Mkhukhu: I never envisioned myself living in one again, one in Mamelodi of all places. I have succumbed to reality that it isn’t much, simultaneously I am in denial, every breath I take is for the opulent life I live in my daydreams.

Growing up, I lived in a shack. Living in a shack wasn’t a big deal, until my grandmother built a brick house. One that permitted me to have my own bedroom with an actual door that I could slam when frustrated., The curtain was okay, but it only browned me off and failed to create that ‘I am fed up effect’, although slamming doors at my grandmother’s has never been a bright idea. She is more traditional, unlike most of the youth from the suburbs, I’ve only heard the ‘go to your room now’ or ‘go stand in that corner’ in the movies, in a nutshell a switch is an old friend.

A brick house as a home was like a social stamp, it felt like being ushered to the greener pastures and they were. I went on to live in that brick house for about 15 years until I had to relocate to the Gauteng province, cradle of the realisation of dreams. My mother, a loving one who is perpetually doing her best to give her only child the best there is, found a housing stand in Mamelodi, Pretoria.

I was eager to move in with my mother, living with my grandmother for eons made me feel helpless at times. On my way to the cradle from North West, I imagined a general yard, with a two-bedroom house, in the very middle of the yard, something proximate to where I was from. So much was changing that I would find utter solace in a similarity between here and home although, I saw this relocation as a portal to escape the mundane life that I was woefully leaving behind.

The taxi dropped me off at the bus stop where my mother waited for me and on we went to catch another taxi to Mamelodi. We arrived safely in Mamelodi and my first impression of the area was that I had to be gingerly walking down a valley of RDP houses at a place formally known as Ext 17. We went on further into the street and reached the end of the road that appeared to be the start of an exclusive off-roader trail. A part of me hoped we were just going sightseeing and would shortly return to one of the RDP houses but hope is all that remained to be.
After trudging by several shacks scattered narrowly on a slope, the journey was officially over. What would then be my lair was a shack, with fixed windows and a white painted door. I was flustered and engulfed with disappointment but knowing that my mother was a domestic worker and did her utmost best to give me the best I tried to masquerade my emotions with bliss and contentment.

I met our neighbour, he struck me as someone who was amiable and his smile gave me some assurance that this shanty town might be infested with some of the most effusive people I would ever come across.

The first day my civil neighbour took me around the neighbourhood, introduced me to some of the members of this odd society. After spending some time with them, my bias about people living in these areas was annihilated. In no time, I learned that most of them, like me, were not from here, they came here for greener pastures and like me they did so by leaving greener pastures to discover that they left greener pastures.

From conversing with the people around me I’ve seen characters within them, characters I left back at home; the repairman, some of my friends from high school and the elders from my village. I could say no to all of this, and go back home and relish the pleasures that come with a pacific life, the figurative green pastures, the literal green pastures; being woken up not by the taxi honks but by roosters, prepaid electricity, familiar faces, absence of pollution etc. I could say no but I’m’ doing my 3rd year at college and this one chance is all that I have to escape the loop.


Tell us: Do you believe in such a thing as “greener pastures”?