He always wears high shoes. He always wears big sun glasses. And he always carries a a horsetail stick – the stick his father made for him.
He walks straight up. He holds his head high. He keeps his stomach in. And he pushes his chest out. He always looks good. Very good.
People greet him wherever he goes. He smiles back with his gold tooth. Cars stop when he crosses the road. He doesn’t wait for the robot to turn green. He just walks. The drivers don’t mind. They hoot and wave.
Banda’s job is simple. He works outside shops. He walks up and down. He shouts through his red loudspeaker. “This is Frank Banda from Malawi. Brothers and sisters, this shop is having a sale. Come inside and have a look.”
People stop to look at him. They laugh at him. They tease him. But they love him.
Banda doesn’t mind when people laugh. He wants people to laugh. He keeps the people happy. And the shopkeepers keep him happy. They pay him R25 an hour.
Twenty five rand an hour not bad for a migrant worker from Malawi. Not bad for somebody who came to Johannesburg with nothing.
Banda always knew what he wanted to do. He knew he wanted to work with clothes. He has always loved clothes. He feels good in good clothes.
He came to Johannesburg 11 years ago. At first he worked In a shop. He stayed there for 7 months. He got a job doing domestic work and stayed for 5 years. And all the time he saved the cash.
Six months later, he went into business. The shopkeepers liked him. He did the job right. The business went well. And his wardrobe got fuller.
Now Banda does what he loves to do. He always buys the best. And he always looks the best.
Next time you see a crowd, stop and look. You may see Banda. He’ll make you laugh. But when he gives you his gold tooth smile, you’ll love him.