April 23-25, 2010: After a weekend in Durban, I began what is my last week here. I couldn’t believe I had reached this point in my trip already. I remember landing in windy Durban, completely confused, tired, and expecting anything. Now I feel like I have conquered this city (in my own way. I’m sure I would be conquered in like 5 minutes if I were to step out alone at night). My host family has now become my family and leaving them seems wrong. I have grown very attached to the family. Sibongile is such a respected woman in the community and she doesn’t take shit from anybody. She has raised her boys quite well given she can be quite intimidating. Since she is a school teacher, I asked the boys one day if she’s a cool or a mean teacher. They responded, “let’s just say we’ve lost some friends growing up”. Whatever the case, she has the biggest heart I’ve seen. She will take a bullet for anybody and could possibly kick anybody’s ass. Also, she wrestles with her boys all the time, each time giving them a run for their money. GoGo is the same way, being a GoGo in the household is an interesting position that I haven’t quite figured out. I think it is very revered and are looked at as the ultimate caretaker. GoGo has been through quite a lot in her lifetime. She is the oldest of 6 sisters and has lived in townships the majority of her life. She has gone back to visit frequently for days at a time. GoGo once told me that at one point, there were 20+ people living in her 3 room house in the township. She was the caretaker for that household as well. Like Sibongile, she can probably kick anybody’s ass. She also takes on her own grandkids and wrestles. Probably one of my favorite memories happened this weekend. Boom Boom and GoGo were beating each other up one day when Boom Boom ran into my room and slammed the door behind him, putting all of his weight against the door. GoGo attempted to push on the door to no avail. Boom Boom snickered back at her with his demonic sounding laugh. Before that could end, the door suddenly flies open sending Boom Boom onto the floor. Persistent granny actually charged the door with all of her might and knocked her grandson cold on the floor. At the threshold of my door was a huffing and puffing grandma wearing a yellow sundress. Best part is that her English becomes perfect when she gets angry, “Why are you laughing Boom Boom? It’s not Christmas! I’m going to throw you out that window and show who really raised you!” Essentially, I respect her immensely and do not want to challenge her to any sort of physical brawl. It was the next day that the entire family would be hit with a terribly stressful and sad day.
It was Sunday and the whole family went to church. GoGo goes to a Zulu speaking church while the rest of the family goes to an English speaking church. She walks there and back each Sunday morning and afternoon. It was the afternoon and she still had not returned. We got a voicemail on the house phone and it was GoGo but she sounded distraught and in a panic. There was so much noise in the background that we couldn’t hear anything. Eventually we get a call from Sibongile saying that GoGo was in the hospital. I thought maybe for her hypertension or diabetes but definitely not what I was about to hear. She was hit by a taxi bus while walking back to the house. She was literally the next street over, maybe a 3 minute walk. These asshole taxi buses that I’ve been talking about have added to the statistic. They are so aggressive and do not care for anybody else on the road. All they care about is getting to the location as quick as possible to make more money. They are in the highest incidence of car accidents here in South Africa. The story that went with it wasn’t much better. Apparently GoGo had fallen while she was walking and the taxi proceeded to run her over while she still down on the concrete. The taxi bus ran over her leg and it dragged her for a very short distance. Instead of stopping, the taxi bus kept going. She was put into another taxi and was taken to the hospital where she sustained a pretty nasty set of lacerations on her arm and a broken ankle. She stayed there overnight and was supposed to come back the next evening.
After all of that, you would think that would be enough for one day. But this wasn’t the case. After waiting 10 hours in the hospital, Sibongile came home from the hospital to the house. We helped open the gate and garage so that she could pull into the garage. The driveway is pretty steep and has some gravel patches. On her way up the driveway (driving stick, which she is new at), she slid on some gravel, lost control of the car, and slammed her new car into the side of the house. I don’t know what else we could do at this point… the day was simply not going to be a good one. She hit the house at the right front tire and the surrounding area. I checked out the tires and everything, and the car didn’t look moveable. I know at this point, I would have lost it if it were I. But Sibongile held pretty strong, although I know she holding a lot back. I felt so bad, I wanted to help out somehow but I’m not sure if I really could. To say the least, it was a bad day for the Msomi family.