Friday, October 23, 2015

2001 - 2003: No Longer the Baby Lion?

Secondary school birthed new challenges which I had to conquer. First, it was the senior pupils treating us like dirt then mean classmates who annoyed me. I hid my annoyance pretty well as one had to avoid showing signs of weakness. The weakest link was always the easy target so I was not interested in being that person everyone picked on.

Grade 8 was overcrowded with Yizo Yizo wannabes and YOTV fanatics. Yizo Yizo wannabes were mostly those who were finding themselves while the YOTV kids were often perceived smart as if they were not finding themselves too. Not that they were not but back then I (yeah, I was one too) hated being referred to as 'smart'. The future looked bright, it appeared not for everyone as some pupils dropped out in the middle of the year due to various reasons and it became very clear to me how it was going to be at a grown-ups school. I was 13 and knew very little of the world majority of my classmates lived in. I guess because most of my classmates were older than me and I would like to believe were already doing adult things. Not that I wasn’t but tjees they were already in and it showed. Anyway, those who didn’t drop out continued and progressed to the next grade. I was part of that pack. Teenage pregnancy was one of the reasons. It did not make that much sense to me at all. How do you do that to your future? Why?

I do not want to sound ungrateful, but our school was not the best-equipped school nor the best organized. We went with the flow and somehow managed. To paint a picture – imagine a school with just one block with four classes housing grade 8's to 10's plus a staff room/office? Clear enough? Wait, add lessons that aren’t really timely allocated nor calendared? Sounds shocking if you weren’t village schooled but that was my reality and hundreds of other learners. We simply focused on our school work rather than the ills.

Our Sepedi teacher in the middle of my Grade 9 year asked us to come up with a drama team. I never said no to such things so the group was formed and rehearsal times arranged in the same week. We were told that the group would be performing at the then I AM AN AFRICAN competition in two weeks, but we first had to perform to our school mates before the debut at the event. No scriptwriter, no director, and no costumes. Out of the blue, I was given a lead. I played a character named Ntjawedi (some people still call me that) and became the talk of the village before even the event debut. I must admit it felt so good. I AM AN AFRICAN competition was to encourage us to own our cultures. It was a good initiative. Unfortunately, we did not win but came second.

Throughout my 3 secondary school years, I held what I call leader positions from Class Prefect to SRC Secretary. I also produced good grades. In those years soccer, school and various television programmes defined me. Everyone close to me knew where I was at any time.
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