S’bongile Keetseope

On December 5th, 2010, my friend S’bongile died in a car accident.

Me, S’bongile, Mmapula

S’bongile was one of the first people I met in Botswana.  Originally I was supposed to share a house with her; through various circumstances I ended up living in a different house, alone.  We worked in the Komku office together and saw each other every day, and she welcomed me wholeheartedly into her country.  Later, she moved into the house next to mine and we were neighbours.  She was so intensely alive that it’s hard to understand that she’s dead.  That when I go back and visit D’Kar she won’t be there, with a huge smile and a million stories and dramas and questions.

It’s hard to imagine that someone who was so talkative (to the point of irritating us all!), who was always looking for a reason to dance, who had plans coming out of her ears even if they didn’t always work out…  Who was mother to two children, who flirted with every new man that came in the office, who had a thousand friends in a dozen different countries…  Who insisted on wearing heels in the Kalahari sand, wore clouds of cheap Italian perfume, and occasionally shimmied into the office in a dress that was really meant for the nightclub; yet at the same time, someone who would quickly pull on boots, jeans and a t-shirt and head out to the settlements to sleep in a tent, throwing herself into working for her people…  It’s hard to imagine that she’s gone.  I’ll never watch Generations with her again, or get sucked into her personal melodramas – she’ll never lend me milk, or a pan, or whatever else I needed that day – she’ll never get to visit Canada.  It’s hard.

She was too young.  She was full of plans and potential, but she also lived a full life, no wasted time.  All of us who remember her should feel inspired to live better, more fully, to do all the things she would have wanted to do but now cannot.

Rest in peace, SB.

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