From the moment you open the first page of After Tears until the last page (218), you will be mesmerized by the story of Bafana Khuzwayo a University of Cape Town (UCT) law student drop-out from Chi Township (Soweto) in Joburg.

And you will immediately identify with the tale of having to abandon studies and facing the humiliation of families and community.

That was it for Bafana, Cape Town was too cold for him, he had to leave immediately, and everything was not going his way.

After four years at UCT he had nothing to show, his mind was racing back and forth on the train back home.

The book reads like someone is sitting next to you sharing his life journey, Bafana arrived at Park station in Johannesburg, and three friends smelling of booze, cigarettes and sweat, awaited by his uncle Nyawana.

Nyawana was excited to see Advo. Ever since he started doing law his uncle stopped calling him Bafana and called him Advo, short for advocate.

But he was a failure, came back without the degree. When he thought about his mother, a shiver ran through him.

The sacrifices his mother made, borrowing money and selling the house so that he could go to university. And the way she was boasting to her friends in the township about her educated son, the first lawyer to come out of Chi.

Bafana was forced to become a bogus lawyer when his friend bra Zero a streetwise taxi driver was arrested and wanted Bafana to defend him.

While he was still shocked by the arrest of his friend, and how he will break the news to him that he is not a qualified lawyer, another friend of his, Vee from Zimbabwe asked Bafana to marry her before the police deported her.

Now his life was being pushed into a corner. In the middle of marriage proceedings Bafana felt a warm klap on his cheek from his mother who was fuming with rage.

Carrying his UCT results, he ran out of Home Affairs leaving everyone in a puzzle of questions and his mother clapping hands in disbelief.

After all that drama, he went to Diepsloot squatter camp, in self-imposed exile, engulfed by feelings of failure and guilt. He decided to escape it all to start afresh in Durban.

The whisky freed him from his misery and carried him all the way in a train. He fell asleep and dreamt of his family.

This story goes on even after you have closed the pages of the book.


Numsa News No 2 July 2010