Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Apartheid, QwaQwa Job and Kleinzee Roundup, 1986

< 1986. Leah Esslemont's Mackintosh folks on top of Aninaus Pass, Port Nolloth Road.

I applied for a puppet QwaQwa teaching job, and drove to Harrismith about 60 kays from QwaQwa, for an interview. About 200 000 southern Sotho lived in QwaQwa, a self -governing state. (Jon Murry, et al, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, Lonely Planet, Hawthorn, 1997). Most outcast Sotho were unemployed, or were-migrant workers. Jo'burg, Bloemfontein and Durban were each about four hours drive away. Mainly Afrikaners drove to work in QwaQwa - from nearby Kestell, Bethlehem and Harrismith.

Before the job interview, I met puppet QwaQwa Education Department inspectors Seoke and Mopeli at Harrismith Holiday Inn. I followed them to the Harrismith home of the non-brown principal of the puppet University of the North (Southern Branch), which trained Sotho students in QwaQwa. Other interviewers were Du Toit, boss of QwaQwa Development Corporation (QDC), and Modinger, Sentinel Primary headmistress.

Du Toit drove me along Tshiya Street to his QDC building, from whence his non-brown "Employee" drove me about QwaQwa. I thought Employee was a security-cop. He showed me the Muso government buildings at the bottom of Die Bult - The Hill, which had a suburb for non-brown workers (mainly Afrikaners) with modest bungalows; primary school for Afrikaners; shop; community hall. On Die Bult top was a monumental legislative building. "When you come to QwaQwa," Employee said, "You'll get a house on Die Bult." At the bottom of Die Bult was an unused guardhouse. QwaQwa was quiet, despite sangomas throwing bones and providing muti for strugglers all over SA. I'd be teaching brown kids for the first time in my life.

When I gave notice to Sarel, he complained, "I must write job descriptions again." Sarel and Mike and their families later emigrated to NZ. Hlemele exit-interviewed me. He'd been gaoled during a State-of-Terror roundup.

Alwyn appeared pissed at my door. "Hier'sh 'n borrel wyn Mark. Geluk!" It was Nederburg Pinotage 1978, my marriage year. Leah and I drank the smooth Pinotage on our 25th wedding anniversary in NZ.

At my farewell in the white rec club, Sarel, Boyce and I ate steaks and drank Cape wines. My goodbye speech: "Thanks for teaching me personnel work. Whenever I phoned Boyce, he asked, 'What you want now?'" Boyce laughed. "Kleinzee is the first time in my 35 year life when I've socialized with Af men..."

My last beach braai was with Swael whose son was born soon after Jake. After leaving Kleinzee, Swael became a SAA pilot, then a Singapore Airlines pilot, before settling in Australia. Some Poms worked at Kleinzee during my tenure. None were conscripted by SADF, and some re-emigrated after benefitting from apartheid. Later Gallstone became De Beers Marine manager in Cape Town. Duiwelsteen became Kleinzee GM, then emigrated to De Beers Canada. Fezile became IR manager at East London Mercedes Benz plant. Hlemele was carjack-murdered in Soweto.

I was indifferent to QwaQwa peril, during a State-of-Terror. Leah wasn't. "Jake's nine months old, and we're leaving Kleinzee," said Leah. "We've breached personal and political barriers at Kleinzee, so why leave?"

"After leaving Durban," I said, "we carved ourselves professional work at De Beers: far from our families. QwaQwa's closer to our families. I need to see how a puppet state works. Although I mock white affirmative-actions, my white Durban teaching and De Beers jobs were white affirmative-actions for me."

< 1987. Esslemonts at 294 Freemantle Road, Durban.

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