The streets of Gugulethu weren’t the most life-filled streets in South Africa, especially when you start listening to the stories echoed by the gutters of Soweto. Gugulethu was safe. My parents would be up at 5am trying to catch the earliest bus so that they could make it to work by 7.30am. We would play ball games right after school until it was dark. On Fridays we’d play until ten so my mother bought a floodlight and placed it in front of the house so we could play longer.
There were those overly competitive girls and there were those that were less interested in the game and more in the boys that rocked up. They would steal a kiss and cuddle for a few minutes with their boys and wait for the floodlight to go off as a sign that they should head on home. I was one of those girls. All I can tell you is that he was the best basketball player that anyone had ever come across and he was all mine. Okay I lie, there were a few of us. I was young and naïve – shoot me! He was my first love but he wasn’t my soulmate or the love of my life. I just really loved him for 4 years. We’re great friends now.
My friends also had their own boyfriends at the time. They were in black schools and I went to an English school for most of my life, but you couldn’t tell the difference between us because their English was just as good. But behavior-wise…we were on separate poles. They were very traditional and saw things in black and white; there were rules set by people who survived in the primitive era and these were passed onto them by their parents and they would simply abide. While on the other side, I was more up for debating and shredding every single one of those rules. There were many examples of how they thought I was behaving “out of order” – like the wearing a stunning white dress and looking like Cinderella while they wore Levis jeans and white Aca Joe shirts with All Stars – you see that was not on. I couldn’t look like a princess when they were looking like they were confused lesbians. This also made things difficult because their boyfriends used to hit on me – I think it was because I was different.
Apart from our differences, it was always great hanging with the girls. I knew that no matter what happened they’d be there for me. The only concern I had was when they’d tell me about their relationships. They were already intimate with their guys and I was still a virgin. So I found their stories quite entertaining. Even though I thought that there was a standard rule that we were all supposed to wait until we were 21 to break our virginity. So whilst they told me about their not-so-exciting sex lives, in the same breath and sentence, they would switch to how these guys hit them.
I’m like: Hold on! Wait a minute! This isn’t one of those slap my butt and call me sugar mama moments. They explained to me that it was definitely a Bam! Slap in the face, “Sfebe uthi k’theni” moments. My jaw dropped every time I heard this. I was told not to worry because this was normal. NORMAL? The world must be going crazy!
The beatings happened more and more. It would start with “iTake-5” (slap-bam across the face), to a double-take (using both hands on each cheek at the same time), then followed by a fly kick in abdominal area and ending it off with an arm twist from the back. I swear it was as if these boys were watching too much of Jackie Chan or Van Damme movies! This occasionally happened in the middle of the street just when night was about to creep in. How convenient, in the dark – talk about romance. They say “azingenwa” Read the full story