The story of a young black man Chapter 6 - Mzansi Stories

Friday, January 15

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The story of a young black man Chapter 6

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Leeto: The story of a young black man

Samson’s embarrassing moment in class

Chapter 6

Time seened to be moving at a snail’s pace on Tuesday as compared to that of Monday—I guess it must have been because the normal school operations had commenced. At 12 o’clock, midday, the bell rang to signal lunch time. From the money that Mr Masango had paid me on Saturday, I still had about R85 left on me and so I went with Samson and Tshepang to Auntie Kedibone’s stall to go buy lunch. We went there to buy some s’phatlho. To those who are not familiar with it, s’phatlho is a famous South African fast food dish that is made from a quarter of a loaf of bread, normally white bread, and a few ingredients inside the bread, including atchaar, deep-fried chips, polony, cheese, as well as a choice between a deep-fried vienna, Russian sausage, fish or beef patty (at an extra cost, of course). There are places however that are known to include ingredients such as minced meat, fried steak, butter beans, baked beans with mayonnaise, and so on.

Tshepang and I normally took turns buying for one another because, unlike Samson, we didn’t have both parents working, who gave us R20 pocket money every single day. For some strange reason, lunch always seemed much shorter than the 45 minutes we were given—I guess it had something to do with the long queues that we waited before being served at Auntie Kedibone’s food stall. Finally, after getting hold of my s’phatlho, I devoured it in a blink of an eye as I never have breakfast in the mornings and are normally starving by lunch time. When I was done with my s’phatlho, I washed it down with a defrosted Cool Time iced-juice, which was sold on the streets of Hebron for only R2. The boys who normally sold Cool Time iced-juice advertised it as, setimamollo, which, loosely translated from Sepedi or Setswana meant, a Fire Engine or fire extinguisher. Cool Time earned its nickname from its refreshing prowess to cool down a person on a hot summer’s day.

After lunch, the bell rang and we all headed back to class. S’phatlho made one sleepy after lunch because it contained a lot of starch; white bread, deep-fried chips and the sugar from the Cool Time all made us more constipated than full, that’s why after the lunch break, half the class yawned from being sleepy. “How I wish we can get free periods for the rest of the afternoon,” I said to Tshepang, “I am too sleepy to listen to a teaching lesson now”. Tshepang looked at me, smiled and said, “Amen to that, brother”.  Hardly a minute after having wished for some break for the rest of the afternoon, in came Ma’am Sefate with Mr Nkomo, the school principal. “Good day, class”, Ma’am Sefate greeted us. “Good day, ma’am” the whole class greeted, as we stood up. As learners, from a young age, we were taught that whenever addressing a teacher or any grown up who had just entered the classroom and greeted us, we had to stand up.

“As you can see, class”, Ma’am Sefate began speak, “I am here with Mr Nkomo; we’re here to physically count how many students will be registering as matriculants for this academic year. Once we’re done with the counting, Mr Nkomo will take all your names and will be forward them, together with the subjects that you’re registering for, to the office of the regional MEC of the Department of Basic Education”. The whole class was dead silent at this stage, not because of the fact that we all feared Ma’am Sefate  for her strict conduct, but because reality had just checked in—that matric year had just officially begun—even to the biggest denialist of our class, the playful Mr Samson Padi.

“Okay class”, Mr Nkomo began to speak, “as your class teacher has already said, my duty here is to record the number of all learners who will be enrolled for this academic year as matric learners of Hebron Technical and Commercial High School. Bear in mind though that your name in my list does not guarantee you a seat in the final national matric examinations; you all have roles to play in ensuring that. Your roles will include, attending all your academic activities (even if it’s on weekends when your teachers requests for you to), respecting your teachers, and staying as far away as possible from criminal activities during school hours, after school hours and on weekends, is that understood?” “Yes sir”, the whole class responded in a uniformed voice. “Okay then”, Mr Nkomo continued, pointing to the learner sitting on the first desk on the first row of our class, “Let us begin with you, young lady, shall we!”  “My name is…”, the first learner began to speak however was interrupted by Mr Nkomo before she could even finish introducing herself, “Oh, and please class, refrain from laughing at one another’s middle names; I know some of them can and will obviously be funny”, Mr Nkomo warned, in a playful voice and a naughty smile on his face. The whole class burst out laughing except for the ever-serious Ma’am Sefate.

“My name is Pricilla Lindiwe Mngomezulu”, the first learner finally introduced herself. Whilst learner after learner introduced themselves, Tshepang and I couldn’t help ourselves but laugh everytime we looked at Samson. No one else in the school, except for me and Tshepang, knew what Samson’s middle name was. Of course, he didn’t tell it to us personally; we once saw it in his house when he forgot to remove a photocopy of his ID on his bed. We had used it against him ever since whenever he started getting on our nerves, threatening to tell the whole Erasmus and school who his name was. This was the only way we could control the ‘sometimes uncontrollable’ Samson. Today was definitely D-Day for Samson and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to talk himself out of this one. Even if he had asked to go to the boys’ restrooms, he would still have to state his full name before the whole class when he got back.
“Ben Kgaka Moloi”; “Gladys Mmatjie Selepe”; Bongani Glycerine Mavuso”, and so learners went on and on, introducing themselves. Finally, our turn arrived, “Harold Leeto Marumo”, I said, sitting down thereafter. “Tshepang Sebastian Lehabe”, Tshepang introduced himself, looking rather a little embarrassed himself with his middle name. Then the big moment came; the moment Samson had to introduce himself and for the whole class to hear. Samson stood up and faked a hoarse voice, claiming that he was coming up with flu that severely affected his vocal cords. The whole class began to laugh because we all knew he was lying as his voice had been normal twenty minutes earlier. Ma’am Sefate angrily snapped at him and said, “PADI, THIS IS NEITHER THE TIME NOR THE PLACE TO BE PLAYING YOUR FOOLISH GAMES; GIVE US YOUR NAME NOW!” “Okay ma’am”, replied Samson, with his voice back to normal now, “Eh, Samson, Samson Kolobjana Padi”. The whole class burst out laughing, this time including Ma’am Sefate herself. As for Mr Nkomo, who naturally had a sense of humour, he was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down his cheeks.
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