Before we let go | Bubblegum Club writer’s reflections on 2021 + visions for 2022 - Bubblegum Club

Before we let go | Bubblegum Club writer’s reflections on 2021 + visions for 2022

An article of reflections and looking forward…

For most of society, New Years presents a moment of exhalation and recalibration — a witnessing and marking of time — embodied in rituals of collective celebration, although time is a lie, and New Years doubly so.

I can’t recall a time before 2020, when time’s abstract and malleable nature felt more pronounced — 2020 bled into 2021 and our worlds remained closed in on themselves. We continued to wait, to long for, to collectively and individually mourn, to reminisce and to sit with — all of those Things the pandemic had made impossible, had stole from us and had excavated to be worked and felt through.

I still believe that it will be a long time until we fully understand and work through the deep impact(s), spiritually, mentally and emotionally, COVID-19 has had on us. There is so much to reckon with. This is our attempt, as the Bubblegum Club Editorial team, in beginning to reckon with, in trying to give language — through reflections — to our experiences of 2021 and desires for 2022. 

Lindiwe Mngxitama 


Portrait of Lindi by Reezo Hassan for The Ones Who.

2021 was a Weighted year. 

A year of being in-between — swimming through suspended states of mo(u)rning;

A year of letting go and clearing space

It required me to move, thread, dance, cook, laugh, dream and feel my way through it ever so slowly; breaking bread with the textures of complicated feelings cocooning each — sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly — passing moments of my waking and dream life. It felt like when Adele sang “sometimes loneliness is the only rest we get. And the emptiness actually lets us forget.” 

It was a year for catching my Breath — turning towards and folding into my solitude. Of turning towards what awaited me beyond the Grief, towards what awaited me in Faith’s embrace.

It was as Grootman Vuyiswa Xekatwane so poetically expressed, a year for “learning to love ugly things like grieving.” Learning:

that loss is an expansion of love, that beyond the passage of sorrow, love becomes eternal… Learning that what is true is infinite and what precedes death… Learning to love ugly things, like letting go. Learning from the moon lessons of renewal and fullness, of constancy… Learning to clear the room to make way for what has been asked for, to trust the ancient restoration of seasons. 

2021 granted me the wisdom of knowing what matters and forgiveness through almost losing my father to COVID-19 complications. It learned me my heart’s capacity to love unconditionally when I met my half sister for the first time and it gifted me the pleasure of surprising myself in my writing practice through being brave enough to show up for it in new forms.  

2022 and I are still learning each other — we are slowly revealing ourselves to one another, finding our rhythm as we take each other’s hands to dance.

However, in all of its unknown unknowns, this year feels like my Year of Magical Thinking, I was telling a friend and member of the Kopano Jazz Collective, Angus, this past Saturday that there is something about this year that feels lighter than the past two years. 

Having officially stepped into the period of my Saturn return in Aquarius on December 17 2021 — which will last until March 2023 — 2022 is also about defining myself for my Self. Not for my family. Not for society. Not for any fantasy anyone else has of me. It’s a time of separating myself out from my conditioning enough to appreciate the beautiful aspects of it, as well as what I need to do away with.

It feels like a year of radical play, courage, loving and showing up for the full potentials of my gifts and talents.

Joy Anelisiwe Mahamba


Portrait of Joy.

Last year I learnt a lot about the process of a journey. We’re all going through something, whether in small doses or on a larger scale.

Be kind to yourself, take your time, forgive yourself.

The only thing you can control is really your approach, so work on that. I’m constantly working on my approach, refining and redefining it everyday. That’s how I manage my expectations.

This year, my desire for the year 2022 is to stop antagonising certain traits about myself.

My need and want for external validation, my loudmouth that speaks out of turn sometimes, my idealism, constant judgment… those things aren’t so bad now are they?

I don’t know if I want to change just yet, maybe I can use my powers for good.

Vanessa Wematu Akibate


Portrait of Vanessa.

2021: You showed me parts of myself that I need to confront and I hope I do well to honour this lesson.

2022: I only hope that it is a year of kindness – that the year is kind to us all, that kindness is shared, and that kindness is returned. I think the world could use some kindness.

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