Where I come from, the only welcome offered by my neighbourhood was the loud banging of gunshots, and the subsequent knowledge that someone, somewhere had just lost their life.
The best thing you could do with this realization, was to be thankful that the bullet didn’t find your chest, to shut your doors and windows, and if on the rare chance that the authorities came knocking, to deny ever seeing anything.
Normally the cops would show up hours after a gun fight occurred... I guess they were just as scared as the residents living in the warzone.
Many of us knew that there was no salvation in the ghetto. We held on to this notion like some kind of universal truth, waiting to fall through the cracks, end up on drugs, have a brood of kids and meet our untimely deaths.
Peace never lasted long where I came from, not even at church - where the white washed walls were tagged with red gang signs sticking out like wounds - could you find solitude.
Yet, people still held on to their faith and attended Mass like clockwork. Even with drug merchants waiting outside the doors of the church to sell ‘candy' to kids.
Where I come from nothing good can prosper. In a community where hope never rises with the sun it becomes difficult to comprehend positivity.
I often liked to sit by my window and gaze at the dirt stained streets. To soak in the ambience: dagga permeating the air as skeletal faced youths sucked on broken bottle tops stuffed with narcotics.
This was no rare sight. Parents simply didn’t care.
You see, children as young as five were yielding guns, readily aiming at people they were trained to hate.
As in one of the warn torn African countries where child soldiers are used in battle, so it is in Hanover Park. But here the battle will never end. It is too embedded socially, economically and inherited from generation to generation that no-one knows what they are fighting anymore, just that they need to fight.
26, 27, 28.
Might sound like mere numbers to you. To us, they are ranks, status or a license to kill or be killed, depending on your association and neighborhood location.
My friends and I used to joke about the reason why gangsters speak in numbers. We decided that it was because they couldn’t spell. I am beginning to think that there was some truth to that banter.
Ignorance, lack of education and poverty tends to do that you know. Create monsters.
Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I guess the only things we see are violence, anger, frustration and spite. There is no other explanation as to why we go on living like this: In the angry not-quite-silence, venting and blaming government for the lack of change.
These blocks of flats compacted together like a picture of disease under a microscope is what will be left behind to the youth who will continue the vicious cycle.
Because, who really cares if we don’t even bother caring?
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