My business journey

I want to do it with a soul…

My relationship with entrepreneurship is maiden. I had travelled to Tanzania in October – and I was not looking, but would, during free time, allow myself to experience Dar es Salaam. It was during those interactions that it came lurking, the lure of capital wrapped in entrepreneurship.

I remember though, that as my body texture and heart feelings kept adjusting in response to the years of life, I would, occasionally, rebuke myself for allowing the capitalist market gulp all my salary while I got nothing worthwhile, from it. I would argue that if education had any impact on me, it should be the ability to create business outside formal employment, then and only then would I proudly declare that I indeed spent time in school.

My argument is, if I cannot create a small enterprise that can at least pay for utilities and maybe for my children’s school lunch, then either education or me, failed.  It is only wise that while the market sucks life from my wages, I should also make some money from it.

The lingering desire was to start a business that resonates with me; something that would allow me to make money while also pursuing passion. I wanted an extension of my personality, what I would do with a smile, even when woken up in the middle of a cold winter night.

But who do I know myself to be?

I am artistic. I work, effortlessly with and in my surroundings. My beautiful garden bares testimony. The desire to garden happened at the sight of a naked patch of land. I bought tools and went to work. I am now convinced that keeping a garden is a visible expression of gratitude for the piece of bare ground, rented or owned.

I am also a minimalist.  My curtain free-living and negligible interior decorations are my witnesses. I enjoy the feeling and look of an empty room. I want to come back home, after a long and often routine day and not feel like the furniture wants me out; occupying every breathing space, giving me a ‘we don’t want you here’ look.

I love light. I am certain that is why we have windows, to allow light into our homes. And until now, my family and I have embraced the letter and spirit behind the creation of windows and have lived, for years now, in a house without curtains, except for bedrooms.

Tanzania introduced me to beautiful jewellery and tough Masai sandals; colourful beads armoured in leather to create beautiful and hardy sandals. It is the work of the great Masai of Arusha. I fell in love with colour ahead of everything else. The Masai jewellery and sandals, the Tanzanian Chitenge fabric, and others on the way to joining my collection, is what selling from my personality means. Pictures of beautifully adorned women warm my heart. I am especially drawn to those in love with bright and colourful apparel.

I’ll be going to other African cities in pursuit of passion. I am coming to Addis Ababa for her beautiful leather bags, to Ghana for the richness of kente and Gonja cloths.  The Egyptian linen is another big pull, the luring combed softness of your bed sheets. Your linen cloths that demand to stay worn forever. This is how I want to relate with the capitalist market, visiting open markets around Africa, interacting with and submerging into their stories – and bringing home memories, in ink and fabric.

It has been a month now. I am happy I started and am on the way to answering my part of “what do you have in your hand?”, refusing to bury my passion, multiplying what I have, while shaving off bits and pieces from the greedy and ever hoarding capitalist market. I will however, do it with caution, lest I get trapped into its indifferent brutality.

I want to still have a soul…

To my father, on his 83rd birthday…

When I got married in 2002, my father sent a message, to my in-laws. I heard it for the first time, at my husband’s home village, Makuta, when my grandmother, MmaThata presented it to a packed marque. We had gathered for the last part of our two-part wedding celebration.

“Oesi’s father, Etshabile Tiro Sebusang sent me here. He had preferred to have been the one addressing you, on this issue, very close to his heart. But as you are probably aware, our culture prevented him from attending”.

Where I come from, part of central Botswana, the bride’s parents do not attend their daughter’s wedding, at the groom’s home. I do not know what happens with sons.

“Oesi’s father says I should tell you that she is still a child. That although she is getting married today, to her mother and father, she is a young girl and his father requests that you treat her as such, a child still needing parental guidance. Please protect her; love her as your own. She has indeed become your child too. Please take care of Oesi because if you don’t, she will come back home. And because her marriage doesn’t make her any less my child, he says, we will indeed be happy to welcome her back home.  Please take care of my daughter”.

I cried at the tenderness of those words. Memories of my father taking my side when I refused to play in just my panty, ‘like other children’ came flooding back. He always insisted that I be left to be. “She does not want to undress. Just leave her’, he would say.

I love you, father.

A week earlier, he had walked me to the altar, breaking the marriage ground, setting the foundation. I would catch my father shed a tear as the pastor declared me married. I had seen him, years earlier, drop a tear, when my older siblings got married.

I have a good father.

God bless your kind generosity. You are my hero.

