Wednesday, August 1, 2007

1984 Apartheid, Durban to Douglas Trek

Leah's great-grandfather, Rev. Mackintosh, a Wesleyan minister, had emigrated from Nairn, Scotland to Avoca, north of the Umgeni. He allowed a Zulu goatherd to graze goats on his Avoca land. The goatherd murdered him. Leah's grandfather John Mackintosh also emigrated from Nairn, as marine-engineer to India, then he re-emigrated to Durban. John Mackintosh and his wife Mary, settled on Mount Vernon, Hillary, producing seven sons and a daughter. Mary spoke fluent Hindustani, and never allowed a Zulu on her property, which was the highest point on Mount Vernon. Views of Durban Bay, Stainbanks Reserve and Chatsworth could be seen. Leah's parents built their Freemantle Road home on the Mount Vernon site.

As a child, Leah had had Indian neighbours who, according to the 1950 Group Areas Act, were cast out to Chatsworth, on the south side of Durban-'Maritzburg milk-train railway-line, running below Mount Vernon. Before apartheid, Leah's dad knew cartage-contractor Mahommed, who owned a donkey-cart and a team of donkeys. After deliveries, Mahommed visited Bellair Hotel, where he boozed with white, working-class men - English and Afrikaners. Mahommed's donkeys knew the way home. (Alexander Mackintosh, Durban Memoirs, 1998, Unpublished).

Leah's parents had Zulu servants. For years, Francina worked for Leah's family, then returned to KwaZulu with her baby. Elizabeth from Flagstaff, lived in the khaya at the bottom of the garden. Her khaya had electricity and hot water, better than her puppet Transkei mud hut. Elizabeth earned a non-taxable wage, and was given work -clothes and meals. She worked for Leah's family for years, before returning to Flagstaff to her outcast children and sick mother, to farm her family plot.

Cantabile choir had re-started, and Leah sang with Cantabile in Llangollen again.

A furniture-removal van arrived at our duplex, and coloured removalists loaded our possessions, then left for Kleinzee. I'd decided to bakkie-trek valuable belongings, which I thought would be safer with me, on my way to Kleinzee. When I locked our duplex for the last time, louche coloured Skollie said, "Hello meneer. Ah'm a removaleest. Dose manne tjus' wen' ta Joeys weedout me. 'S true's God!"

I west-trekked over Drakensberg with Skollie, so he could rejoin his maats in Kleinzee. At freezing Bethlehem, mom's birthlace, I stopped for petrol and gave Skollie my beige parka. At Bloemfontein, I slept in a cheap whitey hotel, while Skollie slept in my bakkie cab, as outcast coloureds weren't allowed in whitey hotels.

At Koffiefontein, we crossed Riet Rivier, where Boer commandos had camped during the Boer War, and Ossewa Brandwag dissidents were interned during WW2. We passed Koffiefonteins' blue-kimberlite mine-dumps...

Orania, an old Water Affairs town, was coloured-flooded, after the Orange River Vanderkloof Dam and canals were built. (Post -apartheid, conservative Afrikaners bought Orania as part of their verkrampte separatism. Mevrou Verwoerd, widow of assassinated PM verwoerd, lived in Orania. In 2004, puppet Oraniastaat declared ridiculous UDI). At prefabricated Orania High School, Skollie greeted his sister, whiter than most whiteys. Her krissy hair damned her as a coloured. On the Douglas dirt-road, we stopped at Skollie's pondok, where his light-skinned mother served us tea under a sweet-thorn tree, and Skollie's darker sister looked shyly at me.

Near Salt Lake, my bakkie dry-skidded, rolling into a culvert. Skollie hit his head on the door: blood poured from Skollie's blood-mask. Our seat-belts had saved us. "Out!" I said, thinking of fire. While khaki dust settled over my marriage treasures, I inspected a smashed windscreen, crunched panels, broken manifold dripping oil. My bakkie's glass-fibre canopy was crushed. Leahs' bird-cage hung in a wag-'n-bietjie boom, mom's silver samovar lay dented in the dusty culvert, broken heirloom crockery lay smashed in the bushveld, new curtains hung on a barbed-wire fence. Below lay dad's stamp-books in a torn manila envelope. Skollie sat in the culvert staunching blood with my shirt, and listening to hits on my transistor radio.

A Boer stopped his truck to help. Aboard were goggling farm labourers. Boer ordered a labourer to gather my belongings. I gave the labourer ten Rand. "Dis te veel," said Boer. I shrugged, thankful and in shock. Boer drove us to Douglas, and took Skollie to hospital. After reporting the accident to SAP, I asked a garage to tow my bakkie to town. I visited Skollie who lay turbaned in a coloured ward. A Tswana cop guarded another coloured patient who was handcuffed to his bed.

Skollie's kleurling pels visited. "Wragtig Skollie! Wat het gebeur?" asked a pel.

"Adap' or die man," said Skollie. "May whitey pellie rolled ees bakkie. Now ah'm fokked op een bed. 'S true's God." Pellies laughed.

In a clapped-out Chev, beneath a pepper-tree, we dopped neat brandewyn, while a pellie said, "Skollie wasn' a removalist meneer. He hitched with removalists to Durbs meneer. Skollie took tjou forra lekker ride meneer? Sommer kak en betaal meneer."

I washed Skollie's blood from my bakkie cab: blood christening, then the white garage-owner, steering me to his second-hand cars asked, "Meneer, what'll you do if I can't fix your bakkie?"

"Ja-well-no-fine. The garage across the square will fix it." The garage took five days to get a new manifold from Jo'burg.

See O'Malley's The Heart of Hope website, SA's Transition from Apartheid to Democracy, and Pre-Transition Chronology 1980-1989.

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