‘We’re going shopping! We’re going shopping!’ Afrika jumped up and down in front of Dintle. His mother, Mme wa Afrika, smiled at him, and Dintle clapped her hands.
‘Yes,’ said Mme wa Afrika, ‘so put on your shoes. We have to hurry. We still have to walk to the bus stop.’
At the bus stop, there were a lot of people waiting for the bus. And when they all got onto the bus, everyone was a bit squashed. Mme wa Afrika held Dintle on her lap. Then a lady sat down next to her. Afrika sat on the other side of his mother, squashed against the window. But he didn’t mind at all because it meant that he could look out of the window.
Finally the driver called out, ‘Last stop!’
‘Come on, Afrika. This is where we get off,’ said his mother.
After they got off the bus, Mme wa Afrika tied Dintle on her back. ‘Stay close to me,’ she told Afrika. ‘This is a very busy place.’
It was busy. There were people carrying bags and pushing trolleys full of shopping. There was also a lady with her shopping balanced on her head.
‘Can you do that, Mama?’ Afrika asked his mother.
‘Do what?’ asked Mme wa Afrika.
‘Carry things on the top of your head like that,’ said Afrika.
‘Of course I can. It’s easy,’ said his mother.
Afrika watched the lady walk away until she disappeared into the crowds of people standing in between the market stalls.
‘I bet I can carry things on my head too!’ Afrika said to himself. He saw an empty plastic cooldrink bottle on the ground. He picked it up and put it on his head, but he had to hold onto it because it kept falling off.
‘Eish!’ said a girl right next to him. ‘I’ll show you how to do that!’ She took the cooldrink bottle, put it on her head, and with her nose in the air, she walked around Afrika like a proud princess.
‘Yoh!’ said Afrika, very impressed. ‘What’s your name?’
‘I’m Asanda,’ she said.
‘I’m Afrika. How did you learn to do that?’ Afrika asked.
‘I first tried walking with books on my head,’ she said. ‘You have to keep your head still when you walk.’ She put the cooldrink bottle back on top of Afrika’s head. ‘Walk slowly now, with your nose in the air, like a prince.’
Afrika walked around Asanda very slowly, keeping his head still with his nose in the air. And the bottle stayed on!
‘Look, Ma! Look at me …’ said Afrika, but he couldn’t see his mother! Someone bumped into Afrika and the cooldrink bottle fell off his head. But he had forgotten about the bottle – he wanted to know where his mother was!
‘Where are you, Mama?’ he called. There was no answer. ‘Mama!’ he called a little louder. Still no answer.
‘My mother is lost!’ said Afrika to Asanda. ‘We were on our way to the book stall on the corner, but now she’s gone!’
‘I’m going to the bookstall too! I’m going to buy a storybook with the money I’ve saved. Maybe your mama is at the bookstall. Let’s go find her!’ suggested Asanda.
Together Asanda and Afrika walked through the crowds of people. All of a sudden Afrika heard his name! ‘Afrika! Afrika! Where are you?’
‘That’s my mother’s voice,’ said Afrika. ‘Shame, she is lost! I can hear she’s upset. It sounds as though she’s near the bookstall. Come, let’s run, Asanda!’
Together the children ran to the bookstall, and there, right in front of it, were Mme wa Afrika and Dintle. Mama opened her arms and Afrika ran straight into them.
‘Hello, Mama, are you alright?’ asked Afrika. ‘Don’t worry now, we’ve found you and Dintle. You aren’t lost anymore.’
Dintle was very happy to see her big brother. Afrika bent down and gave her a hug.
‘Mama, this is Asanda, my new friend,’ said Afrika. ‘She taught me how to balance a cooldrink bottle on my head. She wants to buy a book.’
‘Hello, Asanda, I am glad to meet you,’ said Mme wa Afrika smiling. ‘Now, let’s look at the books and see what we can find! Afrika, remember you wanted to learn how to make a bird house.’ They all spent some time looking at the books and Mama found one that showed you how to make different things from wood.
‘Please, may I have it?’ Afrika asked his mother.
‘Yes, if you like it,’ said Mama.
Then it was time to go. ‘Look, Asanda! I’m taking my book home on my head!’ Afrika said, balancing his new book on his head.
‘Don’t forget to keep your nose in the air, like a prince!’ laughed Asanda.
Read more Funani’s Voice
By Ann Walton.
Illustrations by Rico.