Life is hard… and then you try harder

Life is hard . . . and then you try harder

By Yazeed Kamaldien

January 9 2012 at 12:41pm

A DETERMINATION to make something better of his life is what drives homeless Siyabonga Bobo, 27, to a traffic light each morning where he sells The Big Issue magazine.

Bobo stands on the corners of Buitengragt and Buitensingel streets with the magazine and a smile for six days a week. He left home in the Eastern Cape when he was in Grade 11 because he did not get along with his mother, whom he hardly knew.

“My mother only came home to wear widow’s clothes when my father died. They were married but I never saw her,” said Bobo.

“Staying with a person that never raised you is not easy. I asked myself all these years where she was. I had agony. I needed to heal myself by leaving home and taking care of myself.”

Bobo travelled to Cape Town “to explore my dream” as “it’s a bigger city”. But he ended up living on the streets because he did not have a place of his own or a regular income.

He started selling The Big Issue three years ago as it offers 50% of the cover price of each magazine sale to vendors (R9 of R18 currently).

Life on the streets is tough and Bobo knows he still has a long way to go. “I feel ignored,” he said. “But I’m enjoying what I’m doing. At least I don’t go home empty-handed. I can eat at night just like an ordinary human being. Homeless people just want shelter, food and ways to survive.”

He says that passersby tend to “tell you anything” and “take advantage of us”.

“Some think we are prostitutes. Some want to show you that you are worth nothing. But I look nice. I’ve combed my hair,” said Bobo.

“They say we are homeless and just drug addicts. You can’t say that all homeless people are drug addicts. Some of them are. But there must be something that makes you leave home and live on the streets.”

Bobo said that being on the street was also “tiring and risky”.

“Each and every day I pray to God to look after me when I walk between these cars. Some people are drunk when they drive,” he said.

He said he did not want people feeling sorry for him. “I am struggling to make ends meet. It’s not the end of life for me. I have a vision to be out of here.

“I want to open my own auto-electrical workshop. I want to fix alarms and central locking. I have some experience in this because I went to a technical college. I want to work for myself.”

Bobo said he was working hard to get off the streets.

“Everything that happens in life, happens for a reason. Maybe this is a lesson from God so that when I am living like ordinary human beings, not (struggling to survive), I must not forget where I come from.”


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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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