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A Sjambok, a belt and an axe

You are fifty four years old

There are tears, still many tears

You tell your story in IsiXhosa

Your daughter interprets

Age thirteen

A belt around your neck

She pulls it tighter

She has a name


The nurturer

The protector

The safe place

With the belt around your neck

Your name comes to mind


Perfect mix between vintage and modern

A virtue from God

At an early age you were sent away

Lived with other people

Idutywa – at 10 years taken from grade four

Put into the fields herding animals

A dad left you there with his mother

No nurture here

The season ends 

Your mom allows you to live in her home

East London, Mdantsane

There is a stepfather and step siblings

One brother four sisters

Grace also means




Will anyone notice

Stepfather does

The generosity leads to his bed

You refuse, you are thirteen years old

 She encourages the action

The memories are clear and murky

She brought out the sjambok

Stepbrother brought out the sjambok

A friend of mine, she lied

The result, a belt around your neck

You run away to your aunt

You become the nanny

A wage is paid

Ten rand a day

Two months is nanny enough for you

A train takes you back to Idutywa

You are now sixteen years old, you work for a butcher

You have a boyfriend

Grace means salvation

Your 30 year old boyfriend might save you

You are pregnant

Boyfriend says come to Cape Town

This could be your happy place

Usual happy place

You have more children

2 boys, three girls

And a dagga smoking husband

An axe is involved

Police arrive

Husband shot in the leg

Prison for your husband

Discharged, asks for forgiveness

Nothing changes, courts, restraining orders

You raise five children

You know how to 



And your home is a safe place

She is still there

Your two boys and three girls understand that she is their granny

However, their guard is up

There are some serious matters to navigate

A sjambok, a belt and an axe