On my personal Facebook page I started recording stories and anecdotes of my early childhood life. These will ultimately be condensed into a book. Here is an excerpt of how lockdown has opened up a part of my memory I thought was gone forever:
A personal short story from 1953
Cookhouse is a small village in the Eastern Cape. My father was transferred there by the government in about 1950 to run the PRD (Provincial Roads Department) in said village. The reality is that Cookhouse was nothing more than the combined prefab houses of the railway workers and the PRD employees; each group being separated by the main railway line. On the outskirts was the township inhabited by the Xhosa locals. All townships were called locations. I still haven’t figured out why.
My dad had a Xhosa man who worked in his office, named Frank. I still remember him in vivid detail. Frank was one of the kindest humans I have ever met. He was tall and lean with a gentle smile that gave away the wisdom that belied the mundane nature of his employment.
I was 4 years old and Frank used to collect me (the little blonde haired white boy) from our home and put me on the cross bar of his size 28 bicycle and off we would go to his khaya in the location for his lunch break.
Frank would gather his family to break bread. I was included in the entire process. We would sit cross-legged on a grass mat, inside the rondavel. Mostly the meals would be ‘pap’ or (gnoesh sp?) a mix of samp and beans. I loved the daily adventure of experiencing a different culture and being accepted without reservation by his family.
It didn’t take long and I wanted to learn to ride Frank’s bike. I was far too small to ride the bike, so I tried riding it under the cross bar. Needless to say I fell many times arriving home with grazed hands and knees.
Frank was incredibly proud of his bicycle and cleaned it daily. When I think back now how he must have winced as each fall I took from that bike which added scratches at a rapid rate to the shiny black paintwork, I now can understand the intelligent and dignified man that took the time to help raise me in his own unique way (albeit for only two years).
I finally mastered that big bicycle thanks to Frank’s infinite patience.
Frank - I never got to say thank you. Hamba Gahle madala - 65 years later, but never too late.
PODCAST: We cover the second part of the story of the reconstruction of the Anenous Pass between Steinkopf and Port Nolloth as described by the late Dr. Graham Ross.
Pass of the week
In early February whilst on my recce trip to the Wild Coast, I managed to film the impressive Mlengana Pass which passes directly adjacent to the famous Execution Rock. During our research on this beautiful road, we uncovered some of the myths surrounding the mountain - and set the record straight. We also have a look at the history of Pondoland and its people. There is a double video which you can enjoy which contain some very interesting history.
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Words of Wisdom: "Sometime later, becomes never. Do it now!"