Narrative WritingReflections

I am a Tembisan

Author owes his being to the sprawling township of Tembisa.

I owe my being to the informal settlement of Madelakufa, the forever congested mall called Phumulani, the valleys of Mayibuye and Phomolong, the ever-flowing sewage rivers of Winnie Mandela Settlement and the overcrowded taxi ranks and shops that define the face of our kasi.

My body has frozen in my untidy and poorly built shack in the dusty area of Maokeng where I stayed before I moved to Khalambazo, a shack that was built with rusty metals that were criminally collected from an illegal scrap-yard in Isithama by nyaope boys.

My confidence grows everyday as I walk to Swazi Inn to buy spinach and tomatoes harvested from an open garden, which is freely watered by a burst sewage pipe in Kanana.

In times of sorrow and fear, I run to Oakmoor Train Station to hide from people I owe money and clothes that I borrowed when I attended a stokvel event in Makhulong last year.

The crack in the roof of my stinking shack, caused by heartless and disrespectful big rats that look like cats in Temong, has been the cause of my misery as I struggle to sleep whenever rains and strong winds probe my ailing compound.

I am the party animal who dances his lungs out at Caprivi, Sky Lab and Las Vegas without worrying about the illegal dumping site in Leboeng.

In my veins courses the blood of the scary unkempt fish with big brown eyes that is sold in Kopanong, a fish harvested from the dirty river next to the bridge in Ivory Park Extension 7.

I am the former tenant of Lindokuhle Section, who used to pay rent in the afternoon only to rob my mastandi in the middle of the night when everyone else was asleep.

I am the grandchild of the fearless men and women who established the Themba Khosa Informal Settlement and built the double-storey shack that you see on your way to Busy Corner.

My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed by the victories that are the jewels in Sangweni Taxi Rank, the victories I earned while selling Cool Time and Mayo to motorists and passersby at Tswelopele.


I am the child of the Vusimuzi Section, who is always the first on the queue to buy chicken heads and feet at the corner next to Nyama King robots, and has also been taught to open my mouth and smile at strangers, the same way I do when I go to Rabasotho Police Station to certify my documents.

Being part of all these experiences, and in the knowledge that none dares contest these assertions, I shall claim that: I am Malphia Honwane and I am a true Tembisan.


Malphia Honwane is an author and communication specialist. For more information on how to get yourself copies of his literary works contact Malphia Safetybelt Honwane via Facebook.
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