In Welcome to Our Hillbrow, hit-and-run car accidents symbolize the suddenness with which life can change. There are two significant hit-and-runs in the novel: the first is at the very beginning, when a seven-year-old girl dies, and the second is in the middle, when Bohlale is killed. Obviously, nobody can prepare for a hit and run—in fact, one of these accidents happens in the middle of a jubilant celebration, and another ironically happens on the way to the hospital. And the book shows that just like a hit-and-run, life as a whole is remarkably difficult—even impossible—to anticipate. Whether it is a sudden car accident, finding a partner in bed with someone else (like Refentše does), or an unexpected AIDS diagnosis (like Refilwe’s), life can change in an instant. And, just like how no one is ever charged for these hit-and-runs, life’s difficulties don’t always have a guilty party that one can easily or obviously hold accountable. Of course, on a straightforward level, these hit-and-runs show the difficulties and dangers of living in an underfunded neighborhood like Hillbrow. But also, on a symbolic level, they signify how misfortune is hard to prepare for, as it can happen in an instant.
Hit-and-Runs Quotes in Welcome to Our Hillbrow
You would recall the child, possibly seven years old or so, who got hit by a car. Her mid-air screams still ring in your memory. When she hit the concrete pavements of Hillbrow, her screams died with her. A young man just behind you shouted:
Kill the bastard!
But the driver was already gone. The traffic cops, arriving a few minutes later, found that the seasons of arrest had already passed. Most people, after the momentary stunned silence of witnessing the sour fruits of soccer victory, resumed their singing. Shosholoza […] drowned the choking sobs of the deceased child’s mother.
Welcome to our Hillbrow! you heard one man say to his female companion, who was a seeming newcomer to this place of bustling activity.
As it happened, you were spared the need for decision. Because the very next day Bohlale, on her way to visit Sammy at the hospital, was knocked over by a speeding car that jumped the red robot. It was driven by fleeing hijackers fleeing a pursuing convoy of Johannesburg Murder and Robber Squad cars[…]. Bohlale was run over because, although she had made way for the speeding cars, the hijackers had lost control of their newly appropriated vehicle. They ran into her right where she stood on the pavement. After her death, any confession seemed a needless complication.