Wednesday, July 11, 2007

1978 Apartheid Durban, Teaching Hassles, Robberies and Rosie.

1978. Mark Esslemont's Standard 6 Class (year 8) Hillcrest High School. (Leeney) >

Leah and I moved to Old Mutual Towers, Bamboo Lane, Pinetown. Our 22nd floor flat had views of Knowles shopping-centre, Fields Hill westwards, Cowies Hill eastwards, annual Comrades Marathons. Our flat was closer to Hillcrest, and Leah was driven to Tomlinsons by her boss. A Moslem flower-seller, trading in front of Knowles, faced Mecca while praying on his knees before customers. Below our flat was an NG kerk. Its clanking bell woke us on Sundays.

I drove pupils to their homes after play rehearsals or sports. Teachers were swindled by the transport scam in all schools I taught. Parents and principals rarely thanked or acknowledged teachers for their safe, unpaid taxi services. Mr. Hawkins emotional-blackmailed, by asking me to drive a girl head prefect to school every morning saying, "Your resistance will earn you a black mark in your NED file." Prick! My reward was Mini wear, as she was big girl.

In the afternoons I couriered another girl, distributing her home above Fields Hill. Next year, I couriered a boy to Pinetown. Mr. Hawkins censured me for detaining a naughty girl, who'd missed her bus, then walked home. "Exercise and meditation on her sins will stop her defiant behaviour," I said. Mr. Hawkins disagreed, implying kaffir-rape. When principals criticised me, it was sometimes about my strictness. I preferred to be strict, stopping pupils forming bad learning habits.

Mom and Fraser toured Europe and Middle East, enjoying Israel and Turkey. They also visited aunty Jean, about mom's age, in London. Back is Durbs, mom's GP admitted her to Addington Hospital, and excised a growth below her left ear. Fraser and I held our breaths. Mom went into-out-into remission without even knowing.

One biology prac, I cut my hand on glass, and fainted, hitting my head on the concrete floor. Herr Flocker next door heard the thud, and pumped my legs, reviving me - concussed with tunnel-vision and broken teeth. Pupils escorted me to the sick-room.

Herr Flocker was promoted to Dokkies. Blikskottel, replacing Herr Flocker, unfairly allocated ECA workload. Some teachers and management did no ECA. As I did more than my fair share, and was tired of being used, after two seasons I refused to coach rugby. Coaching boys after school was boring and stressful. Blikskottel was livid: "Yous bladdy lazy man! Know whad I mean?" Mr. Hawkins threatened a black mark in my NED file. Mr. Hawkins always started staff-meetings with a prayer, and Blikskottel always said the loudest, "AMEN."

When Blikskottel and I did team-teaching, Blikskottel slacked. Two classes in my lab was a riotous-assembly of over 60 teenagers. When I taught, Blikskottel learned. When he "taught," he lectured. Blikskottel liked making teaching-aids, photographing biology specimens and producing slide-shows.

Once Af robbers, from nearby Inanda, burgled our school, demolishing office doors, ransacking the staffroom, leaving a turd on the Prime Minister's photograph. Another time, when I walked into my lab, Zulu cleaner Nkosi was digging into my purse in my briefcase. Nkosi froze, going so pale, he could've "tried for white." I sang his praises, as Nkosi was a raw kraal-kaffir. His idea of plural-relations was stealing from whites. "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" ne? Nkosi returned my purse, and warily cleaned my lab. Weeks later, when I spoke to him again, he beamed, knowing his job was, "Safe mah mate."

Blikskottel lived on Inanda border. His rented house was often robbed by Zulu piccanins. "Ah'm visiding my parends in Durbs dis weekend," Blikskottel told Nkosi. "Look afder mah 'ouse?" That night, Blikskottel sneaked home, hiding in his house. Piccanins removed tiles from his roof, and dropped inside. Blikskottel bashed piccanins.

"Hau Baas Blikskottel, you geev piccanins sharp hayding!" Nkosi later said.

Unrest: Puppet Venda "Independence." (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997.) Blacks were stuffed into overgrazed land near Kruger Park. Venda was overcrowded, degraded, desertified, with poor farming and stock-grazing methods, ignorance, witchcraft. Venda was bordered by lowveld game-ranches, where rich, white tourists shot game amidst apartheid white magic.

Rosie still worked, while living in mom's home. Every weekend, I drove Rosie to Jimmy's Chatsworth house, after Jimmy and his extended family had been cast out of Jacobs slum. They lived in a house identical to other Chatsworth houses - double storey, concrete block monstrosities. Gum Tree Road Indian slum was the third Indian community I'd witnessed destroyed by apartheid. "A Heeeeluva t'ing!" said Rosie.

Rosie slipped on mom's front step, breaking her hip. Rosie wept, when I helped her to our toilet. "I'm paining Mak. Paining! Aai-yai-yai-yai -yaaai!"

Rosie recovered in King Edward V111 Hospital, convalesced in Chatsworth, and returned to work. "Work keeps Rosie alive," said mom. Although mom was Rosie's "Maram," they'd grown long tusks over the years, and were pals, despite apartheid.

1979. U15 Rugby Team coached by Mark Esslemont, Hillcrest High School. (Leeney) >

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Comment from a Facebook friend about a Hillcrest burglary 30 years after I left HHS:

"Well - the joys of South Africa - I am up early because I have just been broken into! A lot of stuff was taken - mostly out of one of my tenant's cottages (even his bar fridge!) - & then they came into my place - fortunately I have security gates blocking off my bedroom area & they got in through my lounge area.

I called the security company because my dogs were barking (inside) & then went to look out a window in the spare room & saw 2 of the guys - & then hit my panic button, which in retrospect was probably not the thing to do as Blue were already on their way. But I guess I feared for my personal safety.

It was only when I hit the panic that they broke into my place - probably hoping to get me to turn it off? Forced the door on the enclosed verandah as well as the security gate on that & then broke glass on other doors that lead through to the lounge.

Thank good for my security gates to the bedrooms - but they did cut the padlock on one of my internal fence gates, so they would have been able to get through my passage gates if they had had time. I am so shaken & seriously think it's time to get our of SA? But how..."