Friday, August 31, 2007

Apartheid, NZ Trek and SA Pre-Election Terror, 1994


1994. WW1 Gallipoli Donkey, Wellington Museum, New Zealand.


Early in 1994, I trekked NZ in a hired 850cc Suzuki car from Auckand to Waitangi; Cape Reinga; East Cape; Napier; Wellington; Cook Srait ferry; West Coast; Alps; Invercargill; Dunedin; Christchurch; oriental haemerrhoid Banks Peninsular. Hitchhikers I picked up were either Swiss or German tourists, or female hitchers were either on the dole, or pregnant on the Domestic Purposes Benefit. My dry, hot days on Canterbury Plains reminded me of my Natal boyhood, rose-an'-pollen days.

Unrest, Bophuthatswana: 3 AWB men shot by a cop while Tswana looted Mmabatho during the puppet homeland collapse. (Graham Boynton, Last Days in Cloud Cuckooland, Dispatches from White South Africa, Random House, New York, 1997). AWB boykies sang, "Een kaffir een koeel, kaffir-skiet piekniek," versus black strugglers, "Kill the farmer kill the Boer" song. NZ media omitted reporting SADF's general Viljoen's 3000 Freedom Alliance men supporting puppet Mangope, and colonel Breytenbach and his troopies observing Terblanches's AWB bully boykies. (State-supported Zulu chief Buthelezi had formed a right-wing Freedom Alliance with far right Bophuthatswana's Mangope, puppet Ciskei's Gqozo, Conservative Party and Viljoen's Volksfront, after De Klerk had unbanned ANC, SACP and PAC).

The puppet cop, who shot the 3 AWB men before photo-journalists, made rightist Viljoen support Breytenbach's state troopies, re-think his Volkstaat nonsense, and later form his right-wing Freedom Front Party to join the freedom election. (JDF Jones, The Many Lives of Lourens van der Post Storyteller, John Murray, London, 2001).

March, Mdantsane Bahai Church: 3 Iranian men shot, including 2 doctors, by APLA. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Vol 3, Macmillan, London, 1999). A murdered doctor's son was in standard one at Selborne Primary with Jake. How do you explain terrorism to kids?

In NZ I met dollar-grasping Kiwis. I saw mountains, glaciers, beech forests, lakes, rivers, beaches. I trekked 10 000 kays, saw road-kill possums, a live tautara, cattle, red deer, mobs of sheep, unnaturally clean-green paddocks, many shags. NZ was safe, far from murderous Azanians.

After NZ I stayed deaf, and played Luister during my last teaching year. My deafness gain over the last decade had parallelled the loss of white power during apartheid's demise. SA and my sugar-banana Natal were in turmoil before the 1994 freedom election. Buthelezi's Inkatha left Codesa talks. Zulu mobs, with assegais and knobkerrie traditional weapons, terrified Witwatersrand black hostel dwellers and township dwellers, while fighting ANC strugglers. Since Shaka's day, Zulus had carried traditional weapons. When I was a Durban boy, night-watchmen guarded buildings equipped with pith-helmet, knobkerrie and assegai.

Before the freedom election, MK soldiers returned from exile in Angola, Zambia, elsewhere to unemployment in SA. The struggle was officially over. Finding-keeping jobs, supporting families, being decent citizens threatened. MK returnees, APLA and SADF merged, forming the new SANDF. Old SADF, APLA, MK soldiers didn't reconcile in army camps, as ranks differed and rebellion rumbled in Tempe camp near Bloemfontein. Toilets were trashed, hand-basins shat in.

Unrest, Shell House Massacre, Johannesburg: 58 people killed by ANC. (Ibid TRC, Vol 3). Later, June 1995, new president Mandela admitted ANC responsibility for Shell House shootings by stating on parliament: "This is nothing more nor less than a statement of the common law right to self defence." I wondered what the families of the dead thought of that?

Buthelezi didn't want Zulus / Inkatha participating in the freedom election (Patti Waldmeier, Anatomy of a Miracle, The End of Apartheid and The Birth of a New South Africa, WW Norton & Company Ltd, New York, 1997). By the February deadline for registering election parties, far right Freedom Alliance members hadn't registered. The deadline was extended. Viljoen registered his Freedom Front party, which brought conservative white voters into the freedom election.

In April, Buthelezi, Mandela, Zulu king Zwelithini and De Klerk met to discuss Zwelithini's future after the freedom election. As often happened in Africa, clashes between hereditary kings, hereditary tribal chiefs and western democracy loomed. Buthelezi was intransigent, but it was decided the election would proceed with or without Buthelezi and Inkatha, despite Zulus being the biggest ethnic group.

Kwa-Zulu hit squads were accused of killing civilians. (Ibid Waldmeier). A State-of-Terror was declared in KwaZulu-Natal, and traditional weapons were banned. Buthelezi agreed to Inkatha voting in the freedom election. Buthelezi's face was stuck on the bottom of millions of ballot forms. De Klerk's face had been on the bottom.

1990-1994: 10 000 people died in KwaZulu-Natal in Inkatha-ANC fighting. (Glenn Lyndon Dodds, The Zulus and Matabele Warrior Nations, Arms and Armour, London, 1998).

Headlines reported "political" killings: State anti-insurgency terror tactics versus commie terror tactics of protest marches, random killings detonating more killings, strikes and riotous assemblies went hammer and sickle. In 1989 Soviet communism had expired. In 1994 commies arrived in SA. Although the Soviet Union had broken up into seceding Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, and other eastern countries, Azanian commies and socialists, Mhlaba, Kastrils, Mbeki, Slovo, Gwala, et al, were scared Buthelezi would secede KwaZulu -Natal from SA. Despite puppet bureaucrats' fears of losing puppet homeland jobs, homelands were absorbed into Rainbow SA, and new political borders were drawn on tribal lines.

Bombings, Jo'burg, Germiston, Pretoria: 21 people killed by AWB. (Ibid Boynton).

Blacks were killed in trains and hostels. A man was hammered on his head, while asleep in bed in Butterworth. His wife watched him die, while tsotsis rifled their home.

The air was charged with violence and expectation. Mr. Gunn and his wife trekked overseas: not the only whiteys who left SA during election time. I polished my .22 pistol: not the only whitey polishing. If mobs attacked, I'd die fighting in my home.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Gerhard Mare's report on "The Sad Saga of KwaZulu-Natal," a year after the 1994 election.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Apartheid, More 1993 Unrest and Namaqualand Trek


1993. Esslemonts on a Kleinzee holiday.


On 01/07/1993, our fifteenth wedding anniversary, the top of the municipal building at the bottom of Oxford Street blasted off while I bought champagne. I was too deaf to hear the explosion. When I saw Xhosa toyi-toying by, I asked a shopkeeper. "Was that a bomb?" He nodded.

I wandered amongst rejoicing Xhosa, while stunned white workers gathered in a carpark for a headcount. No one was killed. The roof was gone, windows were shattered, and computer paper hung from a high window. The bombing wasn't mentioned in the media: just another bomb. We became used to bombs.

Another time, while Jake and I walked down Oxford Street a bomb-squad cop moved us on while hanging green security-tape across the road. Blacks rejoiced in the streets again, as APLA was busy, sneaking in from Transkei. Jake got used to bomb-drills, called fire-drills at Selborne Primary. We also did fire-drills at Selborne College.

On holiday, we camped at Augrabies Falls, the great, granite, grumbling cataract on the Orange River. Near an RC mission, while passing a bakkie, I rolled my Golf into sand on the roadside. Jake and I hung upside-down, suspended by our seatbelts. Leah and Luke sprawled on the roof behind. ''Get out!" I yelled, thinking of fire.

Klindts of Karamaam desert ranch stopped their bakkie, and helped us load our belongings into their bakkie. Leah and boys went to Karamaam while I waited for a tow-truck for my bashed skorrokorro. Kakamus Afrikaner mechanics fixed my skorrokorro.

Driving along a sandy road to Karamaam, I admired a bloody sunset. A social weaver birds' nest hung in a kameeldoringboom near Klindt's ranch-gate. Jake had seen an ox brained with Klindt's .22 pistol. Klindt braaied ox meat and said, "Dis so stil hier, jy kan jouself hoor dink."

After Springbok, we glided down Spektakelberg Pass and ghosted through sandveld. Jake sang. "We three kings of..."

"Want wee! Want wee!.." chanted Luke to sandveld.

At Kleinzee, we showed Jake the hospital where he was born. A new final-recovery plant had been built in the mine area. A new access -road from Port Nolloth road had been made to Dreyerspan, so migrant-workers were no longer hostelled behind security-fences. Xhosa wives were still forbidden at Kleinzee.

Seven years after we'd left, Kleinzee was full of strangers, as most whiteys we'd known had left. We looked at Kleinzee museum, and showed Jake xerophytes on Buffels banks. I showed Jake my Bushmen koppie, where we collected Bushmen artifacts. Imoya whispered over dunes, and I heard Strike barking.

We told Jake about strandveld steenbokke, jackals, meerkatte and the mine seal-colony. We told Jake about skunks, chanting-goshawks, secretary-birds and ostriches keeping their trotting distances when I'd jogged around Kleinzee golf course. I told Jake about the brown hyena, which I'd jogged into one foggy night on Buffels bank.

On the beach, our boys chased gulls, plovers, sandpipers, and we heard blacksmith plovers sing, "Ting-ting-ting-ting..." Near kelp heaps we searched for shells. Fishing and yachting clubhouses hadn't changed. Poseidon Cape wreck was seven years rustier.

Back at Worm City, our white Panelbeater sacked a Xhosa worker who'd thieved from clients' cars. The sacked Xhosa took Panelbeater to court, claiming unfair dismissal. Panelbeater won the case, then received threatening phone-calls. His employer environment wasn't unusual.

More 1993 Unrest: East Rand Massacres: According to Daniel Reed, Beloved Country, South Africa's Silent Wars, BBC Books, London, 1994: "More than 500 black South Africans had died there in the first few weeks of July alone:" in Katlehong and Tokoza townships, in fighting between ANC and Inkatha hostel dwellers.

According to John Allen (Editor) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Rainbow People of God, Bantam, London, 1995: "Between 2 and 13 July, more than 220 people died in violence on the East Rand, east of Johannesburg, and at least fifty in Natal."

July, Cape Town, Saint James Church: 11 whites killed by APLA. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of SA Report, Vol 3, Macmillan, London, 1999).

August, American lass Biehl, stoned and stabbed dead by Pan African Organization tsotsis in Guguletu. (Ibid TRC, Vol 3).

Drive-by attack on Highgate Hotel near home. Again! Security-men escaped injury when a dud RPG bounced off the pub wall.

We avoided trekking through puppet Transkei roadblocks, as puppet Holomisa hosted APLA terrorists in Transkei who chanted, "One settler one bullet... Kill the farmer kill the Boer..." while conscript soldiers and cops continued township patrols throughout SA.

