The 7th of February was a very special day as we officially launched Baked in Pain. The setting was the inspiring and beautiful Donald Nxumalo Interiors showroom in Kramerville, Sandton. I really wanted an intimate and creative ambience for the evening. Right from the day I pitched the idea to my good friend Donald Nxumalo, a renowned interior designer, he was over the moon and probably doing cartwheels. I think he was even more excited than I was. He was oozing ideas and sharing the many ways we could make the evening very special. He was incredibly inspired and inspiring. Oh was it special!
My wonderful and ever-so-eloquent friend Lillian Karuri-Magero was the Programme Director. After some soft classic music, we played audio clips selected for the evening that I had recorded earlier in the week with the help of the people at Kwese Studios in Randburg, Johannesburg. These played in the background as Lillian elegantly grabbed the attention of the 130 plus guests who had Veuve Clicquot champagne in hand and some nicely curated Hendricks gin and tonics. The weather was perfect and the atmosphere still had that embracing earthy scent from earlier rains. The time was 19h00 and there was eagerness, wonder and enthusiasm all around the showroom. This was the moment I had dreamt about since I decided to write Baked in Pain. This was the moment I was surrounded by warm and embracing faces who had come out in numbers to celebrate with me and wish me well. It was a mere three days before my birthday. It was apt.
The evening was incredibly moving as Lillian opened the programme with what the book did for her personally. She set what was the best tone for the evening as my cousin Yandisa Sokhanyile shared how it was growing up under my care. She was so proud to speak at a book launch where she was a character and was very familiar with the story. She spoke of how she could have added more because she was there. She always brings me to tears. The gorgeous and dynamic Yolanda Miya shared a reading from the book and beautifully articulated why the sections she read resonated with her. She drew parallels to the realities of my own mother leading to my upbringing. She applauded my bravery and courage to be so vulnerable and tell this story and how proud she was of the woman I had become. It was very special and moving.
It was time for me to take to the stage and Lillian did a stellar job interviewing me. The questions ranged from the reasons I wrote the book, why now, to my writing style which was a mix of a personal journey but also backed with insightful psychological research intercepted into every chapter. I was asked about my family’s reaction to the book and what I would want my children to learn from my journey. The floor was opened for some Q & A. This was touching as guest after guest shared what I mean to them, how inspired and honoured they were to be at the event which was a “by invite only”. They spoke of the impact my story and Baked in Pain had on their own lives. The resounding consensus was that people who have heard my story or read my book, will absolutely never be the same again neither will the people in their ecosystem.
My childhood friend Senzeni Tsokalamtengo shared a toast and spoke of our years growing up in Orange Farm and the pride she feels watching me grow everyday and how I am a living and accessible example that dreams do come true and that we can all rise above our circumstances. She is also a character in the book, the sister friend whose brother stabbed another to death. I was a mess with emotions.
The evening ended with my gratitude and handing over some thank you gifts. The deepest gratitude though was sharing such a powerful and impactful evening with very special people. Having my husband and my children there for most of the event was the cherry on top and I truly count myself as one blessed woman. I have worked so hard to be the person I am today and I continue to work even harder to maintain the grounding and humility whilst growing even more into my purpose. This book is not for popularity or to stroke my ego, it is to give people hope at a better life. This book is to validate and authenticate the journeys and stories of many like me but who may still lack the courage to get up and tell their stories.
It was a blessed evening and a great way to start my birthday celebrations.