An entry into our Freedom of “Creative Expression” writing contest held in January 2015, this is The Confrontation by Nomak’hosi Adontsi.

It was a new year; the first day of school meant new clothes as well as new hearts. I could tell by the brightness of their faces that something great had happened in their lives. These were new people with new aspirations, ambitions and resolutions. Their hearts were ready to discard all that had not worked in 2014. My classmates were eager to turn new pages of their lives; hence we were as excited to meet as we were to graduate. A sweet melody was in the air, the campus as noisy as a pre-school.

The atmosphere was highly poisonous, poisoned by the love and laughter all around. Our campus looked as dazzling as a flower garden. Everything and everyone was at ease with one another. It was storytelling time and if you had no friend to share your story with it felt as though you owed something to nature. Even the dumbest of the bunch had something to share with friends. Noma, the shy silent type, also had stories and captivated us by how creative and narrative she was. Was it the freedom of creative expression?

When I was younger freedom of creativity was a nightmare, a parable we read about in books and it bored me to tears. It was nothing like the fairytales I was accustomed to. Ah! It took me almost nineteen years to see the practicality of that form of expression. It’s so lovely when people freely say what’s on their minds, create stories and share with their friends. It is especially lovely to dream and come up with new stories. Creativity is like a flower, if we do not water it, it dies. With water it flourishes and fills the atmosphere with its sweet scent. Freedom of expression is an ingredient of creativity.

On that first day of school we were bent on waging war on our teacher. Like a slow cockroach I took my time getting out of bed because I dreaded the confrontation. I was not looking forward to having to speak because I was known for my quietness. We sat under a palm tree waiting for the meeting to commence. Everybody was anxious yet cheerfully waiting. I was an exception. My toes curled when my classmates handed me that complaint letter to read. I felt my mouth move, but words died on my lips when I had to speak. As the class representative I had to defend our complaints and although I felt like a colony of bees were crawling all over my body, I had to do it.

As much as I believe in the freedom of creative expression, there was no true reflection of it in my daily life. I believe in creativity as much as I believe in the freedom of expression and everybody is born creative. I knew this, but in my mind it was crystal clear that we were to celebrate defeat. I knew from the onset that the teacher was going to take the victory. She was the type of woman who ranked highly in terms of expressing herself. As much as we knew that she lied, she could cleverly mold those lies into facts. Creativity without the courage to express it is like trying to cut through water with a knife. Freedom of expression without creativity is like seasoning a cup of coffee with salt. We lacked the “freedom of creative expression” and so we presented our complaint so haphazardly that we lost the connection between our grievances and the evidence we had to prove them. Our cheerfulness translated to obvious disappointment.

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