#RememberKhwezi: This woman was a revolutionary in the truest sense of the word


A million thoughts running and sprinting across my mind. Fezekile-otherwise known by her nom de guerre ”Khwezi” transitioned from this life two days ago. I have been numb, angry, grief stricken and like many of us, left with a sense of injustice, shame and guilt. This woman was a revolutionary in the truest sense of the word. She sacrificed her relative youth and life aspirations and laid down her life, for a truth that could not be contained in life and will not be crushed by death. I wrote and mobilised along with many other women across this country, many of whom were abused, spat at and received death threats for supporting Fezekile. I often wondered whether I could have done differently, more, been more vigourous and robust in protecting and loving Fezekile both before her exile and after her return. I am ashamed to have been reminded to become ‘un-numb’ when the four young activists, who at the IEC 2 months ago, jerked me out of my sleep walk.

I have sometimes thought of myself as brave. Fezekile was much more than brave. Bravery in fact looks like her and cowered in her presence. She deserves to be remembered as more than ”an accuser”. She was in fact the one who accused us as her name was taken, her face obscured, her mortal life in danger and her being displaced. Her fortitude quietly accuses and reminds me of the value of life, the cost of being steadfast, the disregard of women’s bodies, the ongoing rape of our decency & solidarity, the shame of silent forgetting. Those who knew her speak of her great humour, her deep compassion, her zest for life and learning.

She is a reminder of the brokenness of this country, the neglect of many children of struggle, the violations of trust and our complicity with masculine entitlement. But more than that, she is a reflection of what one day I hope to be. Truly Brave. Brave at all costs for the truth.

To quote Nawal El-Saadawi :

“You are a savage and dangerous woman.
I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.”

(Photo Credit: The Sowetan)

About Liepollo Lebohang Pheko

Lebohang Liepollo Pheko is the Senior Research Fellow at Trade Collective, in Johannesburg. She is a Political Economist, Columnist and Activist Scholar. She tweets at @Liepollo9