Ama Voetsek, Reality


by Meghan Daniels / 30.07.2015

Entering Jamie-Lee’s Ma’s house is like stepping into a nostalgic time warp. Memories of a time when we read the ‘Did You Know’ facts on Chappies wrappers, whistled lousy tunes through Push Pops and wore threadbare Tomy Takkies. Jamie-Lee Daniels and I went to preschool together. I hadn’t seen her in over 15 years when I visited… and found her sitting on a little bench in front of a peach-coloured house, holding her Ma’s hand.

When I was younger, before I’d wrapped my head around the ‘birds and the bees’, I thought we were siblings purely because we had the same surname.

Jamie-Lee was raised by her mother, Ann Daniels, in Grassy Park. Aunty Ann has been working as a domestic worker at Wynberg Girls’ pre-primary school for 28 years. Jamie-Lee’s Ma, Mary Kolbee, did the same for 26 years.

Ann Daniels is so much more than just her job description. She puts up with many bratty children and acts as a second mother to those who wait at school late into the evening until their parents are done with work. I remember running to Aunty Ann when I was scared of my pre-primary school teacher or when my colouring-outside-the-lines-technique was misunderstood. She would always speak to me in a way that I understood – tough and forward like my next-door neighbor at the time, ‘Tannie’ Janap, and soft and comforting like my own mother.

When asking Jamie-Lee about how her mother is doing, she told me that she has recently been battling cancer. Jamie-Lee is as strong as all the women in her family and has recently been looking after her mother, her Ma and her nine-year-old cousin (who has Cerebral Palsy).

jamie-lee daniels

“When I was growing up, the women in my family were here for me,” Jamie-Lee tells me. “Now it’s my turn to be there for them. Those you love can disappear at any moment. So I’m spending each moment here with them now.”

Jamie-Lee’s Ma turned 84 in June. This story is a way of celebrating her, Aunty Ann, Jamie-Lee and all the strong women we’re surrounded by who we often take for granted. Thank you for telling us to go to bed after Generations each night; for getting the ratio of peanut butter to jam just right, and for teaching us the value of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

jamie-lee danielstomy takkies

*Images © Meghan Daniels

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