Sleepy village bursts into life for Semenya
AS THE CAVALCADE of vehicles, some flashing blue lights, made its way into the village, residents poured into the streets.
From the children to the aged, many outpaced each other as they swarmed the big marquee that had sprung up next to a homestead along the main street cutting through the settlement.
The sleepy village of Masehlong in Moletjie, on the outskirts of Polokwane, burst to life when gold medallist Caster Semenya visited her home yesterday.
Many were caught off guard as initial reports indicated that the athlete would only return today, but still, she received a rapturous welcome.
As the World Athletics Championships 800m winner descended from one of the VIP protection Chryslers she was ushered towards her yard – where schoolchildren had formed a guard of honour. Looking calm but weary, Semenya briskly waved her hand as she was led into the cramped marquee, where she sat next to her mother, Dorcus and a host of dignitaries.
Clad simply in a black Nike top and light lumber jacket, denim pants and casual shoes while sporting slightly wornout braids, Semenya listened intently as praises were heaped on her.
“It’s so touching to see this kind of talent being exposed without any support,” said Harry Monyela, a member of the local ANC Youth League, in a veiled reference to some of the politicians and education officials in the tent.
But his suggestion that Tibane Stadium, located in the next village, be named after the athlete was shot down with some jeers of protests from local residents.
Kgosi Kgabo Moloto III of Moletjie appealed to Semenya to remain humble even with her newly found fame and fortune.
Semenya’s grandmother, Mmaphuti Makgale, who helped raise her while she was attending secondary school at the nearby Fairlie Village, gave an emotional account of how she used to use her pension grant and ask money from neighbours to support the athlete.
The police had their hands full trying to keep the crowd at bay.
Many residents described Semenya’s welcoming party as a miracle.
“I can’t recall anything like this happening in this village,” said Hosea Tjale.
A public parade was to be staged in the Polokwane CBD today, to be followed by a gala dinner to celebrate her achievements.
HI MOM: South Africa’s teenage 800m world champion Caster Semenya with her mother, Dorcus Semenya, at their home in Limpopo.