Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now

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Post by Alan on Sun May 23, 2010 8:38 am

Part one - My youth years, out of South Africa.

I was born in South Africa, in June 1950, in a city called Germiston, on the Eastern boundary of Johannesburg, however, when I was only 18 months old my parents relocated to what was then Northern Rhodesia, of The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I began my early years on the Copperbelt of Northern Rhodesia, and for the next 17 years we moved around between Southern Rhodesia (Salisbury) and Northern Rhodesia, ending up with my last 5 years living in Lusaka, the capital of what became Zambia.

I went to high school at a private school called Falcon College, which was one of the top high schools in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, while we lived in Lusaka.

During my years, as a youngster, up North, as we fondly referred to the Rhodesias, I went to school with blacks, they swam in the public swimming pools, and generally mingled with the whites. The only problem up there being that they did not have the vote, however this was not a concern for a youngster at the time, nor did it seem to worry the black friends that I had.

We used to holiday in South Africa quite frequently, but once again, the racisim that was there did not seem to be much of a concern to us visitors, and we never really took much notice of it, except that it did seem quite strange to only really see white faces at all of the holiday establishments that we visited.

Towards then end of my last year at Falcon College my parents relocated to South Africa, so when I left Flacon for the last time it was to board a train to a new life in South Africa. My parents rented a house on the west side of Johannesburg, in a suburb called Florida Hills. It was only once we had moved to South Africa that I became aware of Apartheid, the seperate development legislation that was in place in South Africa.

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Post by Nev on Sun May 23, 2010 10:14 am

Wow, you certainly moved around in your younger years Bwana. I wonder, did your parents move back south because they could see the beginning of the changes about to happen in Rhodesia?

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Post by Alan on Sun May 23, 2010 10:30 am

Part two - Starting a new life in Johannesburg, South Africa, and discovering Apartheid.

One of the first things that struck me when we settled in Florida Hills was the Air Raid Siren that was sounded every evening just after sunset. I can no longer remember precisely what time, but it went off every night. After hearing it a few evenings I asked one of my work mates what the siren was for, and this was the explanation that I was given:
"The Siren lets the black people know that they should be off of the streets and in their townships or in their servants' quarters on their employers' property."
All blacks had to carry a pass with them, and if they were caught without one they were instantly locked up in jail. At night, after the siren had sounded, not only did they have to have the pass, but a special permit, permitting them to be out in public, or a letter from their employer explaining why they had to be out at that time.
Granted, in those days you were safe on the streets at night, if you were white, but it was an inhuman, unjust, system that I abhorred at the time, but like everything else in life, got used to it, and never gave it much more thought after that, like so many other white South Africans of the day.
I soon started realising that everything was segragated, the parks were white only, benches at public places, like railway stations, had "Whites Only" or "Non-Whites" painted on them. Public Toilets were Whites or Non-Whites, and there were seperate entrances to bottle stores for whites and non-whites. When you went anywhere, such as shopping in the city centre of Johannesburg, you hardly ever saw any black faces.
It was an incredibly unjust society, and what amazed me the most was that I had just left school in a country that was experiencing the worst terrorist atrocities, and life for the blacks there was not nearly as oppressed as it was in South Africa. This is something that to this day I have never really been able to come to grasps with. All I can imagine is that they were so oppressed in South Africa that they simply were unable to launch any significant terror campaign against their oppressors. Of course, since the demise of Apartheid much has come out into the open that we, as common citizens, were never aware of, or never made aware of. The oppression was far more severe than any of us ever dreamed that it could be.

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Post by Alan on Sun May 23, 2010 10:33 am

Plastic Nev. wrote:Wow, you certainly moved around in your younger years Bwana. I wonder, did your parents move back south because they could see the beginning of the changes about to happen in Rhodesia?
Nev, my father was high up in finance in Anglo American in Zambia, and he argued with the then Minister of Finance a little too often, so the company decided that it would be prudent to relocate him. We very nearly relocated to Canada, right up into the Tundra, until a post came up in the Johannesburg office.

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Post by Alan on Sun May 23, 2010 10:53 am

Part three - How did Apartheid come about?

