Learning to live
with life threatening Challenges...
Vivian Bri Masuku
© 2017 Vivian Bri Masuku
by Vivian Bri
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I should like to acknowledge the
assistance of the following people:
Prof Lekgwara (Neurosurgeon)
Thank you for removing the tumour in
my brain. You helped save my life.
Dr D Manyane
My Neurologist for taking care of
ICU staff at Akasia Hospital
Thank you for the extra care.
HDU staff at Meulmed Hospital
Thank you for giving me my life
My occupational therapist for your
dedication and support.
Thank you for walking the writing
journey with me. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Thank you for helping me with the
I should like to thank God for being
my potter. He has made me who I am and I am still growing. I thank
Him for being my provider, and I am grateful to Him for giving me a
second chance. I praise. I give thanks. I glorify His name because he
is the El-shadai. I also thank my brethren from Charity and Faith
I should also like to thank my
husband Mpho Masuku. He truly is a gift from God. I wouldn’t be
where I am if it wasn’t for him. I would like to thank my parents
for instilling in me the values of life. To Mom Herminah Seopa, thank
you for teaching me to be honest no matter what. To my Dad Ishmael
Seopa, thank you for teaching me to respect people regardless of
their status in this world.
I should like to thank my siblings
Ellaonah, Dan and Bradley Seopa for putting up with me for so many
years. Your love is never-changing. Also my brother’s wives, Maki
and Julia for their support.
My in-laws Christinah Masuku, Peter
Masuku, Queen Motloung, Pastor Johannes Motloung. Thank you for the
love, support, prayers and the journey in faith.
My friends – Surpy and Shika
Malatjie, Malebo Phala, Mpho Phuti, Elaine Singo, Carol Magaga, Gina
Vilakazi, Bridgette Matshego and Eva Mamabolo. Thank you for the
support all through the years of our struggles, our achievements, our
ups and our downs - your love and acceptance means a lot.
My colleagues - for always helping
me out when I need help.
By Romeo Hanyani Mabasa
As a life coach, I often talk to
people who mostly appreciate life too late. Most of us wait for a:
or successful hi-jacking
of extended families (where we recover too quickly)
of our close family members (I separate the two because the mourning
and reflections are different)
…and the list goes on.
When we start evaluating our
priorities, one of the most interesting facts is how during any of
the atrocities of life, family is the first point of call. Now
imagine someone who doesn’t have a close relationship with his or
her family, and when during this time, loneliness becomes the order
of the day. I am inspired by the story of Bridgette who, despite the
odds, chose to live and make the most of her life, and hence this
book. Her story will help you understand how certain ills which life
throws at us don’t have to be our end, but can rather be an
inspiring story to help us, in turn, to inspire others. I remember
how when I took on this project to help her pen this book, the
journey changed my life and one thing I take from this experience is
that if I can always choose one thing in my life, I CHOOSE TO LIVE my
life with no excuses and apologies.
You will enjoy reading this book,
and what more can I say, except: Here’s to a fulfilled life!
– Romeo Hanyani Mabasa.
Bridgette asked me to review her
book, The Sun Will Always for the purpose of writing a
review/preview for her. I went into it immediately because I was
captured by its title. Once I started, I could not put it down. As I
delved deeper into the book, my reason for reading it changed. I
continued to read it because of what it was doing to me. It was
There are moments in life when we
feel sorry for ourselves. Moments when we think what we are
experiencing is worse than what others are going through. This book
will definitely change how you perceive your problems. You will start
being grateful realising how minute your problems compared to what
Bridgette has gone through. You will be inspired to fight on. Her
resilience, her courage will challenge you to keep fighting in this
complex game of life.
Yes, she is open and frank about the
moments of weakness through her ordeal. We all experience such
moments. Moments when our faith is tested until we ask; “why me”?
I am glad she wrote this book to help you and I to appreciate life
more. I thank Bridgette for reassuring us that The Sun Will Always
When I was born my mom named me
Bridgitt. When my father went to have the birth certificates made he
put the names Mpolokeng and Vivian. I do not like my official names,
and anyway, how many of us really love our official African names? In
fact I am reminded of names which were popular when we were growing
up, such as:
mostly referred to as “The O”, Obzen, (Grandfather)
( I have seen them, which in this case refer to things)
Mpolokeng has two meanings, one of
which is ‘bury me’, which is what most people think when they
hear the name, while the second is ‘protect me’, which is my
father’s mom’s name, and Vivian is my mom’s sister’s. You may
well ask yourself why African parents name their children such
horrible names, but times have changed and today’s names are just
awesome, such as:
(God is good to me)
The list is endless. To this day I
do not understand and I am not in favour of naming a child after
someone. I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Each and every
one of my siblings has been named after someone, some of whom we do
not even know. I truly believe it’s a curse and I have my reasons,
which I am not willing to share. If you also do that, I highly
respect your choices too.
At first people called me Bridgitt
but as I was growing up I came across the name Bridgette. I liked it
better than Bridgitt so I started telling people that I am Bridgette.
