By Lerato Mashile
- When we talk about Pastor Lindiwe, who exactly are we talking about?
A beautiful fearless woman, a mother, wife, a pastor, a leader, a survivor but above everything someone who is crazy about God.
- What inspired “Arise and Shine oh Woman”?
I grew up around a lot of things that I did not like such as alcohol abuse in my family that I saw at a young age, girls always wanting a sense of belonging from boys. This happened at school, where I grew up and even church. Teenage pregnancy and those things made me want to be a different person from what I saw.
After I got married the first time, I realised the mistakes that led me to get into that marriage and the abuse that I experienced and endured. I want to tell women and girls about letting themselves get into the wrong marriages and letting themselves stay in wrong, abusive marriages and even abusive friendships. I felt that there was a voice missing, someone to tell people who are not yet there to say “do not do it” this is where it got me.
I felt if I had a mentor growing or someone to talk to, maybe I wouldn’t have found myself in the situations that I ended up in. I want to be the mentor I wish I had growing up.
- What was your turning point where you said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?
My daughter who was 4 at the time, young as she was, she would always say to me after her father had beaten me to a pulp, “mama, asambeni, ubaba uzokubulala”. I did not expect my child to be that observant and clever to an extent that she knew that this might lead to her dad killing me because she was young.
When she started saying those things to me if this is what my daughter is saying to me and if that would really happen then she would resent me even in my grave. Instead of grieving my death, she would be angry and say “but I did tell mama that we need to leave”. She said it several times but one day, after it happened, she came to she said “but I told you that we should run away because papa would really kill you” so it was at that point that I said that I would rather be called a divorcee than to die and leave my daughter and have her resent.
I left but did not file for divorce right there and then because I did not want him to know that I left because I wanted a divorce but because I was tired of what he was doing. So, I went home and after some time, I had to go drop off my daughter’s concert tickets at my then mother in law’s place as I was told he wouldn’t be there.
Unfortunately, he was then and asked to speak to me which I agreed. He kept asking me to come back and that is when I told him about the divorce which sent him into a rage which I remember seeing back when he used to beat me. He kept saying that if he can’t have me then no one else can and that he doesn’t want his daughter to be raised by another man while he is was still alive. It was at that moment that he locked the door and assaulted me.
I remember praying to God and asking to get me out of here alive. I don’t remember much but I remember getting into the car with my daughter and my nephew who was 3 at the time and driving to my parents’ house. I don’t remember how I drove there but I remember my daughter directing me. When we got to the house, I asked her to call granny and the next thing, I was in the hospital. That prayer was not for me but for my daughter.
- Knowing what you know now would you have done things differently? If so what?
Yes, there definitely is, growing up at church as a young woman, we were taught to pray for our partners and our future husbands. I did that and I was specific with what I wanted from God. One of the things I wanted from the Lord was a God-fearing man but when it didn’t happen at the time, I wanted it to happen because God’s time isn’t the same as my time, I decided to compromise because “isikhathi siyangishiya”.
I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that but because of the pressure of needing to have this and this at a certain age, I then compromised on what I believed in and I met this guy who wasn’t ticking all the right boxes, wasn’t the man that I prayed for. I learnt the hard way to wait for the man that I prayed for. To not compromise and move away from the person that I am to try and accommodate certain things that are not good for me because there was a little voice that was telling me that this was not the man that I prayed for but I ignored it.
- Campaigns have been done to combat violence against women and children yet we are sitting with the highest femicide rates so where are we getting it wrong?
This thing goes back to home particularly in our communities where we don’t have special relationships with our parents, that open, comfortable relationship because there are things our parents don’t tell us things and conversations that we struggle to talk about such as boys or how a man should a woman.
This is even worse between fathers and their sons as fathers don’t even teach their sons what kind of men their sons should be. When we have these ceremonies, it is usually the bride who is told how to act and take care of her household yet you don’t find that a lot in men advising the groom.
There are a lot of things that we don’t learn at home so we learn them from friends, from TV, the streets because it is not spoken about at home. Another reason is the fact that we have somehow been programmed to “bekezela” which is to withstand hard times even when we know it is wrong because as a wife you will say “I am still here because of my children”.
I don’t want my children to grow up without a father and you don’t realise that the very same children that you think you are protecting are the very same children that are seeing these things and these things end up affecting them.
To a point that a boy child will see the behaviour as normal because he saw his father do that and a girl child with see being beaten up as normal because her mother stayed when she was beaten. What broke my heart was when my daughter would see this and when she was playing “house” and she would say “I will never get married because I will get married and my husband will beat me up, I will not get married. I will study and have my own house. I don’t want a man”
At the time, she was very young so that shows that children see and then get affected. Women grow up and learn to be silent when things like this happen. The church is supposed to be a safe place where you can talk and not be judged but unfortunately in some churches, that doesn’t happen.
- In what ways will Arise and Shine oh Woman help child to realise their strength?
We tell women how STRONG they are, how SPECIAL they are, how CAPABLE they are. We tell them that they were fearfully and wonderfully made. We tell them that they have a Father whose name is God and a friend whose name is Jesus. We tell them that they have a right to live, they have a right to love but above all, we tell them that love begins from within. They should love themselves enough and not put themselves in situations that steal their joy. We tell them that our purpose is not in our spouses, our purpose is not in our boyfriends. Marriage is not an achievement.
We tell them to be independent and nothing beats that. We trying to erase the notion that if you are not married you haven’t achieved anything in life because you will end up losing yourself in something that wasn’t meant for you because the Bible says “The blessings of God add no sorrow” so if you have a blessing and you are crying day in, day out and you claim it is from God then you are mistaken. We tell children that they are not their parents, they might be born from them but they are not them.
- How do you define love now that you have found love?
There are not enough words to define love but I would say, love is experiencing those things that you get from another person without even having to ask or even communicating. A person who makes you feel good without you having to tell them. It’s being with someone who will still let you be yourself without wanting to change you but instead love you for who you are. Someone who will always support you and drive you to be the best in life and not be intimidated at the same time but instead be your number 1 cheerleader.
- What is your message to someone who is going through what you went through or knows someone who is?
Don’t stay there until you die. It might not be a physical death but rather an emotional death. Don’t say you are doing it for the sake of your kids because you will be destroying the very same kids you say you are protecting. Don’t stay because you are afraid of what people are going to say. Don’t stay because you feel you cannot live without that person that hurts you because love do not hurt. Do not ignore those signs or make excuses for the behaviour.