Johannesburg: land of promise and opportunity. Where dreams come true…and also where aspirations flame and abruptly die.
So, is the case with Jonny? Disgruntled with the boring village life of herding and the adagio song of chirping birds for the 15 years of his existence, he made it clear to his grandparents that he was heading to Johnny – Johannesburg – to try out his luck, resume his education and finally become a teacher. He’d halted his studies to tend to his ailing grandfather and oversee his cattle.
The sun glimmered with the hope of new things in the early hours of the day. He sat with his small bag, with the few possessions he owned crept up between his legs, and shrugged off the nerves as he told his grandparents the news.

“Momma, Papa. I’ll always defer to you in that manner to show my utmost respect because you took me in as your own when my mom passed away and my father eloped into the vast pockets of inner-city life. I come to you humbly, to ask for your blessing to go live with Uncle Charles and resume my education…”

Mr and Mrs Tintswalo were swathed in shock, and charged anger sparked up as the old man’s veins twitched in annoyance.

“I know it comes so sudden. But…”

Mr Tintswalo interjected furiously, “How dare you? Where have your manners vanished to? Not even a warning, you’re already packed up and leaving! Have you no respect for us whatsoever after all these years?”

Seeing the agitation in the unhinged old man, Mrs Tintswalo intervened soothingly, “Look, my beloved Jonny. It’s just that, at least you could’ve confided the matter as soon as possible to us, and we’d come to understand your perspective. Right now, it looks like we’re kicking you out, or you’re fed-up after years of mistreatment, perhaps. Please, sweetheart, pray tell Granny what’s wrong?”

“Yeyi woman! Don’t try to stop me. This boy needs a good hiding…Mxm, too bad the doctor told me to watch my blood levels, otherwise I’d whoop your arse Jonny boy. Bloody hell!”

Shaken, and sensible to his grandparents’ worries, Jonny fumbled words loosely.

“Uhm. I’m sincerely sorry for having blindsided you…But I anticipated the reaction you’re giving me now. This step I’m taking, it just feels right, to go out there and make something out of myself. The village life has been kind to me, you’ve shown me love I could never have asked for. When I’m a qualified teacher, I promise to come back and add much more value to the community…Staying here any longer will eat me alive. I pray you understand!”

Realisation throttled deeply through their minds, combined with compassion. And the sour glum look that had sought to droop their aged faces gradually engineered into sly prideful smiles.

“Whatever you say, boy. You should’ve confided in us about the matter beforehand. Did your bloody useless Uncle Charles already know about this?”


“Bloody leech, that I should’ve left on the bed sheets!”

“Woah, Papa. Calm down. You don’t want another stroke, sugar. Jonny. You’re very adamant, and I don’t think we can change your mind whatsoever. You’re 15 years old after all and slowly creeping into manhood…I grant you my blessings to chase your dreams, baby boy. Just please be careful that the city doesn’t swallow you,” Mrs. Tintswalo said, shedding a tear.

The old man winced at the pain that wrung inside his bones and joints. He wore a severe face, and domineeringly commanded, “You come back a man, with his dreams fulfilled, or you don’t bother to set foot in my house again.”

Painfully agonising goodbyes were exchanged as Jonny set off to hitch-hike his way to Johannesburg.

Tell us: Do you think Jonny is being courageous or naïve by leaving his village?