Sunday, June 10, 2007

1966 Apartheid Durban, North Beach Surfing and Northlands Boys HS

1966. Esslemont Brothers, Trafalgar Sea Scouts, St Martins Church, Chelsea Drive.

For years, while southwesters rattled banana leaves, bren guns, sten guns, R1s and .303s crackled at Umgeni estuary rifle-range near home. For years, barefoot and wearing baggies and T shirt, on summer days I hitched to whites only North Beach on Marine Parade, according to the 1953 Separate Amenities Act, and body-surfed there, gliding along solar energy transferred deep in the Indian Ocean. Skelm and I caught a tan, then wysed on the whites only beach, checking new hair in our armpits and on our legs. We pulled in our stomachs, checking white chicks' bikini boobs, but were too shy to chat-up white chicks. Indian waiters, receiving orders for whites only Cuban Hat take-away, wandered North Beach, calling, "Peanuts, Popcorn, Toffee apoo..." Years later, The Cuban Hat and The Nest cafes by Finlayson Beach Baths were demolished to make way for 'modern' restaurants.

On easterly days, Skelm and I checked graffiti on whites only Beach Baths lav walls. Sauntering along whites only Lower Marine Parade, we checked white chicks; played pinball in Mr. Ball's whites only pinball alley; then checked white Ghost Train riders. We haggled with pavement Zulu women selling beads and trinkets. We sat on SLEGS BLANKES WHITES ONLY benches; paddled in whites only Paddling Pools, then checked whites only dodgem cars. We strolled past the whites only aquarium, then checked whites only South Beach surf and white chicks. We played table-soccer in a Greek's tearoom, and when Greek shooed our whoops away, we sat on a whites only stone wall near XL tearoom, checking ocean yacht races near the harbour pier, and white chicks bouncing bikinis while trampolining.

Near Addington Hospital, Ndlamu stamp-dancing competitions were held by Zulu men's teams from beach-front hotels and businesses. Teams jogged onto the field, singing a Zulu war-song, with a drummer banging a hide drum, and a leader blowing a whistle. Dancers wore shorts, their bodies glistening sweat; some wore ankle-rattles. Hip-to-hip dancers stamped, flourishing cattle-hide shields with their left hand, and fighting sticks, or knobkerries, or assegais with their right hands. A leader stamped solo, followed by his team: Stamp-Stamp-Stamp...A whistle blew and dancers jogged away. (Laurie Levine, The DrumCafe's Traditional Music of South Africa, Jacana, Johannesburg, 2005).

Sometimes we rickshaw-rode back to whites only North Beach. Zulu men pulling rickshaws wore white-beaded tunics, garish horned -helmets and car-tyre, rubber sandals. Indian and Zulu rickshaw pullers worked in town near the station and Grey Street Indian CBD, pulling heavy loads, then at dusk parked their rickshaws at an Umgeni Road depot near Rosie's May Street slum.

North Beach lifesavers blew whistles, when out-of-depth Vaalie holiday-makers washed out to sea, having to be rescued. Body -surfers and board-surfers used groyne rip-currents to get beyond breakers. Onshore, surfers smoked fags, or zoll, and chatted up chicks, showing off peroxided hair and perspex-surfboard necklaces. Some board-surfers paddled out to shark- nets, stealing netting for nylon-bangles.

Unrest: I was at St. Martins when I heard that PM Verwoerd was assassinated by Mozambiquan born coloured Tsafendas, who'd stabbed Verwoerd in parliament. Vorster succeeded Verwoerd as PM. (Simon Adams, et al, The Illustrated History of the 20th Century, DK - Dorling Kindersley, London, 1997).

From standard 8 (year 10) I failed boring maths, despite rarity and arrogance of maths teachers who followed Verwoerd's racial edicts, forcing white boys to do maths. Skelm plucked his ball-hairs and measured them. Ol' ballie Energy Knott, Australian science teacher, wanked test tubes, mixing chemicals. Ol' toppie Flash Gordon, biology teacher, called us "Pinheads," and for four years shocked "Location, Structure, Function..." into us with electric wires and hand-generator. The human skeleton's skull in Flash Gordon's lab was sometimes stuffed with schoolboy "cigarettes."

Kaydee, Afrikaans teacher, swaggered around school, lashing boys with his swagger-cane, calling us "Kaffir-dogs." Our history teacher tweeted about European and Japanese history, flashing her underrods when sliding off her desktop.

Dr. Barnard did the world's first heart-transplant in Cape Town white hospital, while the Terrorism Act was promulgated by the state to detain "terrorists" indefinitely without trial. Anyone could be a "terrorist," even me, if cops decided so. PM Vorster's Christian Nationalist fascist death-heads needed brain transplants. Nazi -Sympathizer Vorster had been detained at Koffiefontein during WW2. (Roger Childs, Divide and Rule, Macmillan, Auckland, 1990).

See Durban Beaches.

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

June 2007 email from a Durban tourism operator:

"...Congratulations on an excellent blog. You have a wonderful written 'voice' and writing style..."