From Ghetto boy to Kasi man thats me China

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When Zimbabwean music legend Oliver Mtukuzi sang “Ghetto Boy”, he must certainly have had me in mind because that’s exactly what I am -“Ghetto Boy.” I love the sound of it even better if the Ghetto refers to Francistown, especially my beloved location of Somerset’s Extension.

I have been rising every morning from a house in Gabs’s notoriously crime-ridden Bontleng location since October last year. Prior to that I was waking up in another SHHA house at the comparatively tranquil location of Extension.

Extension is in a southeasterly direction from the main mall. To get there you can use the longest tarred street through Somerset East, which starts just as you cross the road from the silver High Court Building.

As you pass the primary school ahead, you will be looking directly at the Botswelelo Clinic. You can also go past Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital and Botsalano Shopping complex further down east on the road from Thapama Hotel to Marang Hotel.

The only undoing for residents of Extension could be that they guzzle plenty of Chibuku, but most of those I know are always engaged in something. They  could be either penal beaters, bricklayers, auto mechanics or many more.

In fact, at Extension, only the mentally handicapped have nothing to do as most people work for Ipelegeng, perhaps the biggest employer in the township, or security companies.

Even old and frail women and men work at Ipelegeng where the salary has been increased to P600.

The security guys vie for the attention of chicks as they stroll past in their uniforms. Security companies that operate in Francistown include G4S, Systems and Security Services, which seems to be making impressive inroads into Gaborone.

Besides having an office at the far south end of African mall, opposite CID South offices, their personnel are visible around the city though they are not as many as those in Francistown. But Bontleng is no child’s play. One day I woke up to find a stranger standing menacingly by the scrap car next to my joint.

I was preparing for my morning jog around Loss-My-Cherry, the dark streets that start from the side of Southring Mall up to the Engen Filling station, adjacent the Bontleng Mall and White City in the south and west respectively. I had finished with the weights and was doing my push-ups before hitting the road.

His cap in the eyes, the guy came and stood languidly by the car and started telling me how he has stabbed people and that he would not hesitate to stab again.

“Batho baa tena wa itse! Nna ke tlaa tlhaba motho nna. Ke e thipa kana ke e tshwere (People can get under your skin. I will skewer a person with my knife. Here is the knife.”

I just said, “Ya man! That’s what I am good at. I would stab a person who zwakala me without a problem. Ba a tlwaela batho ba,’ I joined his chorus.

If he had wanted to scare me, he failed dismally because I shot back in the style of my Ghetto skim Thato aka Killer who was the bane of burglars in our Extension neighbourhood.

Whenever there were footsteps outside in the dead of the night, Killer would open the door and confront the thief. An interrogation through a gruff voice would ensue followed by phwa-phwa-phwa! as hot claps would explode on the thief’s cheeks.

If he had thought my innards would quiver at the prospect of a knife plunging into my side, I did not give him that benefit.

My neighbour, a slight man who walks with the aid of a crutch, has knife scars all over his body, which he carries like badges of honour.  He tells me often how he used to be a notorious fellow, which landed in jail for three years.

He says a guy he defeated in a previous fistfight crept on him while he was at the bar counter ordering booze and stuck an Okapi in his back until it came out the other side, slightly  above his left breast.

Just yesterday, he showed me the hospital card, which he said he only saw the day after as he had been rushed to hospital in a coma.

“Luckily, I managed to survive. We traced that guy with my friends and I beat him until he begged me to stop. In fact, I ended up in jail for three years because of him,” he would tell me.

He told me the story again after I had told him about the knife wielding nocturnal visitor. He told me the story again the day we watched as thieves shared their loot using torches from their cell phones.

As soon as they had shared, the other guys attacked their friend and wrestled him to the ground, grabbing the share they had given him.

Mkharazo leans heavily on his cane as he walks to his assignment at Ipelegeng where his job is to pick up litter in the streets.

“You see this is what I did not want anymore. Once you engage in these evil activities of depriving people of their properties, you must know that one day you will go to jail and there is no mercy there. “Prison life is painful my friend. I don’t what to see myself there again,” he would say. Compared to Extension, Bontleng, especially Loss-My-Cherry, is a true slum though it still appeals to me. The streets are impassable with huge potholes. Only a few houses have electricity and water.

A spectre of being robbed looms very large every time as young men stand in dark alleys and abandoned buildings ready to pounce.

Motorists along the Tlokweng road have felt the brunt of Bontleng thieves who snatch valuables from cars and run into Bontleng.

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