Monday, June 18, 2007

1970 Apartheid Durban, Homelands and Hindu Wedding

1969 Dokkies. Mark Esslemont having a Ball. Rob & Pat Dougall left, Mary Ann & Arthur Hill middle, Errol Mattig right

1960-1970. Over 1500 000 people had already been forcibly -removed. (Africa Volumes 1,2, Facts on File, New York, 1989).

The 1970 Bantu Homeland Citizenship Act forced tribal blacks to become homeland outcasts, deprived of SA citizenship. There'd be ten puppet homelands: KwaZulu, QwaQwa, Lebowa, Gazankulu, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele were supposed to be self-governing, but Pretoria would fund restless homelands, with their own puppet parliaments, capitals, civil servants, police, military, airports and border controls. Puppet Transkei, Ciskei, Venda, Bophuthatswana chose to be "independent" states, but no country recognised them, except SA.

Puppet homelands were marginalized, unworkable and impoverished, as few industries evolved, and "border industries" were risible, cheap labour exploitations. Big industries were already established in white urban areas, supported by the migrant-labour system, functioning before apartheid, where mostly black men worked in white urban areas, while most black women and children stayed in tribal Bantustans. Urban blacks were forced back to their homelands when work expired, or when they had no passbooks. Homeland work was minimal, services were poor, and blacks starved. Crime was the only job left.

Jood and I saw white strip-shows at Smugglers Inn. We toured white Cosmo Club, Umgeni Road; white Rob E. Lee, Musgrave Road; white night-clubs overlooking the harbour; white Killarney Hotel near beaches, all served by excellent Indian waiters. At a white night-club in Smith Street used-car sales area, a drunk cherrie slid her tits over. She wore emerald eye make-up and batted her false eyelashes at Jood, who squirmed. Clutching Jood's thigh, she peered at me. "D'ya wanna buya ladya drink?..." Jood dropped out of varsity, faded from my life, borrowing money from friends, then managing a Golden Egg restaurant in Rhodesia during the Bush War.

Rosie had saved for years, and although Shorty her grandson was a man, Rosie arranged Shorty's marriage. Shorty worked night-shift receptionist at a white Berea Hotel, and while Rosie worked in the day for us, Shorty slept in her May Street Indian slum bed.

Jimmy, Rosie's nephew, illiterate carpenter, had three wives, who looked after his kids. The youngest wife did Jimmy's book-keeping. Jimmy built a room for Shorty and his fiance Sita at Jimmy's Gum Tree Road shanty in Jacobs.

Jimmy erected a marquee at his shanty. Mom, Fraser and I were the only whites at Shorty's wedding. As guests of honour we sat facing Indian guests. Shorty wore a grey suit, and Sita wore a white Sari embroidered with gold thread. Both were garlanded in marigolds. A Hindu priest lit camphor cubes, said holy words, thumbed ash on Shorty's and Sita's foreheads, then thumbed a red tilik on Sita's forehead. Afterwards we feasted on chilli-bites, samoosas and curries.

1970. Shorty Naidoo's Wedding, Gum Tree Road, Jacobs, Durban. Esslemonts & Rosie Naidoo backdrop.

Rosie grew chillis in mom's garden, and cooked curries for us. Rosie sucked toothache-easing cloves. I didn't mind Rosie ordering me about: "Buy me snuff at Riverside bus-rank Mak!" Rosie was addicted to snuff, which she sniffed up her nostrils, and rubbed on her gums, making her eyes water. Mom paid for Rosie's rotten teeth to be extracted, then paid for Rosie's new false-teeth.

Rosie smaaked cane-spirits: "Buy me a nippa cane Mak!" Although mom had signed the pledge, mom sometimes drank sherry for medicinal purposes. Using her fingers, in our kitchen, Rosie ate curries off her enamel plate, and drank sweet Joko tea from her enamel mug.

As Rosie refused using our khaya shower, Rosie stripped off her blouse and petticoat after work, and washed herself at the outside tap by our kitchen. Rosie left work dressed in her sari, always wearing her gold-trinket wealth hanging on a yellow cord tucked in her bosom, and her snuff-tin-money-bag tucked in her sari at her waist. Although her husband was dead, Rosie wore a gold wedding-ring, and wore silver toe-rings on two toes. Rosie worked barefoot, but wore shoes in cars, buses and on special occasions, like Shorty's wedding, and visiting Umgeni Road Hindu Temple.

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