Delicious, home-made bread taught me never to steal

There are quite a few things I have to be grateful to my father for.

There are quite a few things I have to be grateful to my father for.

For example, I do not steal, thanks to a bitter-sweet lesson he taught me when I was about eight or nine years old.

My mother had just removed two hot, steaming loaves of home-made bread from the oven and put them on the table to cool down. Few things are as appetising as the smell of home-made bread.

Bit by bit, I secretly broke off tiny pieces of the bread while my mother could not see me. We had just had our supper, and I was not hungry, but the bread had some woza-woza effect on me.

By the time she came to remove the bread, I had chomped off about a quarter of a loaf.

She was aghast and said things mothers say when their little ones are caught stealing. My father heard her and demanded to know (from me) why I had done it.

"Why don't you ask? Did I not tell you never to steal?"

So the old man decided to inflict on me his own unique style of discipline, appropriate for a Sunday night.

He sat me down in front of the remainder of the bread - one and three quarter loaves - cane in hand.

"Now you eat all of this bread. You are going to finish it. Am I being understood? Come on!"

It was clear he would need pretty little encouragement to use the cane - and could he use it.


By the time I had had a few potions, I could not swallow any more.

But I had to finish the bread, or face his wrath.

I swallowed and swallowed and swallowed, tears streaming down my face until they dried unwiped.

After everybody had disappeared to their bedrooms to sleep, I was tempted to throw the remainder of the bread out of the window, but experience taught me that if I was found out, I was as good as dead.

I belched and farted and belched again, but it was still difficult to swallow any more. I thought I was going to die. I had heard the obviously false fairy tale about some king of the Bapedi who had died after eating too many sweet potatoes. We even sang a song about it. Was tonight my last night?

Just when I thought my stomach would burst - it must have been after midnight then - my mother came into the kitchen to rescue me.

There was very little of the bread left then. I gave her a look that said: "Surely you can't allow this man to do this to your son?" But I was getting no mercy from her.

In a cold, icy voice, and a tone that made it clear she was on the side of my torturer, she ordered me to go and sleep.

A damn good lesson I teach my children to this day: rather ask for crap, but do not steal or you might die.