Autobiographical Sketch of a Storyteller

Photo Courtesy: Irina Kolomijets

As a child growing up in both urban and rural South Africa, I devoured words. My favourite subjects at school were languages.

I enjoyed listening to the sound of my people as they click the consonants (c, q, x) that are core to the Xhosa language. I looked forward to class debates, where we feigned indifference to the Queen’s accent. I felt empowered on days I received positive feedback on my Afrikaans assignments.

To say my language teachers were my role models is an understatement. I grew up confident that one day I’ll become a teacher.

Later on, I changed my mind. Because I’d watched my uncle, a teacher, slog through paperwork: preparing lessons, marking homework, grading exams, organising school trips, and so on.

But the deal breaker was to watch him go door to door asking parents of his pupils, why a child didn’t make it to school that day or week or month, and yet he couldn’t afford to buy himself an extra pair of shoes.

So, instead I opted for business school, and thereafter courted the private sector (Finance, Healthcare & IT industries) where there’s money enough to fill the bottomless pockets. Yet I wasn’t happy.

Look at me now, a writer far worse off than a teacher but I couldn’t be any happier!

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