Tuesday, 7 February 2012

More About The Black Staff.

        Old George had a very fair skinned wife.  She was obviously a half caste or a coloured person but could only speak isiXhosa.  She had long frizzy hair which she kept in a bun.  She told my dad who could speak perfect Xhosa that her father was a white farmer named Emslie from Salem.  She and George had two daughters, the one I have mentioned before was married to a black man named Pay.  They had quite a few children who obviously had lighter skins than the other little blacks.
            The other daughter was much younger than her sister, also fair skinned and rather intelligent.  Her name was Maggie and she worked for my mother in our house.   My mom had taught her a lot and she had learnt to speak English reasonably well.  She was happy in her job.  Her father came to the house one day to inform my parents that Maggie would be leaving as he had agreed that an old man whose wife had died wanted to lobola her.  She had as yet not been told about this arrangement as it was not necessary for a girl to know the details of her marriage.  My mother was horrified and poor young Maggie was shocked, if she was to marry she wanted a young man and not an old one with children.  My father tried to talk sense into old George, but to no avail.  He was too old to work and Maggie was the only person in his family who could.  He already had his quota of animals on the farm and could not bring any more there.  As he would not listen to reason, he was given notice to leave the farm and we never saw poor Maggie again.  We heard that she was unhappy, but that she had had a baby every year.
            The custom of lobola is handing over cattle to a bride's father as compensation for the 'loss' of his daughter.  The number of cattle so handed over for a prospective girl depends on her marriage ability.”  Maggie, having a fair skin and being able to speak English as well as knowing how to cook and work for whites, made her desirable for a man looking for a competent wife.
            My mother then employed noWanted to work for her.  She was a very happy person and laughed a lot and was pleased to be away from home every day where her husband’s second wife, noAmen, taunted herHe obviously liked his second wife more than noWanted. Wanteed, as we called her, smoked a long pipe as most black women did traditionally, and she used to smell bad, but nothing on this earth would stop her from using her “inqawa & icuba”- her pipe & tobacco. She was hardworking, trustworthy and did not mind my mom grumbling about what she did not do.
            When I was about 16 I had built a rockery and collected succulents to grow on it.
One Sunday afternoon while working on my rockery I could hear the little black boys playing and romping in the dam which was about 100 yards away.  Suddenly there was a lot of desperate shouting and screaming.  I knew that there was trouble so, while running to the dam as fast as I could, I started taking off my shirt, and when I got there I saw just the very top of a child’s head bobbing in the water.  I jumped in the dam and got to the little naked boy as soon as I could; I lifted him above the water and carried him to the bank of the dam.  I noticed that it was Doen, Wanteed’s son, and that he was limp and seemed to have stopped breathing.  I lay him on his side and started pumping water out and then he coughed!  By the time that his parents got there, he was sitting up and still coughing. These people had very little in life but Wanteed wanted to give me something so she brought me a half-grown chicken pullet.  (To tell you a secret, I have never been able to swim properly so I never go into water that is over my head, but somehow that day it did not matter.)
            When I caught a young black boy stealing one day, I pulled his ears and took him to his mother who would give him a hiding, which she did, telling him it was not for stealing but for being so stupid as to allow a white boy to catch him doing that!!!!!
            I got on very well with all these people and they were all keen to teach me their language and traditions.
* * * * * * * *


  1. Now I understand why you have such good relationships with the black people. You are so kind and caring dad.

  2. Hahaha :) I enjoyed the stories. Your natural kindness is quite apparent.

  3. Hahaha :) I enjoyed the stories. Your natural kindness is quite apparent.