By Tafi Mhaka

The old steam railway track never made it to Section K

The shiny new highway went northwards to Section J and missed us by five long miles

The taxis stop on the very edge of town for fear of being robbed by the restless men in town

The local playground is a grimy mass of pitch black muddy waters and dense brown shrubs

The clinic is a flea infested room filled with a chair and table

And a grumpy old doctor who needs a fresh bath and a clean shave

The airy supermarket is a market for all the small-time traders in town

They will sell money to you for a quick buck if you let them

They will sell flesh to you for a quick release if you want one

They will sell bones to you for a quick meal if you are hungry

The supermarket has no freshly painted walls with posters advertising the latest products on sale

It has no stalls with beautiful tellers at your beck and call

It has no credit or credit card machine to lend you a hand in these hard times we live in

It is just a motley mix of familiar ghettolicious faces on the daily grind

It is a forest of old and used goods of dubious origins and destinations

A ramshackle market of rich unprofitable junk for the ghetto

The stench of money gone west is thick in the sharp-tasting air

The stench of money that never made it past the railway station on time emits a pungent smell that tinges the nostrils of the noisy dogs roaming the streets

The stench of lost dreams engulfs the surrealism of extreme poverty in Section K

The ghettolicious hustle is as real as hell on the hottest day on earth

You can taste the hustle in the mouth like a lemon ripe with tangy bitterness

You can see the struggle in the pockets of hope and despair lingering in vain on the worn out faces painting the ghettolicious landscape into a Picasso masterpiece

You can see the black resilience in the eyes of the children fighting against the tide of the curse of fate

In Ghetto Heaven people work hard for a rather tough living

In Ghetto Heaven people play hard to just to have a jolly good time

In Ghetto Heaven people live in hard times and good times for a living

This is Section K

Home of modern African kings and queens

Home to shipwrecked Caribbean kings and Queens

Home to the pretentious kings and queens of joy

Home to the anointed kings and queens of despair

Home to the future kings and queens of hope

Home to the kings and queens of textbook poverty

Oh Dear Lord I pray

I pray to you my Heavenly Father

Deliver us from Ghetto Heaven sweet Jesus

I did not smile on Friday

I did not jump for joy on Friday

No Black Friday in Ghetto Heaven

No Gucci specials in Ghetto Heaven

No Dolce and Gabana specials in Ghetto Heaven

No Louis Vuitton specials in Ghetto Heaven

No wearing Prada in Ghetto Heaven

No Apple niceties in Ghetto Heaven

No Android niceties in Ghetto Heaven

No strawberry milkshakes in Ghetto Heaven

No double cheese burgers in Ghetto Heaven

No French caviar in Ghetto Heaven


Help me Dear Lord

She is screaming at the top of her voice again

She is screaming in a piercing high-pitched voice

She is screaming violently like a fifth rate version of Kelly Rowland

She is screaming like Michelle K in utter distress

She is annoying the hell out of Ghetto Heaven

The lady in the dishevelled bachelor flat upstairs is screaming at black heaven again

She is screaming at the feisty black cat for it is killing the huge rodents that live in this rat hole of a ghetto

She is screaming at the polite and chatty ice cream vendor for selling low fat sugar free chocolate ice cream

She is screaming at her son who has not been home for six whole months for he hates to cross the old railway track

She is screaming at her brother who left his wife for a woman who lives on the other side of the railway track

Uncle Kay stares at the wall as Ghettolicious Mama yells at him

Uncle Kay never speaks to Ghettolicious Mama

He never speaks to other people at all

He speaks to himself though in animated fashion for hours on end

Uncle Kay went to war for five years in the Congo

When he came back from the war his wife had a set of 2-year-old triplets he knew nothing about

Uncle K had a job at a factory in town two and a half years ago

But he lost his job to a modern factory machine made in Fresno in California

He had a lovely wife once to hold in his arms

But he lost her to a man named Franco

After Franco found about the set of triplets


Now she is screaming at the mechanic who has been fixing her car for six months and keeps asking for more money to get it fixed

She is screaming at her 23 year old boyfriend who refuses to wear condoms if he is drunk on moonshine liquor

For she is a bootylicious cougar in this lit up black heaven of mine

She is 34 and feening for that big-time ghetto hustle in a million ways

And she is a notorious screamer my black brother

Ghettolicious Mama is yelling again

She is yelling at the girls playing Hopscotch in between dirt-filled potholes in the road for they are making such a din

She is yelling at the teenage boys sipping a homemade brew in the bushes behind her flat for they are peeping Toms staring at her in the shower

She is yelling at her daughter for playing Chance the Rapper all night long

She is shouting at her daughter for blowing Cocoa Butter Kisses to the boy next door through the broken window in the living room

