Lucas Machel
BORN: Xai-Xai, Mozambique
INTERVIEWED IN: Tshepisong, Krugersdorp, South Africa

Lucas Machel grew up in Mozambique, the son of a gold miner who worked in South Africa much of his life. Like many migrant workers, his father visited the family – his wife and four children – only during holidays. Machel, in his final year of school, got his girlfriend pregnant. In in order to support his new family, he decided to quit school and follow his father to Johannesburg to make his way in the world.

     Sometimes I evaluate my life and think about why I came to Johannesburg and what would life be like if I stayed back home. My parents never thought I would live here. They both hoped that I would finish school and teach or become an electrician. I also wished to be an electrician. When I see friends I went to school with, they end up buying me things. If I had completed my studies back home, I would be living comfortably now. I would not be paying rent; I would live with my family and share everything.

     Last year December I bought a stand back home for 45 000 meticais. Even when I’m old or dead, my kids will say that they are at their father’s home. My plan is to build a three-roomed house that has a wall all around and open a tuckshop, so the mother of my kids can run it. I will continue to work and hopefully I can buy myself a van and a taxi for business. Then I will retire from Johannesburg and go back home.