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!NEW BOOK ALERT!

I am excited to announce that I will be self-publishing a book called “Sun Dried Tears” soon.

I am excited to announce that I will be self-publishing a book called “Sun Dried Tears” soon. I know I can count on your support to buy this book and go on a fictional journey with me. This is my first book so the milestone is a big one for me. I will keep you all updated on when my launch date is.

Here is a sneak peak:

Our Secrets

The question caught me off guard. I turned away from Nathaniel to hide the shame in my eyes. He quickly sensed
the change in my demeanor and rephrased his question.

“I mean, we don’t have to talk
about it but I just wanted to know the first time you were with another guy.”

The sun was descending into the horizon creating hues of orange, purples and yellows. The light cocooned us in a romantic moment and nothing could have been more perfect. I sat with Nate on the veranda, drinking wine and reminiscing about the past. Before us were hectares of lush grapevines. We were celebrating our first year together at a bed and breakfast in Stellenbosch. The conversation had turned to past lovers and I was comfortable with that. In my youth, I had been around the block. I was currently with the man of my dreams and I was content with opening myself up to him.

“So who was your first?”

The question caught me off guard. I turned away from Nathaniel to hide the shame in my eyes. He quickly sensed the change in my demeanour and rephrased his question.

“I mean, we don’t have to talk about it but I just wanted to know the first time you were with another guy.”

I looked up at him with honest eyes and he saw the awkwardness of my past. I could almost smell the air of my home village. Involuntarily, I curled my toes as if to feel the firmness of the earth beneath me.

“Mr. Katembe,” I began, “he was…” I fell silent.

I had never told anyone. I had never spoken of how I became a sexually active. I didn’t like to think about it. When I was younger, I had thought it was what happened to all boys my age. Those were the fruits of naivety. But looking into Nate’s eyes, I knew it was time to unburden myself. I began telling him the story of my sexuality.

