Soweto Gentlemen

After a considerable number of years living in Soweto, writer, Monde Mabaso, paints her hood anew through the gentle brothers who always seek her favour when she is out and about.

There is something about an upbringing in Mqedandaba, Estcourt followed by a dalliance with Kwa-Mashu and finally settling down in Soweto that makes one yearn for the lovers of old. The rural areas have character and there is an appeal to heading down to the river for some quiet time when you suddenly find yourself in the company of a handsome Zulu stranger with a poetic tongue. This is certainly not the case these days, especially in Soweto. The language has been corrupted, yes the lingua franca is fun and inventive, but I am a purist. The art of wooing a woman is dead, suitors are impatient and aggressive. Sometimes, however, they manage to put a smile on my face with sharp word play. Car guards and street salesmen (sweets, chargers and Zambuk peddlers) are the wittiest of the bunch. I once read of a taxi driver who began a conversation with a lady sitting in the front seat by saying: “hayi ke sisi umuhle kakhulu, ngiyakuthanda, kodwa angeke ngikhone, kungcono sibe abangani”.

Although not always pleasant, stepping out of the house for whatever occasion presents plenty of possibilities and all manner of male folks that may cross your path like the list of would be Casanovas below.

The Street Corner Brother

The guy at the street corner has always been problematic. I don’t mind people standing at the corner if that’s what they want to do with their time, but can they let me walk home in peace. Brothers at the street corner are known to be fond of trying to chat to every girl that walks past them. The problem is that some of them don’t know how to take no for an answer. They’ll be busy calling you mabhebeza and swiri while whistling at you. When you refuse their offer to walk you wherever you are headed, they are ready with a reply: “bengithi ngiyak’shayinisa”. If I let every street corner guard shayinisa me I’d be shining bright like a diamond by now. Also, can someone explain to me why every other guy likes to ask “manje baby ungivakashela nini?”or perhaps he would say, “orr mina ngize ngizovakasha?” Shouldn’t we at least get to know each other for longer than ten minutes before we discuss conjugal visits? Yhu! Amadoda!

The Fuck Boy to end all Fuck Boys

The Fuck Boy tends to dress like those dizzy American rappers. Dresses like a rapper but has no rap skills. He has an American accent that has Americans wondering which part of the red white and blue he comes from. The Fuck Boy won’t hesitate to walk one girl one way and then return with another on his way back. He won’t even care that you just saw him walking with another girl. Fuck Boys aren’t usually the brightest crayons in the box but they are cute. But don’t let that fool you. His skills in the sack are not as grand as he promised. Uzozisola.

The Drunk

The last time I saw a grown man drunk in the morning was when one of my uncles still thought he was a hot young thing some years ago. He had gone on a drinking spree with his friends and had not slept at all when he decided to come home at 07:00am. I never expected to meet a drunk person in the morning ever again - at the mall, nogal. Turns out this lad had also not slept the night before when his brain told him he needed three more beers for breakfast. This here fella is the type of guy that will act like he knows you and proceeds to walk with you as if you’ve been friends for years without bothering to ask for your name, no matter how many evil eyes you train at him. He will even tell you not to be angry with him while apologising every two seconds. Dressed in clothes that looked good and clean the night before, he will call you “lady” and tell you how pretty you are and that “it’s not the alcohol talking”. As you’re walking he will stop and stare at you for a few seconds and say “Yazi, wena you could be the love of my life”. Just imagine being the love of a sdakwa’s life. Call me picky, kodwa thanks but no thanks. With this guy there is no wooing involved, no sweet words or promises. No need to even be excited here because this guy will forget you as soon as his head hits the pillow.

The GTI Driver

The Golf GTI must be VW’s best-selling car down Soweto way and in the Black and Indian nation at large. It was once christened a Ghetto Panty Dropper and at some point years ago a pattern of these beasts lined the Orlando Pirates parking lot at the Orland Stadium. The GTI driver can be seen in his Sandton office outfit, smelling of a middle management quota position. His generosity is immense; always ready to offer Soweto’s entire female population a lift. Sometimes he can clearly see that you just came from the spaza shop across the road, but will insist on hitting on you and giving you a ride.

“Love, don’t you wanna grab some pizza?” As if a yes is the only possible answer to that question. Bleksem.

The Good Man

It's not always that bad. Every now and then you will meet a good one named Neo or Tshepiso who's an only child, went to a good school, speaks good English and was raised by his Mama. He dresses like his long gone father (vintage) but he’s a good kid with manners. He asks nicely for your numbers and promises to call and take you out to a movie. Your friends would have probably laughed at this coconut and nerdy dude in the past, but nerds are in fashion these days, so Neo is a go. It never lasts because he can’t do anything without his Mama’s consent.

The Hipsters

Then there’s the arty/hip prototype population that feeds the Braamfontein and Maboneng’s hipster maze. When the rand is low for Steph Weiss crafts you can find them at the Soweto Arts & Craft Fair or Seven Colour Sundays preying on box wine and Zamalek. They are a carefree bunch. What you see is what you get. No lies. They get straight to the point. They're very generous with their smiles if they like you. But these guys never ask for your numbers. "I will see you around," is all they say. Ai maybe they have some magic that will reach me when the time is right, who knows. Sigh…

*Suffice to say that, Monde Mabaso is still single.

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