October, Umtata: Authorized by De Klerk, 5 APLA Xhosa youths killed by SADF. (Ibid TRC, Vol 2). I was standing by BC's photocopy machine when I heard of that horror. Constantly reported massacres numbed us. I worked and tried to ignore the terror, as if annihilation wasn't an everyday occurrence. Although I was deaf, imoya howled in my head. Death winds blew and Leah and I felt them. Lucky and Koffie carried on barking.

Mandela and De Klerk were joint-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997). Mandela imprisoned for 27 years, a lawyer and trained MK terrorist, had stimulated De Klerk, a lawyer, to start a new constitution and abolish apartheid laws. Meanwhile thousands of Azanians died. Norwegians had strange peace ideas.

As communist regimes like Mozambique and Tanzania had failed in Africa, and as kommuniste had been demonized for decades by SA media, Afrikaner Nat politicians and securocrats, why did Afrikaner Nat politicians like De Klerk sell SA so cheaply to communist trained terrorists in the SACP / ANC?

December, Cape Town, Heidelberg Tavern: 4 whites killed. (Ibid TRC, Vol 3).

According to Brian Frost, Struggling to Forgive, HarperCollins, London, 1998, referring to the 1984 mutiny in ANC's Bango camp in Angola, the Motsoanyane Commission reported 70 mutineers were "executed, beaten to death, committed suicide, or died of natural causes in ANC camps. Also 200 ANC camp members were reported missing." Mutineers were tired of fighting Savimbi's UNITA blacks, instead of killing whites in SA.

1993. Esslemonts at 294 Freemantle Road, Durban.


After braving trekking through Transkei, on N2 freeway we avoided being stoned from overhead -bridges near Umgababa, Natal South Coast, on our way to Durbs.

There were black boycotts of white businesses, and taxi wars between rival taxi owners.

Selborne teachers often drove sports teams through King Williams Town. Sometimes East London ~ King Williams Town / Bisho highway was blockaded by taxis. On such days we avoided King Williams Town.

My matric results compared well with other teachers', who had their own labs in which to teach. I didn't wear my behind-the-ear hearing -aid while teaching, as I felt the less insolent boys knew of my deafness the better. My analogue hearing-aid was expensive and useless. It stayed in my pocket at school. When boys asked what the lump in my pocket was I replied, "My skorrokorro." My hearing-aid amplified background noise, which stopped effective hearing. I learnt lip-reading, body language and intuition.

In December 1993, we applied for NZ residence. As NZ had no embassy in SA, we posted our application to London NZ embassy.

PAC / APLA's "Year of the Great Storm" was over.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Apartheid SA, East London, Skorrokorro Collapse, 1993

My hearing and Selborne College work conditions worsened while civil war raged. For years, Mr. Gordon and Blumrick had ignored my requests for fair work conditions. Management could've organized annual lab rotation, which would've sorted out biology lab congestion, but it didn't happen, as science and biology teachers with labs were selfish.

After insecure stuttering, Blumrick was promoted to a PE school. New Principal Mr Gunn, from Queenstown, continued lab discrimination by squeaking, "I'm not changing anything." Mr. Gunn stayed white principal for years after apartheid's demise. That summed up years of post-apartheid SA: white oppressors would control bureaucracy and business, while blacks ruled.

Some 1993 unrest: Intimidation and deindividuated mob violence prevailed.

'Maritzburg Table Mountain: 6 Zulu children killed by ANC. (Daniel Reed, Beloved Country, South Africa's Silent Wars, BBC Books, London, 1994).

Harding, Natal: White farmers killed on their farms.

Thousands of Zulus killed in Natal Midlands, in KwaZulu, and near Port Shepstone, while ANC's communist leader Gwala and Inkatha leaders squabbled.

April. ANC's Hani (Fort Hare alumnus and MK commander) was shot by a Polish migrant Waluz. Mandela, awaiting presidency, TV appealed to protestors not to riot. There were riots in Jo'burg, Cape Town, Durban, elsewhere. TV showed Zulus bashing shop windows. Property was destroyed, despite ANC marshalls' attempts to control mobsters. According to John Allen (Editor) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Rainbow People of God, Bantam, London, 1995:

"Up to 2.5 million people took part in eighty five events during a national day of mourning on 14 April. Violence was reported at three places with up to seventeen reported killed... On 19 April, the day of Hani's funeral, much of the country came to a standstill. Four million people were estimated to have stayed at home. Twenty five people were killed, nineteen of them in hit-and-run attacks at night in Sebokeng... More than 100 000 attended the funeral at a Soweto soccer stadium."

Leah and I felt unsafe at home and while shopping and travelling. Our sons saw violence on TV. There was no future for them in SA. In my lifetime, I'd witnessed African countries (except Egypt and Ethiopia) become independent from colonial rule. For us it was trek time again to unknown parts. I wrote to people I knew had emigrated, and while applying for our NZ residence-visas, I twice drove to Pretoria central cop-shop to get police clearance papers. While I drove, Jake and I sang, "We are marching to Pretoria..."

Posters hanging on Pretoria central cop-shop walls described hundreds of cops, whites and non-whites, killed on duty: murdered because they were seen as cop collaborators - houses fire-bombed. Not all cops were Sellouts, Death Squad, Third Force, or AWB. Leah's brother Al was a conscripted cop during 80s States-of-Terror. His options were cops, army, navy, SAAF, gaol, or exile, aged eighteen. Thousands of conscripted white teenagers were forced by securocrats to choose.

In Natal University Focus, Vol 7, No 1, 1996, Antoinette Louw, in her Counting the Cost of Crime wrote there was, "white-collar crime... illegal drug trade... property crimes... motor vehicle thefts... violent crimes... Numbers of police killed increased from 1989, peaking in 1993. Most police were attacked for their weapons, some for political motives. At least 1166 police died between 1989 and 1995, and 2515 members were injured between 1989 and 1994 in attacks..."

"Over 23000 people died in political violence since 1985. Most deaths occurred in 1993, although monthly violence levels peaked before the 1994 election."

According to Reed (Ibid above):

"Since 1990, SA had been experiencing the most violent years in its history, a chaotic interregnum euphemistically known as 'a period of transition to a new, democratic SA'... The transition period, characterized by lengthy negotiations between the white government and its former foes in the newly unbanned ANC, had lasted for four years, during which more people died violently than in the Boer War. Most of the 60 000 deaths, according to the SAP, had been the result of crime. A mere 14000 had been classified 'unrest related'"

In comparison, 30 000 civilians and combatants died in Rhodesia's Bush War. (Peter Joyce, Zimbabwe The Beautiful, Struik, Cape Town, 1996).

Two weeks after Hani's assassination, Tambo, Mandela's old Fort Hare pal and law partner, died of a stroke. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997).

May, Highgate Hotel near home: 5 whites killed by APLA. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Volume 3, Macmillan, London, 1999).

Codesa: While ANC's Ramaphosa, Nationalist's Meyer and others negotiated a democratic constitution, AWB nincompoops invaded the World Trade Centre where talks were held, bashed down the door with an old, skorrokorro, armoured car, rampaged through the building, and terrified delegates. TV showed an AWB kerel slapping Rajbansi's face. CP leader Treurnicht died that month.

May. General Viljoen, former SADF chief (since 1980) Angola, Mozambique, SWA veteran, and other retired generals formed the Afrikaner Volksfront (National Front), wishing for an Afrikaner Volkstaat (National State). Volksfront members included AWB; Conservative Party; Transvaal municipal associations; Transvaal and OFS farmers unions; white trade unions. (Ibid Meredith).

Norman timetabled Mr. Gunn history-teaching in my class during my free periods. Mr. Gunn was the only white principal I worked with who did classroom teaching. Mr. Gunn squeaked about boys messing my class and not cleaning up. I sent him a note: "I was a London street-sweeper and cleaner. I was the only teacher who objected to Mr. Gordon's hired Xhosa cleaners cleaning classes once a week. High pupil turnover classes like mine need more frequent cleaning than daily cleaning of your low-turnover office..." I also complained about my lack of permanent lab space: "Some biology teachers like myself are discriminated against..." Mr. Gunn didn't reply, but left my class. He sent Bands to shriek at my classes, when my boys' rowdiness spoilt his chatting to Forword and Norman in the staffroom. They humiliated rather than helped.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Apartheid East London, "Charlies Aunt" and APLA Annihilations, 1993
















1993. Mark Esslemont's 'Charlies Aunt' cast: "I'm Charlies Aunt from Brazil, where the nuts come from." Guild Theatre, East London. (Pollock)

Years before, a King Williams Town boys' high had a secret "Kaffir -Bashing Society" where the headmaster had encouraged white boys to use two-by-fours to remove black trespassers. (Later denied). White boys sneaked from their hostel at night, and bashed vagrants sleeping on school grounds. When a vagrant died, teachers and (ahem) headmaster claimed ignorance of the bashings.

Before we'd arrived in East London, an Afrikaner security-man - former cop, shot Xhosa burglars: wounding and killing outcasts on school premises. There was little distance between conscript cadet -masters and outcast killing cadets and cops, in their conditioning, indoctrination, propaganda, generalization and demonization.

Due to the cultural boycott, and as suitable Afrocentric plays were unavailable, I directed Eurocentric Charlies Aunt, while teaching a full timetable, and coaching sport during my 14-16 hour work day. Blumrick continued Mr Gordon's institutional bullying. Rehearsals and lesson preps, cricket-coaching, and coordinating a staff production -team while I was deaf needed virtuoso teaching. Bands and Forword avoided helping, but made snide comments in the staffroom. Blumrick pretended to help, but idled. One afternoon, I drove my cricket team to Buffalo Flats coloured township. Two yellow cop Casspirs were parked on the township main road to intimidate strugglers. APLA slogans were painted on walls: "One Settler One Bullet..."

We won the match.

Back at Selborne College, Blumrick stuttered, "W-why'd you return to Selborne s-s-s-so late?"

"Long match."

"A-A parent complained!"

"So why didn't Bands go to Buffalo Flats? He organized the match. He's too scared to go himself. I've just driven into a coloured township, putting my life and lives of my cricketers at risk, and I'm going straight to play rehearsal, and I've been working from 7:30 this morning, and will continue till midnight. Playing cricket while township people are annihilated, and you complaining about my lateness is bizarre. As a student and teacher, I've thanklessly taught other peoples' children for 20 years. Overtime with others' children is time stolen from my sons."

"H-H-Hang in there!"

"I'm giving it all I've got as play director, sports coach, and teacher, and all you say is, 'Hang in there!' When will you fix the smashed window panes in my classroom?" Silence. I waited another year before Forword spent cash to fix the panes.















1993. One of Mark Esslemont's Selborne College cricket teams. (Pollock) "Mark that!"

My Charlies Aunt cast was form threes and four white boys and one black boy. Clarendon High School actresses strengthened the cast. Paxton was stage-manager again, and learnt lots from me. My deafness was so bad at rehearsals I yelled, "Speak up! I can't hear you!" Voice production was excellent during the Guild Theatre run, and Selborne's caretaker, old boy, said it was the best play he'd seen at Selborne. His school maintenance was slow, despite his new workshop and tools, built at the expense of a new biology lab and equipment. Biology HOD, Midlane was weak, and didn't support his biology teachers. Leah and I quaffed champagne at my cast party. Charlies Aunt was my last directing: transforming youths into unknown parts.

