“The Bus People” tells the lived experiences of bus commuters.
Author Chumile Sali is a Golden Arrow bus commuter and a social justice activist based in Cape Town. In “The Bus People, the author uses fiction to tell short stories of the black working class.
“The Bus People” mostly reside in informal settlements in Cape Town townships. The book covers structural violence experienced by the bus commuters through minimal access to water and toilets, and exposure to crime. The book also covers the impact of the taxi violence on bus commuters and narrates how taxi violence impacts their jobs.
The book covers the dehumisation of the bus drivers when buses are torched by angry protesters demanding access to water and toilets, or taxi bosses when they are fighting for routes and fighting against the enforcement of draconian municipal by-laws.
The bus drivers become invisible when communities fight for the provision of basic services and when taxi violence erupts. The first two stories in the book explore the killing of Mthetheleli Nyamazana, a bus driver, by Zithonga-Zithathu Gqugqugqu, a former soldier of the liberation army.
Human rights policing is covered in the book through stories on #FeesMustFall and the March 21, 1985 Uitenhage massacre.
The #FeesMustFall story paints a picture of riot policing now, and the Uitenhage massacre story tells of the kind of policing liberation heroes fought against.
The author takes readers through the killings of young black women in Khayelitsha by young black men who were not properly nurtured by their absent fathers. The fictional stories of the young women are inspired by the killings of Sinoxolo Mafevuka and Bongiwe Ninini in Khayelitsha. Both were killed in their neighbourhood by people known to them.
The killers of Ninini are four young men who shared drinks with her on the night of her death. These four young men served life sentences for killing her. The author tells the stories of these four young men, how they grew up and were socialised in Khayelitsha.
“The Bus People” was published in 2023 by Uhlanga Books, owned by Zimkitha Zilo of Khayelitsha.
Sali started writing “The Bus People” chronicles in October 2017 on Facebook, narrating the stories of bus commuters. Facebook friends encouraged the author to document the stories in a book format.
Other themes covered in “The Bus People” include masculinity, the challenges of domestic workers, the transportation of corpses from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape, social justice activism and the absence of career guidance in township schools.
The book is a documentation of stories and lived experiences of informal settlement residents.
The author hopes it will be read, referenced and used by bus commuters, community leaders, taxi drivers and owners, scholars of social science and humanities, the black middle class and decision-makers to change the status quo in informal settlements.
“The Bus People” has been nominated for the Cape Flats Literary Awards in the Best Short Story category. The awards ceremony will be held in Gordon’s Bay on April 6.
*The Bus People can be ordered online at Bookworminc.co.za. The e-book version can be downloaded on the Amazon website. Book orders can be done via email: [email protected] or WhatsApp 073 813 1728. Book price: R220.