I first became aware of a severely anti-KwaSizabantu “documentary” on 18 September, by News24. In the weeks since then, I have been rather pleased that my (much younger) face has been the one shown repeatedly next to the much vilified Lydia Thofozi Dube. My name is Margrit Olsen, and Lydia Dube is my mentor and friend, and has been for over 40 years. I would not be the person I am today without her.
I first met Lydia Dube and the Dube family in 1970, but got to know her really well after I came to live at KwaSizabantu in 1978. It was one of my highest privileges to drive her and her mother to town frequently to go shopping for the mission, and very often for brides-to-be. This included going to Brown’s Wholesalers in Durban to buy blankets and pots, all kitchen necessities etc. We would go to different shops, always looking for the best offers to buy clothes, bedding, curtains, furniture such as dining room and bedroom suites, as well as the rings. We got to know each other so well. I learned Zulu, and Zulu tradition (how to greet respectfully, how to serve), and surprisingly to many, I learned how to laugh – and I mean laugh-from-the-belly! I hadn’t known that Christian life was so sweet. Because KwaSizabantu was getting so many German visitors, my Zulu sister, Lydia, wanted to learn German. So twice a week I drove her to the Durban City Centre by 8:30am to her lessons. What a time we had! I even got to make the curtains for her family home at Hlimbithwa.
When I got married in 1980 to the most wonderful man in the world, Lydia gave me advice that stuck with me till today. “Ungangilimazeli uKjell.” (Don’t hurt Kjell) It resonated with me that she knew, truly knew his character in a way that I did not yet know it. It made me want to understand and know my husband, and I found him to be the kindest, most gentle man, whom I never wanted to hurt. Lydia was always our cheerleader throughout our marriage. My daughter loved her and always wanted to be by her side. She would visit her on weekends, and often went to her home. People were often amazed at how much we enjoyed each other’s company.
When my dear husband died in 2017, Lydia was such a comfort to me. She told me how much Kjell and I were so much ‘like twins’, always in each other’s company, always doing everything together. Although the seperation hurts, it is people at KwaSizabantu like Lydia who are as dear to me as my own family, who see me through it, who encourage me and who stand by my side so that I never feel alone. These same people who are painted as evil incarnate, are the closest to heaven that I have ever experienced. I need everyone to know this about Lydia and about KwaSizabantu.