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30 Apr 2015 00:00
At the tender age of five, Smangi had overheard family elders whispering about how they suspected a neighbour of stealing clothing from the washing line. (Madelene Cronjé)
We just have to agree to call my wayward cousin Smangi.
In both childhood and adulthood, Smangi remains a troublesome character.
The young woman resurfaced in my life in recent weeks when we stumbled into each other at the Brits Hospital to pick up my half-brother, Ouseun.
From the very moment she saw me, Smangi was in her element, suggesting how so-and-so had bewitched the recuperating Ouseun.
As I drove her and Ouseun to the village of Jericho, it was vintage Smangi who dominated discussions, mostly about how her neighbours had failed to bewitch her, a single mother, and her offspring.
The arrangement was to drop Ouseun and Smangi at her shack in rural Jericho, but not before Smangi rambled on and on about how the neighbours would be jealous of her, to have been transported in her cousin’s car.
Because of my old jalopy, Smangi swore the tokoloshe and other creepy-crawlies would be going walkabout around her shack that night.
When I returned the next day to check on Ouseun and Smangi, I found a number of village elders gathered under a thorn tree in the latter’s yard.
These were men and women with serious-looking frowns, who arrived to hold court with Smangi, allegedly because of her poisoned tongue. This time around Smangi had gossiped about how a villager’s wife had abandoned him to live with another man.
Blushing, Ouseun and yours truly were forced to become mediators, promising that we would talk sense into Smangi’s hot head.
As soon as the village elders had left, Smangi took this opportunity to set the record straight.
Beating her breast with a rolled fist she, Smangi, great-granddaughter of the Masilelas, had all the proof that the woman had left her husband for a good man.
Masilela clan legend has it that, at the tender age of five, Smangi had overheard family elders whispering about how they suspected a neighbour of stealing clothing from the washing line.
The next day when the suspected neighbour dropped by, we hear that Smangi stopped playing with the other children and confronted the neighbour about the accusation, to the embarrassment of the clan.
Fast forward to today.
At the time of the recent official opening of the Letlhabile Mall outside Brits, the unemployed gathered in their hundreds, demanding jobs.
Smangi was among the masses, crying out blue murder at the mall management.
Those who know Smangi better than me swear by our ancestry that she was not interested in a job, but had gone there spoiling for a fight.
That’s one hell of a pastime, dearest cousin Smangi.
Johnny Masilela is a journalist and author
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