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; core to the Xhosa language. I looked forward to class debates, where we feigned indifference to the Queen’s accent. I felt empowered with 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.

At some point, I changed my mind. Because I’d watched my uncle, a teacher, slog through paperwork. Preparing lessons, marking homework, grading exams, organizing school trips were some of the activities that filled his days.

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

So, 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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