Over the years I made it a personal goal to try and find out how Apartheid started. Apartheid, in Afrikaans is literally seperatism. I have read much over the years, and it is difficult to really figure out which groups actually started the forcefully seperating whites from non-whites. Right back to the days when Jan van Riebeek settled in the Cape with the Dutch East India Company, the settlers were prohibited from mixing with the local black populace. Then when the British occupied the Cape and the Eastern Cape, they slowly introduced various laws, such as "The Masters and Servants ordinance" which perpetuated white control, and made it illegal for black workers to strike.
It was only when the National Party, predominantly Afrikaans and supported by the Broedebond, that all of the previous discriminatory laws were all put together under the Apartheid policy. This finally entrenched the seperation of Whites and Non-Whites, and resulted in all of the final injustice that was perpetuated against the non-whites, and the black people in particular.
All of this is put into a nutshell for you, but it really developed over a very extended period of time.

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Post by Alan on Sun May 23, 2010 11:03 am

I am going to give this a bit of a break now, but over the next couple of days I will cover the build up to the end of Apartheid and the start of the new South Africa. What the country learnt about that amazing icon, Nelson Mandela, Madiba, and how he pulled a nation together. Where we are now, and what the prospects are for the future.
I am sure, however, that I have given enough for you to now understand the significance of yesterday's historic rugby game, where the seat of Afrikanerdom, The Blue Bulls, played Rugby in a stadium in a Black Township.

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Post by June on Sun May 23, 2010 11:09 am

That's a very interesting read Bwana and, funnily enough, himself and I were just discussing this as there was a radio programme on about it while we were having our tea.

Himself abhorred the conditions he found when he worked in S.A. at Springs in 1979 and often tells us tales about what went on. It seemed incredulous to us over here and, thankfully, things have improved a great deal since then.

Thanks for posting this.
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Post by Alan on Sun May 23, 2010 11:29 am

June wrote:That's a very interesting read Bwana and, funnily enough, himself and I were just discussing this as there was a radio programme on about it while we were having our tea.

Himself abhorred the conditions he found when he worked in S.A. at Springs in 1979 and often tells us tales about what went on. It seemed incredulous to us over here and, thankfully, things have improved a great deal since then.

Thanks for posting this.
Isn't that a coincidence, we lived in Springs in 1979 Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now Icon_eek

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Post by June on Sun May 23, 2010 11:37 am

That is a coincidence. I must find out the name of the paper mill. Himself took lots of photos but I would have to scan them in. I'll have a look tomorrow. Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now Icon_smile

They stayed in an hotel and there are pics of that, he used to love all the BBQs they had .
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Post by Guest on Sun May 23, 2010 11:07 pm

Bwana, I so appreciate you starting this Thread and sharing so much of South Africa with us! I will look forward to each and everything you post - yipeeeee!!!! Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now 694277

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Post by Tan on Mon May 24, 2010 4:52 am

This is so very interesting Bwana and you certainly had to move around a lot for sure!.
Thankyou for starting this as it is always nice to hear 'first hand' of what it is like for many who live in other countries and all of what they went through over generations too in their family, much more understanding too than reading snippets here and there in a newspaper!.

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Post by honeybee on Mon May 24, 2010 7:48 am

June wrote:That's a very interesting read Bwana and, funnily enough, himself and I were just discussing this as there was a radio programme on about it while we were having our tea.

Himself abhorred the conditions he found when he worked in S.A. at Springs in 1979 and often tells us tales about what went on. It seemed incredulous to us over here and, thankfully, things have improved a great deal since then.

Thanks for posting this.
I worked at Carlton Paper factory(Springs) in the offices(accounts department)I used to get toilet paper and tissues next to nothing.
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Post by June on Mon May 24, 2010 11:37 am

Another coincidence Honeybee....that's the exact same company that himself worked at! I had the year wrong though.

He worked in S.A. twice in the spring of 1984 and again in 1985.

I've started a new thread so as not to confuse Bwana's story. Hope you'll find it interesting. Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now Icon_sunny
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Post by honeybee on Mon May 24, 2010 11:47 am

June wrote:Another coincidence Honeybee....that's the exact same company that himself worked at! I had the year wrong though.

