Friday, September 23, 2011

Neighborhood Kids

Every day on my way home from work, I take a shortcut to my house from the main shopping mall. Along the way, I pass by several houses and lots of kids. The kids quickly run over to hold my hand or beg for things like candy. 

There was one precocious little boy who really stood out. He would run up to me, grab my hand, and start talking rapidly in Setswana. My friend translated what he said one day. He asked for candy, which did not surprise me at all. What did surprise me was his reasoning. He said that he could ask for money to buy candy but if we just gave him the candy directly, we could cut out the middle man. 

I had to laugh at that one, and if I had any candy I would have given it to him; even though I have a rule about not giving out anything. 

I now see that little boy almost every day. His name is Mangwato (Mang-wha-too) and he is on the right in the above picture wearing the red shirt. When I first used to see him, he would run out to see me yelling, "Lekgoa!" (White person!). I have taught him how to give a high five and how to say "high five" in English. Now instead of asking me for things, he will run out and ask for endless high fives. He also carefully inspects my bags when I come from the store and asks me in Setswana what I will be cooking. 

Now when I walk by he will come yelling either "Legkoa la me" or "Tsala ya me." The first translates into "My white person" and the second translates to "My friend." I find the "my white person" one particularly amusing. 

Now when I walk home I am bombarded with a chorus line of little voices yelling "high five!" from all directions. I stop and give all the kids high fives before heading home.  It is the perfect little pick-me-up after a day in the office.