During my school days, the teachers used to beat us like crazy. Many kids dropped out of school because of corporal punishment. They called this truancy. It was a system inherited from the apartheid era. Teachers ruled by fear.
I used to have panic attacks every Sunday evening on the thought of Mr Mabuza alone, the Maths teacher because Maths was not my strength.
I in particular remember this other day when we were doing oral reading. This is where you were required to stand in front of the class and read a story assigned to you by the teacher.
A number of children didn’t know how to read. These were particularly the older kids of the class! Who were known to have repeated every grade. The teacher would then ask, what’s wrong with you? Are you brain damaged? Are you retarded? and the class would laugh at them, HARD.
Those were hostile and dark days, If you would have asked the teachers if they knew about ADHD, ADD, Autism or Dyslexia they would in fact beat you for thinking that you are smarter than them.
Thinking about all of this now I feel very sorry for those poor kids. They are adults now, I’ve seen one of them some couple of weeks back when I went to Nelspruit my home town. He used to sit with me in class and I would deliberately let him copy my work. We never spoke about me letting him copy my work, it was something we both knew I had to do because we both knew his struggle with learning!
This guy is now running one of the biggest shops and butcheries in the township, he also has a tent business, where he hires out tents. He is indeed a very successful business person. A thousand folds better than the teacher who used to make fun of him.
And I’m thinking but this guy couldn’t read in class in fact I’m pretty sure to this day he still can’t read because he dropped out of school because of his struggle to read!
This write up is to say I’m sorry for laughing when the teachers made fun of our friends. THE TEACHERS DIDN’T KNOW THAT THEY DIDN’T KNOW!
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!
I’m a seldom overseas traveler. I’m stunned by the stories here. I’ve bumped into this site (lockedup) while looking up for Minister Siyabonga Cwele which eventually led me to his wife’s arrest and I found myself exploring South Africans in foreign jails. It is heart-wrenching to read these stories and eye opening at the same time. In particular because when they give a description of how a drug mule looks like, they simple say ” Just stand in front of the mirror, that’s how a drug mule look like”!
I’ll make do visit South Africans in prisons whenever I go abroad, just to give them emotional and moral support and maybe some financial support as well. Thanks for starting the site, and warning us of the realities out there Belinda West!
Speaking of which!
I lived in Indonesia for a while. The first thing you are constantly reminded of when you’re reading the brochures to go there is “Don’t get yourself in trouble by doing drugs” and when you go for your visa at the embassy they will dedicate some 2 to 3 minutes to warn you about doing drugs in Indonesia!..When you are about to land, the airline hostess will clearly announce in English and Bahasa that drugs have a heavy penalty in this country. When you step in the airport, the first thing you see is a big sign, I remember it well it was all in red and the words ” PENALTY FOR DOING DRUGS IS DEATH SENTENCE” were in white and I thought to myself, these people mean business about this drugs thing! Only to see on the news the very next evening that 4 Nigerians and an Australian were caught with drugs at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport, the very spot I passed through, and they hastily received the death sentence in a much publicized case. I thought to myself if only in South Africa we were this hard on drugs if only!
I’m not an ANC member or affiliated to the ruling party in any way, but I am a patriot and my politics are centered around the will of the people, hence I decide which political party to vote for just right before the elections. These videos that are constantly in circulation showing Zuma making a fool of himself however, have really gotten in my nerves. I don’t think they are funny at all
You see, as much as we cannot agree with some of the policies of the ruling party or what Zuma himself has done but I would like to point out that whether we like it or not, Zuma is the face of South Africa. He represents us out there, and when he is making a fool of himself we ought not to laugh, we must in fact ask ourselves, what does that say about us as South Africans to the international community?
We all know that Maths is not our President’s strong point but there’s no one in the ANC with the foresight to see to it that numbers need to be written in words to avoid Zuma embarrassing himself over and over again when making his speeches.
NOOO man this is really not on!
Can someone reading this article from the ANC do something about this!.. I’m Swati and we have this saying– Tibi Tendlu– which literally translates to “Dirty Laundry”. Zuma is our dirty laundry, as patriots let’s all agree that we’ve made a mistake to have elected this man to that position and let’s acknowledge that we have learned from this but most importantly let’s try and hide our dirty laundry to protect ourselves from this kind of shame!
For some reason some members of our society loose interest when one starts talking about how they were persecuted by the system of shame, I don’t know maybe it’s because their forefathers were directly involved on that system or they simple think you are playing the race card again. Mind you whenever there are commemorations to remember our fallen heroes, they don’t attend such events, in-fact they would even change the TV channel broadcasting such event and simply choose to call the day “braai day” !! anyways let me briefly narrate this story without delving into too much detail.
The Sharpeville Massacre happened 55 years ago today (21 March 1960), at the police station in the township of Sharpeville not far from where I’m sitting writing this blog now. South African police opened fire on the crowd of about 5000 people who were peacefully demonstrating against the carrying of dumbpasses (pass books) killing 69 people. The government relaxed the pass laws after that.
Change of heart
Being influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Mandela thought he could fight the apartheid system through peaceful means, through negotiations, through reasoning with the apartheid principals, but the Sharpeville Massacre was a watershed moment and a turning point in his life. He was forced to go underground, take up arms and fight on.
Last year I was based in an archive institution putting Johannesburg into Wikipedia. Believe it or not I know the history of almost all the buildings of Johannesburg including who commissioned their construction, who designed them, the original plans, maps and I’ve also seen records of how much each labourer was paid.
But I still don’t know on top of which building this picture was taken. I know it’s inside Johannesburg. I understand it was the last day Mandela left the country to exile.
Ruth Mompati, who is a very well respected politician today was Mandela’s secretary at the time. I think she must know where this picture was taken. In-fact I understand she was the only person (besides Tambo) who knew that Mandela was leaving South Africa that evening.
A week after this picture was taken Mandela appeared on a BBC interview declaring war against the apartheid state. He was officially a terrorist to my girlfriends parents and a freedom fighter my parents.
(hash tag the colour of the skin of my girlfriend is an opposite to that of mine)
I love you South Afrika.
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 🙂