Sunday, August 12, 2007

Apartheid, QwaQwa Bureaucrats, 1987

I told Koekie, Palesa, Gloria, kids, "Luister, I'll be riding my bike to work, so you must arrange other transport." Modinger taxied them to and from school, and trekked about 120 kays return trip from Harrismith each day. I was the only non-brown cyclist in QwaQwa and avoided riding in Tshiya Street, as trucks could suck me under wheels. I pedalled below Die Bult, past piles of rubbish, through shit, past the post office, past more piles of rubbish, through more shit, past Exclusive Suburb road-works, past more piles of stinking rubbish, through more shit to Sentinel.

At puppet QwaQwa Education Department offices I signed many forms. Offices were filled with Afrikaner and Sotho puppets, manipulated by Renoster. Each office had a desk, on top of which were four wooden in-out trays. Each tray could house two six-packs, and puppets hid behind their in-trays. On one of my visits Renoster asked, "Meneer Ezzlemon'. Whad youz doin' hier?"

"I'm looking for Inspector Seoke."

"Youz juzza honorrary bleck in diz homeland hey? Youz muz make appoindmendz when youz come hier." I ignored him: none of his business. Or was it?

Our garden soak-pit overflowed - shit flowed past our back door. I found Renoster in his office and asked, "Why didn't you answer my letter? Sewage bogs my back door. When my baby crawls outside he gets fulla shit."

Renoster hid behind his out-tray saying, "Meneer youz beddarr go -in-zee da Minizdrry of da Inderriorr in da Govarrmin' buildin'z."

A red carpet was on the Interior Minister's office floor. Behind a desk stood the puppet minister. "Will you organize someone," I asked, "who repairs drains?" He sent Renoster's Sotho labourers to push metal rods through our sewage pipes, pushing out willow tree roots from sewage soup.

Exasperated, I wrote to Du Toit: "Three months is up. When will we be housed on Die Bult, as stated on our arrival? To date, I have received no rent-agreement for our Tshiya Street house, and we have not been informed of our tenant obligations."

Du Toit's paraphrased blackmail: "You must move from your medical house at year's end. We suggest you either rent or buy a house in Harrismith, or in other dorps, or buy a house in the Exclusive Suburb." He conveniently forgot he'd informed us on our QwaQwa arrival that we'd get a Bult house. It would've been fantastic for Du Toit and QDC for us to buy a house, and be the only Engelse family living amongst Sotho.

Du Toit sometimes wandered past my classroom and visited Modinger in her office. Modinger asked for budgets, so I submitted my science budget, which she ignored. JP experienced Modinger was ignorant about science. Sentinel had no science equipment, science room, domestic-science room, library, art room, music room, or sports equipment, and it would be years before Sentinel was well resourced.

In the puppet QwaQwa University staff room, I had to justify to eight non-brown male lecturers and two brown, male lecturers why I needed to borrow science equipment: "There's no science equipment at Sentinel," I said, "It's frustrating teaching science without equipment." They all knew that Verwoerd's Bantu Education had stifled science teaching and learning. I borrowed science equipment and wall charts, which were normal equipment in non-brown schools.

As an English lecturer post was available at QwaQwa University, I attended a job interview. The non-brown, puppet English professor said, "You could be an English professor in five years." He offered me the part-time job, as there were few graduate Engelsmanne in QwaQwa or nearby Vrystaat dorpe. As I was an honours graduate, the interview confirmed low standards and non-brown affirmative-action at QwaQwa University. I declined the job.

Jake's first words were, "Mama... dada... moo (moon)... da" (duck or any bird). Winter stalked, and Maluti winds blew dust; lightning crackled; thunder rumbled around mountains around QwaQwa: Boomalakka! Boomalakka! Boomalakkawa!... Jake played in whiter-than-white snow for the first time in his life.

Beside our log fire, TV news announced May general-election results: Afrikaner parties - Nationalist Party, Conservative Party, Herstigte Nationale Party got over 80% of the non-brown vote. (Martin Meredith, Nelson Mandela, A Biography, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1997). No Sotho voted, and in solidarity neither did I. There were no Progressive Federal Party candidates in QwaQwa and few platteland PFP supporters. Non-brown opposition parties and elected politicians, Afrikaners and English, were risible, as elected non-brown opposition politicians were few, as they had no brown constituents; they lived in separate, privileged, non-brown areas; and drew sinecures paid by brown and non-brown taxpayers. Lucky got biliary and Strike broke her hip. I suspected Amos or Amos's pony as offenders. Conscripted SADF vets doctored our dogs in QwaQwa.

See Apartheid Museum.

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