I don’t remember my father whipping any of us, his children. But he was a strict disciplinarian. He talked once and we would know not to commit the same sin again. But like all normal children, we erred many times but he decided, in his wisdom, to spare the rod.

I grew up sheltered maybe overly protected.

My father did not allow us to play with kids from families fond of insulting words. The tricky part though was, all the neighbourhood children gathered at the same playground and there was no way we could ask those children to stay away. We thus resorted to dashing back into the yard at the first sound of an approaching ‘Datsun’. Our ears were trained to hear it while there was still time to reach home.

My father, in many ways, became my lifeline, my measure, he became the barometer with which I gauged life.

One of the most vivid and his most regular encouragement, especially after reading our school reports was, “I educate you so you will have a life when I am gone. Your mother and I are not doing this for you to support us when you start working, no! We educate you for yourselves so that you do not struggle when we are no more. Getting an education is for you, for your future. We will not be here forever to provide, so please work hard”.

I celebrate this man, who loves me unconditionally. A man who still worries when I don’t look as lively as he knows. I celebrate a father who can pick minor changes on me “Oesi you look darker than usual. What is wrong?”

I celebrate a contented man. A man without the benefit of high education but confidently engages with intellectuals. The man who used to say, “I hear of children committing and attempting suicide because their parents reprimanded them for bad behaviour. I’ll rather remain childless”.

He talked tough and loved even harder.

I celebrate a man who ensured I never lacked. He ensured we had decent clothes and proper shelter over my head. My parents bought us new clothes every independence and Christmas days. The latter, until I finished university.

I am celebrating a village hero. My father serves everybody.

My father and mother would visit us at boarding school, on their way from the farm, bringing fresh cow milk, wild berries, watermelons and many other farm produce. They checked us often to be sure we were coping.

I learnt to love from my father. I learnt early, that love protects and provides. I knew during my formative years that men love their daughters and groom their sons. I was shown that husbands play with their wives. My father did.

My father refused to segregate chores across genders. We all did everything

My father is neat, he is picky.

I cannot finish my father’s story in one sitting. This is to celebrate my baseline. My start. I am grateful you lived to see my children. To meet my husband. I know you worried I was young. You said you had wanted me to stay home with you and not marry. You wanted to protect me forever.

But I am well, father. I cry as I write this. Because I am truly well. I am safe. I know you know. Your smile, when you visit, assures me that you can see, your baby is happy and well.

I love you Ntate. Happy birthday.

I was the “cry baby”

I cried through my formative years, past university to the work place.

When they raised their voices at me, I cried – and I cried when I didn’t like my new clothes. I remember crying because my new shoes were too tight, but didn’t want them exchanged. I cried when dipotsane wouldn’t listen to my pleading for them to stop, so I could take them to the shelter. And when dipotsane and dikonyana chased after me, I would cry. I cried when after milking the goats, one of them, often ‘mmapema’ would spill all my hard labour because I then had to take the ‘longest’ walk from the kraal to segotwana.

The tea pot would probably be boiling by then, how would I explain?

I cried when I thought I had been sent on too many chores and when the dress I had planned, the whole week, to wear to church, was dirty. I also cried when things decided to hide when I was looking for them.

How I cried was often dependent on the kind of reaction I anticipated. If I expected a strong scolding from my parents, I would groan, painful silent crying that made my throat hurt; often behind the house, alone. Otherwise I would scream.

I was a child who cried.

I cried so much I got used to hearing “ga kere o bata go toga o itsheka dikeledi go ne ha. A ko o emelele”, in instances when I delayed to take up a chore.

Just recently, my elder sister, Oathokwa, was telling me;

“Koore one o lela gotwe oa kamiwa. Gape ha go twe oa
beolwa, oa lela. Ntate o ta-a-bo a omana nako ya kereke
e chaile o gana go kamiwa”.

“Ke sale ke re le beole motho yo”, ntate shouting
at everybody

“Ha gongwe ha o sena go logiwa o taabo o lela ore go
bothoko, hei mma’’, my sister driving it home.

I cried at the sight of a whip. In fact, my body would just stop functioning. Very similar to how I still feel when I see an elephant, logic just flies through the window.

I once cried, at my previous job, in the dignity of a bathroom. A male colleagues, had said to me “ke taa go clapa” (may his soul rest in peace). It was not the thought of the pain from the clap that brought up the tears, but the insult. I felt violated, stripped of my dignity. I was young then, fresh graduate, and first job. I have since taught people how to talk to me. Now I deliberately go out of my to correct offenders;
“Ga ke buisiwe jalo. Ka gore ga nkake ka go buisa. O bata go ikopa maitshwarelo?”
It has been a long time though, since I met those types of offenders.

