We hear from Vele Xubu about omalume
“One aspect of school life that one never get to hear about and almost goes unnoticed but yet it is the main part of most learners attending school. Omalume as they famously known are transporters of learners to and from school. After the hustle of getting ready for school; the next thing is to make sure that transport does not leave you behind. Omalume get to share the space in between home and school. This is a significant period that very few pay attention to.”
Speaking to a gentleman by the name of Vela Xubu; otherwise famously known as Veja; we find out what it means to transport these rather precious cargos.
“I have been transporting learners for the last 4 years; started with High School learners now I am transporting Primary School kids. Also see myself playing a crucial role in the kids’ life since I am like a teacher and a parent during that period in between. I am responsible for their safety; teach them how to cross the road.
This line of work has taught me patience, dealing with kids requires that. Respect them first so that they learn to respect you back; but most importantly they must always be happy, comfortable and safe during their travel to and from school. This means that the kid will go to sleep at night looking forward to the next trip the following day. To achieve that I normally allow my kids freedom to be kids in my Taxi; obviously that freedom is controlled since I am an adult. But they normally do what they feel like doing which makes them relax before getting into classrooms; and after school trip gives them a sense of relief from their day’s learning. I usually have pockets of sweets with me to give them.”
Creating a respected environment for learners
“During my free time as well as weekends I make sure that the transport is spotlessly cleaned and smell good. This shows that I respect them. It builds confidence on them and teaches them to stay on the clean environment; that is why they are attracted to my transport.”
“Most of Omalume focus on the money they receive; but as for myself I see money as an important factor but does not determine the reason I transport kids; it comes from my heart. At the end of the day my income is from the very same people whom I transport and therefore they deserve better service from me. If they want to eat in the car they can but also observe our hygiene conditions or I penalize them.”
“Master CB Crew” the dream
“We have good relationship with my kids as well as their parents. During special occasions such as Heritage Day I become their camera man. But I wish I can do more for them you feel me? I wish I can take them out for a snack or something every now and again.”
“In a perfect world I would give them their own cool uniform to wear On Fridays obviously with Schools’ and Parents’ permission. I named the Taxi “Master CB” so their Uniform would be written the “Master CB Crew”. I want them to take ownership of this transport and they must know when they get in; they are at home away from home. Like if a kid left a personal item back at school they must feel free to ask me to turn around and go and look for it. The relationship is such that they are my friends because even on weekends you find some of them here at my house helping me wash the car. There also is an opportunity to teach them how to wash the car properly.”
Omalume forming a safety net for your kids
“I have a network of other drivers similar to me; this helps in a case where for some reason a kid needs to change transport; maybe they are now going into High School etc. I can refer them to another transport where they can get as close a treatment as with me. For instance I make sure that I am on speed limit and safety is number one on the road, so I cannot allow them to go to a driver who drives recklessly. Even at times when we are running late but safety is always first from the moment I turn the car key.”
“As young person myself at 24, I saw my dreams diminish in school when I dropped out due to peer pressure and bad influence. So at the moment one is just pushing life in baby steps. My dream is in Motor Mechanic. But what I am doing now gives me an opportunity to learn responsibility and be a lesson to these kids to never drop-out of school no matter what. So I make sure that they are inside the school gate in the morning and that there is no funny business in the afternoon.”
Relationship between Omalume and Parents
“My relationship with their parents is also very good. I have their cell-numbers to make sure that communication is priority in case of emergency or just in general. They know that if they kids are on detention in school I am not fetching them, because they know what type of learners I transport. If you going to get into trouble at school for whatever reason then I am not going to play any role in making the day any easier on you.”
“This teaches them responsibility and respect. If I fetch you on detention then I am an encouraging you to keep on doing whatever that got you into trouble because you know you will have transport afterwards. I remember this one time one of the girls did not come back with after school until Friday when her week detention was complete. Other kids told me that she was in trouble at school, so when I fetched them I asked where she was all these other days and she said I was in aftercare, not knowing that I knew the truth ha ha ha.”
While we are talking we joined by Tshepiso.
“Ey my brother when I drive around on weekends here in my township it’s like my hooter works over time (peep peep peep “sure bhiza, ey sure bhiza”) or else when they see me on Monday they complain that I ignore them when they greet me!! We have close relationship with our kids, they are happy and that makes us happy.”