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Upside down and inside out

Archie Siwisa is a machine operator in a chocolate factory. In his spare time he likes to bounce. He likes to bounce as high as he can. And he likes doing crazy tricks – like spinning upside down and inside out.

Archie has liked bouncing since he was a kid. When he was seven years old, he worked at a golf course. He was a caddy. When he got paid, he went back to Soweto. And he rushed to an open field near his house. He went to bounce.

“Some guy brought a trampoline to the open field for the kids,” says Archie. “He charged us two cents for five minutes. I spent a lot of money there.”

Then Archie had some bad times. His father died when he was eight years old. And his mother was short of money. Archie left school. He ran wild in the streets. He was always in trouble.

One day Archie went to a movie. “I saw this movie about Chinese people jumping on trampolines,” says Archie. “The movie made me excited. I was jumping in my seat. After the movie, I was still excited. I wanted to bounce again.”

Archie joined a club in Soweto. A man called Petrus Mthimkulu ran the club. The people of Soweto call him ‘Bra Terrah’. Bra Terrah helps the poor kids of Soweto. He takes them off the street.

Bra Terrah is a bouncer himself. He gave Archie bouncing lessons. Soon Archie was bouncing well. He learnt to do great things on the trampoline.

Then one day three years ago, a guy called Gideon Lotz saw Archie bouncing. Gideon Lotz is the best coach in South Africa. He started to give Archie lessons. Now Archie is one of the best bouncers around.

Archie made big news in 1981. The Johannesburg City Council said he must leave the place where he trained. The place is called the Oribi Centre. The City Council said only whites can use the Oribi Centre.

Archie had no place to bounce for a long time. But he didn’t give up. He bounced at home on his bed.

Now Archie is bouncing again at the Oribi Centre. But he can’t bounce whenever he wants. He can only bounce when white people don’t play other sports there. And his coach must tell the centre when he will come.

Maybe Archie likes bouncing for one simple reason—when he bounces high in the air, he leaves all the madness below.


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