“Ukuzala kuzolula” – An African parent proverb.

This saying means that to give birth is to extend yourself, that having children is a blessing. I have heard my parents and family members say this, especially in the context of praising me for doing chores or simple tasks that they asked me to do and very often I would just giggle or dismiss them because I had heard this so many times. However, I have thought about what this really means and I am amazed at how profound this simple saying means.

My social media pages have been abuzz with graduation photos. I saw so many students graduating and dedicating their degrees to their parents, grandparents and communities who have contributed to their success. I have seen beautiful images of parents wearing their children’s graduation gowns and being honoured for the role that they played in producing graduates.

Many of our parents and grandparents could not attend university and so their children and grandchildren graduating is something worth celebrating. Through us, they have been able to attend university and achieve what they could not in the past because of apartheid and systematic exclusion of black people, especially in higher education. They have extended themselves by giving birth to us and so these degrees and victories and for them too. What a beautiful realisation it is that we are a manifestation of their wildest dreams.

I saw a quote on Twitter that touched me and articulates exactly what I have been thinking about.

“You don’t even realise that you’re the embodiment of the healing that your ancestors have been cultivating. You’re their manifestation.” – @heythandi

There is so much that still needs to be done in transforming higher education, but I am hopeful that one day we will be able to bring our whole selves to the university and that we will see a radical change in our universities.