Originally published: Laugh it off Annual 2003, page 52

A friend of mine once told me walking through Joburg city is like playing Pacman on the highest level. “You get off the taxi and boom! Your pace quickens to keep up with your heart, you are ducking bodies, hopping and skipping over puddles of gooey something, elaborate manoeuvres that include you looking back and forth without losing stride and of course the most pertinent contrast: eat or be eaten.” A sister who was with us swore the game was inspired by capitalism. She also began telling us what walking the city is like for her. Before she had finished adding her 50 cents it became frighteningly clear that for sisters it was no game. “Sisters get whistled at, given less-than-flattering pseudonyms, grabbed, touched, insulted and barked at like dangling meat taunting wolves.” This scared me and led me to a few questions that resulted in the poem/song “Yvonne” (1) How does one decide not to get raped? (2) When does the charming flirt overstep his limits? (3) Who is Yvonne?


They say a thinskinned drum
Makes the loudest beat
I am fairly grounded amidst the bullshit
My harvest is sweet
I walked passed a crowd of creeps
The type who rob and speak
Like their resumé requested what they do upon the streets
I was adamant that wouldn’t get
Involved with these ignored them peeps
I just kept my walk discreet
A few blocks later boom!
Sister’s aura is sweet
Initial shock left my heart with a faulting beat
“See I could live off yours if my heart stopped for weeks
May I walk with me, I mean you, sorry my name is Tumi
Omar Salih when I am prying to the maker of your beauty
Couldn’t help but admire what’s your name little cutie?”
She said ‘I am in a rush thus don’t be a fuss
I mean for fuck’s sakes I need to catch the bus.’
“Wait it must be fate; you sway to the soundless rhythms
Of club deejays, I don’t normally do this
But I don’t commonly view this
Sisters in the city got a thing for playing nudist
And you are fully dressed truly next to odd.”
So I pursue it “give me your name and number
Where you been last summer?
I know your world eagerly welcomes newcomers
Come on!” I grabbed her by the wrist and went on
“Forget the bus you look like you like the loud type
The fist in the air the fat black and lovely type
That’s me Tumi at your service with a purpose
I can play Biko and make white people nervous
Besides the taxi is cheaper
Damn it’s good to meet ya, come on!
Do I really have to ask again sweetheart?”
‘Okay for goodness please hears my number get off
Your knees
My name’s Yvonne look man I really have to leave.’
And with that I added more bounce to my stroll
I couldn’t wait two days
I went home and made the call
“Hallo, can I talk to that pumkin Yvonne?”
“She got raped this afternoon. She can’t come to the phone.”


Hard day at work stains the face
But I was looking pretty
A few minute walk, through this place
Takes an hour in the city
See brothers act rude and throw gestures at you
Some will even try to grab like you in a petting zoo
You gotta get fully dressed and not summon suggestions
That will get you pressed to brothers
Thinking you show interest
I may be bugging but it’s like slavery or something
These cats mastered the art of space invasion
But fuck it
I will deal with it tell them straight
How they make me feel and shit
It gets to a point where I feel conflict is imminent
Two blocks from the bus stop
This kid looking love stuck
Mumbles something at me and I say nothing at he
Lord have mercy here’s another lusting at me
‘Lord I am in a rush thus don’t be a fuss
I mean for fucks sake I need to catch the bus.’
Ay these cats are made to frustrate/straight up
Grabbed me by my wrist I didn’t play that
He looked a little cute talking loud on his knees
and shit
And brother started looking he was smiling
Very pleased with it
I gave him my name and number and left suddenly
But still missed the bus I cussed this kid for loving me
Slapped from behind I turn around
There two in front of me
I am shaken I gave ‘em my purse
Thinking they mugging me
When the other two drag me to the nearest shrubbery
Pulls my lips to his unzips the jeans
And rips the seams
Knocked unconscious in attempts to scream…

Brief background of author: Tumi Molekane is an MC, poet & frontman for Tumi & the Volume. Laugh it Off asked Tumi to contextualize the opening track “Yvonne” from their debut album “Live at the Bassline”.

This article has been reproduced with permission.