If there is one thing I love to remember about my childhood living in South Africa, it’s beach holidays…Read more
"I can only tell you things that happened as I saw them, and what the rest was about only Africa knows." – Oom Schalk Lourens
More than nostalgia and the sweet ache that comes with remembering. It’s the blatant lack—snowflakes in place of scorching sun, sparse winter trees instead of rocks and dry scrub, and the peripheral murmur of medieval architecture rather than crickets, barking dogs and hum of traffic along Roberts Avenue. It’s like looking at a strange copy of home through the lens of another life.
Often young children would run up and down the gravel on the side of the busy rural roads, their fresh produce lifted above their heads, displayed proudly in the air.
We built a guillotine. And thus was born “the guillotine party” in celebration of the French Revolution. Vive la France, Vive la liberté. But as Dickens said, it was the best and worst of times…Madame had her own Reign of Terror in sunny South Africa.
We were visiting my grandpa Ray at his plot in Ashburton, Natal. And it was raining worms—thousands. No, millions. Look down and a worm could drop on your head, look up and you’d burst a bunch underfoot. I’m from Joburg, the suburbs—we have parktown prawns but mopane rain…jislaaik.
Linah and her husband Phineas lived with us all those years. My black mama and pop. Sick children who had to be taken to hospital in the middle of the night… there I was, in my pyjamas; Phineas driving my car whilst I looked after the child who was ill, and Lina staying with the other one at home. That was our normal.Read more
My school adventures began with a mega satchel, army green with reflective orange lights on the front straps, which spanned the breadth of my shoulders; I was ready for battle and also likely to topple over if a strong enough gust of wind took me by surprise.
My dad took me to the principal’s office, which smelled of leather and wood, and introduced me to Mr Frank Braun; a man of huge physical stature whose mere presence demanded respect. It turned out they were acquainted from when dad had been a South African boxing champion and Frank Braun had been head of the South African Amateur Boxing Association, as well as president of the South African National Olympic Committee.
…the lady looked pensive. Her head turned this way and that; too quickly, like a meerkat on the lookout for snapping snakes in the veld. A quick signal—a slight of hand and a knowing look. And then a man.
The ndumba was not hunting as it normally would—the beast had already nabbed a couple of people and was likely to target more. Maybe it was hungry. The boy wondered if a lion had a big enough stomach to hold an entire human—maybe a child but surely not a grown man, like dad or like Chesiwe.