Dashiki Dialogues – Daylight robbery is a twilight zone

2011-11-18 08:16

In the land of the fallen Rand and racist slurs, being robbed functions like a rite of passage, a wake-up call to South Africa’s wounds. A sobering up to other people’s lack of bread.

It’s the definitive encounter where you find yourself at the mercy of an ugly stranger. You are either reintroduced to loving life, at least if you carry a propensity for hope or surrender to despair and defeat – maybe even move to Australia.

However, whatever you do when your ticket is up on the street, don’t be stupid. Your life might depend on it. So this here is a daylight robbery.

It’s that gut-wrenching swear-at-your-mother type of altercation that ends with you losing your hard-earned stuff.

Where I’m from, mugging normally begins with a flashy watch and a new pair of sneakers in the wrong part of the neighbourhood.

It is especially under the secure glare and heat of a summer’s day that sunglasses and a loud twang will get you noticed by hungry human hyenas.

Having spotted you, these thugs watch you with cunning, study your every move until you wonder off into a lonesome stretch of the road or a quiet passage.

After mastering a stealthy pursuit and assured of your vulnerability, they pounce: “Heita boss!” is the first phrase offered to test your strength and disarm you.

The level of aggression that follows is always proportional to how you react – responding to the question will have slowed you down. Then you’ll come face to face with the glazed and sparkling reptile eyes of a thug.

His chapped lips tightened around his brown and yellow stumps of teeth. He wears dirty Converse sneakers and a tattered old golf shirt to contrast the new gear that got you in this situation.

You notice beads of sweat marking his greasy skin and his hands reaching out like claws towards you. “Voetsek! What are you looking at, bring that wallet and phone,” he barks with stinking spit splattering in your face.

You’re being had! So you dig into your pockets to find something by which you may buy back your peace, but there’s nothing there. Not a cent.

So now you’re twice in trouble. The man will punish you for not having a thing for him. So your body starts to shake, your heartbeat is quickened. What are you to do?

Here is where timid folk’s eyes begin to swell with the promise of tears. But, by reflex something holds them back, because to cry is to fail, to not survive. How do you wear a proud dashiki when you leave this mortal dialogue with tears in your eyes?

» I’m on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu 

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