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Johannesburg Stories:


It seemed like any other normal morning in our home in Bellevue East when the alarm clock woke me up to start my day. As usual my younger brother irritated me with his slowness, by taking a long and sensual bath as if he was about to meet with the Queen of England. So I banged on the bathroom door shouting at him to get out “because we are going to be late”. Don’t worry reader, this is an everyday routine. We both actually love it, and it must be how we all form our best memories of the ones we love. My turn eventually came and I showered and got dressed and we went out together to catch a taxi to our work in Sandton.

Usually we took the taxi right outside our gate, but that morning my younger brother insisted we walk to Hillbrow instead. I refused until he reminded me that this was the time of the month when we could do with saving on taxi fare. We must have walked something like 30 minutes, (which felt like 3 hours at that rushed time of the morning), crossing endless streets until we reached a park in Hillbrow that we usually cross on our way to the taxi rank. We entered the park still chatting about our dreams and plans for the day ahead. Suddenly, I had two guns pressed against my head and three voices shouting that I should hand over my cell phone. I felt light and scared, and pumping with fear and adrenalin. I looked up and there stood three very mean and angry looking young men, their faces contorted with aggression and hot anger. I lied and I said, “I do not have a cellphone”.

And then, I heard a voice shouting:”Hey bafethu ngizoyidubula lenja” (hey guys I’m going to shoot this dog). Obviously they had noticed something that I hadn’t because all their eyes where looking down on my pocket pants and I looked down and there it was nicely shaped through my formal pants lit up and vibrating with a message. I remember making a mental note of what a sell-out my bloody pants and my phone were. I usually make sure that I put my phone on vibrate and inside my backpack en route to work, because I never want to attract this kind of trouble. But, on this unfaithful day that thought must have taken a break!

I couldn’t think. My mind froze and I couldn’t hear anything. My senses must have switched off until I was brought back to the park by the screams of my younger brother shouting to me that I should please give them the phone before they kill us. I slowly reached for my pocket and took out an old Nokia 3310 and handed it over. Would you believe, they said: “Foetsek, hamba lenja elambile ne 3310” (Go you hungry dog with a 3310). I saw disappointment in their eyes and we moved off towards the taxi rank faster than lightning, and before they changed their minds.

Believe me, I’m a black man but I became very pale during those few minutes. The taxi to work drove past the same block where I had just been robbed, and there were those three rascals still standing there, and waiting, I am sure, for another victim. I felt faint and cold, and robbed too of my early morning good spirits. An inner voice said: “Welcome to reality, had you forgotten that this is Jozi?” I continued with these mixed and unhappy thoughts on my way to work.

By Sithembiso Mngadi

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I’m Patience Lukeso. A Sir, and from The Democratic Republic of Congo. I was raised and educated in French; from my family environment, to my primary school and right through my tertiary education. I didn’t know much English before I moved to South Africa, and this did not make my first contact with South African people very easy. French and English belong to different linguistic roots: the former originates in the romano-latine family, while the latter has a germanic root. However both share many common sounding words, which unfortunately do not have the same meaning. For instance one can easily believe that the word “eventually” might mean something like the French word “envisageable”, which means “possible”, while it actually means “what comes finally and at the end “.

It was in such a context that I misunderstood the words “Bookkeeping”. In French, it literally means “The action of taking care of books”, where the role and the expertise of a librarian are called for. Soon after coming to live in Johannesburg, I saw an advertisement in a newspaper where a company was advertising a bookkeeper’s post. I immediately became excited, thinking about my previous experience as a librarian in Kinshasa, and ran to the cyber cafe on my block to apply for the job by sending in my CV and qualifications as requested. I only realised my mistake when chatting to a friend about the fact that I had received no response. I’ve got no Bookkeeping or Accounting background or qualifications. And, of course I learned the meaning of “Bookkeeping” in English. It has nothing to do with librarianship or reading of books ! And so one of my earliest Johannesburg experiences and lessons in a sense was that when you reach a new community of people and want to move in the same direction as them, language represents one of the most important and early points of access. In so many ways.

