Sleepy vil­lage bursts into life for Se­menya

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE - LEBOGANG SEALE

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.

PIC­TURE: DU­MISANI SIBEKO

HI MOM: South Africa’s teenage 800m world cham­pion Caster Se­menya with her mother, Dor­cus Se­menya, at their home in Lim­popo.

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