From the hood…

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I just completed Trevor Noah’s “Born a crime” semi-autobiography and thought I would pen something down about it. When it finished, it truly felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend that I had come to know very fondly during the past few days. If you have read my previous blogs, you know how I love audiobooks and how they allow me to multitask and this one was certainly a great accompaniment to the recent transition of my life and will forever remain one my of my great reads.

Trevor, yes, we are now on a first name basis, is someone who has always seemed to be different and far removed from the kind of life I grew up in. He is currently hosting one of America’s famous late-night shows and when he was introduced in that role, I thought that was another notch that would seal our differences. Here he is now, being famous, being a millionaire etc and here I was, not being famous and certainly not a millionaire… yet. But this book gave me a glimpse of the humble beginnings he comes from and what a transformation he has made to be where he is today. Some of his early stages are somewhat like mine, not the having the white father bit or growing up during apartheid South Africa bit obviously but a lot more than I would have known had I not read the book.

Growing up in Gaborone West, G-West/G wa-wa as it is colloquially called, I can appreciate when he says he grew up in the hood. My hood had everything his hood had.

  • No tarred road which meant cleaning off the dust from the house every morning only for some hoon undo all your hard work by the evening.
  • Those guys who wake up to sit on the side of the road when you are going to school and you find them in the same spot on your return home
  • That guy who is the hood mechanic, who has a few scrap cars in various states of repair cluttering the yard and occasionally spilling onto the side of the road
  • Being sent off to buy half a loaf of bread at the neighbourhood tuckshop, which Australians call a milk bar, which was a room in someone’s house that was converted from a bedroom to a shop by installing shelves and having a large sign next to the window. My mother eventually converted our garage into one of the tuckshops which sold simple groceries and progressively added beer and braai, otherwise called BBQ, to what was on offer to its patrons. This obviously attracted a few interesting characters and we could sit at the back of the house and listen to never-ending stories about the hood.
  • I was one of the girls he talks about who was essentially instructed to spend all my after-school time indoors, doing chores and studying and would get a serious hiding if ever my sister and I sneaked out and got found out.
  • My mother left her teaching job to get a better-paying employment as she wanted my sister and I to attend private school despite us coming from the hood. Having been part of the public-school system, she wanted different for her children.
  • There was a very famous cannabis dealer at the end our street and his place was fondly called HQ by those in the know. It was not astonishing to see the celebrities of back in the day, chilling outside the premises drinking or smoking joints as I made my way home from school.

When you grow up in the hood but then experience a totally different life compared to the average hood resident, it can be very tempting to try and shake off that part of your past. I remember battling with that part of my identity in high school where I knew no one who came from the hood like me. I have however, through passage of time, learnt to look back with fondness at my history and those beginnings I came from. I even had part of our wedding ceremony in the hood, where the whole neighbourhood was invited and we sure did have a blast. Hearing Trevor recount his memories of growing up in the hood with such affection, the laugh out loud moments of his cheekiness and the overall book made my day and allow me to proudly say that I am from the hood and glad Trevor and I somewhat share that history.

*Image from Google

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