It is better to die while trying in your own backyard

The other day, I had seen Operation Dudula members run amok ransacking foreign-owned spaza shops.

If only I had waited a bit longer, this could not have happened.

The problem is I did not wait.

Now a whole bunch of trouble tumbled down heavily upon me like a tonne of bricks.

On the other hand, the minute  I left my hiding place, a heavy downpour of rain came. The rain was so violent that it shook and uprooted some trees.

The wind howled and birds squeaked in fright, their shelter destroyed.

Either way, it was a lost cause, the rains were going to drive me away anyway.

Within a few seconds I was soaked to the marrow.

One of my friends had betrayed me and the other foreigners from mainland Africa. I had been hiding for the past two days.

 They were hunting me like a wild animal. I was moving from place to place and avoiding public places.

All this happened while I was working in a small town,  Blomhoef in particular, in the North West Province of South Africa.

The previous day as I came from my night shift, I saw a group of bloodthirsty young people shouting “Kill all the Kwerekweres.”

The other day, I had seen Operation Dudula members run amok ransacking foreign-owned spaza shops.

That should have been enough warning for me and the other foreigners. I even noticed  elderly women looting groceries.

Some were even involved  in scuffles as they fought for the groceries among themselves. 

Children as young as ten years old were spitting hatred  from their mouths against the foreigners.

After witnessing this, it dawned on me that xenophobia would never fade away easily as it was being passed from generation to generation.

The Somali who operated a spaza shop next to our rented RDP house was chased down the street by a demented mob.

As he reached the end of Thusano Street, he  lost his balance.

What only saved his skin was  his landlord who  commanded some respect in  the small community but not before he received a deep knife cut on his left cheek.

My late father had once told me not trust anyone. I remember his words succinctly.

“Your greatest enemy is always within, never look too far for your enemies. The enemy is always within your cycle of friends and relatives and if you are able to detect that, then you can maneuver and live long.”

This advice had been proven true in the past.

The lightning only struck once but that bolt lit the sky like a huge ball of fire. I instantly saw my tormentors as they were advancing blindly towards me.

I had no defence against the forces of nature. The bolt of lightning struck a tree which was about thirty metres away from me.

I almost jumped out of my skin in terror.

 It was a flash flood and if you have lived in the North West Province, some towns have poor drainage and it only takes a few seconds for the streets to be impassable.

I suddenly went down in the mud. And very soon it was going to be dark.

To this day I have always thought that the heavy downpour saved me from the fate that was awaiting  me. 

That bolt of lightning sent my tormentors tearing away in terror for cover.

A group of schoolboys had been after my skin for the past two days.

The other day they had apprehended one of my friends, Itumeleng who had given them a list of names and addresses of the other foreigners thinking it would  save his own skin.

 They left him half dead anyway after robbing him of his money, android phone and clothes.

I made desperate attempts to get hold of Kojo, a friend from Ghana but his phone cut off before I could even utter a word.

He had run for safety to Taung, the next town to us, where there was relative peace at the time. 

His marriage to a South African Xhosa woman  was not even enough to save his life.

I knew like the other foreigners that Operation Dudula was also a scapegoat to loot foreign-owned spaza shops and once all the foreign owned shops had been ransacked, sanity would prevail.

This happened yearly and the consequences for the foreigner were unimaginable horror.

I thought hard and deep about going back home to my motherland.

The untenable situation was like, “fire burning both the stomach and the back.”

Sometimes it is better to die while trying in your own backyard.

Onie Ndoro is a an IELTS tutor, ghostwriter and storyteller. For feedback:  Twitter@Onie90396982/email:[email protected] 0773007173

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