James ran as he heard the screaming crowd coming for him, right into the dirty bush he ran, previous days he would watch his steps to avoid stepping into human and animal feces today there was no such luxury.
The sharp cuts as the Tree branches cut him, yet he felt no pain, Fear pulsated through his blood stream propelling his legs to move at an alarming speed. The wind whispered as he felt it’s touch, he felt the hot air wafting through his nose. Their chants roared in his ears, their aggressive voices rising in unison , his senses unconsciously calculating their distance they were closing in on him and fast.
Four hours ago as he stepped out of his flat he shared with his two friends from his home country he had no idea he would be fleeing for his dear life, Five years ago he had come to this country equipped with nothing but his back pack filled with scanty clothing. His family had sold two goats , pulling resources together to buy his ticket, this was the Land of Opportunity , A land overflowing with Gold and precious stones, ‘The White man refused to leave “ his friends would taunt “the lull of the precious jewels entrapping them, latching unto their souls and binding them to this land for generations to come, “it’s our land , it’s mother Africa’s gift to us “ his grandmother said “go and get yours “. So he came, sleeping in the cold and toiling on the roads, he stayed. Offering his services to all white and black he toiled, with hard work as his teacher and determination as his motivation he rose , from street cleaner to Laundry man , from Laundry man to shop worker, from shop worker to Laborer , from laborer to mine workman he settled. Never forgetting his family, always sending half of his monthly wages home, he had found his own share of Mama Africa’s blessing, it was not much but it would do.
Oh such small dreams, to finally take his black beauty to the altar and bring her here, to complete a small structure to house his family , to buy his aged grandmother a wheel chair to ease her back pain, to send a car home for his younger ones to start a transport business and pay their way through school, to start his own family, to have a little boy who would be a doctor or an engineer ,……or such small dreams , they seemed a life time away as he jumped over a large pile of tree trunks , the one thought in his mind right now was to survive this savages.
They ran, blood flowing through their veins their eyes red with blood lust , their belligerence stimulated by cheap alcohol, ignorance and crack , their prey maneuvered through the bush jumping over broken tree stumps and mounts of dirt, his tenacity angered them, His jacket flapping with the wind like wings they were close enough now to see the soles of his canvas agilely maintaining the distance between them, the intruder, the devil, the job taker, the woman snatcher, the interloper, the squatter they would catch him, they would tie him, they would beat him with sticks and stones,, with their machetes and knives they would carve him and before he took his last breath they would douse him with petrol and burn him, they would know , with this ongomazi they would know, the others who came in thousands to steal their jobs, their women, their houses, their cars, their money, their culture …amandla nodumo ……….they would know to leave their precious jewels to them.
James felt the wind cut off as he fell, his leg had hit something hard, something that was not supposed to be on this path, he hit the ground his breath almost leaving him he stared deep at the eyes of a little boy, his age he could not tell as his skin had been severely disfigured, dead eyes stared back at him , dried blood with large flies encircling all over covered the ground, their chants of uye zidindilizile emhlabathini, bambambe reminded him he was in death’s trap, he looked back and a stick hit him on the head, they were not more than Thirty five feet away from him, shock momentarily forgotten he sprang up and kept on running, he would not die here, in the hands of this crowd, dirty street urchins, young men and boys not more than Twenty five, He had recognized a few as he looked back, his own neighbors, some he had given presents of rice and milk, as he walked home from the market each weekend he had shared bread, young men jobless without direction , they sat at dark alleys and by the way side, smoking crack, drinking local brew, Lazy. Their mothers were too overwhelmed to caution them, their fathers …what fathers ??….some too far way, they left them abandoned as they cohabited with other women, other children ….. so many unknown, sired underneath the back of an abandoned car what father ?
They refused to work under the hot sun, preferring to live on hand outs and curse the government, school was out of the question many of them had dropped out, who needs school when they was no food to eat at home, they would rather sit and drink, smoke and talk and when night falls beg and steal , the tired workers that dragged themselves home were an easy bait, James always tried to give , they reminded him of his younger ones in his home country , at least he had his family to help direct those ones but these one’s had no one, they were a group of misguided youth who believed that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they deserved to be rich because it was their land and everyone else took what was rightfully theirs.
He saw with the corner of his eye an intersection, Left on this road led to the police station, safety …men with uniforms to guide and protect , with guns blazing they would protect an innocent man from the mob but right …he thought ….hmnn he had more than a split second to make up his mind. “Gbam!” another stick hit him on his back , blinding pain running up to his eyes they were now very close , their footsteps like loud drums ringing in his ears , swiftly he turned right increasing his pace. The strength to keep on running he had no idea where it came from, he saw the light go on the sun had begun to set he began to scream “Gbam!” a sharp object hit his left leg , the pain was different they were now within close enough distance to throw knives, he could smell the blood his screams never stopped , he would not die here, not like this , he saw the rush he felt relief, the gates swung open he could almost taste relief. “Gbam!” A stone hit him on his back , he did not even feel it this time , there was light at the end of the tunnel, his final strength he used with all that he had left, the gates swung shut as he took his last steps into the church.
He faltered and fell right into the hands of the priest, Guards stationed at the gate cocked their guns and the crowd wavered , their momentum suddenly lost, He turned and for the first time looked them in their eyes, separated by a wired gate his eyes questioned theirs , James kept breathing hard he could not even speak, the Priest touched his shoulder offering him what little comfort he could muster.
The white reporter stood at the gates perplexed , with his phone camera on he looked at both groups in surprise whispering into his recorder “ and I looked from the group inside the church and the group outside the church stopped by soldiers with guns, I was shocked that these Africans outside meant the ones inside much harm. Looking from one group to the other I could not tell the difference, same features, same skin, same clothes who is the outsider and who is the interloper?” shaking his head the white reporter muttered “this Africans one match is enough for them to forget who their brother really is.”