Lower Crossroads, what’s in a name

2017-07-06 06:01

I was once asked a question that for reasons I cannot remember, has come back to haunt me.

The mordancies of life, they say.

Could have been because I was minding some other business in my usual joint.

But it was during some idle talk with a woman when she suddenly blurted: “Lunga, but why did they name this place Lower Crossroads and not Higher Crossroads. Is this not the source of our troubles?”

Like a bolt from Thor the morse god of thunder she had struck me.

After I had recovered, I was wise enough to sidestep the question with some loquacious banter. Or so I thought.

I even managed to let her in on her life story as a resident of the area.

Empathy seemed to consume my conscience, for, as a long time resident, I was in on the reminisce.

We were in embrace bemoaning the ills that have come to define our beloved Kasi.

But events that unfold, one after the other in recent times would not let me.

Although I do not like it this way, I will be the first to admit that the reputation of this township is in tatters. Crime is unabating.

Last week’s gunning down of a DA councillor outside his office is a case in point.

My mind raced back to that pertinent question many moons ago.

Do our woes lie in the name? One account of the incident of the death of the councillor is that the killer brazenly walked to him, and Bam!, sniffed out his life.

It is difficult to ascertain if this was a criminal or politically motivated act, but the fact remains that it should not be happening in a normal community and a normal society.

Imagine the kids playing in the street and saw it all happening, and the trauma of the impact on their lives.

Those of us who are older will tell you that such things no longer take anyone by surprise.

The young carry weapons at all hours of the day. Innocent people are robbed and killed on their way to work. Burglaries are the order of the day (or is it night?).

Gunshots are the bread and butter. You are left to wonder if the ‘Low’ in Lower Crossroads is not the cause of all our trouble, which, in turn leaves the youth with a ‘low’ expectation of their choices.

What about the ‘low’ morals in young girls, especially on weekends.

Preps it is the ‘low’ living conditions of the community that drives them insane.

Are eternally doomed to our fate? The word on most lips is that the place is cursed.

“ A dangerous place” is the tag by which seemingly wretched place goes by.

“Yhu, iLower,” goes the refrain whenever you introduce yourself to a stranger.

Even inviting people for a visit to ‘Lower Crossroads’ elicits a somewhat scary response.

It is the stigma attached to the place. Is it really in the name, though?

Perhaps this has its roots in the fact that the township was born from the strife of Old Crossroads in the mid to late 90s.

In 1991, Lower Crossroads was established as a transit camp, and it was in 1993 that a community within this community – Barcelona – was established. The rest of the surrounding land was soon occupied, and suddenly you had a people from different walks of life living together in (dis)harmony.

It seemed the challenges of the past had been dealt with, and folk now had a place to call their own.

It’s now history that the first landmark of note was the police station.

Then a primary school to accommodate learners who had been using the containers in Block 1 as classrooms (known as Emabhodlweni).

Then the clinic and the library followed. Life was good, then?

Everyone seemed happy since the locals were spared the arduous journey of moving to Khayelitsha, as the latter was considered too far from the working places in ‘town’.

Over time, however, the face of Lower Crossroads changed. For the better or worse. Or is it vir botter of wors.

It became the breeding ground for notorious of criminals of note in the province.

Some went to the slammer, while others met their violent fate. But one would have thought that the township would have seen more progress than has been made. That most of the youth would have grabbed the opportunity to make their mark and thus put their Kasi on the map of righteousnesses.

Once, even the dilapidated local football stadium gave a flicker of hope to hopeless youngsters.

Perhaps a name change should be considered as a mean to raise the esteem of the locals. Who knows.

I was once asked a question that for reasons I cannot remember, has come back to haunt me.

The mordancies of life, they say.

Could have been because I was minding some other business in my usual joint.

But it was during some idle talk with a woman when she suddenly blurted: “Lunga, but why did they name this place Lower Crossroads and not Higher Crossroads. Is this not the source of our troubles?”

Like a bolt from Thor the morse god of thunder she had struck me.

After I had recovered, I was wise enough to sidestep the question with some loquacious banter. Or so I thought.

I even managed to let her in on her life story as a resident of the area.

Empathy seemed to consume my conscience, for, as a long time resident, I was in on the reminisce.

We were in embrace bemoaning the ills that have come to define our beloved Kasi.

But events that unfold, one after the other in recent times would not let me.

Although I do not like it this way, I will be the first to admit that the reputation of this township is in tatters. Crime is unabating.

Last week’s gunning down of a DA councillor outside his office is a case in point.

My mind raced back to that pertinent question many moons ago.

Do our woes lie in the name? One account of the incident of the death of the councillor is that the killer brazenly walked to him, and Bam!, sniffed out his life.

It is difficult to ascertain if this was a criminal or politically motivated act, but the fact remains that it should not be happening in a normal community and a normal society.

Imagine the kids playing in the street and saw it all happening, and the trauma of the impact on their lives.

Those of us who are older will tell you that such things no longer take anyone by surprise.

The young carry weapons at all hours of the day. Innocent people are robbed and killed on their way to work. Burglaries are the order of the day (or is it night?).

Gunshots are the bread and butter. You are left to wonder if the ‘Low’ in Lower Crossroads is not the cause of all our trouble, which, in turn leaves the youth with a ‘low’ expectation of their choices.

What about the ‘low’ morals in young girls, especially on weekends.

Preps it is the ‘low’ living conditions of the community that drives them insane.

Are eternally doomed to our fate? The word on most lips is that the place is cursed.

“ A dangerous place” is the tag by which seemingly wretched place goes by.

“Yhu, iLower,” goes the refrain whenever you introduce yourself to a stranger.

Even inviting people for a visit to ‘Lower Crossroads’ elicits a somewhat scary response.

It is the stigma attached to the place. Is it really in the name, though?

Perhaps this has its roots in the fact that the township was born from the strife of Old Crossroads in the mid to late 90s.

In 1991, Lower Crossroads was established as a transit camp, and it was in 1993 that a community within this community – Barcelona – was established. The rest of the surrounding land was soon occupied, and suddenly you had a people from different walks of life living together in (dis)harmony.

It seemed the challenges of the past had been dealt with, and folk now had a place to call their own.

It’s now history that the first landmark of note was the police station.

Then a primary school to accommodate learners who had been using the containers in Block 1 as classrooms (known as Emabhodlweni).

Then the clinic and the library followed. Life was good, then?

Everyone seemed happy since the locals were spared the arduous journey of moving to Khayelitsha, as the latter was considered too far from the working places in ‘town’.

Over time, however, the face of Lower Crossroads changed. For the better or worse. Or is it vir botter of wors.

It became the breeding ground for notorious of criminals of note in the province.

Some went to the slammer, while others met their violent fate. But one would have thought that the township would have seen more progress than has been made. That most of the youth would have grabbed the opportunity to make their mark and thus put their Kasi on the map of righteousnesses.

Once, even the dilapidated local football stadium gave a flicker of hope to hopeless youngsters.

Perhaps a name change should be considered as a mean to raise the esteem of the locals. Who knows.

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