Growing up not the easy way


Never despise the days of small beginnings: It was in the valley of Kgolane in Botlokwa district between the towns, Polokwane (Pietersburg) on the south, Makhado (Louis Trichardt) on the north, Morebene (Soekmekaar) on the east and Dendron on the west but the nearest being not less than fifty km’s away. That is where I was born more than fifty years back and continued to grow up there, not the easy way. Our small village Kgolane that comprised of about eight individual families who were related to one another was sandwiched between one medium and two small sized mountains (koppies). We grew up there and the only source of clean water was a natural well (not pit) which boasted a number of frogs in it though not many and not visible at any given time. Next to the well there was (and still) a long and broad slit (lekopo) on one of the flat rock stretching about a hundred metres which was a good rainwater catchment that would provide village women with water for their routine washing and use the rest of its flat surface and surrounding trees as clothes drying facilities. We realised that those women did not have proper washing powder as they used godsend (mosehlo) foam producing ground creeper plant that was available around the lekopo. To us the young boys in that small village, it served as a swimming pool to cool off our tiny bodies during hot summer days but we were warned of contracting bilharzia. You would find us using clay to build up cows and horses as our only toys. Most village fathers relied on ploughing for subsistence and a handful got work far in the big cities factories were most returned disabled with no fingers, some lost their feet whereas others never returned, leaving their children to be raised up by their relatives.

Time came when that informal mud huts with thatched roof settlement had to be demolished and relocated to stands allocated nearby. It was in the early sixty’s when we packed up and loaded our properties onto donkey and cow carts and left for Mangata, a distance of less than five hundred metres away, a new village built on stands and lines for better government control, named after my mother. I was fortunate as when I started school at Manthata village, my seven elder brothers woke up at the crack of the day to prepare hot water before leaving for the school. I was spoiled as a recipient of the luxury life from my caring brothers as the family’s youngest member. I remember knowing exactly the only one washing basin procedure, who followed who in the use of it and also only one loaf of soap and one washing rag were for us all, which my mother after extinguishing squabbles between my brothers later decided to break the loaf into smaller pieces for every one of us to have and take care of his. Since I was the youngest of all and the last to use the washing basin, I used to arrive frequently late at school after a three kilometres walk and became a regular meal for those teachers who liked caning late comer students as disciplinary measure. Some of them would not leave the gate post before catching up with me and if they didn’t, it meant I was absent and the teacher would go and investigate that but get  disappointed on finding me in the classroom. I remember one teacher telling me that; since it was his week at the gate he wanted to cane me on that day for the following day because he would not be there, he was going to consult his dentist to get his tooth removed and I agreed. There were no shops around the school and we never needed money to carry with us and that meant we had to stay the whole day on empty stomachs. That included after school extra mural activities period (music, singing, athletics etc.) and eventually go home in the evening to get the only meal of the day; hard porridge and vegetable (morogo),  then whilst eating and walking, it was time to quickly go to the veld to relieve our fathers in herding livestock and return home at dusk.

The new village Mangata like the other old ones, gaKganakga, gaRamusi, gaSeleka and gaRanhlokana etc. didn’t have electricity till early in the two thousand. But I remember there was a farmer, a Boer as we used to call them, Dries Monathe, the name he gained when he introduced some kind of chicken with unusual colour and tried to convince our people that it was monate meaning delicious. Dries was also selling ‘karringmelk’ (watery milk after extraction of cream, normally a resultant of washing cream cans), he would stick his sore (lekker krap) infested arm into the karring milk can to stir the contents and when women  complained he would tell them that ‘lekgowa ga le na matšhila’, meaning that a Whiteman is never dirty. Dries had electricity on his farm just a few hundreds of meters from that huge new place with hundred thousands of needy people. I don’t understand this; Dries had only one child, a daughter who left the family to live in town with her husband, then the farm electricity was only for two people, Dries and Sarie, his wife and for their pets and livestock while thousands of people including students in high schools did not have it, but the pylons stood passively in the village and school yard with substations which buzzed in our ears. On the other hand, after the drying out and disappearance of the natural water well (sediba), we pushed and rolled two hundred litre drums to draw water from windmills far away.

