“The only thing that I had that is different to others, is proximity to whiteness”, reflects Lindani on his experience working at the Cape Royal Yacht Club. “Me speaking up about race is not about courage but it’s about my responsibility.”
Lindani’s relationship with water is deeply connected to his family life and experiences growing up. His father was a senior lecturer at the University of Natal. “We lived in Claremont in Durban where many intellectuals, artists and academics lived, similar to Sophia town.” His grandfather was not from KZN, much like many of the professionals who lived in Claremont and “people of enterprise who were trying to navigate apartheid limitations without losing themselves. Some of the parents were well enough to send their kids to boarding schools.”
His grandfather on his paternal side was able to become a millionaire in the 60s living in the township. He was a soldier then came back and became a teacher. When he came back from war, he began a traditional medicine business, working with healers to distribute medicine through the national postal service. He hired about 200 packagers to sort the products. “Through the postal service, he would deliver an internet business before the internet”, Lindani says. He eventually grew his business to include international suppliers in Botswana and Mozambique. With his success, he ended up owning 17 cars and having chauffeurs and maids. This all happened during the height of apartheid. Lindani’s father was then able to go to good schools and went on to become a lawyer and lecturer. His grandfather eventually lost all his money, but he instilled a forward-looking attitude in his family, and the desire to always try to self-improve.
Lindani’s father went to Bristol where he did his masters during apartheid, then went to Chicago. “When he was lecturing at the University of Natal, he would take me to his lectures”, Lindani recalls. “That was my first contact with the other world. Before the group areas act was even removed, my dad was able to move us from the township to Westville in 1990. But I still went to a black school in Chesterville. When I changed and went to the white school, I had to go back 2 grades because I couldn’t speak English. I was living between two worlds where my cousins were still living in township and going o black schools.”
On his maternal side, his grandmother had the biggest impact on him being connected with water. His parents had him young, so he was raised by his grandmother. As the only grandchild who was young at the time, he spent a lot of time with her. “She came from a family of healers (not like sangomas using roots and trees to heal but they used god). They believed in the holy spirit praying over people (being interveners). They used water to heal and connect (with is’washo – a cleansing solution). That was their whole premise.” Lindani reflects that when we come into the world, we lose contact with God and spirituality, so we lose the ability to be protected from the evil spirits of the world. “We are attacked because of the disconnection from god. Water is a cleansing agent in whatever is being treated.” His grandmother had an alter and people would always be coming to their home and sleeping there. Some would even spend up to a year, but they would pay in service to stay.
When Lindani grew up, his family ended up moving to Pretoria because of his father’s work. He tried to rekindle his relationship with aviation, but life had other plans for him. On a chance encounter at the Gautrain after an aviation exam, he had a conversation on the train with an old white man. He asked, “do you know anything about sailing? I know someone who flies planes and delivers boats around the world. “At the time, Lindani felt lost and didn’t feel like he was doing anything connected with his purpose. “It’s the luxury of having privilege when you are confused by what to do with your life. Because of my privilege, I didn’t even know about NSFAS in university. What does it even mean to be black? Am I black if I do not relate to or have experiences with black people? There were always these questions because I live in a dichotomy of black and white, rich and poor, exposed but not exposed.
Lindani decided to pursue the sailing school opportunity that emerged. “I wanted to check out the sailing thing since I thought I may be able to find myself. He sent me a link to a sailing school in Cape Town. I went there to check it out and the minute they gave me the helm, I knew this is where I belonged. I don’t feel fear, just a sense of peace.”
Life on the ocean is a reminder that you’ve surrendered your life – you’re in a space of complete faith. “If you have never encountered a true or real storm in the real world, you can convince yourself that the internal storms are the biggest. But encountering a real and big storm in the ocean shows you a different side of yourself. The ocean is an observer that only reacts. It has no agenda and is not here to judge. My grandmother calls it god because it has no shape or form.” When Lindani later went on to sail around the world, his grandmother would ask: “How do you have the courage to ride on god’s back?”