The town is bare and the ground is hard; the scarcity of vegetation creates an illusion of infertility. No tree or weed grows out of this barren land so animal life has long since wondered off in search for lush lands. One would never imagine a place such as this can sustain life. The only signs of human existence are the unplastered structures that decorate the town centre. Camouflaged on the outskirts of this settlement are little mud huts. This is the rural town of Subino in the Southern district of Botswana. Most families are large and have far too many children to be able to give each one any special attention. That is where I come from.

~~~~~~~~~~

I come from a home lead by a misogynistic, drunken father and a strict, religious mother. I have eight brothers and sisters, I am the sixth child. As long as you didn’t kill yourself or each other, my parents really didn’t pay us any mind; they were too busy making ends meet. Papa used to work in the mines until he was severely hurt during his employment. That’s when Mama started praying. He spent the rest of his days as a part-time construction worker and a full-time drunk. Mama was the only stable source of income because she worked for a rich white family fifty kilometres away. She became the breadwinner and Papa resented her deeply for doing his job so well. Papa drank heavily and Mama prayed even more. I’m sure she loved all nine of us but she was too stressed and overworked to show it. My siblings and I learnt to show each other the love we craved from our parents so I can’t really say I had a bad upbringing. For Subino, I think I grew up quite well.

It began when I was sixteen years old. I was enrolled at the Subino Community Junior Secondary School and I excelled at English and Setswana. After school, I was an exceptional goal keeper for our school football team. I lived for the sport and enjoyed the comradery of belonging to a team. Being a young man at that age involved a lot of mischief. On one fateful Friday, my very best friend Thabo had thought it would be funny to drop firecrackers through the window of the pit latrine when Mr. Katembe was using it. You have to understand how much we hated Mr. Katembe; he taught us Mathematics and always made us look dumb in front of the class. Thabo and I had worked five different fields in order to earn enough money to buy a box of firecrackers at the General Dealer. The plan was to wait until break time and if Mr. Katembe went to the latrine, we’d follow him there. Then we’d peek in, to ensure his pants were down and throw lit firecrackers in there. We would then run away and mix with other children as if we were innocent of the crime. As luck would have it, everything went according plan except the fact that we didn’t factor in the distance between the latrines and the classrooms. So we dropped the lit firecracker into the latrine and ran. As we looked back, running from a half naked, angry teacher, we heard uproar of laughter from all the classrooms. There wasn’t a soul in that school who didn’t know who had thrown firecrackers in the latrine. Needless to say, this was the event that propelled me into the path of Mr. Katembe’s advances.

I don’t think I knew I was homosexual at that age. The girls that all the boys liked didn’t interest me at all. I wasn’t bad looking and girls had always been nice to me but I had no desire for any one of them.

The firecracker incident landed Thabo and me in hot water and we were sentenced to hard labour for the rest of the school term. We worked every day after school, supervised and mocked by Mr. Katembe himself. This went on for five weeks. One Tuesday, Mr. Katembe dismissed Thabo because he had allegedly been working harder than I had been. The next day I stayed after school ready to embark on my punishment alone, when Mr. Katembe called me to his classroom. The school was deserted. When I walked into the classroom, Mr. Katembe closed the door behind me and locked the classroom door. He stood before me exuding an air of arrogance and superiority. I should have realised I would be locked in his prison of sexual favours for years to come.

As a Motswana child, it is repeatedly drummed into our heads that you always do as an adult says because adults are never wrong. That day Mr. Katembe made me feel very uncomfortable. He started by asking about my family and our financial position. At first I was hesitant because my father always taught us not to reveal the happenings of our household to outsiders. Gently coaxing, knowingly seducing my resistance, Mr. Katembe brought the truth out of me. I explained how I was the sixth of nine children and also how my dad was a drunk who beat my submissive mother regularly.   His concern was evident in the gentleness of his voice and the expression on his face. I tried not to cry because strong African men don’t cry but I was a child and a child can only be strong for so long. Quietly, defeated, I sobbed into my hands, hiding my face from the pity in his eyes. Mr. Katembe then tried to console me; when that didn’t work he told me to sit on his lap and without question I did as I was told. He told me from then on he would protect and take care of me. From that day, he promised, he would make me feel good.

The confusion I felt was overwhelming. I felt uncomfortable putting Mr. Katembe’s private parts in my mouth but it was nice receiving the money and gifts he’d give me. I felt violated every single time he’d reach into my pants and fondle me but it felt good to have someone to talk to and who would advise me. I felt as if Mr. Katembe was the only one who really saw me, the only one who understood me. Thabo seemed childish and narrow-minded now; all he cared about was how many sweets he could buy for Malebogo or who she walked with after school. Mr. Katembe taught me about Marxism, communism, Pan Africanism and all the reasons why the white man managed to oppress the black man. He introduced me to shaving and grooming to ensure my appearance reflected what kind of a man I was.  Eventually, I did develop feelings for Mr. Katembe.

In retrospect, I was much too young to be exposed to a homosexual relationship with a man over twice my age. Shamelessly, this man who was put in a position to ensure my safety and education then took advantage of my vulnerability. I could have never prepared myself for my first time with Mr. Katembe.

Towards the end of the year, after writing exams, most teachers allow their students to play games outside whilst they marked their exam papers. This usually lasted a week. The next week report cards were given and school was closed for the year. I was sitting under the tree laughing at Thabo’s frustration. Malebogo refused to speak to him but he kept following her. It was pathetic and gave his friends ammunition to tease him, and so we did. Mr. Katembe called me to his classroom. He told me after school I’d be helping him carry his student’s scripts to his teacher’s quarters after school. I had no problem helping him out with whatever he wanted, sexual or otherwise. My parents were away at a funeral so I had planned to help Mr. Katembe and rush to play with the rest of the boys from my class until the sun went down. After carrying two loads of exam papers into his living room, he asked me to sit down and locked the door.

Mr. Katembe handed me a plastic cup and told me to drink it. Looking down at it, it was fizzy and bitter tasting; it was the colour of blood. I drank it all in one go. He poured me another cup and told me to drink it slowly. I started to feel funny, dizzy almost so I sat down. I could hear Mr. Katembe talking but it was like he was far away. My vision became a series of blurs. Mr. Katembe stood me up and walked me to his bedroom. I still felt funny, definitely dizzy. I could hardly move; it’s almost as if my body refused to act the way my mind told it to. Mr. Katembe laid me on my stomach and that is all I remember. The world swirled into black and unconsciousness invaded my reality. When I came to, it was sunset. My head was pounding and I wondered why I was naked. Mr. Katembe was also naked and he turned to face me. In his eyes I saw a sinister sexual desire and I knew I could not escape him. I didn’t want to do what he wanted but I was scared. Silently, he guided me and I mounted him. In my mind, this was when I lost my virginity. I don’t like to think how he had made me drink alcohol and used me whilst I was passed out as my first time even though that’s when I truly lost my purity; drunk and unconscious.

