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Taking the bull by the horns

By Nelly Shamase

I’ve finally moved out of home.

At the not-so-tender-age of 27, many would argue that it’s been a long time coming.

Try telling that to my parents.

When you’re the last born of seven children — and you’re a girl to boot — your parents are not as eager to let you go as they would be if you were the first-born, for instance.

But now that I have become a law unto myself, I realise that moving out of home is not as utopian as I had envisaged it to be.
For one thing, I now have to do my own washing and this is completely unacceptable. To me, at least.

Reason being, I don’t even know how to use a washing machine so the laundry facilities on offer at my current abode are useless to me.

Only because they are self-operational.

Somehow I sincerely doubt that my fellow boarding mates would jump at the chance to do my washing for me.


And my cooking skills leave much to be desired.

Now onto more serious matters.

Not only do I have to start afresh domestically, but professionally as well.

How silly of me to think I can just pick up the phone and say “I’m so-and-so from the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism” and the person on the other end will sing like a bird and bend over backwards to get me what I need.

And to think that I thought saying you’re from the Mail & Guardian stable was akin to having a magic wand that you can point at will and walah: magic happens.

Uhmmmm … no.

But therein lays the challenge.

There’s no greater reward in life than succeeding where failure is a great possibility.

And the harder the task at hand, the sweeter the success.

But that’s the great thing about investigative journalism. It’s up to you to grab the bull by the horns and run with it until it bends to your will.

So where am I at present?

I’ve grabbed the bull’s horns.

I’m running.

And I’ll keep pushing until I have it eating out of the palm of my hands.

It won’t be easy but persistence is key and I have that in abundance.

And while I work at mastering the skills necessary to become a successful investigative journalist, my domestic shortcomings will be attended to speedily.

There’s nothing like a pile of dirty laundry and an empty stomach to get you going.


  • amaBhungane are the investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit, public interest initiative to produce better investigative stories and plough back through internships and advocacy. On this blog, amaBhungane -- seasoned and award-winning journalists -- will penetrate the world of smoke and mirrors to bring you the story behind the story.


  1. Judith Judith 14 January 2011

    Well done for taking the leap into independence, even if it feels like the worst thing you’ve done! And you’re planning for success – go for it!

  2. Gail Gail 15 January 2011

    Congratulations on finally becoming independent. I do not know what took you so long to jump, but perhaps it was financial considerations? As a Mom who has no children in the country ZI thik I can speak to what your parents must be feeling. When my last son left home aged 23 he made a huge jump from Ibhayi to Pretoria. There were no words to describe how it fet to be so alone and separated from him. Before I became a lake of tears I answered a small advert for a part time job in a school teaching English to high school. It was the best thing I could have done as I gained a whole new family with wonderful colleagues and discovered my passion! I totally am a natural when it comes to relating to and tutoring children. I have so much love, and wisdom and compassion to share with them from the university of life as well as about English. It awakened in me a joy I had been seeking all my life. Sadly because of car accident injures which imterfered with what I waa doing I had to stop after 4 years. Now I am exploring a whole new side of teaching in a previously disadvantaged school at Foundation Level. It is challenging and heartbreaking however it has opened up my creative side and exposed me to a whole new family of people. Meantime my sons are in Dubai, Austrlia and England. I am woman and resourceful.

  3. MLH MLH 15 January 2011

    My mother firmly believed that making her children independent was her chief task in life. If you don’t know how to use a machine, just ask! If you can’t cook, Google a few recipes and get going. Life is a learning curve and just wait until you bring that first baby home, then you really are into it up to your ears!
    Whatever institution you work for has a reputation formed long before you came along. If it has been sullied, you carry the can and you must build personal trust with all those you deal with. large organisations don’t always deal ethically with others and that’s what you’ll have to overcome.

  4. L. L. 18 January 2011

    At 27 I have lived in three countries and backpacked much of Europe. You sound very protected. My kids can use the washing machine at 5.

    Your parents really indulged you and in doing so did you no favours.

    Yes you have much to learn and are about 10 years behind. Hurry up!

  5. Nathi Olifant Nathi Olifant 21 January 2011

    So, you are out there in the wild all by yourself, serves you well my friend. You will be fine though, i also moved out of home to work for a national weekly at age 24 and that was many years back.

  6. Bongani Bongani 8 February 2011

    Well done I hope you will one day master the personal life because professionally you are doing well. Keep it up girl.

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