The honey jam story – Lotanang Makoti

It’s the year 2002 at Laerskool Rosenekal in Witbank, Mpumalanga. The sun blazes in the afternoons but the nights are cold. Church on Sunday is a necessity along with the Afrikaans hymns and breakfast to gear you up for the word of the Afrikaaner God, who loves all his children dearly that he brings them a pastor to preach to them on Sundays. Muffins are an occasional luxury that filtered throughout the year into dry bread, coffee and a block of butter which often tore the bread itself leaving you the delightful and ever so loyal crust and mush of jam which had a whole story on its own and for which you try to find space on what is left of the bread or just gulp down your throat while staring at Ledombolo’s table and the bottle of All Gold tomato sauce and the eggs… God the eggs. The boy had tasted them at some point, because he was dubbed the name “Die Prokkereur” or “The Lawyer”.

In the winter season a thick fog covers the whole of Rosenekal, a small town in Witbank Mpumalanga and at night one could hear the songs that were sung by initiates on a mountain just behind the school. These songs excited a few of the boys in the dorm who were enthusiastic about their aspirations of going up to the mountain one day, but they frightened Die Prokkereur.

The prefects are well-behaved, Shane is insane and white. He tried to make a hammock with his blankets tied to the poles of the two story bed on the first day he arrived which resulted of course in him breaking his arm and having to leave this place, lucky bustard. A gold star is for good boys but not Die Prokereur, “after school is after school” is a threat that is common, but never from the boy, he could never fight.

In the boys’ dormitory, there were 3 prefects on duty, one for each room and in room 7, Die Prokkereur’s room, the prefect on duty was Trinity, a “genius” in the eisteddfod who was considered best in the whole school. He and Die Prokkereur got along instantly as Die Prokkereur was the only one in the junior phase that was selected for the eisteddfod team of 2002.

Die Prokkereur followed him everywhere, sat next to him in the dining hall and shared with him as much as possible, he looked up Trinity.

They left their homes with full stomachs, tennis balls, skipping ropes and trunks full of goodies and clothes, preparing themselves for a delightful year away from Dithabaneng, Limpopo where they had grown up. Esale and Nte, his brother and cousin, respectively, had been to boarding school before, Northern Academy in Polokwane, where they had apparently been the bosses of their dorm. And all the aunties knew about this arrangement and would let the two hold the other childrens’ locker keys because if these two are capable of beating up all their peers then surely they must know what is good for everybody else.

It dawned upon the boy that he might not be as fortunate, physically he was not as endowed, but you see he was a man of words, a smooth tongued thespian, with a profound love for prose, music and dance, since as far back as he can remember, and boy could he tell a lie. He was well aware that he could out-wit his peers, as many of them would ask him questions they deemed impossible to answer and in the case of arguments, anyone whose point of view he approved, was pretty much what would be considered fact. If there was any slight disagreement it wouldn’t be vocal, just a grunt at most. The only chance you had at ever winning an argument against him was calling a teacher or beating him up because then he had no chance but to surrender.

But just be careful not to let your guard down because his feeble giggle was capable of disarming even the likes of evil Mr. Viljoen who would soon find themselves laughing along, even with the belt in the hand. This humoured Trinity and he would often challenge the boy to a debate about the most useless things one could think of.

The news about the headmaster, Mr. Gert De Blom’s passing hit everyone very hard, especially Die Prokkereur since he was the first teacher to realise that sport was not his strong point and was the first person to take the young boy to his first eisteddfod competition where he came in at first place, even beating his mentor, Trinity, who became jealous and bitter, but like everybody else he couldn’t hold this grudge for too long because the boy was just too funny.

On Sunday mornings a group of boys would be seen led by Die Prokkereur around the hostel to the back of the dining hall where they picked up empty All Gold apricot jam cans in which they contained bees and would later eat the remaining dried-up apricot jam thinking its honey. As competitive young boys one could catch them bragging about the amount of bees they were able to catch, because the more bees you have the more honey you will have.

At bath time the boys dispose of their empty jam cans and race to the dorm where the prefects force them to stand naked in single file, for this very reason half of the boys decide to stay outside and continue looking for bees to catch. Trinity decides to go the extra mile today, forcing some of the boys in the dorm to fight against one another, but as for Die Prokkereur who beat him in the last eisteddfod competition, he forces to suck on one of his peers’ penis, the boy, young as he was (8), understood that there was something wrong with this. He later that week reported it to his brother but lied and said it was Isaac, one of the other prefects, but also was too embarrassed to say what it is that he did and just settled for “he forced me to fight with my friends.” Yet another lie.

Die Prokkereur’s clueless friends came back to the dormitory, running to show off to him what they had caught and he looked back at them with red eyes, the other half which came to the dorm with him were trying to get him to stop crying.

And for the first time his eyes that were once so full of life now resembled death, yet the boy still sought Trinity’s approval.

Photo: Hazel Fasaha Tobo

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