By Patience Lukeso

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that isn’t everything, you said
on the afternoon i brought a poem
to you hunched over the washtub
with your hands
the shrivelled
burnt grenadilla skin
your hands covered by foam

and my words slid like a ball
of hard blue soap
into the tub
to be grabbed and used by you
to rub the clothes

a poem isn’t all
there is to life, you said
with your blue-ringed gaze
scanning the page
once looking over my shoulder
and my back at the immediate
dirty water

and my words
being clenched
became smaller and

By Abraham Sibanda

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Girls are like computers
If you press the wrong button
You get the wrong answer.

By Nandi Ngwenya


I Miss the Old Zimbabwe
The day of annual celebration
Hardly earned
The day, which everyone valued
The day of our independence
Now a day of dependence

The once African Switzerland
Now Africa’s Bitterland
Bolts daily tightened
Oppressive laws promulgated
Stability is history

Bankers’ smiles fade daily
Farmers’ smiles whittle daily
Politicians once men of their words
Now men of their swords

His speech was kind of holy
Blasphemous it is now
Education was affordable
Health services were for free
A source of pride Zim colours were

Death of a minister was a lose
Now its worthy celebrating
All is history now
Leaving hurting and haunting memories
I miss the real Zimbabwe

By Mike Makanyisa Shava

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Dreams and Fears


who knows what will happen to me after the world cup? am i going to be chased away like a dog because of my nationality? or worse, am i going to be killed? history has a tendency of repeating itself and this is a well known thing. just a couple of weeks back people gathered in celebration of the africa day. all we could see on that day were smiles and excitment. from a myopic view, one would say there is unity and peace in the african countries. but is it really the case? do we love one another? i dont know, maybe i am just afraid.

By Malvin


I don’t like her, there’s just something about her that I don’t like. She thinks she’s all that and she’s not. Doesn’t this sound familiar? 

It’s such a pity that girls fight over the most useless things. I have learnt that girls are so threatened by other girls. We’re always rating each other on who’s the prettiest, most intelligent and popular with the boys and the girl with all these qualities is seen as not giving other girls a chance to shine.

I attend an all-girls high school and there’s so much tension between some of the girls. In my experience, girls are always competing with each other. Competition can be healthy but there’s times when it’s turned into a dangerous competition. I must admit I adore guys’ friendship a lot because they always have each others backs. For instance, if a guy asks his friend to cover up for him because his out with another girl. He knows for sure that his boys will have his back. But girls on the other hand, are always ready to sell each other out.

Once I had a best friend who I thought would be my best friend forever. Who shared the same goals and dreams as me. Just to find out she would gossip about me with my classmates. I will just never understand the hatered we have amongst one another. You even get to find the most beautifull girl in the school trying to bring down the nerdy laid back ones.

Where’s this tension between us coming from? Our relationship is meant to be like sisterhood.

Sisters should learn to be more comfortable with themselves inorder for them to be able to be comfortable around other sisters. How can we even talk about gender equality when we’re fighting each other? But you know what they say: not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until its faced.

By Andile Biyana

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Ridin’ high
sup y’all i be yo’ boy jemal boy williams, i stayin’ in yeoville ma birdcity.
peoplez have big dreams, dey all wanna stay in dem fancy cribs and all that stuff dat gliters, but i beg to differ, i ain’t like dem other peoplez, not that im tryna isolate ma self but im tryna be ma self.
My dream is to be seen as an epitome, i want peoplez from ma hood to epitomize me, i wanna be seein’ as an inspiritaiton to dem young dudez, not in a bad manner but mo’ on that tip of gettin cheese,
i wanna make music that relates to people who contemplate like me, so i can share what i have
with em, music is a powerful tool i can utilise to heal tha nation, i can make tha nation go outta control, i can make party peoplez drop to tha floor, i believe i was born for this rap thang!!!!!
To me rap music is not about fame but how i can impact peoplez lives, i believe that everybody feels that God created em for a special purpose, so ma feelin’ is very deep, i know im finna be tha best at what i do coz i do it from tha bottom of ma heart…

