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Sihle Khumalo

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Dedication to Sifiso ‘Bru’ Sibisi

In my new book, Heart of Africa, I mention that readers can read more about my late friend (to whom the book is dedicated) at this blog.

Here is my dedication to Sifiso ‘Bru’ Sibisi, who was almost my best man. If you want to download the document, or share it online, see the Scribd link below.

~ ~ ~

A confidant who almost was my best man, Sifiso ‘Bru’ Sibisi

With only twelve days to go before my wedding, on Monday the 30th of September 2007, a great friend of mine died. Sifiso “Bru” Sibisi was my confidant and was, until that tragic event, supposed to be my best man. His death, as is expected when someone very close to you passes away, shocked and rattled me. I had last seen him 48 hours earlier when, together with the bridesmaids and the other groomsman, we met to do the dry run of the wedding program at my brother’s place in Westville Durban. He was – as usual – in high spirits, joking around and looking forward to the wedding.

He died of a suspected heart attack. Even today, I still cannot believe how a 33 year old energetic fit young man could leave us so suddenly. As expected of us black people, soon after his death, there were some grumblings (and gossips) about him being bewitched and so forth and so on. You know the usual story: neighbours were jealous of his success, achievements and progress in life
A few days later, as I was slowly starting to come into terms with his death, I kept asking myself ‘why now.’ My life was distraught. My friend, confidant and a man who was supposed to be my best man was no more.

“Not a good sign for your wedding and marriage” one person told me. Within a day or two, I received a lot of unrequested advice from a lot of people. Advice ranged from

“Cancel the wedding”

“Get saved and give your Life to the Lord” to

“Go and consult with isangoma”

“Cleanse off bad luck by slaughtering a black ox.”

I did not take of any of the advice.

That Friday night meant that the following day will be exactly week after I last saw Bru alive and exactly a week before my wedding day. I also knew that the next day I had to drive to Mtubatuba in Northern Kwazulu Natal to pay my last respect which, consequently, meant canceling the bachelor party. Not having the final party as a bachelor – to me at least – was not such a big deal because, I had had a very long and hard (pun intended) bachelor life anyway.

I spent about two hours – whilst lying in bed – reminiscing on all the good and not-so-good times we have shared. I thought about the Mozambique trip we did together in 2002. Together with Bru; and after attending a friend’s wedding in Swaziland, we asked the other guys to drop us at the Lomahashi border post. From there we took public transport to Maputo. It was whilst seated in that battered taxi where a decision that – one day – I will do a huge African trip was cemented. In 2005 I did the Cape to Cairo and my first book, Dark Continent my black Arse, covers that trip.

Back to the 2002 Maputo trip, after a few days in Maputo; Bru got lucky. This was his second time in Mozambique’s capital city and it was my first. So he came prepared with some few Portuguese pick up lines. He chatted to one gal at a bar and, within 30 minutes a beautiful Mozambican gal of mixed race had fallen for his charm. All three of us – with Bru in the arms of his newly found companion – walked back to our backpackers. There was a small problem though. Visitors were not allowed at that particular backpackers. So, just like the boer, we had to maak ‘n plan.

Whilst I distracted the security guard, with my almost non-existent Portuguese; Bru and the gal sneaked through. There was, however, an even bigger problem. We were sharing a 10 bed dormitory with other travellers. Itsseems as if the powers that be genuinely wanted Bru to screw that chick because when we eventually got into the dormitory; we could not believe our eyes. There was nobody. It was empty. Although we could see – judging by the backpacks lying on the beds – that other people were occupying sharing a dormitory with us but they was no one at that particular moment. We had to make another plan very quickly. In fact it was his plan. In retrospect, I am surprised he could still think because, I am sure, his blood had left his upper head and descended to the lower part of his body.

He instructed me, in no uncertain terms, to stand in front of the main door leading to the dormitory whilst he together with the gal – who by now was gently stroking him behind his neck – carried on with the business inside. Very reluctantly, I closed the door behind me. My biggest worry was how was I supposed to stop someone who wanted to enter the dormitory he / she was booked in.
Within two minutes – or three minutes maximum – Bru opened the door from the inside and the gal was leaving. I could see from the look in his eyes that he was disappointed. He did not get lucky, I reasoned. An hour later, once we had settled in another bar, he told me that – in fact – that gal was a hooker. It was after they had finished having sex that she mentioned and he had to pay. Due to the fact that we were on a very tight budget, she ended taking the bottle of whisky that I had brought to Mozambique because we were aware that alcohol is pricey in that country. I sat there; a bit tipsy, thinking this man negotiated with that woman and still managed to have sex with her, all within three minutes. His only response, as he smiled – showing his character black gums – was

“Izingane zala e Maputo ziyashisa.” – Maputo chicks are real hotties.

We agreed that this story should remain between the two of us. Although I slipped it once to another good friend of ours who had earlier dropped us on the SA / Moz border; it was kept a secret. Well until now.

