Tuesday, 21 June 2016


The story of actively resisting and being defiant while patriarchy looms large and infects everything around you.
Vanessa Ntlapo as Bee

Meeting Beatrice "Bee" Sondlo (on JAB on SABC 1) has been a bitter exercise. She is powerful and funny and beautiful and I am glad to know her but seeing her battle to survive hasn’t been entertaining. Bee is 19 years old, a fact I forget sometimes – as easily as I forget that I myself am only just 24. Newly so.

Bee is a fighter. She fights for her home, fights to get a shot at professional boxing, fights her mother and her demons. Fights for herself as much as she fights herself. 

JAB is described, in official releases, as a coming of age story, and I suppose it is. The danger Bee navigates and pushes against has become a sort of rite forpoor  black girls. Not knowing if your family will be all right and fighting to make sure you live through today at least, is how we come of age.

I began writing this three episodes into the first season of JAB on SABC 1. I don’t know if Bee Sondlo wins a professional title. I don’t know whether she stays in college or if her mother kicks her pill habit. I don’t know if she got through the 13 episodes un touched (in the physical sense) by the patriarchy. It was, after all, a hard-breathing main character in this girl’s story.

Boys she grew up with called her “isitabane” and a whore in the same conversation because she can punch. Men who felt entitled to her body and slighted by the fact that she had no time for them  pushed her into walls, whispered menacingly into her ear that they would be coming for her. In each episode, she was called a slut numerous times. She never stays down too long.

Is this all black girlhood and young adulthood will be for the foreseeable future, patriarchy's stench on our necks and a struggle to stay afloat? Are these puddles that life deals us all we can ever have? I stopped watching around that time when her deadbeat father came back into the picture but I’m still thinking about her. The jabs she threw each day she existed in that screen.

Also read: The Girls Are Not Safe on South African Televison

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