~~~~~~~~~~


Nate sat there silently, taking my words in. He took my hand in his and held it.

“Well your story is abhorrent. You were raped Karabo but I guess you know that now.”

I took his words in. He was right. I knew I had been violated but I never thought it was rape.

“I’ve never told anyone that story.” I whispered to Nate.

He kissed me, a sensual, comforting kiss. With his lips on mine, it’s almost as if he was trying to erase the past with the gentleness of his embrace. It made me feel better to face the reality of what had happened to me.

I broke the kiss to ask, “What about you? Who was the lucky guy?”

“Or girl?” Nate chimed in with a cheeky grin, “I was desired by both sexes Mr and don’t you forget that!”

I laughed, “No seriously, tell me.”

And that is when I realised that we had traded places. Nate then looked away to hide the shame in his eyes as I had done to him not long before.

“I mean, we don’t have to talk about it but I just wanted to know the first time you were with another guy.” I heard myself say, the same words he had said to me not long before.

Then I realised that maybe he had brought this topic up not to necessarily hear my story but so he could unburden himself of his. My heart ached for this man who held this pain in his heart. I could only imagine the horrors he had to endure. Nathaniel was an only child, his mother was a nurse and his father had been a General in the Botswana Defence Force. After retiring from the force, his father ran for public office and ended up being Mayor of Gaborone. From a young age, Nate was expected to be perfect. For a long time he did as he was told and exceeded what was expected of him. I was not prepared to hear what he had to say.

What humanity is capable of is truly horrendous. What happened to me was unfortunate but what happened to Nate was unspeakable. I had noticed that Nate kept most people at arm’s length and I had always wondered what had scarred him to the extent that he didn’t trust anybody around him. When he was nine years old, his father was promoted and sent to work in Maun in the Northern region of Botswana. The whole family relocated. The house his father was given was too big for a family of three and so their uncle came to live with them. His name was Tshepo. Nate smiled.

“He used to be my favourite uncle because he always brought me sweets and toys. If he was going to the shops or run errands, he would take me with him. I loved him.”

It then dawned on me where he was going with his story, and I sat there paralysed by Nate’s reality. He explained what his uncle had done to him and it dawned on me how harmful the secrets we carry around were. The sun had disappeared behind the horizon and I sat with my boyfriend in comforting silence. I felt unburdened and at peace. Nate put his head on my shoulder; he had told me something he had never told anyone else. The moment was less romantic than before but our love was definitely stronger.

Eternal Purgatory

I am a mild tidal wave in a tsunami of unrealised potential
My hopes and dreams are shipwrecked on the beach of opportunities
The verb in me is sea sick yet there is no motion

The fabric of my essence was weaved with ambition and possibilities

I used to be bound immaculately in glistening threads of potential

The more I polished, the more my future would shine

I would labour long and hard to give birth to my dreams

My perspiration would give my ebony skin a new layer of determination and in my mind’s eye my path was set

I was drunk on what I was going to become and no amount of deviation would sober me from my intoxication

But as life would have it, the fabric of my essence wore out

The threads loosened, and my future slowly dimmed out

I could no longer conceive and I lay barren in a bed scattered with disappointment

The blood of my dead dreams staining the sheets

What am I to become when my present tense died in my past tense

I am a mild tidal wave in a tsunami of unrealised potential

My hopes and dreams are shipwrecked on the beach of opportunities

The verb in me is sea sick yet there is no motion

I personify stagnation, ambition dead in a grave of non-action

I am the coffin, the mourners and the funeral procession

There is no heaven for my dreams

My ambition is destined to a fate worse than hell: Eternal Purgatory

Ebb and flow

At the peak of your pleasure, is my climax

The ebb and flow of my body going lax

Laced with sin and delight

Fuck yeah, that’s right

Our fingers intertwine

I had too much wine

I’m not sober

It’s not over

I want you

Now

Right now

With your desire

And my tongue twirling around your man fire

A flame, burn my sensibility

And with your tongue tease my sensitivity

Touch me there

Then lick me everywhere

Cutting your losses

It was dark, the kind of darkness that prevailed whether your eyes were open or shut. Mary shifted her knee from under her chin; her joints were screaming in pain. Her hands were tightly tied behind her back and the rope they had used felt razor sharp against her wrists.

