Gogo walks Nolwazi every morning to school, and fetches her every after school. And on their way to school Nolwazi and Gogo greet the different flowers they meet. But today was different, Nolwazi was quiet, Gogo was her cheerful self. Gogo sang and greeted some of the flowers on behalf of Nolwazi
“Hello Daisy, today Nolwazi has a sore throat, she cannot sing or speak,” said grandmother to the daisies. And the daisies smiled and hissed as always.
Nolwazi did not have a sore throat, she was nervous because today it was her turn to tell the class all about her future career. When they got to the school gate Gogo gave Nolwazi a kiss and told her to get better, because the flowers miss her. Nolwazi could feel her stomach turning as she approached Mam’Nova’s class.
Three people spoke before Nolwazi.
Mpho was the first person; she wanted to be an astronaut. She wanted to be the first female astronaut to take a group of Grade 1 pupils to the moon. Mam’Nova thought it was noble of Mpho to have such a life changing dream.
Then came Matthew. He wanted to become an Archaeologist. He wanted to preserve old bones for future generations like they do on Television, with small tools and Safari-like hats. The class laughed at the Safari hats. After Matthew it was Lebo.
Lebo wanted to own a Museum. Mam’Nova said Matthew and Lebo can work together. When Matthew discovers artefacts he can take them to Lebo and Lebo can display them in her Museum. The class applauded both Matthew and Lebo.
Then it was Nolwazi’s turn to speak. She stood up from her chair, slowly and gracefully like the Queen of the BaPedi tribe, about to address her people. Nolwazi knew there was no running away, because unlike the flowers, her class mates wouldn’t believe her if she said she had a sore throat.
Finally Nolwazi positioned herself steady on the ground. She was about to speak when the school bell rung. And the school children got up screaming and shouting with happiness. It felt like a Nolwazi hadn’t been breathing for the whole day.
Nolwazi took her schoolbag and went to wait for her grandmother at the big tree near the school gate. The branches of the tree started signing when Nolwazi stood under its shade. “No big tree not today, please tell your branches I will be signing with them on Monday,” said Nolwazi.
When she lifted her head, her Gogo was standing next to her.
“What is wrong?” asked Gogo.
“Nothing,” said Nolwazi not wanting to look at Gogo.
“Did the teacher shout at you?” asked Gogo.
“No,” said Nolwazi
“Did the other kids make fun of your career choice?” Gogo asked again.
“No,” she replied, and suddenly tears filled her eyes. Nolwazi walked ahead because she did not want Gogo to see her watery eyes.
Gogo walked behind Nolwazi signing to the flowers as she usually does when she and Nolwazi walk back home from school.
When they arrived at home grandmother made tea and scorns for Nolwazi. She put the tea and scorns on the kitchen table and she went outside to work in the garden. Nolwazi sat down on the kitchen chair and started eating, slowly she heard Gogo’s voice becoming louder and louder and louder, as she sang to the plants in the garden. Nolwazi suddenly she felt a warmth in her heart.
Nolwazi wanted to be a Botanist. Like Gogo she wanted to sing to the plants every day. And she wanted to plant beautiful varieties of plants and flowers. But she thought that her dream was small as compared to the kids in her class.
Nolwazi went into the garden.
“Gogo, what good do flowers do for people?” Nolwazi asked.
“They make people feel better when they are sick,” grandmother answered
“Just that?” Nolwazi asked disappointed.
“Is there something specific you want Nolwazi?” Gogo asked in a soft tone.
“No… well, Astronauts take school kids to space. Archaeologists study about prehistoric cultures and its people. And museum curators display the discoveries. And flowers only make people feel better?” said Nolwazi in a high tone.
Gogo laughed heartily and started humming to her flowers. Gogo was a wise woman. She told Nolwazi a story of when she was a young girl living in the Eastern Cape with her grandparents. And that one day her grandfather, Nolwazi’s great grandfather, was sick. And her grandmother sent her to the forest to go look for a medicinal plant, and that plant helped her grandfather get better.
“Because people have build houses and shopping malls where there used to be a variety of healing plants, the plants have all died. And it is therefore the job of a Botanist to preserve such flowers, so that doctors can go to Greenhouses and take those flowers and turn them into medicine.” Gogo told Nolwazi.
“Oh,” said Nolwazi with wide eyes.
“Yes,” said grandmother. “If the Astronaut was sick, or the Archaeologist or the museum curator was sick, they would need medicine. And because some plants only grow in particular conditions, it is the job of the Botanist to grow such plants in what they call a Green house.
Nolwazi started to smile. “So flowers do make people feel better,”she said
Nolwazi gave her Gogo a big hug and said to the flowers, “Today Gogo is going to look after you, I am going to prepare myself for Monday’s presentation about Botanical gardens and greenhouses.”
Nolwazi practiced all weekend. And on Monday morning she awoke early in the morning, anxious to get to school. On her way to school Nolwazi sang and greeted the different flowers she met along the way, cheerful as always.
“Good morning flowers, yes Nolwazi is better today, her throat isn’t sore anymore,” said Gogo
“My throat wasn’t sore on Friday Gogo. I was nervous because I thought the other kids would laugh and say my choice of career is boring,” said Nolwazi to her grandmother.
“Oh no! We each have different dreams and no one person’s dream is better or bigger than the other one,” replied grandmother.
“I know that now,” said Nolwazi happily.
When Nolwazi told the class about her choice of career they were all impressed. The teacher suggested that the class have a trip to the Botanical Gardens to see and learn more about the different plants.
Tell us: What is your dream career? And do you have a support system, like Gogo, pushing you?