It is a decision I regretted as I found Bridgitt to be scarcer these
days. In a way it does not matter now as the people I am close to
call me Bri.
I was born on the 3rd of
December 1974 in a hospital in what was formerly known as Lady
Selbourne in Pretoria. In 1960 black citizens were removed from the
suburb of Lady Selbourne in Pretoria to Atteridgeville, Ga-rankuwa,
Mabopane and Soshanguve. My father’s mom was moved to Mamelodi.
Mamelodi was established in 1953. It
is situated about 20 km east of the city of Pretoria (now known as
Tshwane). The Group Areas Act designated Mamelodi as a blacks only
area. It started with a mere 16 houses built on the farm called
Vlakfontein for black people, and was later changed to Mamelodi. The
oldies call it ‘Vlaka’.The name Mamelodi means ‘mother
of melodies’, derived from the name given to the then president
Paul Kruger by black people because of his unusual ability to whistle
and imitate birds.
I am the third of four children, my
sister Ellaonah, my brother Dan and a younger brother Bradley. My
father is physically a very strong man. He is a man of integrity, a
righteous man, a father in the true sense of the word and a hard
worker who took care of his family. We were one of the first people
to get a TV, those beta videos and a land-line. He was very strict.
We were expected to be home by 6 o’clock and to go to church every
Sunday. His origin is Polokwane (formerly known as Pietersburg)
Although we were afraid of him, he
was never one to consistently beat his children. He beat me only once
when I got home after six. At home we had two fruit trees, peach and
apricot trees, and some grapevines. He used the branches of a
grapevine to beat me. He told me to stretch out my hand, hit me twice
but then when I pretended to cry, he stopped. I am the only child to
whom he has given a hiding. He also didn’t like us swearing.
In Mamelodi when things are bad you
would say ‘go a nyewa’, which basically means people are
‘shitting’. When we were growing up we did not understand the
meaning. For example, I would be narrating to my father about
something that had happened yesterday, and would add that people were
‘shitting’ in the sentence. He would remind me that it’s not a
word that is acceptable, but did not explain why he did not want us
to use that word. We only understood it much later. He is very proud
of who he is and very proud of what we have become.
Although we were afraid of him there
were moments where we had a laugh with him. He used to buy sweets and
put them in his pockets, and then when we were sitting together as a
family he would take out one sweet and pop it into his mouth. We
would all get excited and beg him for sweets, and he would finally
give us some. One day he bought what he thought were sweets, but they
were Rennies for heartburn. He popped one into his mouth as I was
about to ask him for one, my older sister realized what they were, we
laughed at him for the whole week.
As I have mentioned earlier, there
was also a grapevine in the yard. During those years nearly each and
every house had a fruit tree. During spring the tree produces green
caterpillars. My father would get one caterpillar and tell us to
gather around him. He would use his index finger and thumb to hold
the caterpillar. Then he would say ‘where is Bridgitt?’, and the
worm would point to me. Then, ‘where is Ellaonah?’ and the worm
would change its direction to my sister. I don’t know how he did
it, but we grew up believing the caterpillars knew our names.
Although I still don’t know how he did it, I do know now that the
caterpillars could not have known us by name.
All in all, my father was a good
father, a father I could talk to. I remember one day I was just fed
up with my mum and I told my father that one day I was going to beat
up my mother, but he didn’t overreact and just reasoned with me.
My mother is an honest woman who
hails from deep in Rustenburg, from a place called Dwarsberg. If you
know the Tswana people you would know that they speak their minds and
call a spade a spade. She always confronts issues, and these are
traits I inherited from her. She was a seamstress and we were never
short of clothes when we were young. Unlike my father my mom used to
beat us all the time, even unnecessarily so.
I remember one day when we were
sitting under the peach tree. I had a jug of water and I wanted a
drink from it, but my brother took the water by force, drank it and
then gave it back to me to drink. I said I didn’t want the water
anymore. My mom just stood up, took a branch from the tree and
whipped me for not wanting water. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t
grow up close to my mother because we were afraid of her. She was
what we call tšhobolo, the tšh pronounced ch,
meaning always shouting and scolding. The last time my mom gave me a
hiding was when I decided to just stand there while she was whipping
me. That did the trick. What I liked about my mom though, was when I
was older my friends loved her. They used to come to my home
literally every day, and even when I was not at home they would sit
and chat with her.
When I was about 20 years of age we
used to fight all the time because I could tell her when she was
wrong. She used to say, “Waitsi wena Bridgitt o masepa” (‘You
are a piece of shit’), which is normal language for the Tswana
people but it didn’t hurt me. One of my favourites was: “Ge
nkabe ke itsitse gore o nna masepa a kana nkabe ke go ntse ka
mosamelo” (‘If I had known that you’ll be such a piece of
shit I would have sat on top of you with a pillow’).
