I feel the ground hit my back. S’bu helps me up while Beno grabs S’bu’s bag. Some of Beno’s guys have arrived. They’ve had one too many quarts. They mutter and swear. Who even knows what they’re saying. Then S’bu’s world almost ends. Beno finds his telescope.

“How much at the pawn shop, gents?” He waves it around. The sun bounces off the electric blue, making it sparkle. S’bu looks like he’s going to grab it any minute.

“What’s this?” Beno’s guys don’t know what it is so they don’t know how much they’ll get for it. S’bu tries to grab it but misses and falls. Now both of us look like moegoes. I’m not having a good day. I get up.

“Let him have it,” I tell S’bu. But it’s the wrong thing to tell the guy who wants to be the world’s second most renowned African astronomer.

“Give it back now,” S’bu shouts. “You stupid illiterate.”

Beno chucks the telescope on the ground. He grabs S’bu and throws him on the ground too. He slams his foot on S’bu’s face. “You soeking with the wrong man…”

“Leave him alone,” I shout.

“You shuddap, half-breed,” snarls Beno.

I grab the telescope, “Let’s go, S’bu.”

S’bu struggles to break free from Beno’s super shiny pointy shoe. Beno’s guys laugh. I hear something weird in the distance. People singing. It gets louder. I stand there. Beno looks past me and S’bu rolls from underneath his foot. As S’bu scrambles for his bag, the crowd gets close. They’re singing:

“Give us houses, now. Give us houses now, like Madiba promised.”

I know some of them. They live in the prefab houses just past Fourth Street, waiting for their new ones to be built. Some of them have been waiting for five years. S’bu and I start to run. But the crowd is all around us now. We’re swept up with them. We can’t break free. I don’t mind. Anything for a party. S’bu holds his telescope tight and begins to toyi-toyi too.

Then I hear a terrible sound. My mother’s voice shouting above the crowd. “Dudu, S’bu, come here.”

I pretend I don’t hear her, pretend I don’t see her. It’s been a bad day, and I don’t want it getting any worse. We move further down Fourth Street, getting closer to Stjwetla, the shacks on the edge of the Jukskei. My mother is lost in the crowd when Beno is thrown closer to me again.

Beno takes over the chanting:

Fix housing delivery now.
Fix housing delivery now.
Corrupt officials out now.
Corrupt officials out now.
All bona fides deserve houses.
All bona fides deserve houses.

Beno’s into it now, toyi-toying like a veteran.

No homes for amakwerekwere.
No homes for amakwerekwere.
Kill Amakwerekwere.
Kill, kill, kill…..

It’s then that Beno grabs me. He drags me into the crowd. People press against me. Some grab at me. Some push me. Some people shout at Beno to leave me alone.

Then I hear my mother scream my name like a funeral prayer.

Why do you think the crowd will allow Beno to take over?