Sikonathi Mantshantsha Deputy editor: Financial Mail

There once lived a little boy in a dusty and poor corner of the country. Like many in the village, his father had disappeared. His family was also not very well off. So the little boy was left to fend for himself. And the whole country was at war with itself. Soon he made friends with some adults whose organisation used to get into trouble with the bad authorities. Because of his dysfunctional family, and the strife in the country, the little boy’s schooling suffered.

While their own children were at school, the adults of the organisation would send the little boy on errands to do things that children would not normally be suspected of doing by the bad authorities. The adults would also feed him.

He soon learnt the ways of the adults, who continued using him on their secret missions against the bad authorities. But this taught him crucial tricks of survival in the unfriendly country.

Because he had nothing to lose, he did everything the adults told him to do. He would throw stones at the bad authorities, he would stand guard, pretending to be playing while the adults were getting up to no good. And the authorities would not suspect the little boy.

While under the guidance of the adults of the organisation, he learnt to survive in this rough neighbourhood. He soon learnt to shout out the loudest, and to pick the winning side. When his time at school in the village came to an end, he hadn’t done well at all. Some said he was as thick as a brick, others said he was as hard as wood. But he had to survive.

While eating stolen food, the young man grew greedy and spoke with food in his mouth. He wanted to chase other thieves from the table

So he moved to the big city. Taking his tough survival skills from the village, one day he led other youngsters through the streets of the city. They came across some adults selling food. These adults were different from the troublesome ones in his village. The now young man and his friends robbed these adults. They ran away with their food and broke into shops and threw rocks at the authorities and other people. As he grew up, his thieving ways also grew.


Ambitious thieves

So he made friends with more ambitious thieves in the organisation. These adults stole big things across the country. The young man’s ambitions also grew. He also stole big things. He pretended he cared about poor people, which made them like him. And the organisation allowed him near other people’s money. Soon he was stealing big money. He pretended to do good things to serve the community. Then he stole even more money and other things.

While he was eating stolen food with the adults of his organisation, the young man grew greedy. He spoke with food in his mouth. He wanted to chase other thieves away from the table. Then the adults of his organisation chased him away. They took away all the things he had already stolen. His cattle and houses and lands. But he had learnt important survival skills in his native village.

So he called other young thieves and they formed their own organisation. And they said they would represent the poor people of the villages. They gave themselves impressive names and titles. During the day they wore the clothes of poor people. At night they wore expensive clothes, and ate and danced in the canteens where poor people were not allowed.

They also beat up their own members if the members questioned the ways of the leadership. They beat other people, too, if they questioned their thieving ways. Now they wanted to steal the whole country from the people. They said they would steal it and give it to poor people. Some poor people believed them. But when they woke up, everything had been stolen. Again.