Columbia

* According to Wikipedia “Columbia is the female national personification of the United States.”

Within the extra-fortified walls of yet another Broadacres townhouse estate, Columbia rides her merchant bicycle, selling her wares. She gives the impenetrable security guard her usual friendly universal smile, as he escorts her in, interrogating her, seemingly knowledgeably, on her state of affairs.

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Debt Comes To Fourways

As the red sun sets over the Northern Suburb hills, and signals the call of the moon over the darkening night’s sky, the spirit known as Debt begins its ward rounds within the plush suburbs of Fourways:

The night is young
But I’m of old
Looking for more to embrace
In my choking hold

Beginning her regular routine of visiting the temples built to satiate her with living sacrifice, she starts off at Lonehill Shopping Centre. As dusk draws and commerce begins to rest its head, she sees James and Ayanda walking tensely to their car with a full trolley from Woolworths.

“But you know with the school fees and home loan, we can’t afford a new car”, says Ayanda to James.

“Yes, I know, but clients don’t take me seriously with this Polo. I can feel that I’m on the cusp of something good, and if I can score a few more contracts, we’ll live the comfortable life we’ve always wanted” explained James.

“You said that about the school and its supposed networks. You said that about the house and its supposed community. Now we find ourselves here living month to month, just getting by, forever on the ‘cusp of something good’” said Ayanda.

But why is she stubborn
Why all the prudence
Maybe a much longed for holiday
May be just the influence

In the car on their short trip home, Ayanda gets a WhatsApp from Tracey. She’s suggesting their families do a short holiday during the upcoming long weekend to Bela Bela.

“It’s been a really long year, and my soul needs this” thinks Ayanda to herself. “But James will never say yes to this after I said he can’t get a new car”

Sheepishly, Ayanda says to James, “maybe I do need to support you better in fulfilling your dreams. We can move a few items in our budget around and consider getting the car I guess”.

Oh, but this one
Was way too easy
Surely there’s a challenge
That’s more worthy

So up Debt goes into the darkening skies, hovering through the light breeze blowing against unsuspecting homes. Approaching Dainfern Square, he sees two friends, Ayodele and Oluwafemi entering a restaurant to sit down.

“It’s now been 30 years since leaving home” remembers Ayodele. “My children know very little of their history and where they come from”

“Why didn’t you ever go back?” asks Oluwafemi.

“We were so disillusioned when the promise of a prosperous Nigeria became a nightmare” replies Ayodele. “I don’t think I had the capacity to endure the thought of going through that again”

“When that oil price was good, man, it was good.” reminisces Oluwafemi. “But when those stupid IMF fools came and brought those foolish so-called ‘structural adjustments’ with their loans, man, things became bad bad.”

“Promised us dreams of prosperity. Left our country forever broken” depresses Ayodele. “And our children forever lost” adds Oluwafemi.

What a glorious reminisce
Of my beautiful craft
The shattered societies
My work of art

The night is young
And I’m of old
Let me find more to embrace
My choking hold