SLICE OF LIFE
People tell stories around me all the time. If you have to ask me what my story is, it’s like this: I fix shoes on the street. I was an artist at home in Côte d’Ivoire, I came to South Africa and now I’m working here.
Being an artist doesn’t pay. The shoe thing is temporary – I want something better. I listen to people who walk by; they stop and talk to me. Everyone around here knows Stéphane Tah as he is now.
I sometimes imagine my future, but I know how it will happen.
Tomorrow, you’ll see me in a shop. Two or three shops is what I’ll own.
I’ll be asked: How did you get here? I’ll tell them: I didn’t get to owning these shops just through the money. It was by kindness and the help of people around me. I was kind to people, too, along the way.
One day, I was sitting on the corner where I used to fix people’s shoes, and a guy from Pretoria came. He wanted a job. He didn’t find that job, and he had no money to go home. His transport cost R120 – he wanted to sell his S3 Samsung cellphone for R500 to get the money. I made R140 that morning, but I took R120 out of my pocket and gave it to him.
A few days later, a white lady parked her car just down there.
She asked: “How’s your business?” I said: “Business is fine.”
She had a roll of money in a small plastic bag. There were a lot of people around, so I took it and quickly put it in my pocket. She left, and after a while I counted the money. R1 100. Just like that.
Tomorrow, I will be a shop owner. It will take money, yes, but mainly a good heart. – Stéphane Tah (27), as told to Ra’eesa Pather