As I got deafer my voice became louder, as I tried to hear myself speak, while boys played up in my classes. My family had to tell me for years to, "Shut up!" They made hush-up gestures when I became too loud and vexatious.

Unrest: Bullying letters in the Daily Dispatch by ex security-cop and East London mayor Donald Card, complained about a white, female teacher defending her councillor father in the press. I never read any happy Donald Card letters published in the Daily Dispatch during my Border years. (Carolyn Hamilton, et al, A Prisoner In The Garden, Viking, Johannesburg, 2005).

Coda: Before the April 1994 elections, Ncamazana, APLA terrorist, had participated in "total annihilation" attacks: including a minibus attack near Nahoon Dam; attack on a bus full of Mdantsane Da Gama Textile Company employees; attack on Highgate Hotel near my home; armed robberies and carjackings; Mdantsane Bahai church attack.

Ncamazana was caught, gaoled for the Highgate Hotel and Bahai murders, and was refused amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Ncamazana twice escaped prison, was re-gaoled, then applied for a presidential pardon.

President Mbeki pardoned Ncamazana and 32 other "political prisoners."

After matriculation, in 2002, one of my Charlies Aunt leading actresses witnessed her partner shot dead by Ncamazana in their East London shop, two weeks after Ncamazana's pardon.

Eventually Ncamazana was gaoled for, "life."

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Apartheid, 1993, More Mayhem in East London and Cadets

Whites were targeted. While Jake attended Selborne Primary and Leah stayed at home with Luke, our dogs barked at Xhosa door -knockers begging from Leah: "Hello. Want Wek!... Do gaden weets (weeds) medem?... Ah'm hungary... Haf you got foot? (food)... Gif me fife rant (R5) bus / texi / train feh!..." Dependency and demand ruled. If Leah said, "No!" she was sworn at. Never mind Xhosa trespassing our property, and Leah's privacy invaded. Opening our front door to outcasts was stressful. We didn't have high boundary walls. Only one neighbour in Sandhurst Road had high walls. Some had no fencing. We chose to see outcasts. We didn't feel safe in our home.

Our "Welcome" sign was ripped off our front stoep. Our washing was stolen off our backyard line despite our dogs. Like at QwaQwa, black street-kids rifled our black rubbish bags placed on our street verge.

We locked our Golf doors, and windows stayed closed while we drove, which stopped carjacking at robots. Once, when Leah arrived home from shopping, with Luke asleep on our Golf back seat, an outcast rose from a street verge and followed Leah into our garage. Leah reversed out and waited in the street until he left. Another time, Gerry saw a tsotsi following Leah in our front yard. Gerry ran over shouting, "Voertsek!"

"Thenk you verra mush Gerry," Luke said.

I warned Leah that if anyone tried carjacking, or forcing himself into her car, she must flash her lights, hoot and crash into the nearest male-driven car, preferably a big Dutchman's. He'd sort out a cheeky thief. We trained Jake and Luke to lie down if we anticipated bombing or shooting in public places.

Our possessions were loot for thieves. We couldn't have a discussion with a beggar on our front stoep: "I disagree with apartheid. I voted Prog and DP all my adult life. You're trespassing and disturbing my right to privacy." He wouldn't understand, probably zonked on zolls, meths, shimiaan, or skokiaan, or only spoke Xhosa. "Piss off!" was safer, though giving us no peace.

Leah witnessed outcasts robbing a bank security-van on Devereux Road. One security-man was shot dead. Cops arrived: big shoot-out. The mob fingered robbers to cops. One robber was shot dead. One was arrested after he laid his automatic rifle on the pavement, and tried mingling with the mob. One sprinted to Pick 'n Pay car-park and ordered a shopper at gunpoint to drive him to Mdantsane. The driver lived. The captive snitched the escapee.

In puppet Transkei, people were shot dead. Outcast Xhosa cops, soldiers, civil servants struck. We were stopped by armed Xhosa cops at road-blocks on the N2 south of Umtata. They searched for arms and dagga.

Travellers were attacked, robbed, carjacked, killed.

Selborne College was the first state school I taught in (Natal or Cape) where mass-hysteria ruled. I separated an evenly-matched white boy fighting a Xhosa boy in my class. They'd smashed a window and were hurting each other. "Shake hands and apologise!" I said.

"You Xhosa take advantage!" yelled the dof white boy. "You wanna take over everything!" The Xhosa boy came first in my standard eight multi-racial class: which killed the, "thick kaffir" stereotype.

During my Cape, Vrystaat and Natal years, I never heard of white teachers being sacked. Beside SATC Broederbonders, other affirmative-actions were white inspectors and whiteys banished or promoted to head office for misconduct. One inspector advised me to keep biology exam-questions on cards in a box, despite computer files, and shops selling biology exam-question books. Some inspectors were verbally abusive and manipulative, after chats with principals.

Inspectors were manipulated by principals to scare teachers. I never heard of a white inspector returning to permanent classroom teaching, or leading by example. The longer they stayed inspectors, the more absurd and officious they became. One inspector praised Selborne as, "the best school in the world." Another sniffed my science worksheets and complained about, "boys sticking paper-on-paper" in their notebooks, instead of copying notes from text books.

"I got these notes from a Natal inspector," I said, "who became NED director." During my 18 years teaching, I was always inspected by white male inspectors, never female inspectors. So much for gender equality.

Selborne management behaviour confirmed my 1977 early teaching reckoning that those who misled white high schools, especially white boys' high schools, became power-mad and twisted, and perpetuated institutional violence like bullying, cadets and caning. Many conscripted white male teachers had gone to Oudtshoorn army officers school, becoming cadet officers, dutifully brainwashing the next white generation. During weekly cadet-periods, most boys and masters did cadets. Some Xhosa, not wanting to be called, "Sellouts" didn't do cadets.

Norman trained a cadet-band, and in the afternoons Norman eyed boys' prone bums in rifle-butts, while they practised shooting .22 rifles for inter-school bisleys.

Paxton trained another band, which played classical and modern music at some assemblies and in a quadrangle outside our staffroom: "Boomalakka!...Oooompapa..."

Blumrick returned from a Pretoria course saying, "Selborne was chosen to p-pilot this Civics p-p-p- programme..." Teachers were expected to foist anti-communist propaganda, despite Soviet communism's collapse. Topics included nationalism versus free-enterprise; national service; communism versus capitalism... Blatant brainwashing. Blumrick was so weak, he wanted Selborne to sell securocrats' bullshit, which aggravated mass-hysteria.

One of my fifth-formers asked, "Sir, why must we put up with this crap?" Thereafter, I gave my Civics classes free periods. When staff evaluated the course, I recommended, "The course is brainwashing. Media indoctrination is enough..." The course was cancelled, and crackpot course-files were locked in the school safe.

While APLA annihilated Border people, Norman merged Civics and cadet classes. If Xhosa didn't do cadets, they had to watch cadets. Some Xhosa boys battled with English, their second language, so during Civics / cadets I taught some Xhosa boys English, enabling them to avoid cadets. (I could hardly hear them). Other "liberal" staff then followed my subversion by offering Civics topics like "extra maths." Once Norman caught a Xhosa boy loitering during a cadet period: "Why're you sneaking along the corridor?" yelled Norman.

"Ah'm goeeng Meesa Essmonty's Eengleesh cluss. Goeeng." Xhosa boy cringed in for the first time.

Cadet-masters wore SADF uniforms and uniformed boys did army drills year after year. Cadet militarization in the 90s was no different from what I'd experienced in the 60s. Cadets bored me. At the annual cadet-parade, an old head-prefect handed over his key to the new head-prefect. The Key Ceremony, part of the cadet-parade, involved cadets marching, standing to attention, and presenting old rifles around a grassy square. Dressed up parents, dignitaries and military personnel attended the parade: traitors to their sons.

Before the 1993 cadet-parade while guests took their seats, a boy said, "Sir! I'm scared! There's a bombing rumour." The parade went ahead, while cadet-masters not on parade skulked about corridors and peeped from first-floor windows. I mingled in the crowd below a red flowering kaffirboom, near an old cycad. If we were bombed the soft wood would be a blast cushion.

Note: Norman is a composite character.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See South Africa's Street Kids.

Apartheid, Corrupt White Affirmative Actions and East London Living, 1993

Outcast mobs terrorized during 1993. Tension ruled my East London job. Rounded killing statistics didn't show mayhem of burned bodies; mutilated corpses; destroyed families; frightened, crying children; blood-lusting, stone-throwing, iron-hacking mobs.

A former Rhodie teacher told me he'd soldiered in army intelligence during the 70s Bush War: "When massacres happened and too many white Rhodies were killed by terrs," he said, "we never told media the total number killed. We dripped small bloody numbers to stop panic amongst Rhodies." He taught with me for a year, hopped onto a catamaran with a poofter, sailed into the Indian Ocean and vanished.

The air was charged with spooks. Our dogs felt our tensions, and barked nightly, sniffing death-winds, hearing more than us. If signs were believed, blacks killed blacks, and some whites camouflaged as blacks killed blacks. I thought Mandela's public dissembling about a Third Force stupid. During States-of-Terror, Natal faction fights - tribal vendettas were politicized with ANC-Inkatha labels, or with ANC / state / media jargon for mass murder: "Black-on-Black; Third Force; Rolling Mass Action by ANC / UDF strugglers; Hit Squads; CCB:" euphemisms for mass killing, Stalin-Mao style. ANC cadres and APLA terrorists had trained well in exile. And state killers killed.

Corrupt Mr. Gordon had purged his corrupted proteges before leaving Selborne College, as white teachers during the last gasp of apartheid, had scrambled for their last affirmative-action promotions. Despite Cronje cutting off some of his fingers using an electric saw, Mr Gordon had promoted Cronje to Port Rex High. He'd promoted Allam to Hudson Park High, and had promoted Major Bossie to PE Technikon. Piderit was also promoted to Port Rex High, and later became headmaster. He was replaced by a teacher who'd taken a redundancy package from Hudson Park High, who later became principal of SACS in Cape Town. Thousands of white teachers, generals and other apartheid whiteys were scrambling for state laxatives, or white, affirmative-action promotions, like Mr. Gordon, Blumrick, Norman and Bands, as post-apartheid black bosses were too ghastly to contemplate.

While I taught biology during a six months power-vacuum at Selborne, Blumrick had an identity-crisis as acting-principal. Norman became cadet VP. His son Nunu excelled in Selborne exams, but failed external exams, as Norman had misappropriated other teachers' exam papers from the school safe for Nunu. Before he'd left, corrupt Mr. Gordon corrupted more affirmative-action proteges, by saying at a staff meeting, "Create your own HOD jobth." The PTA then paid three HOD proteges: Bible studies for a maths lady (gender-correct belatedly); Public Relations for Malherbe; Sports Administrator for a Rhodie.

