“It’s all in your head.”

Seeing the picture of Rashied Staggie, the (former) leader of the notorious gang “The Hard Livings” from the Cape, reminds me of one of the ferocious killer and criminal we’ve ever had in Pienaar, the township I grew up in.

His name was Skara,

You see, as a kid I was tall and my name????… Let’s just say I was bullied a lot because of my height and name as a kid and so, I tended to be a loner.

Skara on the other hand was one of the most feared criminals in my township, he spent half his life in prison. He was particularly known for his violent temper. You really didn’t want to cross paths with him!

Skara was my neighbour, and the day he was stoned to death by the whole community I was there! Before he died he asked for water from me. And everyone was astonished to hear him mention my name and asked for water because Skara didn’t have any friends and didn’t talk to anyone!

This though was not an accident or came as a surprise to me because I only and only I, was privy to a side of Skara not everyone knew. His softer side.

Skara grew up a tall child like me, and the name “Skara” was a nickname from jail, so he identified with me but didn’t say anything. And me being me as a kid didn’t figure out why the notorious thug liked me so much!

He sure was thinking that I was gonna turn out like him. Full of extreme anger and hate!

Skara didn’t figure out one thing though. That it’s not about how you look or your name, even where you come from or your sexual orientation or what people think of you. It’s about your mindset! It’s all in your brain!

I realised this from an early age!

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“I love you my son” my dad told me.

Growing up in the villages I knew that my parents loved me dearly, in fact I can bet I was the favorite since I’m the only boy in 4 girls and I received most of the gifts during Christmas, I was taught to drive at an early age, every time I performed well at school I would get a reward more than that of the girls, but I will never forget new year’s eve when my dad gave me a phone call as usual and right at the end of our conversation he told me he loved me.

I was so shocked by these words, I had goose bumps all over my body and to tell the truth I don’t even know what my response was because although I knew he loved me but in my 35 years, he has never actually said it. After that call I couldn’t sleep. I had to make an urgent calls to my mom, sisters and other close relatives to find out if everything was okay with the old man. To my surprise no one heard anything or know anything wrong, everything was fine.

This made me realize how important it is to always tell your kids how much you love them. How much words alone can boost their self confidence, change how they see the world, change how they see you as a parent, strengthen family bonds.

As much as I’m happy with my upbringing and what I’ve turned out to be, I just wonder how my life was gonna turn out to be if I’ve heard those words 20 year ago.

I love you more Mr Shabangu 🙂