A little Swazi boy, no older than 6, saunters through the opening of his parents homestead with his arms full of an assortment of western culture. The smile on his face gives away an inner excitement of what his discovery has brought him. As he goes to his mud room and makes himself comfortable, he begins taking pleasure in all that he has received. It is not long before his mother walks in, leaning her arm on the frame of the door and lets out a sigh. This young child is only one of the six living in her home. N’selle just happens to be one of the orphaned children she has opened her home to – his mother died of AIDS shortly after birth. “Where did you get all of that stuff”, she greets him with. “Me won it playing Mikaya in at the Community Centre” he quickly responds. The mother is too smart to believe that the white “Agents of Virtue” working in the village would give one child so much. It is then that she recognizes the hot water bladder from next door and leaves the room without saying a word. Outside in the front yard her responsible daughter is still sweating as she finishes her chore of tilling the homestead garden. She shows no hesitation confessing that the box was actually stolen from the white women next door. As night falls and the father of the household returns from the forest, pants covered in dirt and hands giving evidence of the hard day at work. The mother explains what the little one has done. Knowing what will happen next, N’selle does not react against his ‘fathers’ anger. However, it is different with the white women, the one whom which he stole from, watching what is about to take place. As the mother breaks a large switch from the tree in the backyard, the child lays down on the concrete, straight as a log, in a mechanical fashion. The beating is not long, but at the end, it is only the white woman who is crying. This young ‘child’ does not flinch and absorbs the pain as if it were an everyday occurrence. But it is clear this is not an everyday occurrence for the ‘Agent of Virtue’, but rather a once in a lifetime nightmare.

The African night is cold, but the moon is bright.

What was meant to change in the heart of the child, merely was a transfer to the victim of theft. Isn’t this the way it always is – what really changes at the end of the day in Africa? There is no doubt that as the sun rises in the morning and warms this soil, the switch never had much of an impact. Rather, it was the lack of tears, the lack of emotions and life that made the difference.

Life in a world turned upside down.