Sunday, August 5, 2007

1985 Apartheid Kleinzee, School Squabbles, Bushmen and Strandveld Wildlife

1985. Mark Esslemont's Springbokke, Kleinzee Private School. >

When parents complained about my disciplining their slack daughter, by sending her to sit a while at the school secretary's office, Meneer Nel and Ferreira tried disciplining me at a disciplinary hearing, with parents present. "I won't be changing my teaching methods," I said. Parents had over-reacted, and Nel and Ferreira were too weak to tell them to, "Bogger off!"

As schools' superintendent, Meneer Nel had a Paterson D band house, bigger than boorish Bolander Ferreira's C band house. Nel drove a small company-car and led four white and coloured schools - roll 400 pupils. Ferreira only led our white school - roll 200 pupils. Ferreira coveted Nel's perks, so a power-struggle flickered between them. They both had Paterson band envy, and Ferreira often back -stabbed Nel. They played De Beers lead roles, but would've played Fools in state schools.

One morning, I overheard this bickering: "Kapiez iz lazy hey Neef?" said Nel.

"Jy's 'n drol in die drinkwater hey Niggie?" said Ferreira.

"Mediocrrity brreedz contempt hey Neef?" And so they whined from day to day.

Gallstone, exasperated by Nel's skinnering about female staff, banished Nel to an office near the supermarket, where other feckless managers languished: an engineering foreman and a shop manager. Nel's new office was equidistant from his white and coloured schools. Gallstone gave Ferreira Nel's old Kleinzee Private School office, and Ferreira consulted Kleinzee Hospital for free cholesterol checks.

At a drunken braai, Ferreira knyped SAP Pampoen's balls with braai -tongs.

At Aggenys school rugby, Ferreira had a fist-fight with a drunken doctor.

When a senior-teacher job arose, Ferreira wanted me to apply, so he could download his crap duties. I didn't like the idea of lecherous Ferreira expecting me to organize academics, school camps and sports, like galas. The pay increase was risible. Alwyn got the promotion.

After giving me two days' notice, Ferreira was piqued I refused going to Villiersdorp school camp. I'd already arranged a Cape Town trip with Leah. Ferreira went to Villiersdorp instead of me. Thereafter Ferreira called me a "Soutie-Moffie," while eyeing my Israeli gold ring I wore on my pinkie.

After I left the school, Nel returned to the Transvaal, and Ferreira became schools' superintendent. Ferreira played golf, held court at the Golf Club, ogled other men's wives, and passed dirty remarks about women. Ferreira groped a school girl I'd taught, then denied it at his disciplinary hearing. Ostracised, he fled to Ceres.

Lucky was lonely in our backyard, barking at Xhosa garbage -collectors and cats, and chasing skunks, living beneath our garage. On one of our Cape Town treks, we bought a Jack Russel bitch and named her Strike. East of Grootmis, a granite koppie loomed over Buffels wadi south-bank - my sacred place, where Lucky, Strike and I hunted hasies and meerkatte. Bushmen had eaten shellfish, leaving middens amongst dunes. Bone-songs blew down Buffels wadi, tickling across my body. From atop the koppie, I saw Poseidon Cape being wrecked off Kleinzee.

I found thousands of Bushmen stone-tools, including double-handed axes; smaller hand-axes; hammer-stones; grind-stones; smooth digging-stones; thousands of chipped thumbnail-cutters and scrapers; shards of ostrich-egg shells: old water containers.

Amongst ruins and rusty machinery, glass bottles lay pitted by windblown sand. I harvested stones, bottles, ancestral whisperings...

After rains, during our Diamond Coast trekking, we viewed flowers in the sandveld, and drove to Kommagas, where we saw donkeys sheltering under Acacia cyclops trees. At Springbok's Hester Malan Reserve, we saw xerophytes, like vulval Lithops stone-plants and Fenestraria window-plants amongst stones. Our favourite xerophyte spot was on Buffels Rivier bank, which later became Molyneux Reserve. Buffels Rivier flowed twice while we lived in Kleinzee.

