Tuesday, May 29, 2007

1950s Apartheid Durban, Chelsea Drive Boykie

< 1945 Frank & Valmai Esslemont's Durban wedding. Mom's sister Dorothy on dad's right. Mom's bridesmaid Netta Manning & mom's parents on mom's left

I lived through 43 apartheid years. "Hello boykie," said mom on my 8 September 1951 birthday, 3 years after DF Malan's Nationalists entrenched apartheid, after beating Jan Smu
ts. Weighing 8 pounds 9 ounces, I was the biggest of mom's "darling boykies," including brother Paul, 5 years older than me. I was born in Durban's Innes Road Nursing Home, near Lion Match Factory on Umgeni Road, near Kings Park Rugby Stadium, near Country Club golf course and Sunkist Beach on the Indian Ocean. Mom (42) sang a lullaby, "Go to sleep my little picaninny, Brother Fox will catch you if you don't..." Brother Fox, mom's dad (90) was a Wesleyan minister, from Birmingham, England. Mom was born in Bethlehem, Orange Free State, to Brother Fox and granny Rosa Hendrikz, from Somerset East in Eastern Cape. Granny Rosa (65) was going deaf.

Dad (50) had Scottish ancestors, but dad was born in Wrexham, Wales, grew up in Birmingham, dropped out of varsity, worked at Cadburys, inherited his father's stam
p collection, engineered on a tea estate near Calcutta, joined Bengal Mounted Rifles, engineered on Witwatersrand mines at Springs and Germiston, married, fathered a son and daughter, divorced, after the wife and kids ran away to Australia, guarded big guns on Durban Bluff during WW2, punched a fellow officer for calling dad, "Bloody Pommy!" Dad was demoted to sergeant, then married mom at war's end.
< 1923 Frank Esslemont's family, Sparkhill, Birmingham, England. Parents: Alexander, Jeannie. Siblings: Jean, Frank, Marian, Alexander

During WW1, mom's parents voyaged to England where mom attended a Birmingham kindergarten, as they weren't allowed to return to SA during the war. Mom grew up in Natal and Cape dorps; governessed her brother Lesley's two sons on their Clarens farm; was a journalist at The Friend newspaper office, Bloemfontein; was a radiologist at Wentworth Hospital, Durban; read her BA at Natal University, Pietermaritzburg; taught at Melmoth in Zululand for one year; taught on Durban Bluff for ten years; then read her MA at Natal University, Durban. Whenever mom drove us to 'Maritzburg, she sang her varsity song:
1914 Mark's mom Valmai Wilhelmina Cosnett with her mom Rosa Hermina Hendrikz m. Cosnett, Birmingham, England, WW1

"O 'Maritzburg, happy land, happy land,
I'm going back to 'Maritzburg if I can.
O Hallelujah, O Hallelujah,
Daar's plek op die donkie-wa. [There's space on the donkey wagon].
Daar's plek, daar's plek, daar's plek, daar's plek, daar' plek op die donkie wa. [x2]
O Hallelujah, O Hallelujah,
Daar's plek op die donkie-wa!
Boomalakka! Boomalakka! Boomalakkawa! Oooompa! Oooompa! Oooompapa!
Eh! Kwa! Dammit." (Natal University Archives)

Boy! I was taken for a long donkey wagon ride, as Pietermaritzburg was capital of Natal, and Natal Education Department (NED) head office bossed all Natal, apartheid white schools from 'Maritzburg. Decades after mom left Melmoth, one of mom's ol' Melmoth flames became NED director. I reckoned mom's varsity song mocked apartheid white schooling and varsity white education.

I grew up at 22 Chelsea Drive, Durban North, loved by Valmai, my half-English, half-Afrikaner mother and Rosie (60+) our Indian servant. Mom's ancestors were Englis
h and Dutch. Rosie's ancestors were indentured Indian sugar-plantation labourers.

Having been spoilt by Hindu maidens and his first wife, dad didn't do housework. Sometimes dad punched mom, calling her, "Fathead!" or "BF! - Bloody Fool!"

Paul, Fraser (two years younger than me) and I were schooled at Mrs. Jones's Halcyon Days kindergarten, our first donkey wagon rides on Chelsea Drive. We then had donkey wagon rides at Durban North Primary. Paul wrote good compositions. We went to elocution lessons with mom's cousin Frieda at The Echoes hotel, West Street. Frieda gave us two bob each to buy ice-creams and sweets at Ottawa Cafe.

Content & Pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

For Natal University, see University of KwaZulu-Natal.

1954 Esslemonts, 22 Chelsea Drive, Durban North >


Mark JS Esslemont said...

I received an email from a Zimbabwe expat living in Christchurch NZ, enquiring about our mutual Hendrikz family backgrounds and connections with Somerset East SA.

Mark JS Esslemont said...

After emails, we discovered we were third cousins on the Hendrikz sides of our families, as we had a mutual great, great grandfather Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz from Somerset East, Eastern Cape, SA. Willem produced 3 sons: my maternal great grandfather also Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz and brothers Carl Theodorus Hendrikz and Charlie Hendrikz.

Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz junior stayed in Somerset East, while his brothers Carl Theodorus Hendrikz and Charlie Hendrikz trekked to Rhodesia, early 1900s.

Carl Hendrikz's 2 sons Fred and Reg Hendrikz stayed in Rhodesia. One of Willem Hendrikz's 14 Somerset East offspring, my maternal grandmother Rosa Hermina Hendrikz was first cousin to Rhodesians Fred and Reg Hendrikz.

My email enquirer was Fred Hendrikz's grandson, my newly discovered third cousin in Christchurch NZ. Viva Google! Viva le blog!

Anonymous said...

Amazing blog. :)

Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz (1910-1959)was my grandfather, we live in Somerset West,RSA. My dad was Johan De Sanderes Hendrikz, I am Werner De Sanderes Hendrikz.

Not many De Sanderes Hendrikz's around ...so I found this very interesting.

Tia Hendrikz said...

Hey, I'm one more Sanderes Hendrikz,
my father was Willem de Sanderes
Hendrikz 1910-1959, I'm Constantia, Tia for short, I have three sons, we live in southern Oregon U.S. So nice to read your blog, fascinating thanks.

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Thanks Werner & Constantia. Glad you like my blog. Good to find Hendrikzes out there.

Growing up in "English" Durban North, I never knew Hendrikzes in Durban, (except for my Hendrikz grandmother m. Cosnett), but met my mom's still living Hendrikz uncle Julian (Graaf Reinet) & aunts Beatrice & Winifred (Somerset East) & aunt Johannah (Bedford), Eastern Cape, & some of her female cousins elsewhere in SA - all dead now.

Werner I saw your impressive art website a while ago. My mom was cousin to your grandfather, world famous sculptor Willem De Sanderes Hendrikz (same name as my maternal great grandfather). Mom & her Somerset East aunts Beatrice & Winifred always spoke highly of sculptor Willem De Sanderes, their nephew. As a boy, I saw one of your grandfather's wooden sculptures in Pretoria Art Gallery, and when I worked at Kleinzee in the 1980s I saw his wall bronzes at Sea Point SABC building in Cape Town.

My brother's second name is De Sanderes. Amazing Connections. Regards.

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Had an email exchange regarding the Cosnett side of the family in Rhodesia.