Trying to secure the money for the FIFA World Cup opened so many different doors for me at a personal level and learning a lot about South Africa. Not all about South Africa but a handful. There were doors that I believed would stay shut for the rest of my life and they were opening one by one. I want to say I wasn’t ready but then again I think I was, it’s the process that takes a long time. The process, for me, started that year.
As I mentioned on (Page 27. Underestimating my Own Worth and Page 28. Raising the Money for FIFA) I asked my uncle to help, he declined and I still had to pretend that I was ok in front of the family. Most of the CEOs or Executives that I approached for funding were not really in charge just more of a front for white owned companies. Different cultures that came with being a South African and part of my family. The dynamics between both families. Unknown and unhealthy feelings were building up from all of it. I had an incredible support system, but I don’t think even they understood fully what was happening. They were always excited to hear my stories, and I loved telling them, the reality is everything that happened at that time was piercing very deeply. How were they supposed to know, If I didn’t get it myself?
While I was all over the place knocking door to door to raise funds, I also worked on maintaining my relationship with my family. My cousin Tabang on my mothers side and I were starting to build a relationship by having lunches occasionally. We never really discussed why I was treated so badly when I first arrived as mentioned on (Page 6. The Unknown), at that point having a relationship was more important so I left it alone. The relationships were very complicated because of the bad blood with another cousin that I become close with, Dineo. The two cousins didn’t get along, and they made it clear every time I was out with the other. I maintained being neutral because it was not my fight and I was still just trying to be part of the team.
On my fathers side I also had to try and manage the relationships there. Even though I was staying at my Aunt Amara’s house, I found my self-spending a lot of time at my uncle Perkins and his wife Linda’s home. As I mentioned on (Page 26. Diamonds) my aunt Linda was the nicest and seemed genuine out of all my aunts. She always wanted me around. I also enjoyed being around her. I guess it’s because in a lot of ways I felt like an in-law except I wasn’t. The rest of them have been together all their lives, and I was in theirs for a short period. I was constantly trying to fit in and be prefect, that in its self took up a lot of energy.
My older sister Lina would also spend a lot of time at my uncle Perkins and Linda’s home. The rest of the family did not like it. I was starting to feel how competitive the family was with each other. My aunt Amara made it a point to forcefully tell me that her home was my home and that is where I stay. She was letting me know that I needed to cut my time with my other aunt and uncle. It became so stressful going to visit my uncle Perkins and aunt Linda because I now was hiding it from my aunt Amara. It’s so funny as I write this today and I think about many of the things I did similar to this and today I can see I was carrying other peoples madness. As an adult sneaking around to see siblings who are keeping tabs on how much time I spend with the other? I wanted to fit in so badly I carried the madness.
What I can appreciate is I got to experience some of this with my older sister whom I was getting to know. In a lot of ways, she became the closest to a support system. Also, there were parts of me that were careful with her because she was new. What brought us together is we share a father, we were not part of the family for a long time and we shared the same pain. Even though the family tried to make it seem as if they wanted us to be close they did a lot of things to make us not like each other. It was about control and even though our upbringings were different for a long time the family treated us like we were not a part of them.
I remember a time when Lina was very cold towards me and I didn’t understand why. She was like that for weeks and then eventually I started to be cold towards her. One day we got a chance to talk and she told me that she was hurt I stopped by the building she worked in weeks earlier and did not come to her office and say hello. I was bit confused because I didn’t know what she was talking about and then I remembered that I was in the building to take care of some work needed for FIFA.
Basically, my uncle’s offices were in the same building as his wife’s offices and my sister worked for my aunt Linda. Their offices were in different parts of the building. I needed to make copies of some documents that FIFA required from me and they needed them urgently. I went straight into my uncles offices that day and asked his secretary to make the copies and I quickly ran out to the FIFA offices. This was an emergency and there was no time for visits. I explained this to her, and she proceeded to tell me that it was my aunt Linda who approached her upset and said to her, how could I come into the building and not even bother to say hello to my own sister. I knew that moment that my aunt Linda was a shit starter too! It hurt my feelings a bit because I really liked her and thought she was the mature one in the family.
My sister added to the conversation that my aunt Linda was beyond upset because my mother had not commented on the jewelry she bought me. I still didn’t know the full story behind my mom and aunt Linda’s relationship. I knew that moment her gift was about getting my mother to speak to her, for whatever reason. That very second the value of the earrings and necklace diminished. They were nice, but they no longer meant anything to me. I no longer wore them much and funny enough a few months later they were stolen from my suitcase while flying to New York from South Africa and I couldn’t have been bothered about it. The value, for me, was the relationship that I thought I was building with my aunt.
I ran into my aunt Linda that day and she asked to talk to me. She wanted to know why I was cold towards my sister the past few days. I said to her, she went around accusing me of not coming to greet her when I was busy taking care of something for FIFA. Remember, I knew the story and who started it as I am telling her but I didn’t want to throw my sister under the bus by saying I knew she started it. I blamed it all on my sister and my aunt Linda looked me in the eyes and didn’t try to make things right by saying she was the culprit behind it. She pretended like she knew nothing and allowed me to put it all on my sister.
From that day on my relationship with my aunt Linda changed. At times I became cold around her. Not because I was being mean but I was hurt, I believed so much in the relationship we were building and it was all a lie. Just like everyone else in the family she had her own agenda with me.