At the time of Phak’s passing


A poem written by your Dad today on the passing of Phakama Ndlovu which he is sharing with his classes. He was Phak’s English teacher in Grade 10.

At the time of Phaks’s passing

Who would have guessed you could touch me

Touch us

In the way that you have

A boy I knew so briefly

A man I never met

Your absence is a pit

Of questions and of longing

It is dark and vacuous

It makes no sense

But here together we live

On the sneering lip of its swallowing expanse

To lean over and peer below

Hold hands so as not to fall

To toss a coin into its depths

And hear its hollow chiming clink

As it vanishes into the huge abyss

I think, there is nothing I would wish than this

I do not believe in everlasting

There is only now and it is passing

Yours has added to the weight

Your passionate life, Phaks – a war cry leader

Has become a different threat

A reminder of our united debt

A chant for victory over senseless death

That this is where we live

In oppressive perpetual dread

Until the voice of violence

Is muted, silenced, spent

Our country is not a home

I tell my son, there are no monsters

It’s time to sleep

But for the rising shadow

Of fear and greed

And shame in deed

Of shots that ring out

And echo in the chamber

That once held your vital heart

That beat

And beat

And beat

By David Goodwin

A life unlived

I write this post with a heavy heart and as a departure from what up till now have been lighthearted stories about our journeys together, today’s is not.

On Saturday while away at Zebula, your Dad received a message from school to say that one of the matric boys had been in an armed robbery and was in hospital on life support. Given the level of crime we have come to live with on a daily basis we imagined the worst, fearing not only for the life of the boy but for the rest of his family.

Although we hear awful, heart breaking stories about senseless crimes all the time, we have, I think programmed ourselves to become immune in a way. I don’t believe that we would be able to continue our normal lives if we had to take in the pain and suffering of the inhumane acts that are committed.

For some reason, even though we weren’t close to the boy, his story touched us, and both Dad and I were awake in the early hours of the morning thinking of him and his family.

On Sunday evening we heard that in all likelihood his life support was to be turned off. There are two bullets lodged in his brain and there is no hope of recovery. We learnt too that his mother was killed in the robbery which took place at her offices. 

I cannot express in words how this tragedy affected us. 

The reason I am writing about this is because I held you close, breathed you in and thanked God for every precious moment I have with you praying a silent prayer that we would never have to face anything like it in our lives. You asked why I was crying and I explained that one of Daddy’s ‘boys’ had died telling you that he had been sick not wanting to expose you to the real truth.

This morning it was confirmed that they were awaiting his next of kin’s return from overseas to make a decision.

The senseless killing of this boy at the start of his journey into life shook me to the core. Here he was poised to become the man his family and school career had moulded him into and in a split second that was destroyed. No chance to become the father, doctor, community man, role model he was meant to be.

I hope that by the time you get to read this, the crime situation in this beautiful country of ours has improved and that we no longer have to live behind high walls fearful of the criminals who rob us of our freedom and our children’s futures.

I would like to call them animals but only humans are capable of inflicting senseless pain and suffering.