gave life to his destiny. She was injured and died because they could not get to the doctor on time. Manjhi decided to carve the path from 1960 and completed it in 1982.
A year later, in 1983, Grootboom arrived at the SABC.
The main spell from these two magicians is love.
On this Easter Weekend, with my Sunday school level knowledge of the Bible, I present you this tale of two magicians. I hope it reminds you to love thy neighbour as thyself.
Love is the epoch through which both magicians forged forward.
On this Easter weekend, may the celebration of your love for your god not put thy neighbour in danger. Whatever the names of your gods, they too know about Covid-19.