Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A moment with the loving old geysers of Tonota

It’s long past month end. Tonota Post Office is still packed with old folks. They are all lined up in the queue waiting for their old age pension funds.

In the queue, old geysers are all suited and booted. Most of them carry walking sticks.

The parking lot outside is packed with old bangers. But the classic Humber spokes bicycles outnumber the bangers. A Humber spokes bicycle is one of those black classic bicycles with a bell and a trailer at the back.

The trailer is used to pack vitals such as firewood, including lunchboxes and important documents, like identity cards.

Whilst waiting for their turn in the queue, the old geysers had a lot to say about their yesteryears.

Douglas Binoni, 70, who is blind by the way, says he once followed a dinosaur and killed it.

“When I was still a young man, I killed a lion with my bare hands. I used to castrate leopards back in my day when I used to roll with the Boers. You can ask the whole village about me.”

Binoni says his Boer master used to make him sit at the back of his van, all of the time.

“When he stops, I had to be by his window in less than a split second.” He says, adding, “He used to drive around with his dog in the passenger seat. I was never allowed to sit on the passenger seat, even if it was cold or raining!

“I remember when we used to hunt elephants. My master never used to let me carry a gun. I could have died many years ago when one herd stampeded us.”

Mitchell Mulengwa (73) says he used to work at the mines in Kimberley. “There was a train which used to pick us up from Francistown. How girls used to admire us! Just because of them the train was called ‘tlhapang dirope’ (meaning wash your thighs) because when the train arrived, girls used to wash their thighs for us.”

Said Mulengwa: “My Boer master used to love me because I was quick to learn fanakaloo (slang which was used to communicate in the mines). I never used to go down the pit like the other buggers. I was a foreman. I wore a different coloured helmet.”

Old geysers complain that the P220 they receive is not enough to suit their lifestyles. They say it’s barely enough to buy tea and sugar, which they crave almost every hour.

Mrs. Mudzingwana (74) says all her children are all grown up now.

“They live in Gaborone with their boyfriends. Sometimes I think they no longer care about me. Apart from weddings and funerals, they only show up during long weekends and for Christmas.”

Since there are no old age homes in Botswana, many old folk depend on pension funds to sustain themselves. Because of rural to urban migration, many old folk are left behind and therefore usually end up very lonely.

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Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.