Looking for daisies, we explored Aninaus pass, Spektakelberg Pass, Wildeperdehoek Pass, and saw tiny geraniums, giant kokerbome, crassulas and cotyledons in granite hills. De Beers lambs grew fat on succulents, while Floors the Boer's coloured shepherds rode horses while shooting jackals, then hanging them bleeding on barbed-wire fences, to discourage live jackals.

We saw geelslange - Cape Cobra - on strandveld dunes; secretary birds kicking sand, hunting prey; black male ostriches doing courting displays before brown females; steenbokke nibbling succulents; suricates standing, guarding burrows; flattened hares and bat-eared -foxes on roads. Hoot-an'-skrik was the best way to avoid hitting wildlife, blinded by bakkie headlights.

We visited Port Nolloth, MacDougall's Bay, Hondeklip Baai fishing dorps. We picknicked on Dog Stone Rock near an unfenced cop-shop, where epitaphs on coastal tombstones described drownings of English sailors. We saw offshore diamond-dredgers and illegal kreef - crayfish boats, which headed for deep sea when they saw us. During kreef-fever season, we caught kreef, by casting handlines from rowboats, or casting into secret rock-pools, then pulling up cautious kreef, clinging to our mussel-baited hooks. We netted kreef before kreef escaped. Sometimes we saw otters and seals hunting like us.

During flower-fever season, we drove to Wallekraal dorp; Spoeg River; N7 freeway; Garies, near Groen Rivier; Kamieskroon; Bitterfontein train-terminus; dry Knersvlakte to Vanrynsdorp... We explored Bokkeveldbergpas to platteland Nieuwoudville and saw spectacular flower-fields... At Cedarberg, we saw Bushmen painted elephants on cave walls. At Clanwilliam Dam, breezes from Olifants Rivier caressed us. We trekked bedsides Olifants Rivier to Piekenierskloofpas. At a shop on top, we bought ostrich biltong, Cape wines and veldskoene.

At Palm Court, near Cape Town parliament, we lay by the pool, scoffing apricots, peaches and grapes. At Sea Point, we grazed steaks in Italian restaurants, and spooned along the sea-front at high tide, dodging waves crashing on the sea-wall. At Carnaby Hotel, while conceiving our first-born, we heard Green Point fog-horn's elephant song.

1985. Mark Esslemont's Skollie Patrolie, Kleinzee Private School. >


wouter said...

My name is Wouter Du Toit,son of Danie and Alta Du Toit.I was born in Kleinzee 1977 and left 2002.My mother also teached at Kleinzee(short little witch)I also attended Kleinzee primary and i can remember Mr Esslemont(never attended his classes)i also did the "SKOLLIE PATROLLIE" thing.MR ESSLEMONT I REALLY ENJOY READING YOUR BLOG

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Hullo Wouter,

Hoe gaan dit? Veilig ek hoop. Ek onthou jou en ook die "leiwe heksie," jou ma, en jou pa ook. Ek't gehoor hy't my Job Description job gedoen, nadat ek Kleinzee verlaat het. Danie het ook my nuwe spog oorlosie geniet, toe ek in 1984 Kleinzee aangekom het.

Your mom was my wife's teacher boss at kleinzee Privaat Skool during 1984-5. Years ago in Christchurch NZ, we met an expat Kleinzee PS principal who spoke highly of your parents Alta and Danie. He was your mom's boss, and his mom ran marathons in USA.

We have a great affection for Kleinzee, its people, wildness, flowers and sandveld, with the diamonds of course, and Namaqualand. Our eldest son was also born in Kleinzee Private Hospital - in 1986.

Glad you're enjoying my blog.

Kind regards to all,


Mark JS Esslemont said...

I deleted Keith Grieve's trivia as it was comment spam.