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The Gown

"It is for most of us, that the gown is synonymous to a lot of things back home. Things that contradict reality."

A very happy and emotional day. The end of one struggle, breeding another. An achievement of something that means a lot, yet so little. A victory for us, but mostly for our parents. It is for them

For them to be happy, to be proud, and be glad their effort didn’t go in vain. A compensation of dreams they couldn’t reach. A feeling of relief for breaking ties with the loan shark

On this day they will go all out. Ask that uncle with a van who charges for local deliveries to

accompany them. Of course he’ll agree! When last did he go to Johannesburg? It’s a getaway!

He’ll even organize a net to put at the back so that all the aunties and uncles can sit. The

mother must sit at the front. After all, she is the one with a womb so clean, it birthed a graduate

Empty, anxious skeletons killed by black realities fill the hall. It is for most of us, that the gown is synonymous to a lot of things back home. Things that contradict reality.

“I can’t wait to be done with this degree so I can do my own thing” is some of what I have heard students say. When, I wonder, because on this day our parents surrender responsibilities for us to carry. It is not easy, but we knew we wanted to carry it. Most of us die on this day. We do not go back home and ‘help out’. We build from the start.

The self-given responsibility to take over from our parents not one only graduates partake in.

Every black child wants to change the situation at their home. Some have found themselves in crime and prostitution. The gown is just fancier and safer.

Things are bound to be difficult for us. We are the ones who are breaking generational curses and ties with poverty.

We are here, seeking knowledge, learning about everything our parents got wrong. Unlearning what does not work and readdressing what does. Ensuring that what has been termed ‘Black tax’ ends with us. We are definitely the ones we have been waiting for.

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