Thobile Maso: Journey Of My Soul
We had to leave Damdam to East London again, that time I was doing standard one. My new father was starting a project of selling milk and he bought this milk from a company called Friesland. This became an activity that occupied my time and had little time to play with other children. I started to attend school at Nomphumelelo Primary School,I found later in June test that the class I was doing is standard two.
I would sell milk in the morning before I go to school, because people needed fresh milk to make tea and also sell sour milk when I came back from school in the afternoon. In the mornings and afternoons I would go up and down the streets and you would hear me shout shouting, “Na lubisi! Na lubisi!” Those who wanted milk would open their doors and peep out to call me or indicate with their hands that I should come to their houses. In the same manner in the afternoon I would be shouting, “Na nga amasi! Na nga amasi!” I was not the only one selling milk so shouting and attracting people to you was very important. In the winter was terrible because that time, the same time in summer it is still dark and cold. Sometimes I used to being robbed of the whole milk and came back empty handed.
By this time the “my foster father” was also running a dry clean service from the Indian family company called ‘Fairview’ dry cleaning the clothes for the communities around. So during weekends we together delivered dry cleaned clothes back to the owners. He had bought a bakkie to help in the running of the dry clean business. They attended church on Sundays and
I had to stay back and clean, cook, and selling in the house.
As young person I usual took some money and when this was discovered I was bitten and thrown outside the house. I had to sleep in the street, but I came into my senses that, those people are the only source to my schooling and the education, which is the only key to my future life, and I went back and apologies, after three days in the street.
One day I was coming from delivering dry cleaned clothes and was waiting for my “father” along the road. I was carrying a torch and I saw a vehicle approaching. In my childhood wisdom I was proud that I have a torch in my hand and shined it straight to the driver of the vehicle in all the believe that I was adding more light so he can see the road even more clearly. He passed me a little and then stopped the car. Outside the car light and the torch light it was pitch black. I was not aware that the man got out of the car until he gave me a good slap to make me see stars. For a moment or two I was unconscious. Then I saw him moving away from me and getting into his car and driving away. I never understood what my sin was until I grew up. It was an innocent action of a boy trying to help and yet it was the worst thing one can do to a driver of a vehicle.
I passed my lower primary and continued to higher primary in Duncan village primary school. I also continued to be involved in music as part of extra curricular activities. I was a good singer and also in school choirs. I first started singing alto, then turner and in standard six I was singing base. We usually won the competitions. I sometimes even sang solos. My interest in my education was so much that I also worked hard at school to pass so that I can be assisted with my fees.
One day my arithmetic teacher told us that whoever totaled in the June test arithmetic will be assisted with books in the coming year. I was one of the students totaled the test.
The wound caused by zinc door of the kraal was needing a serious attention and I was later admitted in Frere Hospital in East London. The wound became worse that the doctor did some skin crafting to treat it.
In those days end of year results were dramatised. They were a communal occasion that parents participated and did not want to miss. The day to give out results was the last day of school. So what happened was teachers would stand up and call names of the students who have passed. I was among the highest marks in my class. An achievement I came to be proud of. I had won myself some of the books for the following year in addition to those of June test books I have already won.
In 1972 we left C Section to Mdantsane which is about 18 km to East London and is a second biggest township in South Africa. Little did I know that my foster parents were not prepared to continue assisting me with the school with fees and education related aspects. I think at this time they were beginning to feel that after all I was not their biological child and they had sacrificed enough. I was forced to part with the family because they were not prepared any more to take me to school. I left Mdantsane and stayed with a friend’s family in one of Duncan village sections called Thula ndivile, it means (keep quiet I heard). The family gave me a place to stay. Now I was ready for standard 7 and 8 and went to Ebenizer Majombozi Secondary School. I had encountered difficulties in getting school fees and had no money for lunch and sometimes I used to not go out with other children in lunch time because seeing them eating made me more hungry. I would stay in the class reading or sleeping. but I had to fend for myself in order to pay my fees. I paid my fees in installments and saved whatever little money I made for my fees and little to eat in lunchtime. I used borrowed textbooks and some teachers gave me old books they had.
During school holidays I used to look for temporary jobs. One day as usual I went to one white area, knocking on the doors asking for a job. One house that I still remember, a little boy opened the door’ I heard his father ask, “who is there?” “It’s a kaffir boy” replied little boy” “you must tell him to get away or I will come out and shoot the bastered. I just heard the little boy said, “go away kaffir” I was already running away and went home and I did not look for job for a week.
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Autobiography of Thobile Maso©Tobile Maso 2007
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Poems of Thobile Maso..........a selection