It was dark, the kind of darkness that prevailed whether your eyes were open or shut. Mary shifted her knees from under her chin; her joints were screaming in pain. Her hands were tightly tied behind her back and the rope they had used felt razor sharp against her wrists.It cut through her skin but she couldn’t feel that pain anymore. Panic and adrenaline were coursing through her veins. Bent into a foetal position and thrown into the boot of her ex boyfriend’s car, Mary expected nothing less than death; her ex was a dangerous man.

Oxygen seemed in short supply; Mary’s breathing was laboured. Having had a love affair with a man of questionable principles, her ex boyfriend’s associates viewed Mary as a liability; she knew too much. Mary had to be disposed of. The ex, David, had not wanted to jeopardize his million Pula marijuana deal; he wanted to please the hand that fed.

Mary had caught David too many times with the same prostitute and had walked out on their rented iTowers apartment. She could stomach a lot but not infidelity. Mary was present during most of David’s drug deals from the first time he came into the game; she entertained David’s associates, she cooked for them, she bought their kids presents. Mary knew too much.

David relied on her for his strategy formulation and managing his accounts; he had pleaded for her to reconsider their break up but Mary was too far gone. Now she was seen as a liability and there was nothing more David could do. David had never killed anyone with his own hands but he had ordered hits on a number of his enemies. Mary was now his enemy.

Mary lay immobilised in the boot, wondering what would become of her. The Corolla was parked outside an abandoned motel. In the foyer, David sat with his associates planning their next move and who would silence Mary for good. David sharpened a knife, preparing to remedy his dilemma and kill the only love he had ever known.

Fall

Her body lay awkwardly, half of it laid on the carpet, the other half on the tile. Oratile was dead, strangled by him. His admiration of the weather was interrupted by the uncomfortable feeling from the hardness of his erect penis. He was almost finished with her. He mounted himself on top of her and grunted like a beast.

There’s something about Autumn. The gentle wind blows enough force to dislodge a frail leaf from it’s branch. In this gust of air, the stem gives way under the slightest pressure, almost as if it is desperate to let go. The leaf had taken a pale shade of lime; it was nearing the end of its life span. Alone in it’s descent, the fallen leaf dances in the breeze, swaying this way and that. The tip of the leaf zig zags wildly as it spins in the air. The motions are carefree, they imitate organised chaos.

The leaf is being watched. Light brown eyes dart about, following the motions of the leaf. It is satisfying to watch the leaf fall among a bed of already dead leaves. The pale lime leaf stands out from the bursts of amber, oranges and yellows. He too was unique like the newly fallen leaf. He believed he was gifted; he had an intellectual thirst that forced him to devour books cover to cover. He was well read and smarter than most people. He also had an unnatural curiosity to see how things worked, he liked to see how things worked and take a ‘peek under the hood’. He watched the falling leaves from behind the sliding door of Oratile’s living room.

Her body lay awkwardly, half of it laid on the carpet, the other half on the tile. Oratile  was dead, strangled by him. His admiration of the weather was interrupted by the uncomfortable feeling from the hardness of his erect penis. He was almost finished with her. He mounted himself on top of her and grunted like a beast. Once he was finished, he quickly left. Oratile was left alone, her lifeless body left exposed and used. But outside the seasons were changing and time was unaffected by the murder of a young Motswana woman.

Passion

To Laone, death came slowly and painfully just as Samuel had intended, the very way he had craved it. Samuel could not bear the thought of Laone ever getting close to or loving someone else. If he could not have him then nobody else would.

