Wednesday, June 13, 2007

1969 Apartheid Durban, Dokkies Student

I bussed across the Umgeni to Durban Teachers Training College (Dokkies), Queen Mary Avenue - my road from light to shadows. My class was the last English-speaking class to enrol, as white Edgewood College of Education was being built in Pinetown for English students. In the 60s, Edgewood had begun at Danville GH, Glenashley: first SRC president, Averil Wellbeloved. There were no non-white students at Dokkies nor Edgewood. White Nationalists were obsessed with separating people into skin-colour groups: separate black, coloured, Indian, white living areas; separate English, Afrikaner, coloured, Indian, black schools, colleges, technikons, universities; separate petty apartheid amenities with separate entrances like public toilets, trains, buses, parks, holiday areas, hotels, pubs, restaurants, theatres, bioscopes, queues, hospitals, churches.

The 1950 Group Areas Act had forced natives to live in tribal reserves, or urban locations, separate from Indian, coloured and European Group Areas, like Cape Town for Western Cape coloureds; Transkei for Xhosa; Zululand for Zulus. Descendants of Afrikaners who'd suffered British concentration camps during the Boer War, persecuted non-whites with racist 1950 Population Registration and Group Areas Acts. (Sean Moroney Editor, Africa Volumes 1, 2, Facts on File, New York, 1989). White Durban was bordered by restless non-white group areas: Zulu Kwa-Mashu (north); Indian Phoenix (north); Zulu Claremont (west); Zulu Inanda (further west); Zulu Umlazi (south); Indian Chatsworth (south-west); coloured Wentworth (east); Indian Isipingo (south-east). Non-whites spotted other suburbs where they'd bought free-hold land, called "black spots," which the Nationalist government tried to forcibly remove, and disguise with dissembling use of English.

Fear of swart gevaar ruled white Durban North, where Afrikaners, coloureds and Afrikaans were alien. Northway separated Durban North into lower and upper, the richest snobs luxuriating in upper Durban North. Zulu, or Hindi, or broken-English was spoken by Zulu or Indian servants, who either lived in khayas on white properties, or returned to their black spots (like Rosie), or locations after work. Rosie spoke coolie-English ek se, and Portuguese, having owned a laundry in Lourenco Marques, and understood Afrikaans. Rosie also spoke kitchen-kaffir derived from Zulu, and spoke fluent Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati. Mom said, "If Rosie wasn't illiterate, she'd be Phd in languages."

Separate bureaucracies maintained separate-development. Police (SAP), judiciary and municipalities brutally administered unjust laws. Petty apartheid signs separated people: like "Whites Only Beach;" "Bantu Toilet." North Beach, where I surfed, Dairy Beach, South Beach, Addington Beach were all white beaches. Non-white beaches stretched northwards along the coast. Umgeni Blue Lagoon and Sunkist Beach became Indian beaches. Black and coloured beaches were closer to town. Whites were cast out of those beaches, so I often hitched past. Sometimes I stopped for water at those beaches, and non-whites ignored me.

If I dated a Durbs Indian Mary, or flirted with Rosie's grand -daughters, I broke immorality laws. Law-breaking got one imprisoned without trial (as a terrorist maybe), banned, house -arrested, banished, harassed in many ways. Bureau Of State Security (BOSS) watched one. St. Martins curate, Vernon Muller, was banned and house -arrested, in his vicarage behind the church. He preached, but confined to his home, he reported to SAP weekly.

On my first Dokkies day, Freshers Week baas, Broeder Bul bellowed, "Wearrin' plazdick zandalz iz aginzd ztudind rregilazhinz!" Broeder Bul hustled over 100 English and Afrikaner first-years into the hall, where we made name-tags; sang songs; learnt about senior students, lecturers, college rules; and Students Representative Council. Broeder Bul called me on-stage, "Sing klein Engelsman!"

"Baa-baa black sheep, have you any wool..." Broeder Bul didn't realize I mocked, while third-year English students giggled at the back of the hall. Some first-year men had finished their nine months Citizen Force basic, or had worked in business. Freshers Week tried to "remove the matric complex," belittle us, and prepare us for college. Third-year students took some of us to Makouvlei Bar, near Lyric Theatre. It was my first time in a bar, and my first beer. I wasn't thrown out. Afterwards, Arthur Hill the blonde SRC President drove me home in his white VW Beetle. In the weekend, Arthur Hill compered our Freshers Concert, where I found new cherries. We danced Hello Dolly numbers, and Arthur Hill and I sang, "Swing low sweet chariot..." and, "When the saints go marching in..."

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