I told Olwethu after reading Onke Dumeko’s forward I knew I was in for a ride and boy was I right! Before I tell you about all the gut wrenching snotty sobs, yes me, sobb-ing in mixed company y’all! Kinda ironic that I was Nah, keep your strength-ing them at the same time that I was soaking in my sis, Sihle Bolani’s words of truth and boy did she serve up some TRUTH! 

Listen, ‘Nah, keep your strength’ is a very necessary read for every woman! Her gift of narrative shines through as she educates, challenges, and encourages you to fight for your truth and narrative. I’ve shared often about my dedication to unlearning and letting go of harmful narratives that weren’t created to serve or protect us. Sihle’s discomfort with the harmful status quo propels her to do the work and call others into the work however it unfolds. She told Olwethu in her Workers Day interview (link here) that while she may not be one to march, she plays her part in ensuring she leaves a rich legacy of fighting against injustices and true freedom. Freedom from generational cycles of trauma, and freedom from a society rife with gender-based workplace violence among the many others. 

“Making the right parenting decisions while drowning in your own abandonment traumas can be debilitating”

Sihle Bolani

When I tell you I boohooed hard as I read those words, not because I can relate but because I saw and understood the depth of my own mother’s pain a little more. 

While Sihle set out to share her truth in finding freedom from generational cycles by taking the time to holistically understand her mother’s relationship dynamics with her grandmother. This gave her insight into her relationship with her mother and mothering. Her words simultaneously share and lead. She led me to start my journey in uncovering the cycles that exist in the lineage of women in my family. I found myself having continuous and hard aha moments as she chronologically told the story of her journey to self-discovery starting with her grandmother to her daughter while interweaving aspects of each one’s story through the others.

Sihle holds nothing back, from talking about her struggles with her relationships with her grandparents, mother, daughter and men to some of the mental/verbal gymnastics enforced on women in the workplace and world. 

I’m a fan of this labour of absolute love from Sihle Bolani to all of us. If you’re wondering if I’m giving this book a 5 star, I don’t believe in ratings but I do believe in us being diligently purposeful about doing the work of dismantling harmful structures that oppress members of marginalised societies.

I do however wish sis would’ve at least warned us that we’ll need boxes and boxes of tissues because, wow. As I gaze at my puffy eyes.