When I joined AVP I had issues and emotional conflict within myself and was facing the challenge of how to resolve them. I grew up in KwaZulu-Natal and when I entered primary school that was where I had my first taste of violence. The older kids at school used to bully me and took my pocket money and when I reported this at home my mother would beat me and say that I must learn to stand up for myself. I ended up beating other kids and resolving conflicts with my fists. Whenever there was violence directed at me I retaliated with violence. So when I attended AVP for the first time in 2002 I came to the realisation, with the help from other participants and facilitators that even before trying to solve your problems you need to identify the root cause of it. It was a challenge that I needed to face and overcome without pressure from anyone and at my own pace.
The second challenge was very hard for me even to talk about to other people. I was full of hate, anger and bitterness. At the age of 14 I joined one of the political parties and my school was mostly influenced by that party. As the youth we were not taught that other youths from other parties are not enemies because we were all fighting for the same thing: freedom in our country. So when I came to Gauteng in the 90’s it was a different thing from what I experienced back at home. Now we were fighting with so much anger, hate and death wished onto other people. It was a shocking change for me. I was there in City Library Gardens where people were killed by anonymous gunmen and I was unharmed but it fuelled my anger and hate towards other people who were in opposite parties to mine. When I saw someone wearing a political t-shirt or saying something about other political parties I would see a red flag. I have bottled up a lot of emotion in my heart and when the media reported that someone has been shot or burned from opposite parties I was smiling and saying that is my revenge, not thinking that behind that t-shirt there is a human being, a sister, a brother, a father, a mother who are being loved by their families.
The real test for me was when I attended an AVP Advanced workshop because that was the time to deal with my challenges like why am I bitter, where does it come from and who do I blame or I direct my hate to. Am I on a path to self destruction? That was the time that I realised that pointing fingers at each other is just a waste of precious time. With the space which was created in that workshop of being safe and comfortable it was easy for me to point to the root causes of my anger, violence and hate and which way to take to healing, step by step.Thuli wrote the testimony in 2007 when she was still an AVP participant in Phaphama.
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