I complained to the Cape Education Department about Mr. Gordon's inaccurate and defamatory letters, which he'd filed in pupils' files for any staff to read. Mr Gordon posted me an insulting foolscap note, refusing to apologise, and justifying his behaviour as his, "principal's obligation." I thanked Mr. Gordon for his apologia, and left it at that. Thereafter someone removed the defamatory letters from boys' files.

When we backspoored to Durban in the pre-election 90s, friends told us Zulu servants declined to go home after work. They stayed with their baases and medems, to escape black-on-black slaughter in KwaZulu-Natal, while outcasts were ambushed, kraals were torched, and refugees roamed Natal, escaping to Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Snap our Xhosa maid worked for us once a week. Her husband was murdered in Mdantsane by tsotsis. Our back-neighbour, who had razor-wire on her boundary wall, had a Xhosa maid living in her khaya, whose husband was also killed by tsotsis. Political killings? Criminal killings? Definitions were meaningless when both maids had orphans to support. We paid Snap what we could, and she got free food, most of which she took home for her piccanins. After work, Snap sat on our back stoep, twirling her black turban, and smoking her long wooden pipe, blowing smoke-rings at our dogs.

Neighbours Alice and Hollander employed Xhosa maids and male Xhosa gardeners like Gerry, who lived in khayas and visited families in townships during weekends - if safe. Xhosa servants were happily employed, fed and housed for years. With the population explosion and minimal servant work, unemployment was the alternative. Meagre old-age pension was the only state-welfare benefit.

At Devereux Road mall, I sometimes heard yellow cop helicopters thudding above. Yellow SAP Casspirs often parked in the car-park, while security-men patrolled for car thieves. When we entered shops, security-people searched us, poking their wands into our bags. In banks, we put money in a counter-tray between customers and teller. Thick bullet-proof glass separated customers and tellers. All cops carried firearms and many security-men were armed. When Xhosa mobs toyi-toyied down Oxford Street we avoided the CBD. Xhosa beggars and street-kids stopped us in car-parks. We became indifferent when confronted by indigence. One day a tsotsi followed me from Vincent library into the car-park, where I swung round shouting, "Fuck off!"

Coda: Ten years later Allam emigrated to England and became a British citizen.

After leaving Selborne College, Malherbe taught at Durban High School and Graeme College, Grahamstown, then became deputy head at Reddam House, Cape Town. In 2010 he was appointed headmaster of Penryn Preparatory School in the lowveld near Nelspruit.

Note: Norman is a composite character.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Apartheid East London, Selborne College Boss's Promotion, 1992

I sent Mr. Gordon memos asking his advice about my disciplinary list. A week later, Mr. Gordon called me to his office, where his cabinet criticized me:

Bands: "Why don't you answer boys' questions?"

Me: "I answer boys' questions after I finish lessons, to filter distracting questions. You know a schoolboy trick is to ask a teacher a question to get him storytelling to waste time. Example: A fifth former recently asked, 'Sir, what do you think of Eugene Terblanche?' 'Fascist Fool,' I said."

Bands tittered: "Why don't you develop relationships with boys?"

Me: "You've ignored my De Beers Industrial Relations work. You've ignored my plays, which show the essence of relationships. Three years ago I offered to mentor teachers' play direction, but you and Mr. Gordon ignored that mentoring relationship. You sports-mad 'Managers' expect me to coach sport, but you avoid helping me with plays. And none of you have attended any of my cricket and hockey matches."

Silent Bands.

Forword: "You're not working for De Beers anymore?"

Me: "So what? As you're accounting HOD without business experience, you're threatened I've worked in business. Two years ago you ignored my request to learn bookkeeping from Selborne College books. You're scared I've asked for fair and consistent disciplinary procedures - which De Beers has. My querying Selborne disciplinary procedures questions your inconsistent management. Why'd you scream at boys in the corridor yesterday?"

Silent Forword.

Blumrick: "I-I'm surprised y-you socialized at Allam's home party l-last night. Y-you blank-out in staff-meetings, saying n-nothing. W-Why don't y-you wear a hearing-aid."

Me: "My social life's none of your business. You've never invited me to your home in four years!"

Silent Blumrick.

I explained about my nerve-deafness. "You're riled, because I'm going deaf, I can't acknowledge nor listen to your staff-meeting stuttering."

Me to Mr. Gordon: "Your disciplinary policy is inconsistent. There's no codification of procedures. Where's your evidence from parents I'm a useless teacher?"

Mr Gordon: "That'th confidenthial informathion."

Me: "Your allegations are unsubstantiated. You've perpetuated stressful work conditions for me, and you're all projecting your inadequacies on me."

I walked out.

My memo to Bands: "I trusted you in the past. Your presence at today's meeting and ratting admittance breached trust."

We avoided one another.

Blumrick stuttered to staff: "M-Mister G-Gordon's getting divorced. Y-you can talk about it. M-Mister G-Gordon will be promoted as S-SATA rep to C-Cape Town head office." Rumours had circulated for months. I wondered why Mr. Gordon was expected to manage Selborne if he couldn't manage his marriage? I'd endured his meetings, as I was having rare hearing-bouts. Analogue hearing-aids were useless, as increasing the volume caused painful distortion. Mr. Gordon implied I was lying about my deafness, and expected his cabinet to support his blackmail, while they tried to pressurize me to leave Selborne.

I repeatedly asked Mr. Gordon's advice about his disciplinary procedures. He called me to his office, pathetically recited his vague disciplinary policy and smirked, "I don't mind you tongue-lathing boyth."

"You've been Selborne Boss for over a decade," I said, "but can't provide codified boundaries for boys, nor safe biology teaching and learning conditions for staff and boys. You must apologise for your defamatory letters, and be responsible for discriminating against me for four years!"

"You mutht underthtand the contextht of the thituathion."

"Rich East Londoners send their sons to Selborne, yet your 'context' hasn't raised funds for better biology teaching facilities. You never had the professional integrity to inform me of funds I raised for Selborne when I directed plays."

Mr. Gordon and cabinet were so-called sportsmen, who compromised their professional integrity playing the man instead of the ball for years.

Coda: I complained to the Board of Trustees, stating the many times I was expected to use my car (without acknowledgment from parents nor Selborne management) for transporting boys to / from sports and plays. I stated when I was expected to drive to PE, Grahamstown, Queenstown, Stutterheim, Komga and local ECA. Thereafter, the Board paid teachers for mileage use of their cars for out-of-town ECA.

Mr. Gordon faded to Cape Town, and later married the Clarendon retired headmistress. While apartheid was collapsing, affirmative-action whites were scrambling for the last white affirmative-action promotions, to live luxuriously after apartheid.

On 19.04.2002, at night in misty weather near Stutterheim, a young Selborne teacher crashed a Selborne minibus head-on into a Toyota station wagon, which was overtaking an articulated truck, killing himself and four schoolboys. (Daily Dispatch) Other boys were maimed and brain-damaged. Feckless management kept their jobs.

I'd loathed Queenstown sports, as tired teachers were expected to after-match booze at the Queens Arms school pub, then drive back at night to Worm City through foggy Stutterheim.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Apartheid East London, Some 1992 Unrest and Selborne Boss's Mayhem

In March 1992, we voted "YES" for reform in the last white referendum. (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom, Abacus, Little, Brown and Co., London, 1996). SA had advanced since the 1983 divide-and-rule referendum for a tricameral parliament. Once multi-party Codesa talks were finished millions of non-white Azanians could vote.

Mandela announced his separation from Winnie. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997).

April. Mitchell, SAP captain and cop thugs were convicted of killing 11 Zulus during the 03/12/1988 Trust Feeds Massacre, New Hanover. (Dervla Murphy, South From The Limpopo, John Murray, London, 1997).

May. The Goldstone Commission reported that SA violence was caused by ANC-Inkatha conflict. (Ibid Meredith).

While I coached fourth team cricket, a fat boy said, "We're gunna cut up a baby!" Heh! Heh!" As Luke was a baby, and as there was local Satanism whisperings, I was annoyed. The boy I'd slapped a year before then threw a stone at me. I made the boys run laps around the sports- field, then complained to Mr. Gordon, who sorted out the boys. Had he done his job properly a year before, the incident wouldn't've happened.

Before a board inspection, Mr. Gordon rushed around tidying notice -boards and warning assembled boys, "Be on your betht behaviour!" I wasn't inspected. Maybe Mr. Gordon and Blumrick were scared I'd inform inspectors about institutional-violence.

Mr. Gordon continued Clarendon HS contacts, arranging a Selborne College athletics -meeting on Clarendon sports-field, although Selborne sports-field was adequate. While Selborne staff occupied one side of whitewashed tracks, Mr. Gordon and Clarendon spinster headmistress whispered on the opposite side. Mr. Gordon and Clarendon headmistress left early.

Clarendon headmistress attended Selborne functions as guest-of-honour, sitting with Mr. Gordon's wife, cabinet and guests on the hall stage. Wasteful prize-givings were held in the refurbished, pink town hall, although Selborne hall was adequate. Staff wore academic gowns, while boys collected prizes - while townships burned. In April 1996 the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearing would be held in the pink town hall.

Unrest, Boipatong: 45 blacks killed by Inkatha. (Fred Bridgeland, Katiza's Journey, Beneath the Surface of South Africa's Shame, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1997).

1990 and 1992 Indemnity Acts: Criminals were granted amnesty for "political" crimes, while killing increased around us.

Rolling Mass Action: Over 4 million ANC-stirred workers went on general-strike.

A white accountant friend, who worked in puppet Bisho, was twice taken hostage at gunpoint. He twice talked his way out of being killed, but his mental health declined.

Puppet Bisho, Ciskei collapse: 30 Xhosa killed by Ciskei troops. (Ibid Bridgeland).

King Williams Town Golf Club: 4 whites killed. (Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness, Random House, New York, 1999).

In the 1992 ANC-Inkatha fighting in Natal thousands of Zulus were killed.

Annually Mr. Gordon asked me to adjudicate Clarendon house-plays, a ploy by Mr. Gordon to contact Clarendon headmistress, and for me to play Luister for future shows. (I was so deaf I didn't hear the plays.) Mr. Gordon sent me a disingenuous note ordering me to produce skits at Clarendon: a stupid stunt, as the show was scheduled near boys' exams, meaning hours of extra work, putting me and boys under pressure before exams. I refused, as I had misgivings about Mr. Gordon's insight, judgement, and motives.

Mr. Gordon knew I was deafening, as I'd stated it in my job application four years before, but he posted a stupid, spiteful letter to my home: "You're a useless teacher. Your teaching, sports coaching and discipline are all useless." (Paraphrased). Till then, Mr. Gordon had never posted a letter to my home while I taught at Selborne. His attacks had stayed at Selborne.