He lay there, almost still, almost dead. His body twitches involuntarily, showing minimal signs of life. Shattered glass adorns the floor like a broken puzzle. The broken window allowed in a breeze that lightly caressed the curtain, causing it to gently sway and dance. The sun, almost about to set, cast a myriad of shadows across the room. On the bed lay a shell of a person, Laone Radikgopo. From afar, you’d think he was sleeping, but what shrouded him was a fate more sinister than sleep. Laone lay there staining the mattress, bleeding out the life he once knew. His whole body was weighed down by the prospect of death. The world became a vortex of darkness, different shades of black weaving themselves together and eventually enveloping Laone into the security of nothingness. The flow of blood that had earlier erupted from the wound just above his collar bone was now barely a dribble. Laone’s other wounds were superficial: scratches bruises decorated his body. To Laone, death came slowly and painfully just as Samuel had intended, the very way he had craved it. Samuel could not bear the thought of Laone ever getting close to or loving someone else. If he could not have him then nobody else would.

In a dark room at the Segwane Hotel, Samuel stands in front of the mirror, his head bowed down. It’s early morning, although the sun is about to set on his life. The bathroom sink is littered with sleeping pills and he knows it’s now or never. Laone is dead and so is their love. Samuel’s head spun, wondering how he could ever live now that Laone was gone; if only he hadn’t ended it. He looks at his reflection in the mirror, he sees nothing. This reflected the state of his inner being. Nothing. 

The first sleeping pill he washed down with a glass full of contempt; contempt for the life he was handed, his homosexuality, his parent’s affluence, his obsession with Laone. The next couple of pills were followed by solemn regret. One after another, he swallowed almost every type of sleeping pill available in every pharmacy in Gaborone. They had different shapes, colours and tastes, they made his last act as a living man less mundane. When his sink was devoid of all the pills, he began gulping his bottle of Stroh 80 Rum. Slowly his mind and his taste buds, burnt by the alcohol, were overcome by a soothing numbness he had never felt before. With each passing minute, and with every sip of his rum, his pain slowly slipped away. Samuel slid down to the floor, his back against the bathroom door. His body goes limp as unconsciousness cascades over him. Samuel exists in a space and time where his soul has left our world but has not quite reached where Laone’s is.

Nobody saw the underlying tones of abuse that riddled the majority of their conversations. Nobody saw this because nobody knew that Laone and Samuel were lovers. In his mind, Sam saw Laone as his and only his, a paradigm that transcends homosexual relationships and seeps into any romantic coupling. Constantly they would fight, Laone incessantly reassuring, Sam never assuaging. The toxicity would have been seen had their pair-bonding not occurred in a perpetual veil of secrecy. 

They had found his body when he missed checkout. John Doe, late twenties, black. An ambulance was called and he was taken to Princess Marina Hospital. He was pronounced dead upon arrival. Police were called and they identified him as Samuel Motswakae. His body was wheeled off into the morgue, then his parents were called. On the other side of Gaborone, in Bontleng, the neighbours had noticed the broken window. They had broken down the door and found Laone in a pool of his own blood. Life had long left him. The two lovers became a part of a culture dubbed “passion killings”.

When

When the throws of passion lead to life long regression, it makes for regrets.

When your sorrows dwell and you pray for tomorrow because today overwhelms with all that was not.

When you’re being the person you see in your enemies.

When you are Satan’s conduit pipe and your sorrow is his very delight.

When the air you breathe seems like your greatest burden.

When there’s no hope to positivity and darkness is your only light.

When your love of hate has worn out the enthusiasm of joy.

When your fears plague every thought of success.

When your yes has become a constant no.

That is your time of death.

New life awaits you in an existence invigorated by opportunity.

You are the world and the world is yours.

That is when.

Resilience of the Burchell’s

As Ntatemogolo finished his sentence, he looked down to see that the herd had reached the edge of the dried Lake Makgadikgadi. With his hoof he scratched the sandy river bed and felt pride well up in his heart. It was always amazing to him that even with very little and with even less water, the herd had come as far as it had. It was not as if there were millions and millions of Zebra and on the grand scheme of things, they did not possess that much wealth. But somehow regardless of obstacles, the herd had put the good of the tribe above personal, selfish gain and worked toward uplifting the herd.

