No one can tell a better story about your life better than you. I take pauses sometimes whenever I have to narrate any story about me, wonder if I am really talking about me. I have since developed this idea of talking about myself as if I am talking about some magnificent being from another planet. Bare with me while I share, I promise I am not boring. And so says all those people who find my jokes funny, even if I am not joking.
The idea to be generous with our stories came out of a trip down memory lane with my friend on this Saturday night. To put it diplomatically, she had requested my Journalist expertise in constructing a problem statement for her research paper on land reform. It’s hard to believe that we have titles now, she laughed. Huh? Me? Anyways I didn't correct her. We haven’t changed from six years ago when we were students both staying at the YMCA. How time flies when you are having fun or maybe not so much fun.
I knew the moment she greeted me as a newcomer at the place that one day I will be a maid of honour at her wedding. The jokes Y , as we affectionately called it, sometimes was that our rural backgrounds were the ties that bonded us. Back then it was meant as that cheeky snap of fingers in our faces meant to remind us that we are from corners of the world no one has ever heard of. And the IT girls would make sure that our insignificance never escapes our hard-heads. Somehow we made it out alive. Maybe we just had a lot of eyes on us and people counting on only good things from us, families back home and the new world we wanted so much to fit in.
On our reunion my friend and I sat in a room, each with a heater by their side of the desk as we were having toasted sandwiches. It hit me how things in fact do change in time. Some changes happen when one isn’t even paying attention and just pushing forward in life. In 2006 as students on similar winter nights we would sit in one of the other’s room with a heater that the caretaker was not find out about, for that meant an extra R100 with your monthly rent. Those were the days when it was a tough choice between buying bread or a newspaper. I don’t know whose idea this was, but before we knew it toasted cheese sandwiches on the heater became like tradition, while sipping on something to warm the tummy. At the end of each night we would take turns warm our rooms for an hour before hiding the heater, in case the caretaker got access to our rooms during the day when everyone was in class.
The Mandela biographers had said it best. The walk to freedom is indeed long. Today my friend is a land surveyor. Tough times require a sense of humour and never giving up on ones dreams. That was my lesson when I started freelancing for the Daily Voice as a student. Back then I was only happy at seeing my own name in the paper that I even forgot to ask who I give my account details to.
I would hop from desk to desk while senior journalists went out to do their stories and on occasion would get assigned to a story. The words of Raymond Josephs who was the paper’s first news editor would always follow me everywhere I go “Masutane you cannot work like this, you potential but first go back to class.” And I did but it was not without some good old motivation I got from the privilege of working and being mentored by industry heavyweights Gasant Abader, Elliot Sylvester and Monwa Jimlongo, who all treated me like a colleague way before working for the SABC looked like a farfetched dream. And then three months into my self-appointed post at the Daily Voice the unthinkable happened. And to steal a line from our IT girl Nonhle Thema, I GOT PAID! And no, I am not rich. I dare say...no whispher *yet* and hope no one got that.