Home > book, diary, Leisimane, Sotho, South Africa > Before I was Baba Mzungu

Before I was Baba Mzungu

I have not always been called Baba Mzungu – of course

When I was in South Africa, I was Leisimane, which means Englishman in Sotho, the language of the people of the same name.

While I was there in 1989, I fostered a couple of street kids, then another couple and then … etc.

And I kept a diary. All the little anecdotes about these kids from a different culture, speaking a different language. I found it interesting but to anyone else, it was just that, a diary. So I decided to change the perspective and re-wrote it from the point of view of the first of my charges, a 12 year-old Sotho boy, living in a township during the apartheid era. Obviously, my diary only covered the time that they were with me, so I had to plump it out a bit. I had a good idea about what these kids got up to when not with me, but writing about the life of a 12 year-old in the style of a 12 year-old was a challenge.

Well, here’s a taster:

Leisimane

You can never guess the consequences of a simple mistake.

A young boy is begging in a suburb of Johannesburg. He is very competent, but he suffers a slip of the tongue, a Freudian slip perhaps, when instead of asking for money to buy bread for a fictitious little sister, he instead asks for money to buy the chicken and chips he longs for.

What happens next could never have been imagined in his wildest dreams. The person he is asking is a visitor to his country, and is not yet impervious to little black kids begging. He takes pity on the child, and as a result, a whole set of events transpire, changing the lives of this boy, his family and friends, and even total strangers.

Want to know what happens? Click Here!

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