We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Grounded in my language but gatvol at lack of service

Image: Thinkstock

People who don't know me from home often say when I switch languages to Pedi, I lose them completely.

I apparently speak too fast and my speech is apparently dipped heavily in the Seshego dialect.

Tough luck to them, but if we park the English and park the attempts at Xhosa and Zulu that one does in Gauteng, I am really just a girl from Seshego "kgauswi le Mofolo".

Pedi, be it the Seshego dialect and accent that I have, is the one language that rolls the easiest off my tongue. I am heartened when I speak the language, much like how I feel when I drive into Polokwane. It is the one place where I feel I belong. A belonging that requires no navigation, no fanfare and no pleading. From when I drive north past the legendary landmark of The Ranch, a warm feeling of home settles in your gut and coils around your spine and roots you.

I am writing this from a coffee shop in Polokwane enveloped by this generous spirit of home. Why am I talking so lovingly about my hometown? Because I am going to tell you how gatvol I am with this place at the moment, and I want you to know that it comes from a place of deep love.

Everyone knows that home isn't home because it is physically present. It is the people that make a place home. If you didn't know that, you honestly need holy water from Moria. Our collective spirit and culture inform and shape a place and what it ultimately means to a person.

One of the things that inform the warmth and sense of community in Polokwane is in how generous people are with their greetings. If you have ever wondered why a whole radio station is named Thobela FM, wonder no more.

People in Polokwane take their greetings very seriously. This past week, I happened to be sitting in a waiting room cum corridor in a public place where I eventually had to tell my stepmother that I had used up all the greetings within me and it would be okay if I never heard another "thobela" in my life.

Every single person who walked past greeted us. They greeted us and greeted the people who were walking past them and greeted everyone in sight. They greeted.

I understand why they do that. There is a sense of security when you are out here in Polokwane. You know that you are enveloped by a community that would rally around you should something untoward happen to you. And a lot of it is a sign of respect.

I have been hinting at a complaint and this is it. There is absolutely no service in Polokwane, in places where one pays for it. When you walk into a restaurant, shop or bank, you'll get your thobela. It will be warm and kind, but that is all you are getting.

For any kind of timeous assistance, you will need to pull out teeth and maybe some hair. You could think of throwing a tantrum but you won't because you are respectful. You will seethe; you will curse internally. You will be attended to, just as soon as the weather has been discussed, lamented and predicted.


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

Commenting is subject to our house rules.