You Said Hello: Challenging Gender-Based Violence

Guest Post by Motlagomang Hoala

Photo by jurien huggins on Unsplash

It is often said that people come into our lives for a reason, for a season or to stay. You did not stay. So, it was for a reason or a season. As I ponder on this, I wonder how many more of us feel this way. The actions are there and the consequences evident, however, how many more of us are asking why?

September 2019, we saw a rise to #AmInext movement. This was after a horrendous trail of women were bashed and murdered mercilessly within a shockingly short space of time. She could have been your mother and yes, she was someone else’s mother. She could have been your sister, and yes, she was someone else’s sister. She could have been your daughter, and yes, she was someone else’s daughter. She could have been anybody, she could have been you, she could have been me. And still I maintain, how many more of us are asking why?

We ask because are we to blame? Is it in the way we dress, the way we talk? Could it be the perfume we wear or the innocent smile we pass as we acknowledge your presence? These thoughts come rushing in as we battle a tumultuous emotional rollercoaster within ourselves. The simpler things in life are not so simple anymore and the finer things are not so fine anymore. There is always a hidden agenda with several grey areas.

The glorious morning moments that used to be highly anticipated are now moments of dread as we try to cover up because we are trying not to attract any attention. Safety is now a foreign feeling. We long to walk and be free without being haunted by feelings of fear, wondering if we are next. Our actions are crippled because the line between right and wrong has become very thin.

Days, months and years go by and with each passing moment a loved one is reported missing. This has become a cancer that is eating away at our communities. We are all targets, young and old, rich and poor, black and white. No one is immune as days and nights are now the same; it can strike anytime.

Thinking about this gives me pins and needles all over my body because the library, the post office or even the museum are now prey areas. As a parent how do you warn your child about those places? What are the right words to use when you also need to encourage them to explore so they can be open to learning? How do you not contradict yourself as you try to protect and instill learning at the same time?

Where does it all end? Where do we draw the line? How do I look my newborn baby in the eye and embrace him/her knowing that it could be our last time every time I go out to get more diapers or formula? The scenarios in which this can strike are in our daily lives. The lives we try to live so decently, the very lives we are trying to enjoy with our loved ones.

But in those moments of joy and bliss our minds are held captive by questions we do not have the answers to. Questions that spark fear and timidity. These questions now dictate and cage our lives, they have become our point of reference as we gauge areas of supposed safety.

We are dealing with and juggling so many things with our minds running on overtime. As we do that, we add looking over our shoulders to the list, but even that is not enough. It is not enough because we do not know the time nor the place. It is not enough because when you come you are not marked.

Your smile is warm and charming, it says I am welcome, your scent is addictive, it says you take care of yourself and your shoulders are broad, they are an indication of my safety. It is not enough because you approach me in a room full of people, at the grocery store or even on the street and I let my guard down as I take comfort in the presence of my community.

I am dressed very modestly, and my demeanor is respectful and calm, one might even say that I am shy or reserved, and you approach me still. Perhaps my sense of style is provocative, my hair-do is all things glamorous and I am oozing confidence. Even then you approach me. I cannot fault you for approaching me, your intentions are unknown to me. In the very same manner, you cannot judge me by what I am wearing, you do not know what I hold inside, you do not know my potential.

We are both strangers, going on about our day, and yet our paths happen to cross. You look at me, and I look back at you. Our eyes lock and in that moment the chain of events have already started. The conversation is easy and flowing, only little do I know that this is the beginning of suffering for me, my family and the community.

It all started when you said hello.

About Motlagomang Hoala

Motlagomang is the founder and CEO of Dexterous Holdings. The company was registered in 2019 and has clients both in South Africa and Lesotho. It is a business consultancy company that provides the following services:

  • Business profiles, proposals and plans
  • Bookkeeping and Accounting
  • Transcriptions, proof reading and editing

Dexterous Holdings operates also digitally so as to adhere to the Covid-19 safety regulations but still delivers quality work, nonetheless.



Email: [email protected]