Mr. Gordon's judgement was so bad, he didn't acknowledge the overtime hours I'd put into sports and play productions, or Selborne's use of my heirlooms as furniture and stage props. No other staff did that. He said nothing about the excellence of my plays, from which he and Selborne / Clarendon benefited. No other staff had the play direction expertise, stage and acting experience I had. Mr. Gordon forgot or was ignorant of the many times I'd used my Golf transporting boys to and from drama and sports venues.

After Mr. Gordon fingered his green door-button I said, "I remind you I'm reading my third degree, UNISA BSc, updating my biology."

Mr. Gordon squinted when I plonked copies of my pupils' exam and test marks (four years' worth) on his imboya desk. "I reckon all my classes' results have always fitted into bell curves - without any mark adjustments. You've screened my pupils' marks at the end of school terms, and you and inspectors have vetted my marks annually. I'm going deaf, but my teaching competence is a non-issue."

Mute Mr. Gordon.

"My sports results and coaching are above reproach. I've coached sports in Natal and Cape schools, and there were no complaints during my sixteen years' teaching until your letter to my home. Since the boy-slap fiasco last year, I've listed all disciplinary infractions I can think of happening at Selborne." I handed Mr. Gordon a six page typed list. "How'd you deal with each infraction?" Mr. Gordon stonewalled.

"Your actions over four years discriminating against me regarding lab allocation and your letter to my home attacking my family and me show you're a bully. You resent my not doing skits at Clarendon. You resent my sending you boys for punishment according to your vague disciplinary policy."

Mute Mr. Gordon.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Apartheid East London, Border Unrest, Son's Birth and Codesa, 1991-1992





















1991. Leah & Luke Esslemont, 294 Freemantle Road, Durban

I sent a fourth-former to Mr. Gordon, as the bad boy persisted in reading porn, ignoring biology. Mr. Gordon sent the boy to Blumrick who did nothing. The boy's dad objected to me chastising his son. Mr. Gordon then loitered on a hockey-field, while the boy's dad questioned me: a set-up by Mr. Gordon. "Your son's developed bad habits," I said. "He needs to do biology on the standard grade, and must stop being distracted..."

In a biology meeting Allam said, "The boy's father asked me to mediate the problem." I ignored Allam.

I found a letter in the boy's file. Mr. Gordon had compared me unfavourably with protege staff, stating I was a "rogue teacher." He hadn't given me a copy of his defamatory letter. When I complained, Mr. Gordon said, "It'th my printhipal'th obligathion!"

Morning, 16/06/1991. Our son Luke, aloe-prickly, cycad-wise, was born before noon at Frere Hospital: Caesarean birth, done by our GP. Unlike Jake's birth at Kleinzee, Frere was impersonal and full of self-important staff. A nurse had hustled me out of the operating theatre, so I sat outside. I took big Luke to a nursery, and glared at a doctor who tried taking Luke from me. I was too deaf to hear his inanities about checking Luke's health. Like at Jake's birth, I took photos, which irritated staff. They forgot who was paying their fees.

Leah and Luke recovered in a small ward, where Selborne College had sent flowers. Five year old Jake enjoyed gifts we gave him, as he stayed up late when we visited Frere. Lucky and Koffie barked beserk when piccanin Luke arrived home. They fought each other to sniff out Luke. Good bitches.

Unrest, Inkatha secret funds. Government admitted supplying funds to Inkatha. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997).

Tokoza: 23 blacks killed by Mkhonto We Sizwe. (Ibid Meredith).

Cronje sacked most Selborne black cleaners, or didn't replace them after retirement. One's grey skin was covered in sores. I suspected Aids. Sacking black staff was bad race-relations. Classrooms stayed dirty. At a staff-meeting Mr. Gordon said, "Boyth and teacherth mutht clean claththroomth! Teacherth get a broom, bruth and pan, and thupervithe daily cleaning!" I objected, as 800-900 boys went through my class weekly. Mr Gordon cut my objection with a belittling remark, his usual staffroom response to teachers who crossed him. Thereafter I played Luister in staff-meetings.

I'd learnt about classroom trashing protests at puppet QwaQwa, so my classroom stayed dirty, until it was officially cleaned once a week. Mr. Gordon contracted a private company to clean classrooms once a week. Contracted Xhosa cleaners were worse than former school cleaners. Every square millimetre cleaned had to be negotiated in a contract.

During stormy weather, Oceanos liner sunk off puppet Transkei coast, and everyone was saved. Oceanos flotsam would be displayed in East London Museum.

A church was bombed near Kaffrarian Rifles Drill Hall. An "End Conscription" boy I taught escaped injury. His parents considered re-emigrating back to England.

Buffalo Flats coloured teachers protested outside Selborne gates. Despite sports matches with coloured pupils, and Model C enabling coloureds to enrol at Selborne, coloureds targeted Selborne as an elite school. I read their placards while a SAP squad-car slouched nearby.

When Leah pushed Luke in his pram to Devereux Road Pick 'n Pay, Xhosa street-kids accosted her. Demanding Xhosa door-knockers, beggars and street-kids increased during our Worm City years. Taxi wars, klipgooi, skiet en donder continued.

December. Codesa - Convention for a Democratic SA began at the World Trade Centre, Kempton Park. (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To freedom, Abacus, Little, Brown and Co., London, 1996). Led by ANC's Ramaphosa and Nationalist's Meyer, political parties of all colours negotiated the interim Government of National Unity. Meyer had fought communist onslaught as a "Canary," singing in a troopie choir.

At the end of 1991, Leah's old Durb's friend Joan arranged for Luke to be baptized at Hillary Methodist Church, Durban. It was too risky us driving the 670km puppet Transkei route to Durban. Once we'd passed a toyi-toying mob brandishing toy AK-47 rifles on the N2 near Idutwa. Xhosa and Basotho cattle-rustlers were active on the Transkei ~Lesotho border, so SADF troopies were billeted on border-farms. I carried my .22 pistol in our Golf when trekking the "Ring of Fire" round Lesotho, via Queenstown and Ficksburg, through Vrystaat to Natal.

Once when we'd arrived at Kei Bridge border-post, an Afrikaner customs man stopped us, as we didn't have Jake's birth certificate as a Transkei travel document. Fetching it was an extra 120 kays. Xhosa officials just waved us through. Post-apartheid, homeland border posts were abandoned.

In 1992, I taught biology up to matric - a good year except for the junior history. Annually, I'd complained in writing about my bad work conditions, requesting a permanent lab. Mr. Gordon did nothing. My sports-jacket was stolen from my classroom chair. It wasn't the first theft of my jackets. I reported the theft to Blumrick, who did nothing.

Money was stolen from my car, when I took it for a garage service. The Xhosa driver and his white boss denied theft. My bottom-floor class was vulnerable to burglars, as sash window-catches stayed broken, despite my asking Forword and Mr. Gordon to repair catches. Grey fingerprint smudges left by cops stayed on my class windowpanes, as frequent burglars used my class as a school entrance. Once a tsotsi wheeled a bike away outside my classroom. Boys pursued from class. Midlane also followed, biting his nails. The thief dropped the bike near the school gate and ran away. My boys returned delighted - more fun than biology.

Jake and I dug up earthworms in our garden, and fished off Orient Pier. At Quinera Lagoon we caught a bully fish, and freed it. On a PE trek, I drove Jake to Addo Elephant Park, then his Selborne Pre -Primary teacher got elephant dung for her nature-table. When Jake gave dung to Gerry, Gerry chuckled, "Thenk you verra mush."

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Apartheid East London, "Murder At The Vicarage," Cadets, Teaching Hassles, 1991

1991 Guild Theatre, East London. Mark Esslemont's 'Murder at the Vicarage' Cast. Like Miss Marple's raspberry pie: "Fresh, warm and without maggots." (Pollock)


In 1991, I directed Agatha Christie's Murder At The Vicarage in 5 weeks, working a 70-80 hour week. Going deafer, I worked my gat off, and the teacher-librarian, who did costumes for me said, "I've never seen anyone direct a full-length school play so fast." Spiteful Mr. Gordon delegated impossible schedules. He timetabled me general -science and biology teaching up to matric. He scheduled me cricket coaching. I refused.

I watched international forces on TV thrashing Hussein's Iraqi forces, then gloating over their oily victory in Kuwait.

Again I carried Malherbe, by begging, borrowing, negotiating small props for the play, and scavenging props at rubbish dumps with Xhosa bush-dwellers. Cronje erected a box set. Protege Paxton, new music master, stage-managed the play at Guild Theatre.

Unknown to me, a Selborne College boy screwed a Clarendon girl backstage. Mr. Gordon, staff and pupils hushed up the screwing. Mr. Gordon dissembled by calling me to his office over his intercom, then saying, "Type capthionth for play phototh..." (Years later I heard about the screwing). While white pupils screwed and play-acted, township blacks were killed.

Unrest, Alexandra: 45 blacks killed by Inkatha. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997).

While I taught in Piderit's lab, a boy was disruptive. I sent him out of the lab, as I'd reached deafness breaking-point. When I called him inside, he was insolent. I shut his bad mouth with a slap. Had I bunched my fist, the boy would've been hospitalized with blood on the walls. Despite caning being rife at Selborne, slapping was unacceptable, as Mr. Gordon ruled that bad boys were not to be sent outside classrooms, unless sent to management for (no) punishment. Mr. Gordon had no disciplinary code, just a brief, vague disciplinary policy. Mr. Gordon placed staff in impossible positions, then liked to kick arse when discipline deteriorated.

The bad boy ratted to his father, so I made an appointment to see the father, who avoided me, then phoned me, threatening court-action. (Post-apartheid, the father became principal of a local primary school).

When I asked Mr. Gordon what support teachers got from him, he sent me memos calling me, "childish."

"Maybe I should leave Selborne to find anther job," I said. Later, I found a letter in the slapped boy's file. Mr. Gordon had written to the father: "I suggested Mr. Esslemont find a job at another school..." (Paraphrased). Mr. Gordon distorted my words, and hadn't given me a copy of his letter.

While Mr. Gordon and his cabinet harassed me, I realized I could go beyond endurance. Polonius's words helped: "To thine own self be true..."

For the next five terms I hit back, playing Luister, upwardly -delegating bad boys to Mr. Gordon, according to his vague disciplinary policy. Mr. Gordon procrastinated, cacooned behind closed doors, fingering his red button, spinning bad boys against me. After I sent one bad boy to Mr Gordon for (no) punishment, the bad boy returned threatening, "I know where you live sir!"

Once an oaf grabbed me round my neck. I tapped his balls saying, "I'll rip 'em off!" Masters lashed bad boys in offices, and punched bad boys in corridors. I too lashed and punched bad boys. Post-apartheid, one of those lasher-puncher masters became Discipline VP at Selborne.

"Siddown an' Shuddup!" was my favourite classroom saying.

"Siddown!..." was echoed by cheeky boys.

I consulted an Afrikaner ENT quack, confirming I was going deafer. He suggested I buy another hearing-aid from an audiologist next door - his wife. I paid his fee, but didn't buy another hearing-aid, as I didn't approve of their conflict-of-interest.

