I said I would not do this, but I cannot stop myself. I have no pictures of us, no selfies of fun times; how is It possible that my heart bleeds tears at your face, my soul crying for yours.
I first found you after leaving corporate, you are and were as close as it gets to my first love. I saw your heart, I loved you. I wanted to be everything you are and were; I wanted to be without prejudice, without segregation, without my upbringing – without malice.
In that time, in the turmoil of knowing I must, but not knowing how, I set forth on my journey from slavery to freedom. I found you in travel…but you belong in universal.
I didn’t realise the emotional, spiritual and all round life growth I would incur from knowing you. Every tweet, every retweet, every post across platforms, I saw (thanks to mobile notifications & algorithms) I read in between your lines. I saw your inability to distinguish between class, race or species, I saw your love for all…I wanted it.
I took that into my hard heart, and watched your everything. I learnt how to make a success of something so jaded and decrepit, this thing called life. I saw your joy despite all. I saw you turn what could be the most repugnant circumstance, into something of unreserved joy.
Unashamedly, I took what you are and used it to craft myself and my brand. I saw your love, beyond colour, beyond circumstance, and I wanted it. I took your outlook and I used it. And soon it became my own.
You showed me 1994, you showed me peace, you opened my eyes on how to do tourism South Africa. You showed me humanity over privilege, culture over class, happiness over hierarchy. You helped show me that there was more to SA tourism than opulent whites in the over-priced winelands; you showed me unbiased travel. You showed me the way forward. You showed me South Africa.
So, although your name is Merushka Govender, I prefer to know you as I how I realised you. The person from whom I learnt so much. I know you as Mzansi Girl, a girl with unbridled joy in her eyes, the girl of REAL, the girl of Africa, the woman of South Africa. We will always Love You.