By Jemal Williams

Childhood Memories


My very first memory is all about colour and texture and smell. It is still with me 25 years later as powerfully as it was when I experienced it. I think I must have been 2 and half years old and I remember vividly sitting alongside my big father in his old green toyota and driving to the hospital to visit my mother and my new baby sister. My father smelt of his Old Spice aftershave and the last puff of his cigarette before he got into the car. My little feet didn’t quite reach the edge of the seat and I remember my white lacy edged short socks and my red and white sandals. I was holding a bottle of orange juice and a pink wrapped tin of biscuits very tightly to my chest. They must have been gifts we were taking to my mother. I cant remember anything about the hospital, my mother or my first view of my little sister, but I have always remembered my impressions of the journey …

By Dineo

Love Story


Sometimes late at night, l lie awake and think of you, and you are lost in peaceful dreams. So l turn off the light and lie there in the dark then the thought crosses my mind “if l never wake up in the morning would you know the way I feel about you in your heart?”

If tomorrow never comes, would you know how much l loved you? Have l tried in every possible way to show that you are the only one? If my time on earth where through and you must face this world without me, will the love l gave you in the past be enough to last?


I have lost loved ones in life. They never knew how much l loved them now l live with regret because my true feelings for them were never revealed. So l made a promise to myself to say each day how much you mean to me and avoid circumstances where there is no turning back or a second chance to tell you that l love you.

I loved you way back, I love you presently and I will always love you in the future.

By Norma-Jean Nobuhle Khupe

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Dry your eyes lady
lest you impair your vision
Take a closer look,the world is misty
Roll your ball
As you set your goals

Cry out your fears
Squeeze out your tears
Don’t mind who hears
For you I am here

Don’t blame your choice
I’m only human
Mouth full of saliva
Words slip off the tongue

Don’t pretend lady
Show it out
Say it out
Or i will shout

With no communication
Love becomes a guessing game
Stress with vision
Don’t hate love
Hate the lover

Definitely you need a man
Don’t call loneliness freedom
Dry your eyes lady
I’m right next to you

By Mike Makanyisa Shava

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My Story


I have been living in South-Africa for quite a long time now. I left my country, which is the Democratic Republic of Congo, specially because of the social and political atmosphere on the ground, and also because of that lack of proper economic infrastructures.

Upon my arrival in South-Africa it was not that easy to survive even though having with my French honors degree and all the pride behind. The first challenges were to know the language of the community around in order to communicate with the people around me and get socialized. Also in order to get a job I was obliged to learn computer literacy as a compulsory coping tool for any working place around the country. So, I decided to take these challenges for almost one and half year, and I managed. With those benefits I got more and more involved in the community, making friends with people from different background and nationalities, I ended up getting a job and being able to deal with challenges. I was then able to bring my wife to South-Africa and build our own family; today we have two children.

My advice to new comers is to urge them to have a good attitude to life despite all the challenges they could face along the way. They should not keep themselves away from the community around them, they should socialized and consider themselves as part of the community by means of love and tolerance towards one another. By doing so South-Africa could be one of the best places in the world to live in. This leads me to remember André Malraux who says that all the people around the world are equal, it is only culture that makes them different: now we know that culture is dynamic and can accommodate everybody’s practices and beliefs to build a safe and peaceful social living space for everyone.

Let all the glory be to God.

By Frank Assimbo

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My name is Elthon Daniel Ayurambi. I am from DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), the city of Kinshasa and was born on the 23 July. I came to South Africa as a baby and I grew up here. I did my primary in Yeoville Community School and now I am in Highlands North Boys High School doing grade 10. My subjects are Maths,English,Afrikaans,Life Orientation, Physical Science, Engeneering Graphics and Design and Civil Technology. As a teen I’ve always dreamt to be an Aeronotical Engineer (Aeroplane construction) or automobile engineering. I play basketball and my wish is to get a sponsor one day, that will help me pay and continue further with my studies.
I am a boy that always thinks about the future and not the present, because whatever seed I sow in the present will be what I will saw in the future.
I am Elthon Daniel Ayurambi and I am a thinking ahead boy.
here are my personal details:

By Elthon Daniel