Now that I am a woman she’s my
pillar. She is everything a daughter could ask for in a mother, and
we find her funny. For instance, we went to a funeral in Dwarsberg
not so long ago. There we met someone she hadn’t seen in over 40
years. The granny had a baby on her back. They were happy to see each
other after such a long time, and then my mom said, “Ngwana o wa
tlhogo e kima o ke mang?” (‘Who’s this baby with a big
head?’). Where I come from you do not say these things because they
are offensive. But the granny was not offended. I love my mom to bits
- she’s all I have except for my husband.
We were taught respect at a very
young age by both our parents. My father insisted that we call my
sister ‘sesi’ (‘sister’), my brother ‘abuti’
(‘brother’), and that my younger brother call me ‘ausi’
(another name for sister). The latter did not happen because my
younger brother and I were such good friends. My mother insisted that
we call each and every older woman ‘Mma’ (‘Mother’)
and older man ‘Pa’. We grew up doing that to such an
extent that I cringe at the sound of someone younger calling me by my
name. When someone calls you by your name, you wouldn’t say ‘huh?’
like today’s generation. You would answer accordingly, and if it
were someone older than you, you would say ‘Mma’ or ‘Ausi’,
depending on the age of the person who was calling you. You were
supposed to greet each and every parent on the street, whether she/he
liked your family or not. That was our culture.
My sister, six years older than me
was a darling of darlings. Jolly and very much loved, especially by
people who were mentally and physically challenged, including a
midget who was the size of my sister’s 4-year-old boy. We used to
have them as guests because of her. She later passed on and all of
them are gone now. I remember one mentally challenged girl in
particular. Her name was Joyce and she was about 12 years old. She
sort of found us on our way to church during the week, so we relaxed
a bit. We poured her a cup of coca cola, but the problem was she was
sipping it so slowly, and we wanted to leave. I urged her to gulp and
she just ignored me. So my mom said to her, “If you don’t finish
up that drink I’m going to take the cup away from you. She replied,
“The cup you can take but the drink - forget it!” We burst out
My sister and I never fought except
for this one day. She was playing Barry White (she loved Barry with
all her heart) in the house, around that time the neighbours were
used to listening to Motsweding FM, or Radio Setswana, as it was
called at the time. I went to the tap and heard a song playing next
door that I liked (nothing compares by Sinead O’Connor). It was
during the times of cassettes and she had one of Barry White’s. I
ran into the house and asked her to stop Barry White so that I could
sing along with Sinead’s song, and then she could continue with
Barry White afterwards. She said, “No”, and so I went and stopped
the cassette and switched to FM. My sister came in and stopped the
tuner and switched back to the cassette. That’s when the fight
started. I couldn’t understand why because my reasoning was that
she could listen to Barry White any time because she had him on
cassette. Because she was older and heavier she won the fight. I
wouldn’t leave it at that, so I took out a knife and stabbed her on
the breast, then we fought for the knife and that’s when she cut me
on my arm. I left her to clean up the blood. I went to take a bath
and then went to my neighbour’s house. Later on my sister cooked
and called me to come and eat. We never talked about it. We sort of
made a silent agreement not to talk about it, and even today my mom
My brother, three years older, was a
very stubborn boy who didn’t like people. We didn’t get along at
all and were always fighting, even physically. We fought so much that
I can’t even recall one incident. If I had a fight with my younger
brother and beat him, Dan would always come and beat me for beating
Bradley. He always won but I always put up a good fight. In Sepedi
language we say ‘katsana ya Modimo e hwa e ingapetše’,
which in English when directly translated is: ‘…you die having
put up a fight’. I was always ready to stand up for myself, and
because of him I was this stubborn, cheeky child. We used to call him
MacGyver because he was a thinker and could fix anything. Even when
we were on good terms we would play by fighting. I remember him
making a punching bag for me so that I could learn how to throw a
fist, but somehow I never needed to throw a fist at a human being.
Today he is such an angel, a real peacemaker in the family. I don’t
know what changed over the years. I just love him.
My younger brother is two years
younger than me, and is ‘my friend, my “twin’”. At home we
were all very participative at church. We are from an Anglican
background. My brother and I were both members of the St Lawrence
Guild (altar boys and girls), and the youth club, and as such had the
same friends. We were very mischievous. I will tell you of just two
occasions, but there were many.
One was when I was about fifteen and
the Pretoria Show was on, but we didn’t have any money to go.
Bradley and the boys went out to create a donation list as if it was
from a certain school, and they went knocking door to door asking for
a donation, and so we managed to go to the Pretoria Show. On another
occasion at the High School that we were both attending, there was a
teacher who was just tired of my brother. He wrote a letter to my
father asking him to come to school. Knowing how strict papa was, we
decided to keep the letter and responded with our own letter. I was
very good at English, and so I wrote the letter and made it sound as
if it was from an adult.
In essence, I was a child who knew
what was right because of my father. I called a spade a spade because
of my mother and loved people because of my sister. I was very cheeky
because of my older brother and mischievous because of my younger