Goes on

‘Mov­ing so far away was daunt­ing. But deep down, I knew I had to make the move’

Weekend Witness - - News -

CON­TIN­UED FROM PAGE 6 ZIM­BAB­WEAN Mariya Kaji, who ar­rived in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg in 2017, said the big­gest chal­lenge for her was that her four chil­dren were lan­guish­ing at home un­able to find a school.

Her eyes fill with tears when she talks about her pain at see­ing her chil­dren idle at home while school­ing was in full swing. “These are the fu­ture lead­ers but now they are roam­ing around at home be­cause we can’t send them to school as we don’t have a per­ma­nent place to stay. We are al­ways mov­ing from one place to the next,” she said.

Mak­ing ends meet is prov­ing dif­fi­cult for Kaji. “Some­times we go to bed with empty stom­achs. We are used to it now,” she said, manag­ing to laugh. Kaji runs a clothes-sell­ing busi­ness. Ra­jab An­gry (29) from Malawi, a street ven­dor on Pi­eter­maritz Street, ar­rived in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg in De­cem­ber 2016.

An­gry said re­lo­cat­ing to a new coun­try was daunt­ing. “Such was my paranoia about crime that, dur­ing the first months in South Africa, I would be sus­pi­cious of any per­son star­ing at me for longer than I thought was nec­es­sary. I was see­ing ‘rob­ber’ on their faces,” he said laugh­ing.

An­gry said his first ma­jor hur­dle, which still re­mains to this day, although not as much as be­fore, was lan­guage.

“Other than my French, I had a work­ing un­der­stand­ing of isiZulu, mainly be­cause there were Zulu peo­ple who worked in my vil­lage that I was used to lis­ten­ing to back in Malawi. Not that I spoke it well, but I can un­der­stand what you are talk­ing about.

“It was a test of en­durance for me and, I would imag­ine, for the other black South Africans I have in­ter­acted with in the past two years. You face it daily — at your lo­cal shop­ping cen­tre, at the petrol sta­tion and at work,” he said.

In a stut­ter of bro­ken English, Alex Kisubi re­calls how he ar­rived in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg in 2013 from the DRC.

“I never imag­ined com­ing here, to be hon­est,” says Kisubi. “It was more out of des­per­a­tion. I never wanted to be sep­a­rated from my fam­ily.”

His fam­ily’s fi­nan­cial strug­gles and the lack of prospects in DRC forced the 29-year-old to con­sider mov­ing to South Africa to earn a de­cent in­come.

“My brother moved to South Africa a few years ago. We used to speak reg­u­larly over the phone. Each time I spoke to him, he tried con­vinc­ing me to come to South Africa.”

His brother worked for a bar­ber shop in Joburg and of­fered him a job and a place to stay if he was able to make the long jour­ney from DRC to Joburg.

“Mov­ing so far away was daunt­ing. But deep down, I knew I had to make the move.”

Kisubi was taught how to cut hair when he was a boy, and so the idea of work­ing at a bar­ber shop wasn’t com­pletely ter­ri­fy­ing.

“I had to learn about the dif­fer­ent hair­styles that South Africans like. I also needed to learn English, which re­ally was and still is the most chal­leng­ing as­pect of com­ing to South Africa.”

Five years after his ar­rival, Kisubi is a fully es­tab­lished bar­ber in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg. He may bat­tle with his English, but he’s built an im­pres­sive list of his own clients. “When I bat­tle to com­mu­ni­cate with cer­tain cus­tomers, they point out which hair­style they would like [from cat­a­logues]. It makes my life so much eas­ier,” he said.

Kisubi says he loves South Africa and en­joys his work.

“Look­ing back at the last five years, I think I made a good de­ci­sion to come here. I’ve been sav­ing money and send­ing it home, which has been help­ful.

“The coun­try is won­der­ful, and the peo­ple are re­ally nice here. I do feel at home these days,” he said gig­gling. • [email protected]­dia24.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.