Views expressed are my own and do not represent the Mandela Washington Fellowship program

I had made it to the interview stage! WhatsApp’d my mentor the good news.

But now, I had to prepare for the interview.

I researched online how the Mandela Washington Fellowship interview is structured, what kind of questions they ask and what I need to bring.

The consensus was, “Know your application through and through.” This is because they will want to discuss what you wrote about the work that you do.

There was something else. The research I had done advised that I should have an “intelligent” question to ask at the end of my interview. Apparently asking an intelligent question makes you memorable but it has to be a good one. I was wrecking my brains at this point.

I texted the Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni to ask them for their tips for the interview. Anoziva Marindire emphasized knowing your application.

My interview was at 14:30. And they recommended coming in earlier to go through security. I left work at noon.

That’s when the trouble began.

12:15 I got to the side of the road and hailed down a kombi. I asked if it was going to Copa Cabana, they agreed and I went in. The kombi had no fuel. So we had to join a fuel queue. It was hot, stuffy and the air was thick.

No matter, i had left early for things like this

12:40 We arrive in town and they drop us off along 4th Avenue. Nowhere near the Copa Cabana we had agreed on. Its fine, i still had tine to walk over to Copa Cabana.

13:15 I arrive at Copa Cabana and ask which kombi is going to the US embassy in Bluffhill. They point me to it, and of course, its empty. No matter, these things fill up quick anyway. We just need 17 people. I looked up from my phone and that’s when I knew beyond a reasonable doubt that I was going to be late.

Parked in front of the kombi I was in was a ZUPCO bus. ZUPCO buses are large 75 seaters that are cheaper than taking a kombi. So everyone headed in my direction was getting into the ZUPCO bus.

It never rains, it pours, literally out of nowhere it starts raining cats and dogs. Now no one can move to go anywhere. Meaning the kombi is still quite empty and will remain that way until the rain stops.

At this point I stopped looking at my watch.

As quickly as the rain came down, it left in the same manner. We were now about 7 in the kombi.

I started thinking about my re-application to the Mandela Washington Fellowship since clearly I was late for this interview.

I had to go still.

Finally we start moving.

I get to the Embassy and run to the gate. Security says to me, “Wrong gate, go back to the main road and go towards the other gate.” I removed my shoes and ran.

When I got there they asked for my ID and purpose of the visit. “What time was your interview supposed to be?” they asked. “Half two,” I said. He looked up at me and asked, “what time is it now?” I looked away.

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I got through security and someone was called to come fetch me to take me to the interview. He says to me, “You were supposed to be number 3.” Supposed to be? What number am I now?

I sat down in the waiting room with two other ladies. I tell them that I was supposed to be number 3 and they say, “That means you’re next. ” Before I could get the seat warm, I heard, “Thembelihle Zulu. ”

Cover me I’m going in.