A South African Story

Essay by mezabin February 2009

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The candle burnt out as the sun rose over the African sky turning the horizon orange. I have already been up for an hour my day begins with house hold chores; my first and biggest responsibility being my younger sibling, I have to help them wash up, dress and make sure they are ready for school. Somewhere in all of this I have to ready myself for school, as well as make certain that we all have our uniform [what's left of them], clean and in orderI am a sixteen year old girl. My dad used to work in the mines until he died of aids seven years ago leaving my mother no choice but to move away in order to earn to a minimum income as a domestic worker, which put me in the position I am today.

We step out into the hustle and bustle of our township.

It's loud and busy with people shouting, music playing loudly and the buses and taxis hooting. As we walk to school, I can't help but tremble in fear of being raped by our local scoundrels who target young girls like myself.

We go to school just as the bell sounds, but it is no safe heaven for us. My classmates carry guns and knives, and there is no one to turn to for help because our teachers are just as afraid as we are. All we can do is stay out of trouble and try to concentrate on our studies as much as we can. Often it's hard to concentrate considering that we have to sit in the scorching heat on the dry sandy patch under a tree because there aren't enough classes, books or desks for us.

People say "education will set you free" but what education are they talking about. Certainly not the type of education that we receive! We can't go anywhere or do anything with this type of education. Most of us will probably follow in the footsteps of our parents and remain part of the lower class-It's a vicious cycle.

After a long day at school I round up my siblings and we make our way home across the streams and over rocky paths. "There's so much to be done before dark," I think to myself.

When I get home, I settle the children on the floor and instruct them on their homework. I begin my chores again- washing the clothes and cleaning the shack. When the children are done, they go out to play with the neighbourhood children. As people begin to return from school and work, the noise around intensifies. Traditional Zulu songs are heard in the distance as the kids play and the elderly tell tales of their old days.

After a little while my three-year old brother says to me that he is hungry. What do I do?My mother is two days late with the money for our food. All I can find is a slice of bread from last week. I split it into three and feed it to the children, leaving none for myself. As long as they are satisfied, I'm happy.

Our shack begins to darken as the sun disappears from the blue sky. I tuck the children into bed and lay out my homework. Finally under the candlelight. I begin…Bibliography:I got all the info from a story told to me by my uncle, Abu Osman.