Later I walk to Nonny’s house and she opens the door and frowns at me.

“You,” she says and I know she’s mad at me.

“First of all,” I tell her, “your uncle Sbu isn’t successful because he drinks himself into a stupor every day.”

Nonny raises her eyebrows; thrown by my words.

“And secondly, being cruel and inhumane won’t make anyone employable. People need to attain their own skills and stop blaming others for their own shortcomings!” I am teary now and almost breathless.

“Tony …” I can’t go on, but she gets what I’m about to say. She always does. That’s why she’s my best friend.

She frowns. She is taking it all in and I can see it has thrown her off. Suddenly there is someone she knows and cares for who is caught on the wrong side of this ‘rightful’ cause.

“Maybe I am wrong,” she says softly, “about all of this.”

She gives me a smile, and the old upbeat Nonny is back. “Now fix your ugly and let’s find a way out of this mess before the community meeting on Friday,” she says and I smile back at her.

She leads me inside to her dad’s study. I catch her smiling at me under the dim desk lamp.

“What?” I say, looking up from the pile of books between us.

“Now there’s my mean ass activist.” She gives me that proud nod and I laugh.

My brother Fana is reluctant when I ask him to help out. It’s Wednesday and Nonny and I still haven’t found a solution.

I’ve been visiting Tony at the church after school. He wants me to stay out of this. He says he wouldn’t forgive himself if anything were to happen to me. I tell him I wouldn’t forgive myself either, if I were to sit and do nothing while a bunch of hooligans were destroying the people I love. I think of Mr Chiwaya and his family – he hasn’t been to school either since that day I went to his office.

“I don’t want to be caught up in this mess sisi,” Fana says. “Lula ka sena le sona!” Stay out of this too, he orders and leaves me there speechless.

I dial the only person who I know could help me now.

“Hello Khosatsana ea ka – my princess,” he answers my call, and my heart melts.

“Papa, can you please come back before Friday, possibly tomorrow. It’s urgent. Please!” I plead.

“Fana tells me you’ve got your head stuck in this whole riot thing that’s going on,” he says and I hesitate.

“Please Dad. I know I promised to stay out of these things, but I just can’t, okay? I’ve tried.”

Father is quiet for a while, then he says, concerned: “Why do you want this so bad?”

“I want peace, Papa. I don’t like what’s going on. I don’t like watching the people I care about get destroyed. Tony …” I stop, suddenly not knowing what he will think about Tony being a foreigner.

“Hmm,” my dad says after a while, and I almost lose hope. Then he sighs and says: “I’ll speak to the Mayor and ward councillor and try to get them to attend the community meeting on Friday. I’m afraid I can’t promise to be there though,” he says while I jump in excitement.

My dad used to work for the trade unions and is a respected member of the community. Community leaders listen to him.

“Thank you Papa, kao rata! I love you,” I say, before I hang up, more determined than ever.


Tell us: Do you shy away from conflict, or are you like Melo, a ‘mean ass activist’? Can you change your mind and admit you were wrong about big issues, like Nonny?