The Magician Who Sold God
The Magician Who Sold God
Chapter 1: Growing up in the township
Angelbert Ncube was born in October 1976 to a small family of three children, two boys, Themba and Don, and a girl, Sihle. When Angel was born, Themba had just started school and was seven years old. Sihle was five years old and about to start school, while Don was three years old.
Angelbert's family was considered relatively small in the dusty Bulawayo townships in the seventies. Other families in Angelbert's neighbourhood had eight children with some big families having up to ten. One of Angelbert's neighbours had four wives and twenty-two children. In most cases, the bigger the family, the poorer they seemed to be and the less educated the parents were. This was not always true; as in the case of a family who lived three houses from where the Ncubes lived, they were a large family that was apparently well off by township standards even though the parents had never been to school. In Angelbert's neighbourhood, the houses were three-roomed and were composed of a kitchen, lounge and a bedroom. Most families built extra rooms outside the main house which were either used as extra bedrooms or were rented out to supplement the family's income. Angel's parents could not afford to build the extra outside rooms, so their kitchen doubled up as the boys' bedroom.
Simon, Angelbert's father, worked at a local garment factory in Bulawayo's industrial area. His mother, Siza, was a full-time house wife, who generated extra income by selling vegetables outside the beer hall every night. Simon's wages were just enough for the family to survive from hand to mouth. He cycled to and from work and when the bicycle was broken he walked for an hour and half to work. Hundreds of other workers either walked or cycled to work too. The majority of unskilled industrial workers were very low paid; their wages were more like wedges. Instead of being the amount of money paid per week for services by an employee, they were more like a piece of wood employees were given to wedge themselves and their families from falling into starvation. The wages were just enough for them to stay alive and come back to work.
In order to provide a decent life for their big families, it was very common to find families with second homes in the rural areas where they did subsistence farming. They kept a small farming plot, cattle, goats, sheep and chickens. These animals were the real wealth of the family. In this kind of set-up, the wife would live in the rural home and the father and school-going children lived in the township during the school days. The children would then join their mother during school holidays, with the father going to the rural home once a month, usually after pay day.
Simon and his family did not have this option. Simon was born in Malawi and came to the then Rhodesia when he was seven years old. Simon's parents came to Rhodesia during the 1950s when the British colonial rulers were encouraging the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The federation was being created to counter the introduction of apartheid in South Africa and as a small appeasement to black nationalists in Nyasaland (later called Malawi), Northern Rhodesia (later called Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (later called Rhodesia then Zimbabwe) who were calling for independence. Citizens from these three countries were free so travel throughout the region and seek employment.
Simon's parents put him through primary education but could not afford to send him for secondary education. Secondary school was considered highly educated for black people and Simon's father, who worked as a labourer for the then Rhodesia Railways, considered it unnecessary and regarded Simon as educated enough at primary school level, even though he had come out at the bottom of the class. His father adopted the Ncube surname when he registered Simon into school for