< 1984. Leah Esslemont's whitey music class at Kleinzee Private School, with coloured kids from Zonderberg Primary, Kleinzee.
When it rained in inland, granite berge, Buffels Rivier occasionally flowed, and muddy water flooded more than a metre deep down Buffels wadi into Kleinzee estuary. In the spring, daisies grew in mud-cracks. Cape Town was about 700 kays south. Port Nolloth was 60 kays north through sandveld. Alexander Bay on Orange River south-bank and north-bank Oranjemund were about 200 kays northwards along a restricted salty road through southern Namib. North-eastwards, in mountainous Richtersveld, spiky Halfmense grew amongst stones - facing the northern sun.
Kleinzee Private School was my strangest donkey wagon ride, as the white school was dual-medium. I taught six pupils in my standard 2 (year 4) English-medium class. In 1985, my class increased to nine pupils. Some kids were bright, some dof. Leah taught sub B (year 2), rolls same as mine. Bigger Afrikaans-medium classes stressed Afrikaner teachers. English parents wanted English-medium education for their kids, so De Beers provided relaxed teaching for English teachers. Meneer Nel welcomed different Cape curriculum programmes and new teaching ideas. I managed book-stock and bought an English reading programme, which would've taken years to get in NED.
Arrogant Ferreira taught Afrikaner standard 5 (year 7), caned naughty boys, bought computers, and taught IT in his new computer room. When I mentioned Guy Fawkes Ferreira said, "Ja, that's just a Soutie cultural tradition man. We don't do that here man."
Burly, black-haired Alwyn taught Afrikaner standard 4 (year 6), and was a SADF major who checked white men's military service. Alwyn communicated with Springbok Command and SAP Pampoen, whose home and office was outside De Beers security-gate. Alwyn said, "Luister, coach junior-rugby man!" I did, as I liked Alwyn - another strandveld gem. Before matches, Alwyn prayed with his team in a change-room, before his barefooted boys donnered opposition, Alwyn coached future provincials and Springboks. Alwyn drove us in a De Beers bus along gravel-roads to inter-school sports functions, like rugby at Oranjemund, or athletics-meetings on Port Nolloth saltpan. Alwyn always waved to a Port Nolloth shopkeeper when we passed: "Check dat ou Mark." Alwyn winked. "He makes lotsa IDB money. Shhh!... Trek noord! Fok voort!"
We slept-over at Aggenys rugby, or Villiersdorp annual school -camps. A busload of kids, screaming through Namaqualand - past Wallekraal, Garies, Bitterfontein, Vanrhynsdorp, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal... was 50 degree Centigrade hell. At trek's end pupils thankfully sang, "Ons se baie, baie dankie (x3), vir die lekker dag..." (Reprised). Afrikaner hospitality included braais, beers, melktert, koeksusters, other goodies, although formal at Aggenys, and more-so at Alexander Bay's white school, which used gold-plated cutlery when we came.
Some English pupils spoke better Afrikaans than Leah and me. Playing Luister, our Afrikaans improved. Some pupils spoke with a Malmesbury brei. Most Kleinzee adults were bilingual, but unconscripted Pom employees battled with Afrikaans. Leah and I spoke English when speaking to Afrikaners, until our confidence improved. Our understanding of Afrikaans was better than our speech, so we and others spoke the language we were comfortable with. Staff-meetings were bilingual, and Meneer Nel and Ferreira spoke English with Transvaal and Boland accents, as well as their native Afrikaans.
I supervised skollie-patrollies, by rostering pupils and staff at road -crossings outside school, where heavy vehicles passed. De Beers was safety-conscious, and Kleinzee had a ***** NOSA (National Occupational Safety Association) rating.
Unrest: Pick 'n Pay shopping centre alongside our old Montclair duplex was bombed. No one was injured. Phew! Leah and I had shopped there. In September 1984, Botha became president and Sharpeville boycotted house rents. (Alan Cowell, Killing The Wizards, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992).
North of Springbok, some coloured employees' families lived in Steinkopf Basterdorp. Outcast coloureds' home language was usually Afrikaans. Pretty Labia, our domestic, was bussed once a week by De Beers from Kommagas, another Basterdorp. Like many outcast Kapies, her middle incisors were missing. I chastised Labia for pinching sweets from Leah's purse. Labia silenced me out for months. Despite meals we gave her, she stole food from our pantry. De Beers expected honest employees, as diamonds could easily be hidden. Had I reported Labia to security, she would never have worked for De Beers again.
Golden sands in our Fifth Street garden were nutrient poor, so I fertilized soil with beach kelp or cow dung. Kleinzee farming was supervised by Floors the Boer. His Friesland cow-byre was a concrete slab, partly covered by an iron-roof. Witch-winds blew cow dung pongs. Floors fed Frieslands food-pellets, hay, lucerne. Namaqualand had no meadows, but sheep grazed succulent sandveld plants, watered by Atlantic fogs. De Beers profited from mutton and wool sales. Floors's dairy produced milk, and his abattoir produced fresh meat for us. If consumer goods weren't available at the supermarket, De Beers ordered goods. There was a drankwinkel, cafe, bank, and a library for literati. We did volunteer museum work. At month's-end in the post office, coloured and Xhosa men sent money to their outcast families in Western Cape and puppet Transkei.
1984. Leah Esslemont & strandveld daisies, Schulpfontein, near Kleinzee.