There were no butcheries by then and the only meat we got was when one family animal got sick and died, a cow, goat, sheep or when one chicken was ran over by a car that passed maybe once a week and caught chicken on the road by surprise. Today life is totally different, there are pipes at each and every house gate and oozing clean water, you also get many electrified houses and RDP matchboxes, and schools have increased in huge numbers, some at a stone throw and near the homes but some people use buses and taxis for the far reached ones of their choices. Nobody has to kick stones on shoeless feet and get clove nails like we did before reaching the school. There are also feeding schemes implemented in the schools. We also had one in our time, the Hendrik Verwoed epoch where we were treated to a cup of soup and few slices of brown bread, sometimes we got fruit too but the scheme soon collapsed. The scheme was mis or construed as a non-medical measure to cap for kwashiorkor and kgomolela malnutrition diseases which were then common. But why malnutrition? I mean we had enough to eat without buying, fresh farm produce galore!! Maybe we must praise the new government, the mighty ANC for all these, but wait not now.

Though I have now nobody to call mine over there after losing both my parents and all of my seven dear and loving brothers, I mean within those peripheries of a place well known as Khurukhutšhu with a perking order of Christians and commoners or heathens separate, I’m still magnetised to the poverty-stricken small dwelling place, and once I think of it nothing stops me in my way to visit it and though it has a lot of upgrading done but the look of Lutheran Church on a flat rock still hypnotises me. I can still see the old man, my blind late priest Mr. Rangata holding onto a leash that connected him to his specially trained dog, Bob. The old man was a true legend that inspired many a youth to higher elevation. He knew each and every member of the village by voice and walk. He learnt the whole Bible through Braille and missed out nothing, and he was tenfold better than us with a set of forehead balls. Blindness to him meant nothing and never played a crippling effect on him, it chose a wrong person, a person who did not associate, feel and succumb it. So the two never gelled into true friends yet not enemies and the old man though crippled but was never disabled and he would visit every church member and village folks more often than all the abled people could.

N.B. Dries had an farm with electricity, a farm big enough to accommodate all the people of all the Botlokwa villages including Malema’s grand’s village, all the schools and crèches, different churches. And maybe twenty five percent of the men in the villages formed labour force for Dries, him alone. Dries had no formal education at all in other words he was an illiterate yet more powerful and commanding than all the certificated school principals and teachers in the Lower primaries, Higher primaries, junior Secondary’s, High Schools etc. You can also add to them all the police, nurses, priests and lawyers, traditional healers and leaders in all the Botlokwa villages but it is so strange that all these people, combined together did not have the power possessed by illiterate Dries, I’m here talking of the brain power and the ability to provide work and generate healthy economy. It behooves the leaders across the Botlokwa (stamowerheid) or (swartgebied) or (tribal authority) of both Machaka and Ramokgopa and everywhere else to deal effectively with the problems gnawing their peoples away. So we therefore can stand up and charge these leaders of poor work performance which to me takes exactly the same posture and platform as corruption. The Botlokwa citizens are (and will) always looking up to them to craft Botlokwa solutions to Botlokwa problems which remained not done though we boast capable paid leadership. But really that was unfair labour practice and Government regulations. We were relocated from Kgolane and other villages to Mangata and other villages like Dipatene in 1960 and the relocation was a direct control rule of Group Arrears Act of 1966 and Native Land Act of 1913. I now and today find it worthwhile to support Julius Malema and Robert Mugabe’s preaching and I wonder why not you as well, what is your understanding of this situation because nothing was corrected till today. Let us take arms and go to war like how these people took our land away from the rightful owners (we). Talking and negotiating goes on forever, we need our land back and now!! The best medicine to stop all these k*k is one; taking away the land from them without compensation. Yes, expropriation. The late minister of Transport Schoeman Boerdery stretches from Springs down to Marble Hall, why? Is it not corruption?

Ref: Thakane Masibi: King Shaka Saw it Coming

12 August 2014, 19:45

Shaka did not have enough power to ward off the swallows. But he had the awareness, the courage and the wisdom to discern the good and the bad that the west brought to our land. I pay thousands of Rands a month for the piece of land which I reside. Maybe for half of my life I will. Yes it is practicality....a black man lives to pay debts, there is just no other meaning to life. This is how things turned out to be after all the segregation and oppression was done. But is this the future we hope for?

By: Modiba Kadi