I’ve always looked at myself, I believed that I was never destined for anything meaningful. Believing in myself was never a priority for me even though at times where there were certain individuals pushing me to be the best I could. I used to ask myself, why I should bother knowing that I will never make it. It was not only just a matter of having no dreams or passions but it was a reality of all the circumstances that surrounded me.

Without any sort of encouragement and having family issues as a young boy growing without the love of his father, since his dad was consumed by the life of the big city of Johannesburg.

I, Pongco Siyamthanda, was the kind of kid who always settled for less and was never grateful for anything. However, that all changed one day when I received a gift from Mrs Ndabeni, this kind of gift was actually a book by one of the young inspiring African writers from Zimbabwe. I’m talking about Christopher Mlalazi, Dancing with Life “Tales from the township” that was the book which I got from Mrs Ndabeni.

Mrs Ndabeni was my English teacher in Ndamase SSS in 2016 and in my final year at High school, 2017. Our story is kind of funny because she is there one who gave me some hope and encourage to be the best I could be. Not only were grades improving but my writing skills were also improving. Through her thoughtful literature lessons I can proudly say that my desire to be the writer was revived. Her guidance even though she did not directly say it to me that I should improve my writing was leading me into such a way I once dreamed off.

Today I can actually understand why she gave me this book and I must say I am grateful that she did because Christopher Mlalazi is someone I can recognise myself with, a young energetic who also grew up in the ghettos sparked with violence, anger and all kind of rough situations. I for one know what it feels like growing up in impoverished societies since I’ve experienced it at first hand most importantly as someone who shares the same passion being a the best in the fiction world.

As of today, I can proudly say that Mrs Ndabeni changed my life. I hope not to disappoint you. You believed in me and you went to greater miles by getting something you know would change my life (Christopher’s Book).

And lastly not to brag though because I’m too humble for that stuff, I’m proud to say that my first short story got published this year by Fundza Literacy. This is all on Mlalazi’s book which I got from my Mrs Ndabeni.

Like you said it to me, Mrs Ndabeni, I am not settling for anything less that I could achieve.

“Do not settle for less,” like you said, Mam.