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A kennel a day keeps the hunger away

Hi, here I am again. The last time you heard from me, I went to visit a man who trains dogs. Now I have just spoken to people who build houses for dogs — or kennels, as some people will say.

Maybe you are wondering how I met the kennel builder. You see, just last week I woke up to find that it was raining. My 15-year-old dog was feeling very cold and he was shaking. He looked at me like he wanted to say: “Look here. I am 15 years old but you still forget that I am alive. Go and buy me a kennel”.

My friend, Sharks, told me about some people who make kennels in Diepkloof, Soweto. He told me I won’t find a better kennel anywhere.

I went to the small corner house in Diepkloof. I found a man eating in a hurry. “Hi, I am Solly Sibanyoni,” the man said.

“This is my wife, Sarah. I make kennels for dogs and Sarah makes dresses. But now I must go back to work,”

I went outside with Solly. There was wood and metal all over the yard. Solly fetched his hammer and drill and he started working. I asked him when he started to do such work.

“My father was a very nice man,” said Solly. “He once said to me: ‘My son, if you do not use hands, you will starve and die. Your hands are your everything. You just use your brain and your hands will build your plans.’ Since that time I have always worked with my hands.”

Just then Sarah came out of the house. She also had something to tell me. She said: “Solly started working for himself after leaving a furniture shop where he worked as a carpet fitter. He started his own business fitting carpets for other people. Just when everything was going fine, Solly had a stroke. He went to hospital and when he came home he could not speak. He could not even remember who I was.

“It was a terrible time for both of us,” said Solly. “I was sick for three years. I could do nothing. Sarah was very good me. She nursed me and cared for me.”

” I went to look for work,” said Sarah. “I got a job at a hospital for old people but I did not stay there for very long. The pay was so low. I got another job at a big glass company working in the kitchen.

“One day in 1979, Solly decided to make a coal box because he had nothing else to do. He took some planks and some metal and started to put them together. One of our friends from next door saw the coal-box and she liked it. She asked Solly to make one for her.

“Soon more and more people came to order coal-boxes. But they did not only come for coal-boxes. Some wanted post boxes. And some wanted kennels for their dogs. Solly began to make kennels.

Solly worked hard in his backyard while he slowly got his health back. But then once again Solly and Sarah had bad luck. Sarah lost her job last year. The company retrenched her and many other workers last year.

But like Solly, Sarah fought back. She began to make “Seshoeshoe” dresses at home. While Solly works outside, Sarah sews inside. They start work at about six in the morning and they finish at about half past five in the evening.

Solly and Sarah work hard — and they make just enough to pay the rent and to buy food.

Anyway, my dog soon had a first class kennel from Solly. My mother did not understand. She asked me why I bought a Zozo for myself and why I was leaving home. Before I could answer, my fat, lazy old dog jumped up suddenly. He made funny noises like he was saying, “This is my Zozo and nobody elses.”

Now you will always find my old friend fast asleep in his new kennel. And you will always find Solly and Sarah hard at work in their small house in Diepkloof. They are fine people doing a fine job.


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