Growing up wild
Ukukhula ngaphandle kwe-nkathalelo

With that caravan, Atie and I finally had our own roof over our heads – this was just great. But how to get food, clothing, stationery and books for school, all that stuff ? From time to time, Atie received pocket money from his dad, which he generously shared with me. And from time to time I still got delicious leftovers from Yamkela’s mom or from my Auntie Nompumelelo, which Atie and I also shared. I was just worried about my school uniform, which fell apart more and more. And there were many evenings when we went to bed hungry . . .

One evening, Atie came with a new idea: ‘Mamela – listen, Mbu! We can earn some good money with the tik guys!’ I’d been afraid that he would one day come with some such nonsense. Everybody knew that the drug lords recruited young ones like us to sell tik, to get us into using the hard stuff.

Hayi – no, Atie! That’s a bad idea, just bad. The police are watching them all the time: one day you are rich, the next day you are in Pollsmoor prison.’

I was prepared to have to argue with Atie about it. But to my surprise, he responded: ‘Ndiyavuma – I agree. That stuff is actually pure shit . . .’

Still, we had to get what we needed from somewhere. Somehow. The scrapyard thing was for kids. We needed something better.

Soon I would start going to Masiphumelele High School. Despite all my troubles, my latest report from Grade 7 at primary school was one of the best. I had not missed one single school day in the last term.

I was sure that the new principal at our high school, Mr Mafrika, would not tolerate anything less from me. I needed to have a school uniform without holes. My black shoes were totally worn out and so small by now that it was painful to wear them.


I made my plans this time without Yamkela and even without Atie. I did not want to get either of them involved in what I was about to do. Yamkela might have joined me just to help me out – and Atie, of course, because he loved adventures. But this thing, I had to pull through on my own.

Something I had learnt at school was: before you do something, think about it. Before you start to act, practise first. So I did.

Tell us what you think: What do you think Mbu is planning to do?