People ask me why Dlukula wears dreadlocks.  Because he looks flippin' fantastic, obviously!

People ask me why Dlukula wears dreadlocks. Because he looks flippin’ fantastic, obviously!

I am an introvert. I like people, but socializing requires a large investment of emotional energy on my part. However, every now and then I meet a person whose interactions energize me. “Dlukula” with his contagious laugh brightens my day like an exothermic reaction.

In April, Dlukula donned his sandals, grabbed his walking stick with the knobby handle for beating stuff, and took Colonel Tom and I on a long-awaited hike to the top of the north peak. I had spent three months tromping around the base of that mountain, but I never would have found the switch-backs up without his help. At 63, he is agile and strong. He was also kind enough to know when Tom and I needed a break.

Trying my best to keep up.  Snakes, beware of that

Trying my best to keep up. Snakes, beware of that “hiking stick!”

Our guide is a force to be reckoned with; “Dlukula” is the honorific version of his surname (can you imagine what the royal “Hynes” would sound like?). He has livestock. A LOT of livestock, many of which were waiting for us on the top of the mountain. He speaks four languages that I can remember. I love hearing him speak with Tom in Setswana, and with a 4th grade education in Johannesburg, his English is much better than that of most of the 12th graders running around campus. Most importantly, he’s helpful. If a teacher is stuck at night without a ride, he’s there in his white pick-up truck.

Dlukula and the Colonel sharing stories at the top of the north peak.

Dlukula and the Colonel sharing stories at the top of the north peak.

From the top of the peak, he pointed out schools and mountains far away. He also pointed out the ruins of the Afrikaaner farm that had been abandoned at the end of apartheid. As a teenager, he worked on that farm. They worked long hours for no pay, and all they were fed was some pap (think hard grits) with milk and a little sugar. Those memories seem unbelievable now. He exclaims and shakes his dreads in disbelief that he had led such a life.

Living on a school compound where teachers frequently go home on the weekends, we don’t have many close friends. We asked Dlukula to be our friend. He replied, “No, I don’t like having friends. They talk too much.” Sounds like the perfect friend for a couple of introverts.

Best

Best “not friends.” (Note to self–when taking a group selfie, don’t stand in a rut.)

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