Xola’s mother died when he was very young and he is being raised by his loving but poor grandmother. They struggle and there are days when they go to bed without food. Xola’s education is very important to his grandmother and she encourages him to focus on school.
Ndoda, on the other hand, has an easier life. His father died in a car accident when he was ten but left Ndoda and his mother with enough money to get by. Ndoda is spoiled by his mother and grows up to become a problem child who is always coming up with schemes to get quick money and cause as much trouble as he can – his excuse being that he can’t get a job. The story plays out in an unnamed township in Cape Town to illustrate the shared struggles of all the townships in the city with poverty, unemployment, alcohol and crime. The story also ventures out to the Bellville and Claremont areas. It is a coming-of-age story that focuses on the clever and outright dastardly scams the boys use to rob people of their money and how it all eventually catches up with them. The story also looks at African belief systems and superstitions that the two boys take advantage of when they scam their victims.