Zebra

“Ntatemogolo wait for me.” Boipuso, the youngest of the Burchell’s Zebra, says running after his grandfather. The Chief is leading the herd toward the Makgadikgadi Pans for their annual migration. It is early morning and the sky is majestic. The older Zebra looks back fondly at his only grandchild and pauses briefly, waiting for him to catch up. The foal runs excitedly towards Ntatemogolo and without waiting to catch his breath said, “Finish the story Ntatemogolo, please… please! “ The sun rose with purpose, beating down on the cracked barren land.  The herd walks on, facing the gruelling journey to the pans. The brilliant rays bake the horizon and coax the desert out of the earth. The heat has always been a hellish one. The rains promising fertility were meant to come soon but this expectation creates angst amongst the herd. Peace reigns among them majority of the time but of late there are a lot more dissenting views. As the Chief, Ntatemogolo is never threatened by this, he knows letting everyone express their views often strengthens the herd and allows him to lead with their approval. It is habitual for Ntatemogolo to allow all to be heard before ruling on any one issue. Ntatemogolo does not lead by himself; he consults extensively with the clan leaders in the herd who also consult even more extensively with their respective clans within the herd. He recalls what the young one was speaking of; the curious calf had begun asking questions about the herd and why things were a certain way and he had begun explaining to Boipuso the history of the herd. Ntatemogolo searches his mind trying to recall where he had left off but could not quite recall.

“Tell me Boipuso, where did I leave the story child of my child?” Ntatemogolo asked him. 

“Oh Ntatemogolo! Don’t you remember? The herd had just gotten away from the control of the Mighty Lions and was enjoying their freedom and independence. You said for the first time the herd was being led by one of its own.”

Ntatemogolo smiled inwardly remembering the times the herd had insisted on ruling themselves. There had been a pride of Lions that they had sought protection from because they were at risk of being attacked by vicious neighbouring predators in the South Lands. A lot of the older Zebra were against ceding their power and control over the herd to the Lions but eventually they saw it was the only to protect them. In time the herd had become stable enough to rule over themselves and they overcame a lot of strife to convince the Mighty Lions that they could stand on their own without fear of other predators. When the herd had gotten its independence, it had never felt so good to be a Zebra. Their stripes were those of freedom and the herd was invigorated by the prospect of building themselves into a herd known for peace and prosperity. Ntatemogolo had gotten lost in his thoughts and Boipuso looked up at him, impatiently waiting for his story to resume.

“We thought we were ready for our freedom and every member of the herd had craved it but without the MightyLions a lot of things happened. We had no way of educating our foals of the way of life because we had not yet established schools of our own. The area in which we had settled was dry and semi-arid with very little drinking water. Our herd, at that time, did not partake in the politics of the animal kingdom and so we were as low as we could possibly go.” Ntatemogolo lamented.

Boipuso’s eyes were wide open with shock as he said, “So what did you do, were you the chief yet?”

“No my child, I was much too young to be chief, but not too young to see what needed to be done. We needed resources to trade with other herds and get the things we needed to stand on our own. Amongst the animal kingdom we were rated one of the poorest herds in the world. It was a bad time but we were still reeling off of the high of self-governance. A lot of other herds had suffered a great deal to get their freedom from the predators that protected them so we remained grateful that we transitioned without bloodshed…”

As Ntatemogolo finished his sentence, he looked down to see that the herd had reached the edge of the dried Lake Makgadikgadi. With his hoof he scratched the sandy river bed and felt pride well up in his heart. It was always amazing to him that even with very little and with even less water, the herd had come as far as it had. It was not as if there were millions and millions of Zebra and on the grand scheme of things, they did not possess that much wealth. But somehow regardless of obstacles, the herd had put the good of the tribe above personal, selfish gain and worked toward uplifting the herd. With Boipuso walking steadily beside him, Ntatemogolo looked for a place where they would settle for the long, cold desert night. In the arduous sun, they had walked all day and the time for rest had come. Boipuso was frolicking around his mother a little too excitedly for a foal that was meant to be getting ready for bed.

“Boipuso,” Ntatemogolo called, “let your poor mother be. Come and rest beside me. I thought you would want to hear the rest of the story before you go to bed.”

