I was born on the 01 November 1978; my name is Tshepiso Betty Mokoena. I don’t like the name Betty. I usually say that I was probably given by the midwives at the Baragwanath hospital (Soweto), Johannesburg, because of them not knowing how to sign they thought the easy way out was for them to give me this name. I hate “IT”! let the me briefly share the story of how the name Tshepiso came about, apparently my aunt was crazy in love with this guy whom I don’t even know to date, and his name was Tshepiso. Hectic neh! Anyway, my mom is Deaf so as my dad, Ntombizodwa Elizabeth Mbhele and Lethuli Mokwena. It’s funny because my dad did not bear a slave name. I was introduced into a silent world. The first movement I was introduced to in this heartless and insensitive world, was movement of hands, gestures, smiles and a voice sounded like someone who was trying so hard to utter words but because of the pressure in her voice box it was difficult.
One would think or pause to say how did I know since I was day’s old or even months old? I guess even if you are one day old you can still recognise words that exist in your world at that age or time or moment. For God’s sake, I was in my mother’s belly for 41 weeks, even if she is Deaf! I could tell! My mom’s had a high-pitched tone even if she was deaf, I guess she was trying to get my attention by shouting. My dad had a masculine voice if am allowed to say that, it vibrated! I was told that I started mediating information for my parents at the age of 3, ha! One might say you are lying! That’s true you know, when a landline telephone went off or rang in the house I would point at the telephone and my mom would know that the its ringing. Unfortunately for her she couldn’t answer the call. At that time my paternal aunt was our guardian, which I think every Deaf family would resort to that arrangement? My aunt’s role was to assist my mom with household chores. She had her own house in Noordgesig, a suburb predominated by coloured people. She used to come every morning to help out and she also ran a tavern. During that era apartheid prevailed and black people were denied to apply for liquor licenses. She operated a back door business which was doing so well because she befriended one of the prominent leaders in the community of Orlando East. That’s how she survived and her tavern was one of the hottest “spots” in Orlando East. On the 27 October 1982 another member was introduced in the family, my younger sister Lerato aka Dadato ( that’s my father called her) bubbly as ever and petite. But before Lerato was born, my mom had a still-born of twins in 1979 in my other culture ( which is Sesotho), the elders would call the child who was born after the passing of the baby “Ntja” (meaning a dog) strange! You might find this ideology violating human rights, but that’s how it is… 1/1