MOZIAK MAGAZINE: WELCOME TO THE MOZIAK’S BLACK LOVE SERIES. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PARTNER.
Bentolina Ada Nnadi: I met Brendan in 2008 at UCT, we lived in the same Res and we were attracted to each other almost instantly (although people thought he was my brother haha) fast forward to 2016 we reconnected and basically picked it up from where we left off. I remember our “second” first date feeling like someone had just pressed the play button, we kicked it off like 8 years had not gone by, we moved in a few months after and he has been my loving partner since then 🙂
Brendan Witherspoon: Bentolina and I met 12 years ago when I was studying in Cape Town. I only stayed in the city for a year, but we formed a deep connection during my time there. I moved to Europe for some time and we eventually dated other people but maintained a friendship and I think a secret affection for each other. In 2016, I visited Cape Town and it was like nothing had ever changed. A few months later, I decided to move back to Cape Town to pick things up where we left off and pursue my dreams.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: HOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR PARTNER DOES FOR A LIVING?
Bentolina: The lockdown has enabled me to learn a lot more about what Brendan does and more importantly the process behind it all. Bren is very driven, meticulous and has crazy discipline, it’s been inspiring to witness. We also talk about our “profession” with one another quite a lot- the up’s & down’s and we often ask each other for advice.
Brendan: I hear about it every evening so I think I could be an HR manager tomorrow if I had to.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: WHAT DOES BLACK LOVE MEAN TO YOU?
Bentolina: To be honest I have never thought about this question until now because love is love to me. So, I would describe what love is to me, which is having a best friend, a lover and a partner through every avenue in the journey of life. Love is vulnerability – it is sharing every part of yourself with another soul without holding anything back. Love is understanding, love is kind, love is patient.
Brendan: I’ve been fortunate enough to have parents who have stayed together for more than 30 years and this has been beautiful to witness and, consciously or subconsciously, has left an image of what a relationship should look like. This is an unpopular take but to me love is love as long as it’s done completely. Love with all of you, not just parts of you.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: WHAT LESSONS ABOUT LOVE WOULD YOU HOPE TO TEACH THE BLACK COMMUNITY THROUGH YOUR OWN ACTIONS?
Bentolina: I would like to teach the black community that love can be equal. We often grow up with beliefs that men must do this, and women must do that, but I believe we equally have a role to play and nothing should be ‘just a woman’s thing, or a man’s thing’. I hope to change this narrative in our household with our future kids and let them know that it is okay for mum and dad to be equal providers, it is okay for dad to cook & wash dishes. Love is not sexist!
Brendan: I guess it would be that it doesn’t make you any less of a man to be caring, goofy, empathetic or admit to being wrong with your partner. There are moments that definitely test your patience and what you think you know, but the growth is in learning how to navigate these situations from a space of love instead of fear. Fear in this sense is not being scared of something, it’s anything that isn’t love.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: DESCRIBE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PARTNER IN 5 WORDS
Bentolina: Hilarious, honest, supportive, wholesome, soul mate.
Brendan: A whole lot of jokes.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: WHAT DO YOU RECALL THE MOST VIVIDLY ABOUT YOUR FIRST DATE TOGETHER?
Bentolina: Being harassed by sand & wind on a rock in Camps Bay beach.
Brendan: I had come back to visit Cape Town in 2010/11 and we thought we’d go for a romantic walk on Camps Bay beach. We walked for a while and after some time, we found a rock to sit on and got comfortable. It didn’t take up to 5 minutes for Mother Nature to decide this wasn’t going to happen. Within minutes, we were getting pelted with sand and wind and had to run back to the streets looking like kids from a sandbox.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: WHO IS THE MORE ROMANTIC PARTNER IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
Bentolina: Hmmm I think Brendan 🙂
Brendan: I am. But Benty comes in strong from time to time!
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: IN WHICH PERSONAL AREAS HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP HELPED YOU GROW?
Bentolina: Wow a lot but to name a few that stand out would be to trust myself more, to be more straight forward/direct but kind and to never compromise on what makes me truly happy!
Brendan: Shucks, so many. If I had to choose a few, one would be that it’s really enforced consciously trying to be a good human every day, be grateful and do what’s right. Another would be building the resilience to always see things through. The last one would be that it’s made me more empathetic, something that is an important aspect of any type of relationship.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: HOW DO YOU HANDLE CONFLICT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
Bentolina: We talk it out, although Brendan is better at this than me. I tend to go “quiet” and will only want to speak when ready, but I am learning better ways of communicating when conflict arises.
Brendan: We talk it out and give each other space if needs be. Resolving conflicts also taught me that sometimes people aren’t ready to talk to you, no matter how good your intentions are, and that’s okay. Everything in time.
MOZIAK MAGAZINE: IF YOUR PARTNER WAS HELD HOSTAGE AND HAD TO RELEASE A CODED MESSAGE THAT ONLY YOU WOULD REALISE IS A LIE AND IS ACTUALLY A CALL FOR HELP… WHAT WOULD THAT CODED MESSAGE BE?
Bentolina: Hahaha this is funny – our word would be Grobido. It has nothing to do with feeling scared or a cry for help. It is a word we use to describe how much we loveeeee food! It is our thing. I suppose I would call and say “Grobido” but my tone would be different and hopefully he picks up that I need help.
Brendan: We both really love food and we have a nickname that we came up with for each other. I’m pretty sure if she used something along those lines, I’d put two and two together.