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.
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