Wednesday, September 17, 2014


      Reeva Steenkamp was supposed to talk to a group of young teenage girls at Sandown High School in Johannesburg, South Africa. She had titled her notes, Placing Value on You. She wanted to tell them: Accept who you are. There is no room for abusive relationships in your lives.
      But at 3 a.m. – several hours before Reeva was due to deliver her message on Valentine’s Day, 2013  – she was gunned down in a tiny bathroom she had locked herself in – killed at the hands of her intimate partner, Oscar Pistorius.
      Tragically, Reeva’s life, and death, would become the message.
      “Be brave. Always see the positive,” Reeva wanted to tell them. “Being loved by others, although an amazing feeling to have the appreciation of others, does not define your place in the world.”
       Reeva was finding her wings. By age 28, she had earned a law degree and had become a model and rising television star. She didn’t have to devote her time talking to a group of teenage girls. She wanted to because she never forgot who she was or where she came from.
       “I was raised on a small farm just outside of Cape Town,” Reeva wanted to tell them. Her family didn’t have money, and yet she was blessed with amazing parents who never allowed me to be aware of my circumstances.
       “In a way I was blessed and privileged to be away from the pressures of city life and I grew up to appreciate the simpler things above the superficial.” 
      Reeva didn’t let the lack of finances deter her, ever. She wanted to tell them that hard work always accompanies big dreams.
     “After moving to Port Elizabeth and deciding to study Law despite our financial situation, I worked hard to be acknowledged as one of the top 15 percent academics at university so that my studies could be 80 percent covered by bursaries and I worked to pay off the rest.”
      Reeva wanted to tell them about the adversities she faced and conquered.
      “I broke my back towards the end of varsity. Learnt mobility again and made a massive life decision with regards to my career.
      There was so much Reeva wanted to tell them. She wanted to share the life lessons she had learned along the way – including her vulnerable side.
     I was in an abusive relationship at the same time and all together these factors encouraged my move to JOZI [slang in South African for Johannesburg]. Despite my height disadvantage and the difficulty in general of breaking into the modeling industry, I put my head down and worked hard towards my dream ... it took some serious soul searching to remind myself of my value in this world.
       Reeva wanted to inspire these young women to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals.
       “Accept who you are. Acknowledge your absolute CAN DOS in life and work on your MAYBES so that you can be a better person for the ultimate upliftment of those around you.
       Above all, Reeva wanted to tell them to love themselves.
      “No matter how many people say that they ‘love’ you, if you do not love your person then you will never step outside of the physical you. The physical you can only do so much if your mental you is lost inside of all the confusion.
       Looking ahead to when her modeling career would end, Reevas next big dream in life was to use her law degree and open a firm with her close friend, Kerry Smith, to help abused women. 
        I suspect Kerry may fulfill Reevas dream someday and open such a firm. This would certainly keep the flame of Reevas message burning bright. 
      Make your voice heard, your physical seen. It’s that culmination of your person that will leave a legacy and uplift. 
       R.I.P., Reeva Steenkamp. Women around the world PLACE VALUE ON YOU!

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