Slice of life: ‘I knew I’d be a writer’



For me, a writer is something that I hold in high regard. I mean, I read people like Oscar Wilde.

For me that person was a genius, and I didn’t think of myself in that way.

I thought of it as an aspiration that would never become something real. Through my schooling years, I loved English. I loved all my English teachers.

My first English teacher was my Mmemme (my granny). “Rigmarole” — that’s her word. She always used to use bombastic English words and I would be intrigued by them and want to know what the hell she was saying.

She used to keep us back during school holidays, because she used to run a crèche when she lived in Matatiele. She was a teacher, and I guess she was idle and bored, so she took it out on us during school holidays. We’d have to come in for lessons.

Even back then I used to think of her as quite mentally colonised — for this respect of the English language. But I have to admit I now have the same thing, not necessarily the English language — English is just the language I have more access to.

But it’s the thing that shows me that I love language and I love words and how words can be strung together. I love how words can have new meaning. I love creating new words. I love seeing the inconsistencies in the English language. I love to play with language.

And I think, looking back, I knew I was going to be a writer. — Nonzi Bogatsu, as told to Franny Rabkin

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

Related stories

The language of Afrikaans is not the problem

English is a valuable resource, but we cannot continue to promote it at the expense of the indigenous languages — including Afrikaans

South Africa prioritises fossil fuels over clean energy in post-Covid-19 recovery packages

The country is among the G20 countries who have invested in electricity produced from coal, oil and gas at the cost of addressing climate change

Challenges and opportunities for telemedicine in Africa

Telemedicine in Africa is currently limited by the availability of basic infrastructure, but, considering the lack of doctors in rural areas, it is a vital component in addressing the continent’s healthcare needs

Fight the disease of corruption in the same way we fight the coronavirus

Gogo Dlamini, Themba Dlamini’s mother, died of Covid-19, but Mzanzi has a chance to rid the country of fraud and exploitation and instead serve ‘Gogo Dlamini’, the people of South Africa

This time it’s different: African economies may not survive

Amid the headwinds created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time the Aloe ferox, which survives in dry, harsh conditions, is nurtured — but the options are limited

The SADC will regret its approach to Mozambique’s insurgence

The SADC has been lackadaisical in its response to the insurgency in Mozambique and in so doing, is putting several other southern African countries at risk

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

Tito needs the IMF, South Africa doesn’t

The IMF loan is given with false motivation — to provide political cover for entrenched neoliberalism and deep cuts in the public service

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday