I used to listen and dance to this song, Uzoyithola kanjani uhleli ekoneni, when it played on TV and radio. I don’t even know what it means because I don’t understand the language. I was 14 years old when I joined a group of boys standing at the street corner after school hours. So many things happened there. I learnt to smoke, robbed young children who were sent by their parents to go to the store, and I started stealing. All of these thing we did became addictive to us; we wanted to do more.

During the closing of school we excelled towards doing bad deeds. We enjoyed it. Community complaints about us led to a report to the police to have us removed; that never helped because we stayed at home for three days and came back again.

The other reason that pushed us to hurt the community was that we knew that we were under age and that there was no way we could be caught by police and rot in jail. On the other side we didn’t realise we were killing and destroying our future the same as we were stealing the community’s assets.

When coming to school assignments I didn’t waste my time opening my books after school. I dropped out of school in grade 10 for no real reason. I didn’t struggle at school, I performed well.

My mom did everything for me to survive in life. She bought me expensive clothes and always gave me pocket money. I was not needy, I was raised by my mom and I didn’t know my dad and I don’t even think I wanted to know him.

Things went bad and became difficult for me after my mom died of a heart attack after finding out I joined a gang and also dropped out of school. After a couple of months after the burial of my mom, life was so difficult, lonely and empty; it was like she left me for so many years already.

I was alone at home listening to our local radio station when the Minister of Finance was delivering the budget speech. I heard there are millions and billions of rands put aside for people who want to create businesses. After his quote’s, he add by saying Uzoyithola kanjani uhleli ekhoneni (How are you going to get it, sitting in a corner?). I understand the meaning now that I am old enough, it’s like he was talking to me. His words picked me up and gave me motivation. From that day I decided not spend time with the gangsters on the corner. I spent the next day and then the whole month without meeting and talking to any of members of the gang and I hid myself and thought very hard.

That’s the day God visited me and showed me he has power over my life, showed me He gave me a special gift that I should use to bring changes in my life and others. God gave all of us brains to think and plan as big as we can.

I started to visit local Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), and others to search for information. It helped me a lot with business planning. I started to open a fruit and vegetables market in our area right there at the corner where I was part of all the bad doings. With the plan I made, it gave me the opportunity to remove all young boys who were doing the things I did in the gang and helped them change the place to be a better place for living.

My business grew faster as the community started supporting me. With a strong support of the community buying my products I became a big business owner of fresh fruit and vegetables. I hired many boys from that corner to reduce poverty and unemployment and also showed that corners are not for youngsters; it does not build futures it destroys them.


Tell us: What do you think of this story?