Major Bossie listed my name as a cadet-master, 22 years after my army basic training. He hadn't bothered to ask me about my military service. I said to Bossie: "I've been at Selborne for over two years. I'm listed to do cadets, without consultation. Why?"

"Mr. Gordon listed you. I need more cadet-masters."

"I'm not interested. I'm not discussing the matter."

"Ja-nee. I'll tell Mr. Gordon."

"How can he do this?" bawled Piderit in the staffroom, after Bossie bugled my refusal. Mr. Gordon didn't try that stunt again. The iniquity of school cadets was that conscripted teachers strutted about white high schools in army uniforms brainwashing boys that militarization was normal in schools. By the time they left white high schools, most white boys were groomed to be fully fucked by SADF. My six years of two-fingering Selborne cadet-masters didn't make me popular.

Norman vetted subject-choices, and annually advised fourth form biologists to continue HG biology, despite poor HG results. It lowered battlers' self esteem and my teaching pleasure. Battlers became disruptive, or disillusioned, or both. Boys were forced by Norman to continue HG biology, deluded they might achieve HG matric. Some boys only changed to SG biology during their matric year. Teaching biology to aggrieved and disinterested boys in a mouldy classroom was farcical.

After being Selborne boss for 8 years, Mr. Gordon tried reducing class disruption by timetabling 8 forty minute periods per day, but mass-hysteria continued. Mr. Gordon's feckless responses: "Cut your hair!... Tuck your thirtth in!... Pull your thockth up!... Polith your thhoeth!..."

Note: Malherbe is a composite character.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apartheid East London, "My Fair Lady," Township Wars, Model C Schools, 1990
















1990 Guild Theatre, East London. Half of Mark Esslemont's 'My Fair Lady' Cast. Prof. Higgins: "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" (Pollock)

I co-directed My Fair Lady with Malherbe. We had a lady choreographer and a lady music director. We squabbled while apartheid collapsed. Malherbe and I limited the cast to 100 players from Selborne College and nearby Clarendon High School for Girls. Mr. Gordon stirred behind the scenes, when Malherbe objected to the choreographer and music director wanting cast changes. Mr. Gordon allowed the choreographer to steal into the staffroom and berate Malherbe before staff. Mr. Gordon then called a meeting saying, "The choreographer had a nervouth breakdown." A Rhodie choreographer was chosen.

It was impossible to teach well and direct plays simultaneously, as pupil actors were amateur, needing me to block moves and play every part with heart and soul before pupils flew. I neglected classroom teaching while directing, as directing was my priority.

Malherbe delegated mothers and staff to do costumes and sets, then avoided rehearsals by coaching water-polo. The music director complained to Mr. Gordon, as mothers were struggling to costume the cast. Mr. Gordon chastised Malherbe, whom I carried by supervising his props team. Malherbe returned to rehearsals, and built a chandelier for the ballroom scene.

Mr. Gordon listed reluctant staff to assist. Accounting HOD, Forword made snide remarks about me. Bands his teacher-counsellor pal tittered at Forword's jokes. During the 70s, Forword had patrolled Mozambique during the Rhodesian Bush War. Forword and Bands didn't do play duties, claiming sports' duties. Mr. Gordon pressurized, by expecting me to teach biology and general-science, coach cricket, and direct. My Fair Lady ran well for two weeks at Guild Theatre, and while Eliza Doolittle sang, "Lots of chocolates for me to eat..." Xhosa street-kids starved. While Eliza sang, "I could have danced all night..." tsotsis danced blood-and-bone songs. It was the last musical and singing I heard.

Unrest: March. Namibia Independence. SWAPO's Nujoma became president. (Brian Frost, Struggling to Forgive, HarperCollins, London, 1998).

'Maritzburg massacres: Vulindlela and Edendale valleys: 230 Zulus killed in Inkatha-ANC fighting. (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus, Little, Brown & Co., London, 1996).

Sebokeng: 12 ANC blacks killed by cops. (Ibid Mandela).

The State-of-Terror was lifted.

July. Government said that the Civil Cooperation Bureau would be abolished.

July. Inkatha became a Zulu political party in KwaZulu-Natal. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997).

Despite misgivings, I again coordinated house-plays, and asked Forword, Bands and other sporting staff to help me, as they expected me to do all the work with scores of bumptious boys in brief rehearsal time. No one helped. At a staff meeting I said, "It's pointless continuing house-plays." Forword indignantly blinked and Bands tittered. As it was impossible teaching general-science and biology without a lab, I dropped general-science and taught standards 6-9 biology and (yawn) standard six history.

Unrest, 1987-1990 Natal ANC-Inkatha fighting: 3000 Zulus killed. (Ibid Meredith).

Sebokeng, another massacre: ANC-Inkatha hostel fighting - 36 killed. Transvaal townships: 800 blacks killed in Tokoza, Katlehong, Soweto... (Ibid Meredith).

New teachers arrived. A Christian bigot was allocated a science lab. After two years he left to lecture at puppet Zululand University, where he'd lectured during his conscription. Mr. Gordon synchronized Selborne / Clarendon timetables, enabling boys and girls to saunter from school to school, attending combined maths and language classes. Forword complained: "Pupils waste time walking between schools." Combined classes stopped.

Mr. Gordon flew to Eton for a job interview, didn't get the Eton job, but thereafter prattled, "Eton head mathter thayth..." Mr. Gordon suggested I direct Conduct Unbecoming. I declined, as soldiers played pig-sticking games, stabbing women's bums. I suspected Mr Gordon was trying to use me to mock women.

Mr. Gordon suggested I direct Cats, or The Mouse Trap. "The Mouse Trap's running in London West End," I said. "I doubt we'll get permission. What about Charlies Aunt, or The Matchmaker?" Mr. Gordon declined.

Unrest, Tokoza: Inkatha-ANC hostel fighting. 65 killed. (Fred Bridgeland, Katiza's Journey, Beneath the Surface of South Africa's Shame, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1997).

December. Tambo, ANC president, returned after 35 years exile. (Ibid Bridgeland).

In 1991, Model C schools began, and Selborne became a Model C school. As Verwoerd's Bantu Education was breaching, non-white pupils (including coloureds, Indians, blacks) were allowed into white state schools. Mr. Gordon had prepared staff saying, "If thtaff dithagree, you're welcome to leave. I won't hold it againtht you..." Three Afrikaners left. Most non-white pupils settled in well. Selborne's approximately 700 roll didn't increase, as Mr. Gordon adjusted roll numbers. White boys comprised 75% of the roll and non-whites the rest - mostly Xhosa.

Non-native English speakers struggled academically, and due to bad Bantu Education some Xhosa had to catch up. A dof Xhosa boy (returned USA exile) hit a wheel-chaired white boy in my class. The Xhosa bully left Selborne. A dof coloured boy (returned USA exile) moaned about low standards and discipline, comparing Selborne with Yank schools he'd attended. He left. A Ghanaian boy I taught, whose father taught at a private white school, stayed. I wondered what attraction apartheid SA had instead of progressively black-governed Ghana? "Model THEE'TH a non-iththue," said Mr. Gordon. Model C was significant, because for the first time in apartheid SA, state white schools enrolled non-whites.

Note: Forword is a composite character.

Coda: Aug 2013. Headmaster Neil Malherbe was sacked from Penryn Preparatory in the Lowveld for being in possession of child pornography. Investigation by Canadian Project Spade & Interpol.
Nov 2016. Neil Malherbe was convicted for possession of child pornography.

Content & Pic Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.


See Former principal found guilty of child pornography (Lowvelder).

Apartheid East London, Selborne College Teaching, 1989-1990 Hassles

Selborne College conditions stank, and my QwaQwa carbuncles oozed. I assisted protege Malherbe, androgynous English teacher, in his dilettante direction of Twelfth Night. I directed one-act house-plays, then vowed not to direct house-plays again, as Eurocentric or American plays were irrelevant to culturally boycotted SA. Other teachers weren't interested in directing house-plays.

My deafness was catastrophic, as analogue hearing-aids were inadequate with background noise obscuring my "hearing." Socializing was painful, so I became a loner.

Mr. Gordon ordered staff to supply their SADF details to Major Bossie. Young cadet-masters gave their details, as their military service improved their teaching salaries. I wrote to Springbok Command asking them to keep my Commando records, as I planned returning to Kleinzee. I never heard from SADF again. At a staff -meeting Cronje said, "I did SAP border-duty during the Rhodesian Bush War. I don't want Selborne giving my conscription details to the army, causing me to be called up again!" Cronje squashed that privacy abuse. Bossie, like Kleinzee's Alwyn and Pampoen, used similar intelligence gathering. Did other employers do likewise?

Unrest: De Klerk became president, succeeding ailing Botha. (Patti Waldmeier, Anatomy of a Miracle, The End of Apartheid and the Birth of a New South Africa, W.W. Norton & Company Ltd., New York, 1997). In 1978, the year I'd married, Die Groot Krokodil Botha had become president, sometimes licking his lips and wagging his finger at TV viewers.

September 1989 General Election: De Klerk's Nats were re-elected saying, "We are reforming." (Fred Bridgeland, Katiza's Journey, Beneath the Surface of South Africa's Shame, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1997). It was the last white election in SA. De Klerk's reforms led to the end of apartheid, like Gorbachev's reforms led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Oct. De Klerk said Sisulu and other ANC bods would be released from gaol. (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus, Little, Brown and Co., London, 1996).

Pretoria: Wit Wolf Strydom shot 7 blacks. He was gaoled and later granted amnesty, together with other "political" inmates.

I sent Mr.Gordon a memo stating it was impossible to teach science pracs properly in a classroom. Never mind the health hazards. I suggested if I wasn't allocated a lab, I should be moved to a classroom near the lab block. (So enemies could keep close ne?) Piderit bawled, and Midlane bit his nails, while smoking in a biology meeting and muttering, "Back-stabbing staff..."

In 1990, Mr. Gordon allocated Midlane and Allam the biology labs, and I got a mouldy classroom from maths master Norman, Verwoerdian throwback, who forced all boys to do maths to senior levels - giving maths teachers jobs. My classroom, nearest the labs and Mr. Gordon's and Blumrick's offices, had rotten wall cupboards. Damp from an under-floor pipe had caused rot. Shelves had thick, black fungal layers: a health hazard. I tore out one musty cupboard and threw it away, leaving a black hole in decayed floorboards. I kept the useless cupboard closed, and bought my own metal cupboard. After I submitted my cost claim to Blumrick, Mr. Gordon said, "You've dethtroyed government property!"

"Norman mouldered this class..." I said. Three years later, after my many requests for a lab and teacher equality, Mr. Gordon replaced my cupboard just before moving me to another dirty class. I realized Mr. Gordon was a corrupt nerd who corrupted his proteges in a dirty school.

