Tuhafeni Sheehama played a few meters away from the homestead. He had been waiting for the holidays for so long, and had dreamt up endless possibilities for fun. Of course, school was never ever fun for eight year old Tuhafeni, but it had been a rocky few months with classes having to be cut in order for them to hide.
He wasn’t sure what all that was about, but all the hiding and ducking was never fun. And some of his friends started to go away, or at least that was what his mother told him. But he was starting to suspect something even more sinister than that. He had seen men being lowered into the ground; lowered and covered up with sand, and Tuhafeni was beginning to think his friends had also been lowered into the ground for some reason.
Deep down, he knew he would never see them again. And so, he played alone. His father had cautioned him not to wander too far from the house, and so, Tuhafeni pretended the marula tree on the eastern boarder of their yard was a magical perimeter that would incinerate him if he crossed it.
“Voom,” Tuhafeni jumped and raised his arms up, chasing after the dogs. The dogs lapped up the fun and ran along excitedly, but after about an hour, Tuhafeni grew weary of playing with them. He even contemplated going into the house to call his annoying five year old sister to join him. He was about to go make her the offer when he noticed a tall man walking from the yard gate.
A distance from the boy, Colonel Nicholas approached Tuhafeni, attempting to be as fast as he could allow while being meticulously cautious. He carried the weapon he had gotten from his boss, now painted red and yellow. “Hi, boet. How are you?” he asked when he reached the boy.
“Good,” Tuhafeni replied cautiously. His father had warned him not to speak to strangers, but this man was clearly a police officer.
“Are your parents home?” Nicholas asked. The little boy nodded.
“Well, I have brought a gift for you, young boy,” said Nicholas, handing the boy the bomb. “I want you to take this to your father eh? Show him the nice gift I brought you.”
Tuhafeni’s eyes bulged with excitement. He had never received a gift of this magnitude before. It was so shiny and colourful; he couldn’t wait to start playing with it. His sister would be so jealous! He wrapped his little arms around the large and heavy metal, supporting it with his chest and took off towards the house, thrilled and animated. This holiday was finally starting to look exciting.
Colonel Nicholas began to walk away quickly, battling with a range of emotions. Most prominent was his basic survival instinct, the desperation to be gone when that explosion went off, which would be any minute now. But he also fought with a deep sense of morality. He was a soldier, he had a duty to his superiors, but he also just handed a timed explosive to a child. He almost wished he could run back and get it back, but it was too late now. He started to jog. He found his boss outside the wooden yard, sat in the military jeep.
“Well done, Colonel,” said Sergeant Willem.
Nicholas did not answer. He simply climbed in the back seat on the jeep and sat quietly, wanting to crawl in a hole somewhere and cry.
In the Sheehama household, little Tuhafeni found his father having a drink of Oshikundu. Mr. Tangeni Sheehama noticed his young son running towards him with a colourful item. He smiled, but the boy got closer and he noticed exactly what it was. His eyes bulged. He shot up, and began to run towards Tuhafeni. “N—”
The earth shook with the impact of the blast, and that brought a massive smile on Sergeant Willem’s face, but next to him, he heard Nicholas begin to cry.
-To those who died in the struggle for our freedom, we will never forget you.