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My Fellow South Africans: Kingsley Swazama Khumalo

My Fellow South Africans: Kingsley Swazama Khumalo, a Zimbabwean man living in the Cape Town CBD for the past 22 years, photographed by Henk Kruger (African News Agency/ANA)

My Fellow South Africans: Kingsley Swazama Khumalo, a Zimbabwean man living in the Cape Town CBD for the past 22 years, photographed by Henk Kruger (African News Agency/ANA)

Published Apr 29, 2022

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“I was injured in 2017,” Kingsley Swazama Khumalo says. “People here just see me and they don’t know what happened to me. They don’t know what happened deep down in my heart. I have a Volcano inside me.”

Kingsley, a Zimbabwean man living in the Cape Town CBD for the past 22 years, is a self-employed vendor who sells arts and craft on Greenmarket Square in Cape Town’s CBD.

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Khumalo remembers the day his teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“I don’t know what I want to be,” he told his Grade 6 teacher.

Little did he know, this “was a very bad answer”. He remembers how he was beaten for not knowing what he wanted to become when he grew up.

“When I was around 15 years old the vision I had was to dream of being finished with school and to go to live in Angola. I used to like the people of Angola. By this time there was this opposition party called UNITA. The leader of this party was called Jonas Savimbi, and I really liked the way he fought.

“I wanted to go and live in Angola”

Khumalo was reluctant to share how he ended up being wheelchair bound, merely saying: “I was injured in 2017. People here just see me and they don’t know what happened to me. They don’t know what happened deep down in my heart. There is a volcano inside me. But I keep cooling it.”

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Khumalo did, however, refer to the practise of initiation, which he said, was a peculiar part of his culture that not many people fully understand.

“I have a Volcano inside me. I’m angry and this anger can evaporate any time, but I’m always cooling it down, holding it down every day,“ Kingsley Swazama Khumalo says. Picture: Henk Kruger (African News Agency/ANA)

“Something interesting about my culture is that I’m circumcised. In my culture, when you are the age of 12 you go to the mountain and you stay there for 3 months.”

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He loves Cape Town, but encountering people begging for money is something that weighs heavily on him.

“The thing I don’t like about the city is all the begging. I don’t like begging, the street people harassing you for money every day. When you say ‘no, not today, maybe tomorrow’, they keep on asking and that’s not good for me.

“I like being here, for the last 22 years I’ve been living in the city and I never think about home.

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“I have my two kids here, I brought them over from the other side. I like it here, for the last 22 years I haven't been outside of this City.”

* My Fellow South Africans is an editorial campaign powered by IOL which aims to build a more inclusive society by introducing South Africans to each other.

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