Going back home for the summer holidays hit me hard. It was disappointing to see little improvement to infrastructure and people’s lives.
The visit to my beloved home in the Eastern Cape brought back a lot of memories, good and bad.
As I walked through the dusty streets of my village, Bacclesfarm, I thought ‘Oh! Man’, you’ve been a good breeding ground for many strong individuals.
The settlement was established in the late 1970s as part of what historians have described as “the consolidation of the northern Ciskei territories”.
Settlements such as Thornhill, Mitford, Rocklands, BF, Tendergate, and Springroove were established on farms that were bought by the Republic of South Africa in order to consolidate the homeland system. As the name suggests, the village was established on a farm. The composition of the settlement – Imfuduko from Transkei in Sterkspruit and also the people the state described as “the surplus people”’ who were mainly farm dwellers.
Most men were mineworkers. I remembered how many women looked after their offspring while their men toiled in mines far away.
Our mothers were tough back then. Not that the current generation is not.
Last summer, I joined the festivities at Bacclesfarm and tried my hand at some stick fighting.
Let me blow my own horn and say, hordes of friends on social media loved and shared my reels. I hit thousands of likes and shares, something that I had never achieved on social media before.
It was hilarious seeing how others perceived me and laughed at me. Why, cause that’s how I grew up? Stick fighting was a form of youth development after soccer and boxing. It was a beloved game. Being home and playing the game of sticks triggered something in me. I was thinking about the good old days we had, a life that did not need money. A life with no mental health problems. Or did we just ignore it? But I must say when I woke up, I felt a sense of life-enhancing joy, daily. I just felt like the old days.
Like many in the countryside, my teenage years were difficult but interesting. I have never struggled to get along with people. During my time, we were really brought up by the villagers. I was brought up around people, both women and men with strong opinions. One of the most memorable things for me was the manner in which educators conducted themselves, their methods of teaching. Teachers were part of the community, drawing on the cultural capital of the community including imiguyo, horse racing as part of extracurricular activities. They made my struggles easy.
Of course there were times I spent the night crying. I will never be able to forget the year I spent without access to tertiary education. I was a young man who had just passed his matric. I had ambitions and I found myself sitting at home. I was so depressed that I couldn’t see a way forward. I did not deserve that. All those came back to mind. But I also looked at the current situation, with a lot happening including climate change, water scarcity, developments and how the current generation socialise. Things are in the hands of young people. They seem happy with the state of affairs. Maybe they have tried and gotten tired along the way.
Booze leads – everything revolves around it.
I find it strange and bizarre that the only high school we had was closed for reasons I will never understand.
Lack of sport and recreation, football, rugby and boxing, partly shows how backward we have gone. There is no developmental improvement.
The police station is just a four-wall building with no occupants. There is not a single police officer inside. If you are lucky, you will get one who knows nothing. An easy thing like an affidavit is too difficult to obtain.
Before, the health facility used to open seven days a week. Now it is closed on weekends. Meaning, people do not get sick on weekends. Things have changed. It felt that the dawn of democracy had destroyed the little that we had.
Amagoduka (migrant workers) coming back home are not of help either. All they showed us was flashy cars, expensive whiskeys and the most expensive labels of clothes. When I left, I had only one prayer to God, to save the young people of my village and others. It will help us ukubuyela embo, go back to our roots and revive ubuntu.