Samora Machel is a paradox. The identity of a daring struggle hero or the name of a township decaying and falling to its knees.

Though my home, I hate the stench that fills this township. The gross smell of poverty in the air. The hunger and desperation that fills the people around here. It’s contagious and the only antidote is work or school. If the two spit you out then you get caught up in the trap too, poverty destroys you. You become the puppet of poverty and here that means our brothers become thieves that steal, kill and destroy from their own. When poverty catches a glimpse of you it chases after your identity, your inner being, causing you to forget your dreams and aspirations, leaving you desperate to fill your stomach even though that means losing yourself.

I curse the day the first note was printed, currency. It’s not because I don’t have money but it’s because of the acts people commit in the quest for money. How come a single note has enormous jurisdiction to dictate. The reason for that, “Ekse, sapha lo’bag” by the corner, or the “Mali ye’skeit nje achuz,” by the Somalian shop. Where your only protection against getting robbed , raped or killed is that R2 coin for a cigarette. Now a simple walk to the shop is a daily encounter with vultures willing to devour you.

Sometimes I wonder what it they are not all vultures? What if the voices inside them are screaming for help. If that tik-head by the corner is a boy dealing with loss, abandonment and pain and his only outlet is his addiction. What if that woman selling drugs at her hair salon has no other option, trapped and abused, selling drugs just for another chance to catch the sunrise. People are like onions with layers that have to be peeled to get to the core, understand the core and justify their shortcomings means to the end, right?

But nonetheless we have “fun” in Samora Machel. Every weekend we dress up leaving our parents to fend for our kids in the name of our youth. We chase the monetary escape, that drop of alcohol and that pill leading you to forget. Do you really forget though? When you’re wet drunk and older men start preying on you. A mere slap to the bum or a brush on my thighs with the promise of another glass. Just to forget, right? It never ends.

We stick to school, not as a choice but because we have to, a need. We have to make it. We have to escape Samora Machel with its long claws and lifeless eyes. We have dreams the size of mountains and ambitions the size of valleys. If we don’t run, if we let Samora Machel catch us we will perish like a dry twig being crumbled up, we will perish.