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An African survival story

(Motorcycle, fortune, nap). Steel in the face of adversity.

By Novel AllenPublished 4 months ago β€’ 7 min read
Top Story - May 2023
An African survival story
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What is construed as glamourous in our everyday lives? Is it the perfect photograph splashed atop a story. Or is it the content written within the story. The poignant and true pictures of the real lives of a people who struggle for existence, the people whom we cannot begin to comprehend their daily battles for survival. A simple life of relative comfort to some, would seem like a kings palace and a banquet feast to many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Some who have to fight so hard for the providing of a few morsels for their daily bread.


Lesedi, a ray or beam of light. Aamadu, most praiseworthy. Aamadu smiled a wry smile as he thought about the meanings within their names.

The young lad held on tight to the many bundles attached to the motorcycle which was being driven by his mother Lesedi. Being thus precariously perched atop a bundle which jostled and bounced, in addition to the great discomfort felt by what felt like rocks piercing his backside every time they fell into the many holes along their uncomfortable journey; Aamadu couldn't wait to get to their destination.

Photo by Michael Awala-Unsplash

Problem was, they did not stay long in one place, in order to maximize a profit, they had to change locations at least three times on a given day. The days were hot, the work was hard, and he had to miss school again today so he could help his mother. He really loved going to school, there were books there that they could not afford at home. Sometimes the teachers allowed him to borrow one to read at home. Aamadu wanted to be an engineer, so he could invent ways to make a great fortune and help his mother to move away to a life filled with comfort and a lot more ease..

"Ama, you ok back there". Lesedi shouted above the noise of the street.

"Yes Ma". He replied, wincing as they dipped into another hole in the road. There was no point in arguing the matter, it was what it was.

Lesedi was not a woman to be argued with. Aamadu thought that she was made of some type of steel skinned material. Nothing fazed this strong-willed, stubborn and immovable mountain who was his mother. Lord knows, a less brave soul would have given up a long time ago.

He remembers her working in the field after his father had left to go seek work in the city. That was two years ago. She had to plant the crops that offered them food to supplement the little that they could afford to buy. His mother had to plant enough so she could sell some to make that money. Lesedi still stood at the door at nights, staring long out to the trees and heavens, waiting for Dhatu to return. Aamadu never saw her cry or spare a moment to show any remorse for her predicament. Maybe she did so when he could not see her. He loved this strong willed, kind and generous woman who was his mother. For though her offerings were sparse and bare, she never refused to lend a hand to those in need.

He knew how much it hurt her heart to have him miss two or more days of school each week to help her prepare for market. She had no choice, all the children had to pitch in within other homes as well. The teachers did their best to tutor the children and keep them current on their curriculum.

Aamadu dreamed of one day moving to the city which he only saw in pictures. In the rural town where he lived life was hard, and they never seemed to have enough money to do anything exciting, they barely made enough to survive as it was.

He had read about some of the rich cities in the African country. Cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, Nairobi and many more, but those were far away from the little town of Umlazi, close to where the wild animals roamed menacingly and big cats lurked closely at nights.

Keyur Nandaniya-Unsplash

Aamadu brought his mind back to the present situation. They had reached the marketplace of Asayan where vendors were presenting their wares in loud and boisterous fashions. People, motorbikes, bicycles, roughly made carts and vehicles which had long seen their best days, blocked walkways and entrances, making navigating the area a virtual nightmare.

"Jump down now Aamadu, I will go find a place to park and set out the things for sale". Keep close, don't get lost now". Lesedi yelled. Lord, it sure was noisy here today.

Across the street four boys were huddled over a game in a sort of secluded corner.

"Hey, Aamaa man. Come over here. You got a coin to take a turn to play today". They all laughed in a friendly way. None of them, except for the owner of the game, had coins. They could only stop for a minute to watch as the older boy played his game. Soon mothers were shouting for the boys, the day's work had begun.

Someday I too will own a video game, and it wouldn't be an old dilapidated one like Akai's. He knew he was being mean, but he didn't care right now. Aamadu had seen pictures of handsome new and modern games in the magazine that Bandar brought to school last week. One day, he said to himself. One day.

Lesedi had set up her work area. A clean table was unfolded, she was allowed to keep it in the small store where her sister Madia worked. From the bundles on the motorbike came different types of ready-made food. You can get Egusi over rice, or you can eat it with plantain, pounded yams, collard greens, Fufu, Semovita, Eba, or Alama. Lesedi lit her little coal stove and soon her pans were all warmed up, the aroma of the food wafting across the air. Finally, she got two clean aprons from a bag and tied them around herself and Aamadu, washed both their hands from a water bottle, and waited patiently for her first customer. If all went well today, they might not have to go to the other locations after all.

The fire was going low, so Aamadu had to go to the edge of the woods to cut more dried wood for the coal stove. They always travelled with the machetes. They served many purposes. Protection in case of trouble. Animal attack, or wood for the fire. On the way home, Lesedi and Aamadu would stop at the cassava field and cut some leaves for cooking next day. Cooked Cassava leaves was a delicacy served much like collard greens.

