In Matric, after I had won by a landslide against Sibu, my glory was short-lived, lasting only five months. I was selected to full participation in the Tukkies senior rugby team, with its demanding training schedule. I had no choice but to forfeit my presidency to Sibu, to my unhappiness.

Before the end of the year, Sibu won himself a full-ride scholarship to study Medicine. I was excited for my friend, although his success filled me with self-doubt.

What would I be if I had not just relied on my muscles? What would happen if I were to be injured? Rugby is a contact sport after all, and things happen, right?

The day of our Matric results, ahh, I remember it so brightly.

The sun was slowly climbing up the fence, creeping into the day’s pink sky. I rushed to Sibu’s house to collect him, so we could go to the local garage shop and buy a newspaper carrying the results.

“Sibu bro. Bro! Wake up! Let’s go,” I yelled.

He came strolling, yo-yo-ing between sleep and coming into his senses, like a humorous character from a Hollywood zombie flick.

After yawning so excessively that it seemed if his jaw would fall off, he carefully wiped his eyes and began to regain co-ordination.

“Haha, you’re so excited over today, aren’t you, Mr T?” he said.

“Let’s go, Einstein. I’m sure I beat you at some of the subjects. You’ll see.”

Standing in the garage forecourt as the sun rose, we quickly scanned the newspaper.

“Yoh, yoh. I killed it. Look at this! Woohoo!” I said, as I found my name, jumping excitedly and doing the macarena.

Sibu was beaming too. “Here I am, Dave, look!”

When I checked, it was all straight distinctions below his name, except for Technical Drawing, whereas I got two of them, including Drawing. I kept rubbing this in his face, driving him to annoyance.

There was something good in that moment while we laughed, heading back with the newspaper to our respective homes. An air of being truly proud of each other. A feeling we never really showed openly to each other. But the sincerity of the moment was as perceptible as the melodic tune hummed by the birds that fresh December morning.

A joint party was thrown by our families. And the future looked overwhelmingly promising …

First year, at the University of Pretoria, our friendship-feud continued to burn brightly.

I had already scored too many cool points at the Marula men’s Residence, amongst the seniors, so I never got a taste of the bad end of the initiation stick. But poor Sibu felt the severity of the weird rituals. Each time juniors from all respective residences would be made to run around campus like headless chickens, I’d see him hopping around aimlessly. And I’d make fun of the whole ordeal, to his further misery, whenever we had time to hang out.

One day, I tagged along with our seniors to the hall at Taaibos Residence, where Sibu lived. They had all the juniors in a single line, in the middle, facing their seniors, blindfolded, with hands tied behind their backs. We stood there, spectators, laughing at the silly barking, the leaping through the hall, all the while the guys being made to chug down a mixed alcoholic punch.

And just when they thought they’d been cut some slack, after painting the centre of the hall with vomit from all the gymnastics, their blindfolds were loosened, and a new challenge was about to be unleashed on them.

“David, you’re a cool guy. Otherwise you’d be amongst the rabble yourself, back in Marula,” the leader of our residence said. He then proceeded to look to my direction, with a serious expression:

“It’s not by chance we’re here. We knew about the induction into the brotherhood by the Taaibos Residence. We’re here to test if we didn’t make a mistake about you being a standup guy. Come, follow me to the boys.”

He jumped from his seat and I followed with a lump in my throat, as he walked towards Sibu.

“Here, take this bat. See your boy? Yeah, I know you guys are close. Today you’re going to spank him as hard as possible, to show your seniority over him.”

Big Sam looked intensely into my eyes, at the sudden sweat casting down from my forehead, at my hands shaking excessively.

I couldn’t bring myself to even question him. I mean it’s a spank, I thought. If Sibu had survived his momma’s, he sure could take a few from his bro. After all, Sibu and I would rekindle our friendship after an apology or two, right?

After that rough hiding I gave him, to my terrible guilt, I whispered to Big Sam that Sibu should be spared any further embarrassing induction activities, considering that I’d hit him as hard as I could.

As we walked from the hall, and I laughed along with the seniors, our eyes met, and Sibu’s cold stare stabbed me deeply. I shrugged it off – it was nothing, I thought. But, boy, was I wrong!


Tell us: What do you think of university orientation/ induction rituals in men’s residences (which are often banned these days)? Do you think David had other choices in this situation?