“ I am sitting on a wagon in the dusk. Jammed alongside and under me are our meagre household goods: a bed frame with coiled steel springs, a mattress of hessian bags sewn together and stuffed with dry kikuyu grass, and amakhuko – our grass sleeping mats. There’s an enamel basin, a homemade table with rough wooden benches, our three-legged cast-iron cooking pot and some larger pots used for feasts. A pig, and some chickens with their legs tied together, have also been squeezed in, squealing and
squawking in protest. Someone has remembered to pack the pumpkins that were being stored on the roof of our house, and our stock of dried mealies. Also sandwiched among our possessions is my mother, holding my toddler brother. One or two other
siblings manage to find a spot, but the older ones will have to walk. Some of our clothes are packed into the pots, the rest are bundled in blankets and tied onto the wagon with rawhide ropes, along with last-minute, almost-forgotten items. I am wearing the shorts I got for Christmas six months earlier, and which will have to last until next Christmas. My shirt is made from a cotton flour sack, that my mother sewed on her crank-handle Singer, now also wedged onto the wagon. As darkness falls, the icy wind whips my face and cuts through my flimsy clothing. I huddle deeper into the warmth and comfort of an old grey blanket.
I am six years old. It is the winter of 1963 and we are being evicted from the farm where I have lived all my life. We are being evicted – from the home I thought was ours.