Another incident which came to mind as I was still reminiscing about Bru’s life happened in 2005. He gave me a call and he did not sound happy which was very uncharacteristic of him. We went to Jack Rabbits Bar in Glenwood, Durban.

“Sihle” he said before sipping a cold Castle draught “this woman that I thought we had deep understanding with has disappointed me” He explained the story of how he had found out that that woman was unfaithful to him.

I can’t blame her. You are a two minute man, bru; I was tempted to say.

Anyway we drank vast quantities of alcohol that night. I could see the he was hurting. Naturally I had to change the subject and – as such – we ended up talking about a variety of other issues. As we were about to leave the bar, he said, as he was about to finish his 5th of jar of Castle draught;

“Sihle I am telling you mfowethu, from now on I am going to deal with upper class, high caliber, sophisticated and refined women. I am sick and tired of this Pick & Pay cashier”

I was gob smacked. I sat there in awe. I could not help but think, eish this guy is being frustrated by a Pick & Pay cashier. I know they say love is blind but hey, although he was on the negative side of the handsome scale, the man was a successful architect who also had other business interests. He could have done better and, besides, the damn woman was cheating on him.
As he got into his car which was parked right next to mine, he said “Uyabona manje ngizobabhevuza ngophondo lwami kukabhejane” – From now on I will pock them with my rhino horn……

It seems he did exactly that because few months later he phoned me and, this time around, it sounded even more serious. We went to the same bar and – again- drank vast amounts of alcohol. After the 4th jar he said

“Sihle, I am in deep shit” before taking a deep breadth. He took a small sip of beer from an almost empty jar before continuing.

“There is this woman from Chesterville that I had a fling with. Now she tells me she is pregnant.”

“Hhayi bo!” I interjected

“That is the least of my problems. A few days ago she also told me that she is HIV positive”

As he put the jar down I could see that his hand was literally shaking. In the 10 years that we had been friends, I had never seen so much fear in his eyes. It was as if, by looking through his eyes, I could see his trembling soul. His lips were dry and he was –uncharacteristically – winking non-stop. He was not only shaken, he was distraught. He also told me that besides Mthokozisi (his other friend) nobody knew about “this thing” .

Although there were people around us having loads of fun; I could feel, smell and almost touch the tension. It was like – although we were sharing the same environment with the bar patrons – but we were on another consciousness.
After downing another round of draughts; we agreed – amongst other things – that he needed to go for an HIV test and ‘we will take it from there’

He went for the test and the results – a few days later – brought some good news and, above all, a huge relief: he was HIV negative. After that we never really spoke about that event again and, as a result, I am not sure what eventually happened to the pregnant woman and the baby. In fact I was very surprised at his funeral that he had three kids and not a single daughter – Zime – as I knew. As Mthokozisi – who was the Programme Director in his funeral – said that Bru use to consistently and proudly proclaim:

“Mina ngiqhulula amazibulo odwa – I only give birth to first-borns”

Whilst reminiscing about Bru’s life; and just before switching off the lights and dosing off; I made a commitment to myself:-

Irrespective how long it takes, one day I will write a book and dedicate it to a confidant who almost was my best man, Sifiso “Bru” Sibisi.

“Bru; although you use to irritate me especially when you scratched your neck non-stop or, even worse, when you consistently picked up your nose with your little finger; after all this time I am still puzzled by your death and I still miss you mpintshi yami (my friend). You were a good man and I learnt a lot from you. You are, without a doubt, one of the handful people who have directly sculptured the man I am today. It is only now – that you are gone – that I truly appreciate your priceless contribution to my life. You were indeed a true friend and shining star. You managed – without loosing the sense of who you are – to be dynamic, accommodative and easily associate with anyone and everyone. Hence most people could easily relate to you. This world, I am convinced, is much poorer without you. I cannot begin to explain the sense of loss to myself, to our circle of friends, your family, the community and the society at large. I certainly hope – wherever you are – you have not lost your awkard’ish-dry’ish-will-tell-you-this-stupid-story-whether-you-laugh-or-not sense of humour. Your unfunny crap stories, which were meant to be jokes, use to drive me against the wall. Ironically it is one of the things I miss about you. There is so much that we were still going to do together. Remember the Rio de Janeiro trip which we promised each other that we were going to do together? How can I forget our plan to open a high-class brothel for the 2010 FIFA World Cup? Kindly relay the message to your ancestors and / or Jesus and / or Allah plus other gods or whoever is in charge; that it’s about time they get their priorities right. This ongoing death of good people is emotionally killing some of us dead

My brother, my latest book – Heart of Africa – is for you.

Afterall we lived together

We laughed together.

We cried together.

Above all, we grew up together.

So long, Bru

So long mpintshi yami!”

~ ~ ~

Dedication to Sifiso ‘Bru’ Sibisi


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    October 7th, 2009 @20:58 #

    Thanks, Sihle. It's a lovely idea, fleshing out a dedication with a blog. I always wonder about the people books are dedicated to, and why they were chosen.


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