Selborne was the only school I taught at where boys' ratting on teachers was encouraged by management. Sending a boy to management for punishment was useless. The boy was back-patted, and after a cozy chat with Blumrick or Mr. Gordon he returned grinning to my class. Written disciplinary policy recommended a teacher send disruptive boys to management for soft treatment. Unwritten policy involved a teacher caning a bad boy in an empty office, which I did. The teacher had to record date and reason(s) for punishment in a book.

Mr. Gordon shimmied, only when a bad boy was caught cheating in a test or exam - routine discipline. Mr. Gordon rarely expelled bad boys, and rarely sorted out bad boys on the day an infraction occurred. (Example: When a bad boy sneaked out of the hostel, got pissed with another bad boy, then later woke up hungover in Mr. Gordon's office, Mr. Gordon joked about it in the staffroom, but didn't expel the bad boys). Mr Gordon procrastinated, and during the last period on Fridays, he disrupted Selborne by calling out "name lithtth" over his intercom. Bad boys then gathered outside his office for "punishment." The noise was appalling, so on Friday afternoons I gave my classes written work.

Management failed to keep Selborne clean; failed to keep order; failed to provide a safe teaching and learning environment for teachers and boys; (Examples: fume-cupboards didn't work in labs, and safety equipment was old or non-existent); failed to provide an equitable learning environment for all pupils to succeed. I and other biology and general-science teachers were compromised year after year, as lab allocation was inequitable, and management kept the number of labs inadequate for pupil numbers.

Unrest: Gotterdammerung 02/02/1990. President De Klerk unbanned the ANC, PAC and SACP. (Ibid Bridgeland). He said the rest of apartheid laws would be repealed. Mandela was released from prison. (Ibid Bridgeland). Other ANC leaders had already been released. Blood winds blew through townships. Nahoon River fish eagles called, "Kaaa! Ka-ka-ka-ka-kaaaa!..." And on the freeway bridge near Abbotsford, someone painted black graffito: "Mandela is a kaffir."

Note: Norman is a composite character.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Apartheid East London, Selborne College HODs and My Sandhurst Road Home, 1989

Mr Gordon's spouse phoned Leah, suggesting Leah resumed pre -primary teaching: a stupid idea, as Jake was an infant needing Leah's attention at home. Mr. Gordon tried registering me and Allam for a biology course at Stellenbosch, another stupid idea, as I'd already registered at UNISA for a BSc, my third degree.

Mr. Gordon was my most vindictive boss, and jabbered about doing things, "without fear or favour." He asked not what my ECA interests were, but listed me boss of chess, debating and house-plays, in addition to my time-consuming cricket and hockey coaching. I ignored chess and debating, so Mr. Gordon never allocated me a teaching lab.

Another protege: Science HOD, Piderit had taught for ten years before achieving his teaching diploma. After a rugby match at Grahamstown, Piderit left a boy at a cafe, then drove his team about 200 kays back to East London, where a parent asked, "Where's my son?" [Piderit is a composite character].

At a science meeting, Piderit ordered me to take boys to a Grahamstown science festival during July holidays. "I've taken boys for years," he said. "It's time someone else did." I declined. Piderit, rugby-coach and cadet-master, (who'd maintained armoured vehicles during his conscription) tried to claim my general-science Gestetner stencils by offering to store them in his lab. I demurred, as I'd walk miles fetching my own stencils. Piderit bawled at me in the staffroom, with staff present, when I queried his inept moderation of my exam papers. In the ten schools where I'd taught, most staff were pleasant, but there were always squealers, egotists and bullies, like Piderit.

Selborne College had one pc, used by gifted boys. Piderit went on a computer course, bought computers, and installed them in a computer lab at the end of a second floor corridor, used by some boys and few staff. As the computer lab was in the wrong place, funds were wasted moving the lab nearer the staffroom.

Selborne had no facsimile machine, and there was insufficient photocopy -stencils for pupil notes, which I stored and used for years. Xhosa Gestetner-operator Ambrose threw away used stencils. A reprography machine was bought, which improved teacher notes and exam papers. Teachers' stationery supply was always impoverished. School funds were spent on new rugby stands, while biology labs and equipment rotted.

Another protege: Biology HOD Midlane, boss of rugby, and staunch cadet master, enjoyed nail-biting, smoking and booze, which oozed from his pores on hot days, disguised by the smell of peppermints. A human skull guarded Midlane's lab. Microscopes were insufficient for pupil numbers. Midlane bought no microscopes during my tenure. Old ones were expensively repaired.

Selborne's moffie brigade had a buddy system whereby proteges mentored new teachers. My appointed buddy, biology teacher with lab, did no mentoring, but soon returned to Cape Town, from whence he came. Some of my buddies proved to be shafters, who marked time at Selborne for decades, too timid to leave their laager and face the real world.

Leah and I bought a three-bedroom house at 5 Sandhurst Road, near Devereux Road shops. Our neighbour Alice was over ninety. Her Xhosa retainer Gerry, fifteen years older than me, kept Alice's garden neat. While Jake and I mowed our kikuyu lawn and hacked overgrown shrubs, Gerry chatted over the fence to Jake: "Molo piccanin. Why you climbing guava tree?... You monkey?... You like guavas, like elephants?... We bleck en' white elephants. Thenk you verra mush."

Gerry's boozer son, living in Mdantsane, had finished school, was concerned about "vii-oo-lence," and asked me to help him "getta jop." I poured him Lion Lagers in our lounge, to Gerry's chagrin, but failed to get him a De Beers job. Post-apartheid, he became a cop.

Grey mouse-birds pecked paw-paws in our garden. Black bats, hanging in loquat trees, crapped on our walls. Hadeda ibises pecked for earthworms on our lawns, then flew away calling, "Haha-ha -ha-haaa..."

I chopped down overgrown loquat trees, which darkened our bedrooms and protected our bibulous Hollander neighbour. I ring -barked myrtles next to Hollander's fence, chopped down other myrtles, and used the wood as solid braai wood. I removed a vine, and put a locked gate in our back wall.

In our backyard, I dug out an overgrown strelitzia, kept mulberry trees, and white, pink camelfoot trees, paw-paw trees and a huge jacaranda. We planted lemon trees and palms. Locked gates separated our front and back yards: our paradise after years of toil. Lucky and Koffie guarded our backyard, and weren't allowed into our front yard, as Xhosa beggars left our front gates open, letting our dogs escape.

Greek Pourollis's double-storey house was at the end of Sandhurst Road, and his chandler truck often roared up to his home. Pourollis's mom sometimes walked up Sandhurst Road, clad in her black dress and doek. Pourollis was Selborne's PTA chairman, and he built Paphos Mall on Devereux Road. His brother owned a Transvaal mine.

Next to Alice lived a Jew in a double-storey house with a Xhosa manservant. Jew was SA's oldest licensed pilot, who flew his plane over the Kei River to puppet Umtata University where he lectured. Alice and Jew quarreled about each others' leaf-litter. IsiXhosa speaking Germans lived in amity across the road from Jew. A Taiwanese family, "honorary whites," lived around the corner, in a double-storey house, with tennis court and pool. They had Madantsane businesses. Other quiet neighbours hadn't spoken to each other for decades.

When I chopped down our front yard Rhodesian flame tree, for security reasons, bibulous Hollander stuck his head out his window yelling, "Whadda fukkaya doin'? I'll report ya ta konshervatin peepil!"

"Looking for a rort?" I asked, wielding my axe. Hollander slipped inside his window. My .22 pistol, dogs and I would defend our border against Xhosa hordes. We installed a metal fence in our backyard, stopping Jake falling into our pool. Koffie bit the white fence-installer on his calf, so I went into Pig Dog, "I'll kill ya bitch!" routine, obviating court action.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Selborne College, East London, SA.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Apartheid East London, My Selborne College Settling In, 1989

Rookie-teacher Allam, another protege, taught biology next door to me. He boasted about his 101 Battalion conscription in Ovamboland, where he'd taught Ovambos. His two years' conscription was credited as two years' "teaching service," enabling him during his first year at Selborne College to buy a subsidized Abbotsford house in Pearl Street. It had taken Leah and me seven years of refunded NED pension savings before we could buy our Durban duplex. After my conscription completion, thousands of conscripted teachers like Allam were bribed by taxpayers regarding their "teaching service."

On cadet days, Allam dressed up in his first-aid uniform and supervised a first-aid corps, used on sports days. Naive Allam wanted to become a doctor, but his medical school applications were rejected. Specialist Allam was dumbfounded that I was trained and able to teach humanities and sciences. "The Human Sciences Research Council gave you too many bursaries," he mocked.

During school time, SADF trained cadet-masters and cadets strutted and fretted, last fodder for USA proxy-wars against communism. Two bands blared military music. A cadet tattoo was held at Selborne College while SA smouldered. Protege Bossie, Afrikaans and cadets HOD, CF Major, organized the tattoo. Photos of dead war-heroes hung on Selborne hall walls. At rugby matches male staff dressed-up, wearing suits. Moffie masters loved militarized cadet days and rugby days, their strutting uniform days. I didn't dress-up, nor coach cadets.

Rugby war-cries were practised for first team matches. On Derby Days, egged on by cheerleaders, boys cheered. Rugby injuries, keeping Allam busy, included boys hobbling on crutches, and boys wearing plaster-casts on limbs. Some casualties wore nose -fixing devices. A shrill relief-teacher regaled schoolboys with his WW2 stories, and taught Religion and Rugby.

I wasn't paid for three months until Pretoria's Big-Boetie computer deleted my QwaQwa debt. Pretoria had retained my pension contributions to recoup my unpaid QwaQwa relocation costs. But Cape Town's Wale Street head office had paid thousands of Rands to freely relocate us from Koffiefontein to Worm City. For me to get state, white teacher's pay, the Pretoria computer vetted my QwaQwa debt, then permitted Cape Town lackeys to pay me in East London, 1000 kays away. After I phoned head office to sort out my pay Mr. Gordon said, "You mutht communicate through me to contact Wale Thtreet head offith!"

I ignored Mr. Gordon, and wrote to a Wale Street lady, who told a Pretoria tannie to delete my QwaQwa debt.

Forbidden to teach in white high schools, unless a registered teacher, I had to register with the SA Teachers Council for Whites. SATC was a clique of Afrikaner and English sinecurists, collecting compulsory funds from white teachers, and trying to manage disciplinary matters: sometimes striking teachers off the roll for hitting kids, molesting kids, fiddling funds. I deigned to join the SA Teachers Association (SATA), which networked white Cape principals and white teachers. Mr. Gordon organized a SATA holiday conference at SC.

Selborne tuckshop had an honours-board for catering mothers, and Mr Gordon had meetings with a tuckshop mother in charge of school catering. He played Major Domo, coordinating Derby Day, PTA, ECA functions (like Buffalo River Regatta), and boys' hostel meals, while faffing about snacks and drinks. Selborne honour depended on after-sports catering, while Xhosa street-kids starved nearby.

I stopped attending boozy, chatty, catching-a-tan, champagne -parties and school-pool braais with staff and parents, as my deafness was gaining, forcing solitude: which stopped me going mad. Many daily humiliations were caused by my deafness, so Solitude meant Deafness minus Madness.

