Lona Matshingana

© Copyright 2020 by Lona Matshingana

Photo of kids playing.

The beginning of a new season was something we all cherished in Tembisa, South Africa. Tembisa wasn’t a beautiful place because it was filled with shacks as it was a poverty stricken place and when I stayed there, we stayed in a one room house, that was part of other one room houses but it was surely packed with beautiful people inside and outside. We were packed in the yard and we all shared one bathroom that was outside. We were like one big family there was a lot of ‘ubuntu’, everyone greeted and there was genuine trust among us. We bathed in big plastic dishes because there were no showers. 

This was my life for the first ten years of my life. I stayed with my mother in the one room house and she was a single parent so life was bitter hard because my mother didn’t earn a lot. Plus, I didn’t have a Father so my heart was always broken especially when other children spoke about their loving fathers. As a result of my broken heart I cried a lot and my peers contributed to that by provoking me most of the time. 

I remember my father visiting me when I was in grade one around 2004 and he gave me R50. I was only six years old when this happened. Many years later this incident still hurts me because he gave me R50 when he wasn’t supporting me financially at all and that was the only contribution he was willing to make. I didn’t have a relationship with my father but my mother always told me how much he loved me but I beg to differ. 

Township life wasn’t civilized but we tried to have fun with the little that we had. My friends and I would play in front of the garage and do hand stands and play hide and seek. Some of the streets were filled with sand when I stayed there. I remember my mother yelling “you going to get asthma Lona” because I loved to play on the sand and at times, I would get sick from playing on the dusty sand. One day I almost died as my chest tightened, no matter how much oxygen I tried inhaling from my asthma pump, so my mother and I took a taxi to the nearest hospital and I lived and continued to play on the sand. That was normal to me I loved playing with my friends and I hadn’t lived elsewhere so I thought this life was normal. 

We used to make balls with plastic that once contained bread and we filled these plastic bags with sand and wrapped them. Then we would play games with those balls. One famous game that we played involved hitting each other with the ball and if you duck the ball you could continue playing but if you didn’t duck and the ball hit you then you couldn’t play anymore and the team you played for would lose if all the members couldn’t duck the ball and were excluded from the game. This game was one of my favourite games. 

Another famous game that we played required us to play in teams as well.  To play the game we collected cans that had been used and we stamped on them to flatten them then we collected boxes that weren’t in use anymore. And we formed a line and each person got the chance to collect the flattened cans with their feet and put them in the box. One had to put as many as possible to be the winner for their team. 

There were other games but I didn’t play all of them. Games like spin the bottle were out of reach because I would get chased away by boys who thought I was ugly. However, I still got to play jump rope. And I definitely enjoyed jump rope even though it was a bit challenging. We played a game named ‘yoyo’, and we made kites from plastic during the winter season when there was a lot of wind blowing. 

The beginning of spring had a special game that we didn’t play any other day or time during each year when I still lived in Tembisa. This game was only played during the first week of spring. We would fill buckets of water and pour each other with water. The game was usually only played by the youth and young children. We would meet in the middle of the road and start pouring each other with water. This was being done to celebrate a new season and we wore shorts and vests to symbolize new weather changes. 

Life was fun during this period because my mother would give me money to buy iced juice wrapped in plastic to eat as it was no longer cold but hot. That was probably the only time I ate iced juice wrapped in plastic because my mother was strict, she didn’t like it when I consumed food items sold in spaza shops or on the streets.  She always preferred, buying me food sold in retail stores in the mall or in town.  Since we lived a bit to far from town or the mall, I would wait for the day she decided to go to Festival Mall. 

Summertime was even more pleasant. We got to go on holiday for a full month and a few days. Summertime was the only time I got to see my whole family in one location which was in our home town in the Eastern Cape, Nqamakwe. My mother and I usually arrived first, then my uncle and his family would arrive second and my aunt and her daughter would arrive third.

Whenever my aunt and my cousin arrived from Cape Town, they always brought us homemade muffins. December was packed with events and celebrations around Nqamakwe. 

I remember one summer holiday one of my cousins had gotten circumcised (circumcision is part of my culture) as he had turned eighteen during that year. Usually when a boy is circumcised there are celebrations after the period of being in the mountain has lapsed and the man (who is no longer a boy) has returned from the mountain. Furthermore, all the family members and friends would buy the ‘man’ (who used to be a boy) gifts as a symbol of love and appreciation of his behaviour and character as well as to encourage him on his journey to manhood. This celebration was accompanied by song and dance in Isixhosa (my home language). 

Summertime was beautiful and fun when I was young and innocent, I made many memories.

I am Lona Matshingana I am 22 years old and I live in Midrand, South Africa. I was born and raised in Johannesburg. My hobbies are reading, writing and listening to music. I am kind, hardworking, and I have outgoing personality.

Contact Lona

(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher