“Life’s a journey and mine went this way”

In the deep rural areas of Transkei I grew up with my grandmother and grandfather. In the early morning while the sun rose quietly with its violet colour, I would be kneeling down on the soggy hay in the kraal milking the cows. That was always the beginning of my day.

The school I went to consisted of three grades. Grade R ,Grade 1 and 2. All the grades were mixed in one room. Imagine the kind of noise that filled that room. Three circles in the room were separated by a fire pit. The wood wouldn’t be correctly arranged and usually caused a smoky fire. We would be listening attentively while our eyes were teary because of the smoke. With our half-closed eyes we would be scribbling down our names.

‘Why are you taking so long?’ The teacher would yell. Silence would fill up the room and after a minute or so she would start hitting each one of us with a damp knobbly stick fresh from the tree. It really hurt!

The bell would ring, my classmates would jostle at the door while I patiently watched them. We were each given two biscuits, so that is why they rushed so much. At eight years of age I had never tasted a biscuit. The moment of munching that crispy biscuit got me overwhelmed with excitement. They really tasted good.

Back home to real life again, a small ‘nerdy girl’ who did her job. I would go to find my grandfather’s twenty two  cows and twelve sheep. If I returned with one cow short I would get a hiding.

Life carried on, low class education went on and on. At least I knew how to write my name. But I craved to go to Cape Town.

When a season changed in the Eastern Cape children always caught one common disease. When it was summer and changed to winter there was a disease that caused wounds all over your body. I was covered in big wet wounds. If I left them too long without wiping them off pus would run its yellow way right down to my feet. There was no clinic in my village, I had to go to town to see a doctor. But the doctor’s couldn’t find a way to help me. That was my chance to go to Cape Town.

My mom lived in Cape Town. She suggested I stay there for good because she didn’t like the conditions I was living under. After two months I saw the doctor. My wounds had dried out. My mom registered me at Thembani PP School. Although it was during the year, I was accepted.

I didn’t enjoy my first month because I knew nothing. In grade 3 I could only write my name. The teachers helped me out because they saw a lot of potential in me. In grade 8 I was in the top 5 at my school and was selected to attend LEAP school with a bursary.

My years at LEAP were awesome. The education was excellent compared to in the Eastern Cape.

Living in the rural areas in my time was a huge disadvantage. The health system was bad, education was awful.

Now I stand strong and bright, knowing the challenges ahead of me, with a picture of how the world out there is.