There are somethings you just have to make peace with when you live in the township. For instance, silence is not golden. There’s always bad quality music blaring at full blast. Gospel, Maskandi and Hip-Hop are the most loved. I hate them all. Ekasi you don’t have the luxury of reporting such to the police. You learn to study and sleep through your neighbour’s free concert. Unfortunately for me, I never developed the muscle that seemingly has made others immune to the noise. Therefore, I toss and turn until the shebeens close at 12 a.m. Where my home is stationed is a nightmare. It’s flanked by two shebeens, one is called 12 Down and it’s a home to hood-rats whose faces have prematurely aged due to drinking daily. And of course there’s always the token young black professional who has managed to make something of their life despite the unfavourable circumstances.
The other shebeen, Kwa 22, is made up of the same characters, except they’re much older. From time to time, a woman in a makoti regalia will show up and start shouting at her husband for being a good for nothing man. “You’re drinking your weekly wages, yet your kids don’t have food at home. What kind of a man are you?”
There will always be someone trying to remedy the situation. “Don’t do this in front of other people. Go sort out your problems at home.”
Anyway, on this day, I had been sitting at my laptop trying to write, but the music had started quite early, therefore preventing me from functioning. It was around 4 p.m. when I decided to stop the staring competition with my laptop and join the peace disturbers at 12 Down. I sat across a toothless duo, and a woman who for some reason insists on wearing close to nothing, despite her unsightly lumps and bumps and tiger stripes. The first day I saw her, I decided either she doesn’t have a mirror at home, or her friends just don’t like her.
I buy a quart of Windhoek draught and sit on the wooden benches outside. There are three women sitting with a chemically off-balanced (i.e. drunk) man. It’s obvious by the way one of them is brushing his protruding belly that he’s a moreki* and they’re doing their best keep him entertained, because – s’ka bhora moreki*. The man has an ugly scar running down his face. I keep glancing at him wondering how he got it. I have some ideas.
“Uyamfuna? – do you want him?” His woman noticed that I’m gawking.
“No. I’m good, thanks.”
“Good, because I will polish the floor with your face if you try something.”
I feel the need to laugh. Clearly this woman hasn’t taken a good look at her man. I doubt his knees have a relationship with a moisturizer. And for that reason I decide to call him Ashen. Also, when he dances, you’d swear he’s two seconds away from a cardiac arrest. And this woman, whose black underwear is in full display, thinks I want her man? Hilarious.
Eventually, when Ashen decides it’s time to go, black underwear joins him. The toothless duo stays. I watch them move from one table to another, sampling whisky here, drinking beer there, a cigarette drag at another table. This type of drinking is not uncommon in the townships – we call these types of people amasarha – parasites. They’re excellent at holding conversations and when your table runs dry, they simply move on to the next one.
Around 6 p.m. drunk as skunks, the toothless duo leaves, making room for a group of five fancily dressed men and women, followed by an old man, probably in his early sixties. He comes to sit next to me. He starts swearing at me. Immediately I can tell the left side of his brain went on holiday and the right side packed its bags and followed suit. Based on this revelation, I ignore him. He moves onto the table where the Fancy Five are sitting. He points at a lady with dreadlocks and says, “Fuck you.”
The woman loses her mind. Within a blink of an eye she has an empty glass in her hand, she slams it on the old man’s head. “Uthi Fuck you kum?” Blood starts running down the old man’s face. The bouncers stop the fight as the woman tries to stab him with the broken glass. He is chucked out of the yard.
The woman goes inside to buy another glass. I follow her. I know it’s none of my bees wax, but I feel the need to tell her that beating up an elderly person is bad luck. She replies: “Listen, I lost it because he threatened to beat me up. Now, I couldn’t let that go. I discipline men like him. Even at home, my man I discipline. When things go south, I take a belt and thrash the nonsense out of him. If men knew their place in the world, there would be no 16 Days of Activism.”
I don’t argue further.
Judging by the conversations I overheard earlier, it seems everyone knows the elderly man, they call him Ndlovu. Therefore, I presume they know that he lacks in mental health. So based on this assumption, I will further deduce that this woman was showing off or trying to prove a point to her friends. The one question I was left with though, was: why was Ndlovu the only one chucked out, when it was the woman who was being violent? You see my friend, even in disadvantaged communities there are levels, the haves and have-nots. The have-nots always get the short end of the stick.
Moreki* – Sotho for buyer (or one who buys)
s’ka bhora moreki* – Sotho for: Do not bore the buyer (a term made popular by musician King Monada – which implies that the piper calls the tune).
Tell us: Do you think it was right for the young woman to hit an elderly person?
This blog also forms part of our Rights 2.0 – Bridging Divides project. Find out more here.