She is shouting at her daughter for wearing a bomb ass black leather mini-skirt to a sleazy slumber party in town

She is reprimanding her daughter for smiling and waving at the shady nihilistic man in flat number 29

She is reprimanding her daughter for sexting naked selfies to the hedonistic married man who lives in flat number 29

She hollers at her daughter for having a baby at the age of 17

She hollers at her boss for not dropping a little more dough into her small pay packet

She hollers at the sweet-tongued snake of a man who got her to drop out of high school just after she turned fifteen

She looks at the rent bill for this month that is on her brown damp bed of a sofa

Her landlord is a fool she hisses as she spits into the rusty kitchen sink

She swears at the heavens above for bringing her into this life of bittersweet hardship

No meat for supper

No tomatoes for gravy

No vegetables for roughage

No formula for the baby

No dollars for a six pack of Heineken

No pennies for three smokes

Her landlord is a mighty fool she hisses again

Living in black heaven should cost her nothing but pain and distress

Living in black heaven is not a champagne-filled Christmas party

You do not get a chance to say thank you for the invitation

You do not get to RSVP and politely decline the offer

When Black Heaven calls you up for the first time

When Black Heaven says your name for the first time

When Black Heaven picks your name from the grand lottery of sheer misfortune

Smile and say black cheese: You have won a fully paid up subscription to a lifetime of ghettolicious melodrama


Drama as the teenage mama screams at her thin little girl for crying

Drama as the sickly child cries all day in the hope Black Heaven sends her an angel

A guardian angel to lift her out of this gutter of mad hopelessness she has been born into

Drama as her change of nappies takes a day and half to get done

Drama as the famished child cries all night for whole milk formula instead of sugary H2O.

Drama as the unloved child cries all night for something warm

Drama as she yearns for a warm kiss in the bitter cold of the night

Drama as she dreams of a warm hug in the throes of deep hunger

Drama as she dreams of a warm rug to hide her soft black skin from the lusty mosquitos buzzing around her little arms and legs

So the child cries for her mother

But the seventeen-year-old mother is busy

She has a bottle of Viceroy and a litre of Coke to finish tonight

So the black child cries in Black Heaven

Teenage Mama has a box of smokes to light up by the balcony and get that nicotine flowing in her little system

So the black child cries in Black Heaven

Teenage Mama has a fat ghettolicious blunt filled to the brim with fresh Malawi Gold to calm her frail nerves and light up her night

So the black child cries in Black Heaven

Teenage Mama has needs to satisfy in this ghettolicious life

So she sneaks off to see the married man in flat number 29

The child in Black Heaven cries out for her teenage mama

Teenage mama cries out in ghettolicious pleasure in flat number 29


Her boyfriend is not of much help to her

He is a ghetto-fabulous star in town

His demeanour is all ghetto-fabulous all day long

Black Heaven calls him Gotta Go

Gotta Go is the name he goes by in Black Heaven

He drives a pimped out ghetto-fabulous 1974 red Cadillac

And he drives a ghetto-fabulous black Range Rover with tinted windows and silver 24s

He is 27 and hustles full-time for a living that pays the lights

He is a busy man in this town

He has places to go to all the time

Like he has got to see his girlfriend all the time

Which girlfriend my brother?

The tall slim African queen in flat number 37?

No he is dishing her up on the side my brother

So she is on the right side of things for him

Is it the light skinned beauty in flat number 16?

No her man is hustling for Benjamins and blood diamonds in the Congo

So she just needs a little love and some ghetto loving from Gotta Go now and again

Is it the hot cutie in flat number 7?

No she has a heart for queens

She does not like him that much

But she is his queen too

Is it the chick in flat 14?

The long-haired pretty girl from Section J?

No my brother

Remember his game?

If he loves a girl for one romantic night only and she falls pregnant

He has got to go

If he promises you a good deal for something and cons you out of five thousand dollars

He has got to go

If you leave your door unlocked at night

Your ghettolicious Samsung HD TV has got to go

If he asks you for a ride to town

Your new ride has got to go with him

If he helps your grandmother move the furniture

Her money has got to go with Gotta Go

Whatever he does in the dark of the night in Section K

Wherever he goes at all ungodly hours in Section K

He has got to go with something from Section K

That is his ghettolicious hustle

And this is the home of Ghettolicious Mama

This is Section K


This is Khartoum

This is Kigali

This is Kingston

This is Kisangani

This is Kismayo

This is Kisumu

This is Kitwe


This is Katutura

This is Khayelitsha

This is Kwekwe

This is Kinshasa

This is Kampala

This is Kadoma

This is Kaduna

This is Kabwe

This is Kano



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