Growing up in a location like Samora Machel is the best thing that has happened in my life. All would agree with me that in every uncle’s life, a niece or nephew is the best person to spoil. But I can’t say that lasted long because from weekend visits and holidays of fun, I curse the day I past my grade seven. Everything turned from super to worst when I found out that being a teenager in Samora is far different from being a favourite niece, that friends are respected and treated as king.

Now times were rough, and every person for himself and everyone had to fight to fit in. I had a clear vision that I was there to study and finish my matric and take it from there. But the life they lived there was far from the way I wanted it to be. I happened to stay in the street where every boy’s vision, mission and goal was to run the city. The gang, I joined was called Amarhuza (The Dogs). We had all the chicks, the booze and free entry in all the youth street bashes. But all the power that we had made me feel I was second best and I had to do something about that.

I was with my friends smoking weed and an idea of starting a new crew popped up. We had to start recruiting a gang and that was very easy and quick to put together. I had to go steal a bag of dagga from a local weed lord just to get amajita together. And boom! The gang was up and going.

We had a name, Rough Dogs, but we had to have two leaders, myself and Yolani (Myo). We called ourselves the Terrible Twins. Everything we said was final, every chick Amarhuzu had we went after, and they had a tight competition when it came to the twin’s Rough Dogs. We got hip and happening and had all the power that we became the scariest gang to mess with. Months passed and there were so many gangs but only one throne which everyone wanted to sit his ass on.

Things got hectic and the gang fights became heavy, that’s when my twin stole his dad’s pistol. By then everything I looked at was so small that I felt there was no soul who was above me. This one day in July, we had so much to drink and I’m not sure what happened but I woke up and I was in a police station with one of my girls claiming I had pointed them with a gun, wanting to shoot them. I knew I was in a deep hole and I’d never felt so scared in my life.

I was even ashamed of calling myself a Rough Dog or a Twin.

I got beat up the whole day, for five days, and I had to lie just to be given a break to calm the pain I was in. But eventually they would see that I was lying and the torture would again continue. I came to the conclusion that I had no choice but to sell out Myo and his dad. And by the time they heard Myo had a gun, I was no longer their punching bag. They untied me and before I knew it, we were in the van, escorted by nine noisy vans behind us. You would swear I was a terrorist or a drug lord by how many cops were there.

We got to Myo’s home and there were cries and by looking just in their eyes, I knew how disappointed they were. We were told Myo was already arrested so we headed back to Nyanga Police Station. I was promised I was going to jail for all my life which felt like a very sharp sword was forced from my spine into my heart. I was thinking of what we used to say was happening in jail to first offenders. Damn! I was going to be a woman.

By the time we got to the station, Myo had already told them everything. In court I was too young to go to jail but Myo was given a community service sentence and a three day jail sentence. I was happy, but the fact that my twin was going to jail left a huge whole in my heart. I then became a traitor in the eyes of everyone in the community and I can’t say I was proud of that but after 24 hours, my twin was back. Luckily he believed in me and explained the reason they could come with me on that day; it was theft for him and negligence for his father.

After some discussions and decisions, the Rough Dogs rose and started where they had left off – without a gun of course. Years passed and the Dogs grew bigger and wilder. We had everything we thought we needed, from beautiful chicks, cash and drinking all the booze there was to drink. I got arrest during my matric year, while writing my March exams. I stayed for three weeks in hospital and got arrested in September for seven weeks.

But with the support I got from the teachers and the people who never knew what I had hidden in my closet, through my hard work at school I was given a chance to write all the exams that I missed. And I passed my Matric with the prayers of those I didn’t want to let down in my life. And by that day I knew I had to change for the sake of everyone. I had to leave the gang and move back to stay with my aunt In Nyanga.

There I met a very beautiful, down to earth woman who later gave birth to my cute, little boy who is four years old this year. I know I am not a perfect, supporting father, but I plan to be one day. I am very proud to call Bokang, my son, even though life is still hectic and unfair. I still wake up to his picture every day to tell him how much I love him. Not all of us can be perfect dads but I assure you that most of us can be good fathers. I love you boy.