Sunlight speeds through the curtain to greet Thabo’s face with the morning. He rejects the morning and tosses, the smell of porridge pushes into his nose and he tosses and groans. Finally his father bangs on the door ‘if I get finished before you, you won’t go to Jozi boy!’ Thabo springs out of bed, rushes to the bathroom and like the speed of light he does all that is needed to be ready before his father. ‘You are wearing jeans and a T-shirt to Jozi! What happened to your fancy clothes?’ his father asks, ‘you said’ Thabo attempts to speak, ‘Susan, look at this boy: blaming me!’ his father sits on a chair at the dining table and adjusts his suit. ‘Love, you know that he has been looking forward to this day’ his mother smiles, ‘Susan you are always taking sides with the children, ok go to Jozi like a street child!’ his father complains. ‘Please pass the plate’ Thabo asks his little sister, ‘a man must wear a suit, look at me I am just a security guard but I dress in class!’ his father gloats, ‘yes love, you look good!’ Thabo’s mother applauds. Thabo’s mother said the words to set the mood in tune and the family enjoy the rest of the meal.
The buzz and cool of Soweto come together like a jazz song, Thabo and his father arrive at the train station and most of the men are suits: suits walking up and down the train station or suits walking in and out of trains. Thabo sees his teacher wearing an old navy blue suit, ‘good morning sir’ he greets, ‘ah!, Thabo are you enjoying the school holidays?’ his teacher asks ‘yes sir’ Thabo answers, his teacher chats a little ‘study don’t waste time with girls!’, ‘how is your mother?’, ‘did you tell your father about your A in maths?’, ‘Nelson this boy is clever but his friend John’, ‘this government: they don’t give us new textbooks!’, ‘yes!, I heard about the ANC meeting’ and like the wind he was gone. Thabo and his father finally entered the train and the suits are a closer observation. He sees Sticks the the local gang leader, he is wearing a gold chain necklace, a gold watch, gold rings and a yellow suit. Sticks is surrounded by his gang members, in fact the only time Thabo saw Sticks alone was when he was talking to women. Sticks touches his gold chain necklace, looks at the time, someone makes a joke, he laughs and exposes a gold tooth. Thabo turns his attention to his father; he is speaking to the man next to him. ‘Yes Nelson, Elizabeth is gone, it is a very sad day because I am wearing this black suit to a funeral’ the man shrivels. ‘I saw her last month, I was shocked when I heard the news’ Thabo’s father replies and the men continue with their conversation but Thabo investigates other suits. A man says ‘yes, this was the suit I wore on my wedding day; it’s my good luck charm that’s why I am wearing it to my interview’. ‘I am going to meet Thandi and I want to charm her with my suit’ another man says. The train is crowded and Thabo can feel the heat of the mass yet none of the men are parting with their suit blazers, ‘these men really love their suits’ Thabo thinks.
The train has arrived in Johannesburg, the suits and others come out of the train. ‘I am going to work, be home in time to help your mother around the house. You know that your older sister spends every night drinking in the shabeens!’ and like the wind his father rushes off to work. Thabo walks past a store then he walks back to the store, he looks past the window and sees suits. He knows that he can’t go in; it’s a ‘whites only!’ store so he takes pictures of the suits with his imagination. One of the suits looks like the suit the news reporter on TV wears. Another suit looks like the suit his uncle Jabu wears when he goes dancing. Thabo puts his hands in his jean pockets then he takes them out of his pockets and accidentally or by great coincidence money falls out of his pocket. He manages to pick up some of the money but one coin rolls on the street and he follows the coin until it stops. He picks it up, stands up and looks at a man, the sun is
shining on his suit and by the slip of the tongue he speaks ‘wow Sir, this is the best suit I have ever seen, what did you do to get this suit?’ The man laughs ‘what is your name young man?’, ‘Thabo’ he replies. ‘Well Thabo, you see that tall building?’ He points at the building ‘yes’ Thabo looks at the building. ‘I own it but professionally I am an accountant’ the man declares. ‘Sir, the only thing I’ve learned about accounting is debit and credit but I wish to be an accountant so that I can be like you’ Thabo whistles. The man laughs and takes out Rubik’s cube, ‘I want you to fix this cube in five minutes, make sure that every side of the cube has the same colour’ the man instructs. ‘But all the colours are mixed up, it will take years to fix it but I will try’ Thabo takes the cube. He looks at Rubik’s cube, he seems worried but like the speed of light he finishes the puzzle in one minute. ‘How did you do that?’ The man questions with a mountain of shock, ‘I have been training to fix this cube within one minute for two years’ Thabo smiles. ‘I did not expect you to finish the cube, I was preparing to tell you that great things take time but now I know that you are exceptional. I want to take you to school and make sure that you become an accountant or whatever you want to be’ the man responses. Thabo smiles ‘thank you, thank you, thank you!’ he jumps for joy and shakes the man’s hand.
‘You are the owner of multiple businesses and Forbes magazine calls you ”The accountant to be”. You suffered the oppression of apartheid and like Mandela you are a global sensation. South Africa and the world look to you for the key to success. So tell us: how did you do it?’ The reporter asks, Thabo now in his prime tells the reporter and the world the story you just heard.
by Nozipho Ngwenya from Botswana