Staff tea-money paid for teas and farewell gifts. If staff taught at Selborne for years, their tea-money paid for their measly farewell gift many times over. Staff shared snacks on their birthdays, and women staff prepared snacks for farewells. I would've preferred some of the guzzled money to be spent on decent lab equipment, like microscopes, or a new biology lab.

Mr. Gordon interfered and obstructed. Once a week in his office, he pep-talked me and new teachers. As I'd taught for twelve years, his prattling was insulting. One rookie-teacher returned to Cape Town, and another became a lecturer at Lukin Road Tech. A music teacher and I, old-hands, stayed. Mr Gordon sashayed from his office for staff meetings and assemblies, but the rest of the day he cacooned himself in his office behind closed doors and red and green door-access -lights, which dehumanized boys and staff. I often got the red light, so stopped talking to him.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Apartheid East London, Selborne College Comeback, 1989

In 1989, we settled south-east in East London - Worm City, conservative "English" city, where the world's biggest worms squirmed in the white Border region - bordered by puppet Transkei in the north, puppet Ciskei in the south and west, and Indian Ocean in the east. In Worm City, I endured the most hypocritical creeps of my life - "English" locals and expat "English" Rhodies.

Our three-bedroom, rented house at the bottom of Two Rivers Drive was close to rivers and white farmlands. Outcast Xhosa, plodding from town to kraals or shanty-towns, begged at our front door. I reckoned begging Xhosa saw us whites as work-providers, and providers of everything for blacks. At Nahoon River, fish eagles roosted by deep pools, calling, "Kaaa! Ka-ka-ka-ka-kaaaa!..."

My maternal ouma, Rosa Hendrikz, came from Somerset East, where my Dutch ancestors had lived amongst cattle-rustling Xhosa, and endured Victorian Kaffir Wars. At Kleinzee, I'd played hockey with a Hendrikz coloured, and during my Worm City years, I'd meet Hendrikz coloureds, who intrigued me.

Mdantsane, SA's second biggest black city (pop. 400 000) was off N2 freeway on the way to Bisho-King Williams Town. Duncan Village and Buffalo Flats glowered closer to home. Black bush-dwellers scavenged in the main city dump and Nahoon dump, near posh white homes. Whiteys surfed Nahoon Reef where sharks swam. Before I left Koffiefontein Zeppelin had asked, "Why'd ya wanna go to East London? It's fulla Wabenzis." When the black metalworkers' union at Mercedes Benz plant went on strike, Zeppelin had said, "White peripheral businesses will suffer if the plant closes man."

White joggers including Blumrick, my new VP, and cyclists, whose ancestors were Dutch, German and 1820 English settlers, sweated along suburban roads. Fort Glamorgan near Buffalo River mouth in British Kaffraria colony had seen Kaffir Wars and Dutchmen's Great Trek from hated British colonialism. Later, Biko was gaoled in Fort Glamorgan, before being beaten by PE security-cops, then driven to Transvaal to die.

My meanest donkey wagon ride was at dirty Selborne College, which epitomized white racism during apartheid's demise. Over 100 years old, Selborne was English, tribal, conformist. Illiterate black De Beers labourers had better ideas of equality and fairness than some white Selborne teachers. Selborne's management and facilities were inferior to the four Durban high schools I'd taught at. Selborne maintained Victorian traditions, whereby male teachers caned boys, and conscripted teachers ran cadets. Selborne was the most absurd of all my work experiences in four countries.

Grandiose, mean, cynical, principal, Mr. Gordon, five years older than me, allocated me a dirty, second-storey classroom far from labs. For six years, a third of my teaching career, I'd have little job satisfaction at Selborne, due to bad lab allocation, bad school discipline, and my deafness gain. As I had no lab for six years, I did few lab pracs, which resulted in boring, theoretical teaching, the worst way to teach sciences and biology.

Mr. Gordon timetabled 10 half hour class periods per day, and after each class there was mass-hysteria, while insolent white boys wandered shouting from class to class. Whereas Glenwood HS in Durbs, where I'd taught five years before, was orderly and disciplined, Selborne was disorderly and hysterical.

Mr. Gordon was my white, affirmative-action boss for four years, the longest I'd ever have one boss. In his imboya-furnished office, Mr. Gordon had cabinet meetings with his white, affirmative-action sycophants. Mr. Gordon failed to give clear policies regarding staffroom smoking and pupil discipline. Of all my bosses, he exploited my goodwill the most, giving the least.

Mr. Gordon grew up in Kimberley, and trained at an Afrikaner university. He lived in a double-storey school-house near the school -hostel. He squinted behind thick glasses, and dandruff from his grizzled hair spotted his precious academic-gown. Mr. Gordon hid in his cheesy office behind old equipment and old secretaries. Mr. Gordon rarely left his office except to run assemblies, watch sport, chair PTA and staff meetings, and guillotine scrap paper, on which he wrote toxic memos to mistrusted teachers. Once, Mr. Gordon cut his pinkie, but didn't sever it. Mr. Gordon counselled and caned senior boys, maintained cadet, prefect and staff hierarchies, but did no formal teaching. He prattled about: "BTHEE family... Be the betht... Be enthuthiathtic... We're doing thingth right... We've done it thith way for yearth. We'll continue doing it thith way!..."

Lowest on the staff hierarchy were Xhosa staff, including cleaners; gardeners; tractor-drivers; tea-makers; kitchen-hands; messenger -boys; Gestetner operators. Their mess-room was the dirtiest room in the school. A white caretaker supervised black staff. Caretakers didn't last long, and reported to protege Cronje, Afrikaner woodwork HOD, who sacked Xhosa staff.

My fourth teaching comeback was rotten, as Mr. Gordon and his cabinet were verkrampte Engelse. It was my 7th professional job in 6 years, in 5 dorps and cities, in 3 provinces. I taught standards 6 and 7 general-science and standard 8 biology. Given my horrible timetabling and work conditions, if I was a rookie-teacher, I'd've left Selborne. Merit-gobbling teachers offered no help. Our lab assistant had been a white male nurse at Town Hill Hospital: before trekking to Rhodesia, then re-trekking back to SA. He trudged far bringing me science equipment. Expat Rhodie teachers twisted their, "When we lost the Bush War" tensions amongst staff.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Apartheid, Durban Brother's Rehabilitation and Koffiefontein De Beers Roundup, 1988.


< 1988. Esslemonts at a Mackintosh Xmas Do: "Mackintosh" farm, Cato Ridge.


Fraser lodged at a Durban Mental Health halfway-house, Windermere Road. A ruse by Addington to certify Fraser? Daily, he walked or bussed to occupational therapy at Addington. Fraser got drunk at Wagon Wheels Hotel, Florida Road, falling on his face. While Fraser's scabrous face healed at Addington, matron moaned, "Bed space!..."

Social-worker said, "Fraser'll be a hobo." Chief psychiatrist and doctors avoided me. I made an appointment to see Fraser's physiotherapist. She didn't arrive.

The halfway-house social-worker said, "People like Fraser err during rehabilitation..." Durban Mental Health didn't want Fraser anymore, despite a Durban protected environment being ideal placement for Fraser. I made appointments to see the soulless Mental Health director, and waited outside his office for hours. He avoided me, and only replied to my letters, after I appealed to his common humanity.

Addington had fucked up Fraser with neuroleptic brain damage, and had crippled him. When Fraser's curator and I bailed up Addington's accountant in his hospital office, the smarmy Durban North accountant avoided court-action, by waiving Fraser's two year hospital bill. Fraser's curator completed the sale of Fraser's home, and invested Fraser's money.

Without my knowledge and consent, Addington psychiatrist certified Fraser to Town Hill Hospital, Pietermaritzburg. After I complained, he wrote: "My team certified Fraser - a team decision. Fraser's Addington rehabilitation has failed. He's a danger to himself and others. His judgement is poor and he lacks insight into his condition. His rehabilitation would be better effected at Town Hill Hospital." (Paraphrased). That pscho-jargon would prove to be bullshit.

I learnt a magistrate could certify a patient, if one or two doctors provided documentation. There was no legal requirement to consult the patient or family, nor was legal representation required for the patient or family. Psychiatrists could legally do what they liked in apartheid SA, without knowledge or consent by a patient's family. Never mind brain damaged, outraged Fraser being locked away for years at Town Hill, having his human rights violated with incarcerated retards, madmen, drug addicts, criminals and murderers. Certified Fraser became a state-funded President's Patient, and his Town Hill stay wouldn't cost Fraser and me one cent.

The actions / inaction of nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, physiotherapists, hospital accountants, social-workers, magistrates and mental health management showed contempt for Fraser and me. We were enemies to be avoided, patronized, manipulated and abused.

Had Fraser lived with us, he would've caused financial, emotional and social hassles for me and my family. Arse-sniffing guilt spoored me, but I couldn't expect Leah to raise our family and nurse Fraser while I worked.

Unrest: Black youth Stompie Seipei was hit in Winnie Mandela's Soweto home by members of her Mandela United Football Club (Fred Bridgeland, Katiza's Journey, Beneath the Surface of South Africa's Shame, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1997.) Some said Winnie had led assaults. (Winnie denied it at later trials). Stompie vanished from Winnie's home: killed in strange circumstances. In 2003, Winnie was found guilty of fraud.

Trust Feeds massacre, New Hanover: 11 Zulus killed by cops. (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Vol 3, Macmillan, London, 1999.)

The day I left Koffiefontein, I asked Ballon why I hadn't been paid my promised Koffiepit money. Ballon steepled his podgy fingers in his oak furnished office and said, "Off teaching eh? Payrolls will include your Koffiepit pay with your pension contributions and leave pay when you leave. When I job interviewed you, I said you'd do job evaluation, then IR. We planned fast-tracking you to Stellenbosch next year on an IR course."

"I wanted to do training. Personnel is boring, especially IR, not as stimulating as teaching. The articles I wrote and published in Koffiepit, and the job descriptions I wrote would fill a couple of books."

De Beers kept its contributions to Leah's and my pensions for two decades, before considering payment to us. It took a year and several letters from East London to German-GM before my Koffiepit pay arrived. Koffiepit continued as a community newspaper in post -apartheid Koffiefontein. In 2002, Ballon developed colon cancer, and retired early to his million Rand Knysna beach cottage. German-GM started Transvaal's new Venetia Mine, then became Premier / Cullinan Mine's GM.

De Beers strength was that, aged 37, I'd equitably worked with non -whites for four years during apartheid. Had I not left white teaching, I'd never have worked equitably with non-whites in SA. I also played multi-racial hockey and acted in multi-racial shows with coloureds, which I never did in the rest of apartheid SA. I reckoned De Beers management was superior to any teaching management I knew. We'd lived Rhodes's and Oppenheimers' De Beers heritage, and Jake was a De Beers boy, born in Kleinzee, baptized in Koffiefontein beneath the Diamond Cross.

By 2008 Koffiefontein Mine was sold to a company of ex De Beers and Koffiefontein people.