That is the last thing I remember before waking up just now, in this minivan, and seeing the traffic signs. I remember that when we went down to eat at the hotel it was a few minutes to eight. I glance at the clock in the car and see it is half past eleven. My heart sinks when I realize that we have been on the road for at least three hours. Whoever is looking for us doesn’t have a clue that we are three hours – and hundreds of kilometres – away from the hotel, and moving further away by the minute.

“Have you ever heard of The Blood Stain Temple?” asks the man in the passenger seat.

“No!” Nqo and I say simultaneously.

“Well, today is your lucky day. That’s where we are taking you. Inside, from the floor to the ceiling it is painted red; red with the blood of heroes just like you two.”

Tears fill up our eyes. I’m inside this nightmare, scared out of my mind.

It is so strange that I’m living in a nightmare in Japan, when this country has long been the land of my dreams! It is the land of legends and heroes, in this sport of ours called karate. So fascinated am I with this land, this sport, that I even signed up to learn basic Japanese at their embassy.

I have worked my socks off to get here. My journey to this tournament began in my province of KwaZulu-Natal, back in South Africa. I battled until I reached the semi-finals of the KZN tournament. The four of us semi-finalists met others who had reached that level in their provinces. It was in a tournament called The Champ of Champs.

Only the cream of the crop from each province competed in The Champ of Champs. Then the four who made it into the semi-final progressed to represent South Africa in the All Africa Tournament. Just about every country on our continent sends their best four karatekas to this tournament. And then the four who reach the semi-finals go on to represent Africa in the World Cup Tournament in Japan.

Getting to the World Cup Tournament is no easy feat. It takes sweat and tears. A lot of other passionate karatekas wanted to be in my position. I surprised everyone – and most of all myself! – when I stood head and shoulders above the rest. I made it to Japan to represent my country and the African continent in the Karate World Tournament.

That’s why Japan has long been my land of dreams … yet here I am, living inside an unfolding nightmare. Kidnapped!


Tell us what you think: Have the kidnappers chosen good targets for their ‘business’? Why or why not?