Thursday, June 28, 2007

1975 Apartheid, Durban White Teaching and LM, Mozambique Trek

< 1974. One of Mark Esslemont's standard 5 classes, Durban North. (Mumby). In later years some boys in the front row emigrated to USA & NZ - Crombie Hatfield, Giose Morasutti, Paul Swires...

During my last two Virginia years, I taught in the main school building, teaching standards 4 and 5, science, two Afrikaans classes, and sport. A Pom music teacher, non Afrikaans speaking, taught my maths classes. A mother complained to Mr. Young about my disciplining her daughter. Mr. Young allowed the parent to berate me in a corridor, while he hid in his office mouthing, "She's a bitch..." Later Mr. Young quoted AS Neill, "There is never a problem child. There is only a problem parent..."

Virginia flew sports teams to Jo'burg. Staff got drunk at after-sports functions, while parents billeted school kids. Male staff chatted up female staff. After a champagne-razzle, I accompanied a busload of kids all the way to Pretoria. Other staff trekked by car. Screaming kids didn't help my champagne-beer-brandy-babbelaas.

Back in Durbs, I watched a soccer match at Kingsmead soccer stadium, the crowd mainly Zulus and Indians. Whites sat on their grandstand separate from outcasts. At match-end, from the top of the grandstand, I watched Zulus flood from the stadium. A glass bottle flew up, crashing at my feet. It could've been a Molotov cocktail.

Mr. Young gave me his geography notes, and I taught standard 5 geography. Mr. Young went on long leave to Japan. VP, Mevrou Graunch, acted as principal, but did no ECA. She stole my English teaching-aids, when I was on study-leave. I sent a kid to fetch them from her. I marked books in an empty class, forgetting to teach Mevrou Graunch's standard 5 geography class. Mevrou Graunch complained to Ranter, "Why mus' ah sacrrifice mah frree perriods batting forr Marrk whenee mus' teach mah class?" Silent Ranter. I set a dictation for standard 5 classes, then gave my class the test. Mevrou Graunch hauled me into Mr. Young's office. "Why've yous given da test wivvout mah perrmission? Standarrd five dictation tests should've been done togevva."

"I'll reset the test."


Red-haired Jane, Donna's Scottish friend, had small breasts and hairy legs. Jane and I drove to Swaziland in mom's brown Mini. At Mbabane, we swam in the mixed-race Casino Spa pool, and camped nearby...

We bounced along a dirt road to Piggs Peak, then followed Havelock Mine overhead-haulage-cableway over the mountains to Barbeton, back in SA... Beyond Sabie and Pilgrims Rest, Jane hit a rock in the middle of the road...

At Blyde River Canyon lookout, an oil-trail spoored mom's Mini. Cracked sump - empty. I asked a white motorist to call Graskop AA to send a tow-truck. Jane and I looked at Three Rondavels mountain. AA tow truck didn't arrive...

We coasted to a holiday-resort, where an Afrikaner manager put us up, free. At a whites-only restaurant, Jane flirted with a Swazi waiter. "Don't get starry-eyed with blacks," I said. "They're not like Europeans or Poms. You could be raped."

"Don't be a Twit."

I mended the sump with Pratleys Putty, then we drifted down Abel Erasmus Pass, beyond north-end of the Drakensberg into lowveld. By the time we reached stifling Phalaborwa, I'd been called, "Twit," six times. Jane hadn't washed since Swaziland.

In whites-only Kruger Park we viewed wildlife... The Mini grated. "Watch out for lions!" I said, stopping the Mini, and looking at the engine. "An engine-mounting has broken." Jane peered at the bush, while I hammered a wooden tent-peg between radiator and bodywork. The peg supported the engine, lessening grating.

At multi-racial Lourenco Marques, Jane showered at our cheap hotel, and slept in our double-bed. I slept on the floor. Next morning Jane asked, "Why didn't you sleep with me? - Twit!" What a pain! Jane was too naive to realize I could've dumped her anywhere in Zululand, Swaziland, Eastern Transvaal or Mozambique.

At a pavement cafe, Jane eyeballed Portuguese Rogerio, who flirted with Jane, before we saw her off at the airport.

At a bullfight in LM Bullring, horses galloped round the ring, tiring Bull, riders stabbing spears into Bull's shoulders. Eight Portuguese men stood in line, behind each other, Big Bloke in front, shouting at Bull. Bull charged. Just before impact, Big Bloke leapt onto Bull's head, between horns, grabbing Bull round its neck, his team grabbing Bull by the tail, slowing it down. Bull charged repeatedly, and eight men reprised. Crowd roared. Bull snorted, hoofing sand.

A black Matador, in dandy-dress like the rest, tight-arsed about, waving his cape, while Bull reprised. Crowd roared. Bull snorted, dripping saliva, snot, blood. Matador stabbed more spears into Bull's shoulders. When tongue-lolling Bull stopped: Matador stabbed Bull between Bull's shoulders, with a curved sword. Bull wasn't killed as in Spanish fights, and trotted from the ring with oxen, to be butchered afterwards. Crowd applauded, throwing flowers, hankies, hats into the ring. Bloody African afternoon, while Portuguese conscripts killed Frelimo terrorists in the north.

Rogerio, mechanic, fixed my Mini.

At Pretoria I visited lance-corporal Fraser, training as a white, conscript cook at Voortrekkerhoogte, his arms blistered by oven-burns.

At white Alberton Hotel, the receptionist winked at me, saying, "I'll put you up in my flat." His lounge had a statue of Michaelangelo's David. He handed me a drink, and returned to reception. Having driven from LM that day, I toilet-flushed my drink, then hopped into his double-bed, leaving my underrods on.

The receptionist slipped into bed, sliding his hand up my leg, trying to gryp. I turned onto my stomach, bugger didn't get the hint, tossing and turning, prostrate pas-de-deux. Annoyed at his arrogance I "woke up," pulling on my clothes, saying, "What the hell's going on man? You said you'd flat me, and you're in bed with me! I'll report you to the cops man!"

See Kruger National Park.


1974. One of Mark Esslemont's many soccer teams. Boy on Mark's left, Steve Deeble, later worked with Mark at Kleinzee. Captain, Neil Tovey, on Mark's right later became SA soccer captain. (Mumby)



Note: Mr. Young is a composite character.

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

June 2007 email from a Zimbabwian expat in Christchurch NZ:

"Brilliant! Will catch up with the early ones in the holidays... Keep going!"