Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 2008 Sunnyside Farm Dispatch and Emails


2008. Fraser Esslemont playing snooker, Sunnyside Farm dining hall, KwaZulu-Natal. (Pietermaritzburg Mental Health Society). "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."


Fraser's March 2008 Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "Im getting very lax with writing. My apologies. Weekends seem the best time for writing. I take it ESOL is european studies and literature [English as a Second Language]. ... SLD I understand.

Both your sons are very musical. Fancy Luke watching drumming videos on internet and composing music. Jake and Luke do p.c. programmes I dont follow. Please explain. It must be beef & sheep biltong you work with. [Beef only]. You still get 30+ (plus) degrees in March. You must leave your 2 cars outside the garage when [you] dry your biltong. How long for? [Hang my biltong from garage rafters for one to two weeks, depending on dry / wet weather, while cars stay garaged].

Bakery deliveries must take up a lot of your time and how is your indaba magazine writing? Would you please send a copy of this indaba magazine? Surely a photostat of one of your articles would give me a clear picture of what you write about. [Fraser had forgotten I'd stopped bakery work a decade before. SINZASA's Indaba journal was moribund and not publishing lately].

Do you still work with compost and sell it? [Yes, but no selling].

My Sunnyside work seems to have got into a rut, at the moment. [Fraser had done gardening at Town Hill and Sunnyside for nearly 20 years]. Perhaps I should find a nice clerical job in town and / or look after watering peoples gardens. People dont spend that much time watering. Maybe I should stick to clerical work, that Ive had experience of, at the [Standard] Bank. Please, I should like to hear your views on how I should spend my time.

Everything of the best to you and your family."

2008. Bird Man Fraser Esslemont, Sunnyside Farm, KZN. (Pmb. Mental Health Soc.) "His liberty is full of threats to all."


I wrote to Fraser, posting him a 2008 diary, and encouraged Fraser to diarize his life, and / or line-sketch his observations around Sunnyside. I enclosed Ian Sinclair's "Field Guide To The Birds Of Southern Africa," and encouraged Fraser to become the Bird Man of Sunnyside, as birdwatching was an honourable passion. I also emailed Maritzburg Mental Health, advising them what I'd encouraged Fraser to do.

My April 2008 email to Maritzburg Mental Health: "Thanks for emailing and my receipt of Fraser's farm pics as follows: 2 of the workshop, 1 dining hall, 1 farm life, 1 farm outing.

I appreciate the snaps very much. I see Fraser looks fit and healthy: fitter than me. He looks like our mom did about the same age: grey, thinning hair. I have our dad's hair, less grey and still there. The dining hall looks pleasant. I reckon Fraser would thrash me at billiards. His Zulu would've improved with all his Zulu mates around. Fraser's mates and pet geese look nice. I wonder if the geese will be eaten? The farm looks very green. And the OT looks like it keeps Fraser well worked with all the washer sorting. Fraser's arms look very strong after all the hard work...

Thanks for the pics. Your digital cam looks like an excellent investment. Our family still uses our old manual Minolta.

I'll send Fraser our biltong recipe in my next letter..." Again!

Another April 2008 email to Maritzburg Mental Health: "Thanks for the second batch of Sunnyside pics. How times have changed. When Fraser and I grew up in Durban North, we were involved with Indians via our servant Rosie Naidoo and her family from May Street, Durban; Gum Tree Road squatter camp, Jacobs; and finally Chatsworth. I see Fraser is now involved with Zulus. It's good to see staff who care for Fraser. They look kind, compassionate people. I appreciate very much what they are doing.

I see from Fraser's clothes and cleanliness, and care for Sunnyside land and buildings, that Fraser and his mates are well cared for. The green soccer team will be great World Cup soccer supporters. Is Fraser manager? Or chief supporter? As a young adult, Fraser was into karate and water-sports (water-skiing, sail-surfing, yachting, fishing), for years before his 1987 Verulam accident.

2008. Mark Esslemont's topside biltong ready for hanging and drying. Christchurch, NZ.


I'm halfway through making a batch of biltong, and taking snaps as I progress, to send to Fraser with my biltong recipe, so Fraser has pics to see my biltong-making progress. We've had lots of autumn rain lately, so I'm wondering weather damp will rot my biltong, which I usually make during Christchurch's dry summers. (Unless one has an all-year drying-room with heaters / fans). Better get my old Durbs fan fanning my biltong in the garage."