Slice of life: Reading, the balm to pain

By the time we got to the town of Laingsburg in the Western Cape, I couldn’t bend my knee and had to go to hospital because it was so swollen. The doctor told me that I should stop cycling because I had suffered an overuse injury. But I couldn’t do that because this initiative is bigger than me.

You see, I grew up in a village called KwaHlathi in KwaZulu-Natal where there were no libraries or people to help me to learn to read. Cycle4Change is a campaign aimed at promoting literacy and we cycle to different towns and rural areas, talking to young people and helping to set up libraries with the donated books we collect.

This year, I got a new bike the day before we started our journey. I was so excited that I didn’t set the bike up properly; I just wanted to hit the road. I started to feel a slight pain in my right hip just two days after we left Pretoria, which worried me because I still had more than 1  00km to cycle before completing the trip.

When I was a child, I wanted to know how to read so much, but I didn’t know how to. My grandmother worked as a helper and she used to come back with books, but I could only look at the pictures and had to make up my own stories. This frustrated me so much, which is why this cycling drive is so important to me, because I get to inspire young people from backgrounds like mine. I know we won’t reach everyone, but the one village we reach, the one community, is better than nothing.

I had to finish. — Sibusiso Buthelezi, 40, as told to Mashadi Kekana

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