I was brought up in rural areas in a small village called Elundini by parents who made the assurance that I had everything that I needed. They both participated tremendously on my childhood advancing. During my blooming days, I was that sophisticated, ambitious and vibrant kid who always dreamt of exploring all the exquisite places that I could think of.
There were moments whereby I just sat beside our homestead and saw myself taking over this beauteous, inconceivable world. I was mountainous and self-driven in a manner that I never took into any account about life’s destructive, painful and heart-breaking encumbrances.
Propitiously the favourable circumstance presented itself, but in this instance it was not about exploring but relocating to the Metropolitan Cape Town. We grasped the opportunity with excitement but I could sense that my parents were not as intrigued as I was. I believed that they wondered what would happen when we get there.
As far as I could remember, on one instance my eyes were clouded by farmstead, woodland, forests, deserts and prairies. Next thing I woke up in the presences of latitudinous well-structured buildings and marooned cars on the traffic line. It was a clear, sunny morning and fresh air filled my lungs. The exposure to diversity, distinct individuals who shared contrasted cultures, religion, beliefs and even backgrounds. As I observed the tremendous contrast between the two areas, my breath velocity rapidly increased, I knew then that things were about to change.
After settling in Cape Town, we lived in a neighbourhood called Eersteriver. You could sense the love and care that people had for each other in this area, regardless of other racial groups that one belonged to. After a week, my parents started searching for a primary school which I was about to attend. Gladly we found a school which was situated in a township called Khayelitsha.
First day of school for any kid might be scary. I was alone and used to travelling daily to school but lucky enough on my second day I met Simthandile who became my affectionate, cordial and considerate friend. Sadly our friendship elapsed as they had to relocate to another town.
I can precisely indicate that my school predicaments began just after a few weeks of school. As a newbie in Cape Town, I battled to adjust to the recently developed environment that I was exposed to.
I was that Arcadian learner in the classroom who only talked when it was necessary. Some took advantage of that and it began with disturbing teasing. At first I acted as if I didn’t hear them, but honestly I was hurt and embarrassed. Regardless of how hard I tried to ignore them, they just wouldn’t stop.
At home I pretended as if everything was fine. This was just a cover up of the pain I was going through. There were moments I just wanted to go back home. The pressure from my parents and the learners who continuously ambushed me with hurtful, colloquial words was too much, I had had enough of it.
But I had hope that things, by the end of the first quarter, would have changed. The teachers began being generous and academically I excelled. But all the endless smiles turned into painful frowns – parents can be sometimes unreasonable – I was told I needed to trade schools. Back then I had no choice but to be the most obedient, well-mannered kid who followed every path that they paved.
It was around September when they found a school which was also situated in a township. First day was quite exciting, the learners were friendly and intensely accommodative. The treatment that I received was completely different from my previous school. In October the nightmare floated in again but this time around things were worse. My class teacher despised my guts; she had this gruesome attitude.
Whenever she gave us Mathematics or home language homework, I had to thoroughly read my work, memorise as many sums and words as I could. Unfortunately my brain was not up for this kind of challenge.
Every morning I was accompanied by a hurrying and menacing wind. She took her long stick and began beating my miniature hands. In some occasions she would slap my cheeks until they turned red. I cried, begged for forgiveness, not knowing how exactly did I provoked her.
As a consequence I was unsuccessful to attend the next grade, Grade3. She told my parents that I was demoted because of my ignorance and continuous absenteeism. The only thing I was excellent on was grinding, digging through the chicken feet, which were sold at school. She tarnished my reputation but I made peace and flipped to the next chapter.
The following year, things looked promising as I was given to a new teacher who was enormously generous, patient and compassionate. She engaged with every learner in the classroom. Miss Khumalo would encourage us to learn and familiarise ourselves with our school work and that every given task was notably important, regardless how weensy-teensy it was.
During school intervals I often sat alone. I had this cosy, lonely corner that I made for myself behind the school hall. I became a victim of bullying. I was verbally and physically bullied by learners who were stronger and taller than I was. I felt tormented, afraid, degraded and worthless.
They often would take my lunchbox, call me by all sorts of nasty names. I would go back home with damaged or missing belongings. I was in pain and distress. That’s when I decided to inform those around me about what I was going through, and I got help.
After the bullying situation, around December 2003 when I gradually developed low self-esteem, I would evaluate how my body was moulded and spend days without eating a proper nutrition meal. I neglected my needs and instead put all my concentration on things that didn’t deserve adequate attention.
I never got any professional help. Through helping other individuals who found themselves in painful situations, situations they thought they could never triumph over, I managed to find the truest version of who I was. That’s why I dedicated myself to serving humanity and through that I find serenity.
Tell us: Have you ever been a victim of bullying or you know of someone who was?