/ 21 November 2014

My nephew, the doctor, is down with the villagers

Almost a year ago several Soshanguve residents discovered that their new houses were built on the flood plain of the Soutpanspruit.
Almost a year ago several Soshanguve residents discovered that their new houses were built on the flood plain of the Soutpanspruit.

The small township of Letlhabile is home to my nephew Tebogo, she of the sleepy but cheerful eyes.

To reach her home, a traveller from Pretoria has to drive north through the Rosslyn industrial area and then navigate their way past a cluster of RDP and flat-roofed dwellings, which cling to the main road like swallows on a telephone line.

These houses form part of the sprawling township of Soshanguve.

From there, one drives westwards into the village of Hebron, home to the proud Bakwena ba Mogopa people of the Mamogale chieftainship.

The Bakwena ba Mogopa villagers bake bricks and build their own, often very big, houses, unlike we township folk who are in the habit of blocking roads with burning tyres to demand free housing and other goodies. But I am not about to try my hand at politics.

These villagers keep large herds of cattle and goats, with the herdsmen often lifting their battered hats to greet and smile at passing motorists.

Inevitably, visitors from the city often have to contend with a dose of cow dung or goat droppings clinging to their polished car tyres.

From Hebron, the traveller drives through the villages of Kgabalatsane and Rabokala, before finally reaching Letlhabile.

Like me, Tebogo has relocated to Letlhabile, but each for his or her own reasons.

I moved there from Soshanguve because I stumbled on a three-bedroom house that was being sold voetstoots at an incredibly low price by a major bank.

For Tebogo, the move from the Pretoria township of Ga-Rankuwa was necessitated by a work-related transfer.

Unlike me, on arrival in Letlhabile Tebogo spent a considerable period of time living in a backyard shack. Tebogo’s shack became popular with her neighbours and villagers beyond Letlhabile – more so because of her easygoing manner than her community-based work.

On my regular visits to her shack, I often found Tebogo hanging wet clothing on a neighbour’s washing line, with the purpose to chat.

In recent weeks, Tebogo has built and moved into a massive house, with the shack still standing forlorn in the backyard.

Tebogo is on maternity leave, nursing her bouncing baby boy, Duke, and is often surrounded by women visiting from the neighbourhood or even from the villages beyond.

Her big house continues to attract young and old, a few of them relatives who have moved in with her, and often a toothless old lady who had come to smile and pull faces at the baby.

For me, the pretender to aristocracy, all this human traffic translates into downright invasion of privacy. But alas, not so with Tebogo.

To the locals, my nephew is simply Dr Tebogo Motsepe, the medical doctor on call, who diagnoses and treats their sore limbs and crying babies during her rounds at health clinics in Letlhabile and surrounding villages.