Too much crying is part of my story.

I matured.

Now I laugh and talk loud. I sing and I am a good public speaker, possibly prepared through years of crying.

I have a loving Father

I told lies. I broke tea cups and dinner plates and denied it. I played beyond the stipulated time and would arrive home late from school, then cook up a story of my delay.

I was a normal child.

I had my moments of sugar eating and condensed milk sucking. But I was never lost to being Rra Ewetse’s child. Often considering myself his favourite child. Why not? Probably my siblings also did. In fact I still believe I am his favourite.

The point is, although I was probably a naughty child, I never for once thought I didn’t deserve my father’s love. I never imagined him thinking differently of me because of my lying and breaking tea cups. Even when he would have scolded me hard. I never had reason to think he loved me any less.

I have a father, a doting father who had a firm hand on us. A hand that ensured we all turned out right.

My song of the week “He knows my name” got me thinking. If I have such confidence in my natural father; If I never lived with the guilt and condemnation from my faults and naughtiness, where did I learn to feel guilty in relation to God? If I had confidence that Rra Ewetse forgave and moved on, never to remind me again of my bad past, where did I learn to dwell on my sins, leading to guilt and self condemnation?

My natural father’s readily forgiving nature and abundant love, challenged my relationship with a God in heaven, this week. The God who formed my father.

And I asked God to forgive me for this error. The error of unconsciously trusting that the natural can be more capable than Him, a supernatural being. Maybe not in that overt kind of way. But this often feeling of guilt, I was, in a way saying to myself, I was not worthy because of what I would done or not done.

I refuse that. I will always refuse it. I dealt with guilt and condemnation this week.

Lessons from Rra Ewetse, fallible as all of us, pointed me to a God who forgives unconditionally. The God who forgets my faults, the God who deals with me on a clean plate each day.

The liberation came in the form of my natural father.

I confessed to never again carry the guilt and never again condemn myself. Not that I have arrived home, but because for those who have believed in God, there should be no condemnation. It’s a done deal.

I’m free from guilt and shame. I have fallen many times, and many times I have risen. Still I refuse guilt and condemnation. I choose to rise as many times as I fall. I choose peace over a heavy heart.

I’m loved beyond words. I therefore choose to be found immersed in this sea of love. Surrounded by, filled with and drunk in this love.

Come with me.

A push towards my memoir

I found out its true. When you are open about what you want to do, people, consciously and not, just somehow propel you to excel in that area. Through words, actions, allowing you time, critiquing and even trashing your point of direction. Others, somehow, fear for you, that you reveal too much, you are muddling the waters. The latter often encourage the old fearful and timid you to rise from the comatose, and cower in the old dark corner. I need them in my life, still. ‘For control’.

I was not a hyper active child, I think, and neither was I among the talkative clan. When I came to, l was not who I have become. I do not plan to return.

I can still vividly hear Nkuku Mma Isake as I write this, probably while I was still at lower primary school;

“Ngwanyana ke wena the o taa nna maaka”, and only then would I remember I had been asking her a lot of questions. On other days it was “o botsa dipotso tsa sekae tsone tseo”.

Since deciding to leave the cocoon and share my lived experiences, I have also met another interesting group. Those who ask me uncomfortable personal questions.

My interactions on social media are often quite personal, even publicly intimate, if you would, but a lot of me is still to leave the cocoon. Thus, I still, for example, find personal questions about sex and sexuality uncomfortable. I’m however indebted to those who dared me; pushing me further towards my destination, if there is any.

“If your plan is to write a memoir, go all the way or don’t go at all”. That’s me.

“Oesi you say you married at 29 and your husband is your first boyfriend – and you only dated for a year. What happened before that?”

“Nothing happened? I had said

“You didn’t have boyfriends, no sex, nothing?”

“Yes, no boyfriends, sex and all its accompaniments. Sex was to happen after marriage”.

“How is that possible?”

“Um, that was the only available choice. I guess that’s why”.

One down.

But I never could have anticipated this one,

“Since you got married, have you had sex with somebody else besides your husband?”

Ha! Who asks that.

Hello and welcome to our new blog

Welcome to Oesi on Real!

My name is Oesi Thothe and I am a writer, blogger, mother and wife. I created Oesi on Real in 2015 with the intention to share my a uncensored thoughts and stories with the world. Since then the space has grown into a place where I connect with people from all over the world on our everyday lived experiences. I hope to keep growing with you, and to challenge and be challenged in this exciting space.