He worked in S.A. twice in the spring of 1984 and again in 1985.

I've started a new thread so as not to confuse Bwana's story. Hope you'll find it interesting. Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now Icon_sunny
Oh wow thats fantastic June Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now Icon_bounce
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Post by June on Mon May 24, 2010 12:21 pm

I've posted the pics now.......got a crick in my little finger from manipulating this mouse Reflections on Life in South Africa - Then and Now Icon_biggrin
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Post by Guest on Mon May 24, 2010 8:22 pm

Bwana, I am so very grateful that you and your parents left before the terrorist atrocities started - what a horror. But how hard it must have been for a caring, gentle soul like you to suddenly realize that South Africa has to horribly separated. (Just imagine though - you nearly moved to Canada!! Any idea where near the tundra your family would have been relocated to?).

Everything you've written fascinates me - and while researching how and actually when Apartheid started, it must have seemed strange perhaps that all this discriminatory laws seemed to have slowly be surely increased as you said, "over a very extended period of time" - without so many of the White standing up and saying "No!".

Was it laws against interracial marriages, I wonder? Were you and your dear Honeybee able to be friends with Black kids or was that too a no-no, perhaps?

Truly looking forward to anything and everything you'd like to share - learning anything and everything about your Country is so interesting - and thank you for taking the time to do it, kind man!

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Post by Guest on Tue May 25, 2010 11:28 pm

Bwana, I do hope you'll forgive me for adding the below links ... no trying to swipe your thread (huge gentle smile) - it's just I find the music from your Country remarkable!... but I won't be offended if it gets moved to another Thread, truly.

Love this below one with the kids
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUiQf4HCeuY&feature=related

Soweto Gospel Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2P70a7S4ks
Soweto Township in Johanesburg, South Africa.
------------------------
South Africa - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVLu16lU4iI&feature=related

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Post by Joelle on Wed May 26, 2010 5:03 am

Bwana I just came across this thread and find your writing so interesting to read. It must have been difficult for you to accept the segregation when you moved especially as you didn't come across it earlier when you were an youngster and at school. I look forward to the rest of your story.
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Post by Guest on Wed May 26, 2010 11:43 pm

Thank you Bwana for your fascinating insight into South Africa, I have a friend who used to live in Zimbawe, but had to leave, leaving house, possesions behind, to make a new life in England.
I am looking forward to the next episode

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Post by Guest on Thu May 27, 2010 11:32 pm

And I'm trying to find our thread of the photos you and our Honeybee took, Bwana - the ones driving around where you live and of your estate, etc... sorry but for the life of me I can't find it - could someone please rescue me?

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Post by Captain Nemo on Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:42 am

On my way out and About
Hello Mara is this the thread you are looking for
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Post by Captain Nemo on Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:58 am

Thank You Bwana for this account and like many will wait for the next section , its wonderful to read from someone who was there all we had was the Media so at best a very distorted view more on sensationalism than reality but we have never had anything like this here but it does appear the British in there Empire days were certainly instrumental in enforcing and suppressing indigenous folk where ever we went , and the sheer Brutality of it , though in Rhodesia now are some awful problems with Mugabe it was terrible the way the Whites were routed out of the country and the land not cultivated but just left , there were again Media pictures of Agricultural machinery smashed to pieces and seed for crops just thrown around , i can understand the Black people with there want for there freedom and to loose the oppression but the very fabric of there existence they destroyed or had no idea how to maintain it , but a powder keg for sure and as soon as the fuse was lit it became a mass hysteria sweeping the country and there are very close ties with our Queen and Government and Mugabe even with all that is going on ,
I was wondering with Nelson Mandela and the ANC him being labeled almost a Terrorist to put him away but when he was it seemed to elevate him to a Martyr and drew so much world wide support for him , fortunately SA didnt explode like Rhodesia and Nelson Mandela really did unify and if anything could easily have set the Keg off but had the wisdom and sense to use his considerable influence to start a chain of events that to the rest of the World showed him as a caring and wonderful leader who wanted SA to unify and be a great nation and by all accounts its developing ,
Thank You for taking time to reflect for us all and i look forward to the next part ,
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