Today was a good day. Many tourists came on the big bus and wanted to try street food. They had heard of the vendors outside the markets. Lesedi and Aamadu were kept busy all day. They got many tips today too. This rarely happened. Maybe now they could get the wires on the bike fixed. There were days when he thought it would catch on fire, sparks were always flying all over the place. At least his father had left them this old bike which he had built from many spare parts from all over the place.

After lunch business slowed down, Lesedi placed a small blanket under the table, allowing Aamadu to take a nap before heading back. She could handle the sale now that it had slowed down after the rush hour. He didn't sleeep though. From his little bag he pulled out his engineering book which he had borrowed from school. Across the way the other boys were playing football. Not Aamadu. He had great plans for the future, no time right now to play. Maybe later.

Lesedi smiled as she saw the little shoulder bag disappear under the table. She knew that her son would be reading instead of sleeping. A month ago she had finally heard from Dhatu. A letter with some money for Aamadu. He was sorry, but he would not be returning home anytime soon. He would send a little money every month so could she open an account for Aamadu's school fund. It would not be much right now, but he had hopes for the future. She had cried for an entire week, then hugged her son and continued as if nothing had happened.

The money was in an account in the little bank across from where she sold her lunches. She would never use any of it for herself. Lesedi would continue as before and make plans for a better life for her son.

"You awake Ama"? She asked. She heard him yawn, thinking that she thought he had slept. She smiled again.

"Lets pack up and go home now son. We have enough food leftover for dinner. We can stop and get the cassava leaves for lunch tomorrow on our way home".

"Ok Ma". He smiled to himself. Aamadu had read the letter before his mother had hidden it. He would be the man of the house, he would take care of his mother. Now he had a better chance of getting that education, there was money going into the bank.

It was going to be hard, but they would be all right!


About the Creator

Novel Allen

(Uk based)... Listen to all, but follow no one absolutely!!!... Be a mountain, a stream, a river, a dream. Exist within moments, be driven by whims and fancies, be free spirited. Untamable. Run wild with the wind.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (26)

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  • Mark Graham3 months ago

    Quite the story and very descriptive and really liked the pictures. It is a shame but there are people all over the world that live that way.

  • Oneeke Parchment3 months ago

    nice story!

  • Novel, I revisited this story because it haunts me ... in a very good way. This, I give a first place award.

  • Raghavendra S Rao3 months ago

    Nice story. Great write-up.

  • Ranjan Baral3 months ago

    Hi Novel, you actually created a kaleidoscopic survival story. Your original images are quite good.

  • Nice Article...!!! Your thought process is amazing The way you tell the things is awesome.

  • Real Poetic4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Felicia4 months ago

    An interesting story with much emotion and hopefulness!

  • Leslie Writes4 months ago

    Your characters are so endearing. Their perseverance is so admirable! I am rooting for this family! πŸ’– A very worthy top story!

  • Egbe Chris4 months ago

    Lovely story congratulations πŸŽ‰

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Wonderful heartwarming story!!! Loved it!!! Congratulations on T S tooπŸ’•πŸ’–πŸ’–

  • Congratulations on Top Story!!!!!!!!!!

  • Congratulations on your Top StoryπŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

  • Tiffany Gordon 4 months ago

    Gorgeous story Novel! This story warmed my heart & made my day! 😍 The selflessness, the hope & love conveyed in this story was wonderful to witness! Congrats on your well-deserved TOP STORY my friend! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸ’ƒπŸ½πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

  • Ashley Lima4 months ago

    Incredibly well done! Congrats on your top story

  • Loryne Andawey4 months ago

    Your story fills me with hope for Aamadu and his family ❀. Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • Melissa Ingoldsby4 months ago

    Congratulations on your top story!

  • Melissa Ingoldsby4 months ago

    A very real narrative with raw material and an emotional connection to your characters

  • Donna Renee4 months ago

    This is stunning, this may just have to be my new favorite!! ❀️❀️❀️

  • This story will always be close to my heart. It just makes me so emotional. I loved it so much!

  • Jay Kantor4 months ago

    O~N - I was just commenting on Judey's story "Quiet Hiring"Β with a similarity to my "Fired" when I came across your gorgeous creation and suddenly feel that my offering became trivial compared to your cultural-description.Β  No, YOU "Spin Sunshine in everything you utter" Corporate Right Fighting seems so trivial in comparison to this perceptive disclosure; may I say you are very literate! Sometimes so far across the Globe can just be media- back/forth ScHtick. Your "Birds eye View" with personal profound distinctions makes a dent as a voice to listen to. Ah, once again, Daahlink, your pen-power reaches out! Good-4-U Novel! *I just want to say our culture doesn't offer what yours proudly does. You are all there just for the better good as a community-family; sadly we build fences. 'J' Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Author Community -

  • Wait, this is fictional? You wrote this? Novel Allen, I.... If I were handing out awards, you would win first place.πŸ₯‡

  • Incredible Novel. One of the best stories I've read on here. The way you took us through their day, I could see every part of it. You wrote these characters so well. Very impressive

  • Greatness πŸ«ΆπŸΎπŸ’―β€οΈπŸ“β€ΌοΈ

  • RM Stockton4 months ago

    Excellent story, Novel. Life is a daily struggle for so many!

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