It was after we had our dinner that Isaac started the lorry. Soon we were on the N1 Highway heading towards the south to a place only identified as Tzaneen. In the rear of the truck we chatted, joked and laughed until we exhausted them. The journey was just longer than anyone of us had anticipated. The wind was blowing hard and it was beginning to drain our patience.
It was when the truck stopped at a gate which was about three metres high, that we began talking again. Isaac jumped from the truck and opened the gate. He went back in and drove past the gate. He then shouted something in what I presumed to be the indigenous South African language, Sotho and one of the men who were with us in the rear jumped down from the truck to shut the gate.
The truck drove slowly passing under mango trees until it came to a halt. Isaac switched off the engine. He came out to speak to us.
“Jump off guys, we have arrived!” he shouted more like a command.
We disembarked from the lorry. It was unbelievable! We were surrounded with half a metre tall grass.
“Good night guys, we shall talk tomorrow!” he added.
“Tomorrow?” We questioned, shocked by his words.
“Yah tomorrow , I am tired now,”
“Where are we going to sleep?” One asked on our behalf.
“There is a nice building there,” he pointed to a hall that was surrounded by grass and big mango trees.
“What about the blankets?” another one inquired
“Blankets?’” Isaac laughed sarcastically, “where on this earth do you get blankets as part of a job package?”
He asked as if there was another planet called earth somewhere. We were bitter and murmurings of discontent escalated.
“Why did you leave your blankets in Messina?”
“Didn’t you say everything was there?” one of us said.
We had never tried to, but we knew it was impossible for us to carry the blankets from the Community Centre with us. They didn’t belong to us and they were also infested with the lice. The Community Centre in Messina was owned and run by the I Believe Christ Church. Refugees from Zimbabwe and DRC were kept there whilst waiting to apply for the asylum permits. There were hundreds of people, all male. The first and only time they had mixed the two sexes, it was said pregnancy levels had surged. For the five days i stayed there, there were no less than five fights per day mainly between the Congolese and the Zimbabweans. I could understand where the power to fight came from but it was obvious that the bitterness came from scratching the body from the tiny sore wounds infested by lice.
The hygienic standards were quite poor. The food was only sufficient to make one sleep. It was easy to notice the teenagers who had stayed there for a considerable time. They literally suffered from malnutrition. The blankets were heavily infested with lice making them undesirable to even steal one.
“Blankets are not part of everything I was talking about,”
“But everything is everything,” we protested.
“But not everything is everything, ” Isaac added.
We began shouting and demanding that he give us back our asylum permits and allow us to leave the farm. We protested that we could not sleep in that building which was surrounded by grass. He was quiet and motionless. He simply withdrew a pistol from inside his three quarter trousers. There was silence! He stared at us and started laughing, gently tapping his thighs with a pistol.
“Good night gentlemen!”
“Good night Sir.”
“Tomorrow we are starting at 7, be early if you want to bath and you shall meet your fellow countrymen tomorrow. There are many Zimbabweans here,” he chuckled , walking towards the direction of his roundavel.
“Thank you Boss, thank you boss,” we muttered.
What respect! He had earned so much respect and authority when he exhibited the gun. We rushed picking up cardboard boxes which were scattered around the hall. We spread them down on the dusty floors and slept. Around three in the morning it was became very cold. We had to break the nearby fresh mango tree branches which we then used to make fire. The smoke induced coughing and teary eyes as we encircled around the fire patiently waiting for dawn.
Brighton Taruberekera aka @tbmunyori is a political science student at the University Of Zimbabwe. He is also a poet. Above all he is passionate about writing . He can be contacted on 0778992045 / firstname.lastname@example.org or