Rod MacKenzie
Rod MacKenzie

Mom’s taxi in China

The photo in this blog shows a typical sight at about seven thirty in the morning in many parts of China. Mom taking her child to school.


The lorry bicycle is not just a form of transport, like the BMWs or Mercedes moms use to take their children to St Stithians or Brescia House in Joburg. This precious, simple wooden box on wheels is also mom and dad’s livelihood.

They will spend the day using the bicycle lorry hauling goods from one place to another, do furniture removals, or deliver bags of rice and flour, or whatever you, the customer, require. Mom is lean and her job ensures she will never put on excess weight.
Their child’s education is vital. If that means creaking on her lorry bicycle for an hour every day to school and back, so be it. If their boy one day passes national exams (like the SA matriculation exam) then, joy of joys, he could maybe study at a college or university, which can completely change the family’s future.

One day, tough as teak as bama, mom and dad are, they will no longer be able to provide for themselves. There is no real life-sustaining pension scheme fund in China that I know of, and I have asked many Chinese. Bama will then rely on their little lad – now hopefully a big, educated young man – for food and shelter. This he will gladly do, if he is a typical Chinese.

One problem with this is, of course, the one-child policy in China. They cannot have more than one child to ensure later on in life the rice and eggs will still be there on the plates, not to mention their dignity (the latter somehow more important to me). They probably don’t own a table, so I only mentioned plates.

Whether her son gets into college or not completely determines the family’s social standing thereafter. If he has a girlfriend, nupengyou, and she gets university exemption and he doesn’t, their relationship is over. He then continues the family’s traditional business of carting from building to building whatever you, the customer, require. The work is done for a pittance.

Or he takes up selling vegetables because he thinks there is more money and less backache in that enterprise. He mourns his sweetheart, lost to the greater social status of a university education. He writes a few poems about her, sometimes found in graffiti outside tiny, one-room, shared apartments smaller than what you can see in the background of this photo. Then the tender lettering slowly fades away.

And I used to watch some kids in Joburg north moan because mom could only get chocolate ice cream, not double fudge and walnut or whatever. If you have children and you feel they could be more grateful for what they have, let them look at this blog.