Boipuso wasted no time coming to cuddle close to his grandfather. Behind him other foals settled down, eager to hear the story of their history too. The closeness of their body heat chased away the harsh chill of the desert night. This was the way of the herd, histories, customs, and traditions were passed down time and time again from the old to the young, experience opening the eyes of the ignorant. After they had all settled down, Ntatemogolo began again.

“Does anyone know what Lesedi La Rona is?”

“It’s the biggest shiny stone found where our herd lives.” One of the foals at the back answered.

Ntatemogolo smiled, “Yes, you are right young one. The shiny stones are very important to the herd, do you know why? When things got bad after getting our independence from the Mighty Lions, many members of the herd wondered how we were going to turn it all around. It was almost like a gift from the ancestors when the shiny stones were first found. After their discovery, the herd finally had something other animals had always desired. The herd took a wise approach to how they would trade the shiny stones and in the end it made us a more stable community. The shiny stones helped us find better places to graze and we were able to build our own schools to teach our young. We went from being the poorest herds to one of the fastest growing ones in trade. You’re too young to understand it completely but the shiny stones helped a great deal.”

Some of the foals had fallen asleep but Boipuso and a few others remained wide awake and eager to hear the rest of the story.

One of the foals made a sincere request, “Tell us what happened next.”

“The herd was truly thriving; we had finally found the one thing that would set us apart from the other herds. Then all of a sudden, animals started dying. First it was the eccentric ones then the males, then everyone. Death spread faster than a raging wild fire. There was a breakout of the worst case of foot and mouth disease. It came like a thief in the night, stealing lives of the innocent, young and old. Sometimes a mother did not know she had the disease and she would pass it onto her foal and they would both die. A lot of people died.” Ntatemogolo paused because it had been a testing time and reliving it in memory seemed to still haunt him. What he did not tell the foals was that it was worse than what he was making it. That strain of foot and mouth had put the herd at a standstill. Foals were either infected or left orphaned and too many lives were lost. No one had the remedies needed to stop the massacre of the pandemic and for a long time the tears of the herd were red with the blood of the dead.

“How did they get better Ntatemogolo?” Boipuso asked, pulling Ntatemogolo from his reverie.

“Well, eventually, somewhere far away, they found some roots and leaves to make it better. Any animal who had it did not suffer as much and the new remedy allowed them to live longer. The herd put all their heads together to try to find ways of avoiding catching the new strain of the foot and mouth disease. We still struggle with it today but we have come a long way.”

Ntatemogolo paused and then realised he had been speaking to himself. The foals lay fast asleep at his feet. They slept soundly without a care in the world. That was what Ntatemogolo loved the most about the times they were living in now. Although the herd still needed vast improvement, Ntatemogolo took solace in the fact that even with all the mistakes he may have made as Chief, he had, even in the smallest way, improved the lives of those who would come after him. It was not a sole effort either; it was because of all the clan leaders who had assisted him. Ntatemogolo slept peacefully that night in the comfort of his accomplishments as the chief of the Burchell’s Zebra.

When the sun rose the next day the herd resumed their trek across the Makgadikgadi and as he always did, Boipuso galloped through the herd until he was trotting alongside his grandfather. They travelled in silence for a while, each one enjoying the unspoken bond they shared. Eventually Boipuso’s curiosity got the better of him and the questions poured forth.

“So… why do we keep migrating? And why do we all go?” Boipuso asked with a hint of whining.

Ntatemogolo chuckled and said, “Well young one, we go seeking fertility in the lands. We go seeking prosperity. We cannot go having left one Zebra behind for that is not the way of the herd. The reason why we do anything is for the prosperity of the future of the herd. There are some elders that may eat more grass than they should but the herd usually has its own way of dealing with them. 

Boipuso thought about what Ntatemogolo had just said and asked “Will we ever stop migrating? Like if we got to the perfect place?” 

Boipuso’s question mad e Ntatemogolo pause in thought. He had asked himself many times if the journey of the herd would ever end. It seemed to him that although they all sought to find a utopian ideal in their society, their journey would never end. And so they walked on, Ntatemogolo leading the herd and Boipuso trotting along beside him, each a representation of different times in their herd. They walked on, experience alongside future potential and together they knew they could get their herd anywhere they wanted it to go.