#PoeticLicence: The story of Tintswalo

Rabbie Wrote. Picture by Nokuthula Mbatha

Rabbie Wrote. Picture by Nokuthula Mbatha

Published Feb 10, 2024


The story of Tintswalo is an oversimplification of what the ANC could have done for the people since the 1994 elections.

Many argue that it is hollow, and lacks depth, as it fails to accurately reflect the current or past state of the nation for the past 30 years. The narrative, though optimistic, clashes with the reality of living in a dystopia.

The story wasn't too palatable to the ear; it had too many elements of a utopia.

I remember when Johannesburg was gearing to be a world-class city, a smart city. Little did we know that it would grow rugged, it would grow scales and mould on its dilapidated buildings. There is nothing worldly about its class. Instead of a smart city, it has amplified its street smarts. Colonial education has taught us that you will become nothing other than a savage if you find yourself in a jungle. This is the minimum expectation for every soul that finds itself in this city.

The streets are conniving. Every corner is home to a heap of garbage in this rat-eat-rat city. The rat race is never-ending, this isn't a place where Tinswalo would want to walk.

The streets have a pulse. When the city is not on fire, sometimes it exhales so loudly that the concrete catapults cars and taxis into the air. And you know, gravity doesn't care – what goes up must come down. Perhaps not rates and taxes. Perhaps not petrol prices.

The story of Tintswalo is more of an aspiration than an anecdote or manifestation. Granted, however, the story is plausible, all the government provisions to make it somewhat of a reality are there. The funds go to allocated projects, they just hardly reach all the Tintswalos who need them. Perhaps if the government did a better job of fighting corruption among itself, there could be a Tintswalo in every city.

There isn't enough Poetic Licence in existence to beautify this story in the ears of the masses. Neither is there enough poetry to add meat to the bony tale, or substance to its hollow narrative.

The ears of the masses were itching when the president took to the podium and started talking about their dream. But all they could hear were promises unfulfilled, and dreams sold, but they are too expensive for a layperson to buy into. Too dreamy, almost too perfect.

But we know better. It is hard to buy into a dream that lives where you live, in the pipes. When we turn our heads on our concrete pillows under a bridge, the pipe dream is there with us in the gutters, in the sewer grottos, in the ghettos and in the squatter camps.

When it rains, it pours where we come from. The dream drowns Tintswalo when she crosses a low-laying bridge on her way to school. Her story is a gambit, an oversimplification of what the ANC could have done for the people since the 1994 elections.

Saturday Star

Rabbie Serumula