My inspiring childhood Ghetto experiences


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PICTURE this, a nine-year old boy is sitting at a street corner selling freezits on a hot October day.

That was me, more than 20 years ago and the township was Mabvuku, nestled on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, in our motherland, Africa.

You could say I was born a hustler but that would not be true.

A more accurate statement would be that there are lessons that the Ghetto quickly teaches you, even at that tender age.

Staying in the Ghetto itself testified to the fact that your parents belonged to a lower income bracket.

We weren’t exactly poor neither were we rich, let me just say we were making ends meet.

So my mom used to buy some cool drinks in plastic bags for resale. She then asked our neighbours to freeze them in their fridges and then most days after school I would hit the street selling them.

I loved the streets, well, every child my age did anyway, because back then all your entertainment came from the street.

You quickly learnt some negotiating skills to get by in the hustle and bustle of the street and some street lingo too.

I remember clearly this girl who had a bigger body than me and my friends. I will not exactly call her a bully but let’s just say she had her way with us most of the time.

Oh, who am I kidding, she was a bully alright, a huge one for that matter. So whenever she passed by my usual selling spot, I always ended up going home one freezit short and had a hard time explaining what had happened to my mother.

Which boy in his right mind would tell his mom that he was being bullied by a girl. By the time I left for the United States about four years later, I had turned my old foe into a friend and the freezit count was now fair and square with my mum.

How I managed to do it is a tale for another day. The other lesson I learnt on the street was that of sharing.

If a parent managed to buy his child a bike, once the lad took it to the road, it was everyone’s bicycle.

We would take turns to ride it up and down the streets and of course, the owner of the bike got to get free candy from all of us, let’s just say to sweeten the deal.

Years later when I aced my Grade Seven exams and left for boarding school to do my Form One, I really missed my pals from Mabvuku and looked forward to the holidays when I would team up with them once again.

Now years later, with the benefit of hindsight of course, I look back with nostalgia at my formative years.

If I had to do it all over again, guess what, I would pick the Ghetto, I would go back to little known Mabvuku.

Why? Because in the struggles and triumphs, tears and smiles of the street, my character was being moulded.

Working for a huge corporation like Deloitte now, I see myself as a role model for every nine-year old child in the not-so-nice corners of this world.

If I survived the streets, you too can make it.

Never allow anybody to tell you that where you are right now is an indication of where you are going to end up in life.

No matter how many times you fall, pick yourself up little sister, straighten up your shoulders, look straight ahead and reach for the stars.

More often than not, the only thing that separates those that make it and those that do not, is the ability of those that fall to rise up again a thousand times and believe that the next step is the right one.

You may need to exchange your sweets for a bicycle ride, sit by the corner of a road marketing your merchandise, but by God, you will reach your dreams and touch your destiny.

In any case what have you got to lose anyway. So just go for it.

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