Sunday, 1 February 2009

Summers Past

This month is supposed to be the last month of summer in Australia. My thoughts today are of summer days in South Africa, as I was growing up. It was a shock to the system to leave the icy cold of Britain, straight into the heat of Africa. At first, we could hardly breath in the hot air. It was like sitting in front of the hearth with your mouth open, inhaling the radiant heat from the open fire. A complete meltdown.

Our family would often exclaim ".. i'n't it 'ot..", as we passed each other throughout the house. It became a family mantra. One would think you would tire of saying it, but no. Like most things in life, though, you eventually get used to it.

Those early days in a strange land were spent on a number of farms, in different directions - just out of, but surrounding a small town in Natal. Most of them had 'Kraals' on them; homes to the domestic and farm staff that worked on the land or in the farmhouse. These workers were always happy, contented people, who smiled a lot and sang a lot. They would dance, too, on their way down from the hill, through the dry creek bed, up to the homestead for each day's labour. Their children would sometimess accompany them.

At that time in South Africa, apartheid reigned, and the white children were forbidden to speak with the black children. Our family never observed this, though. The black people were human beings; with different lifestyles and customs, but they laughed, cried, bled and died, just like we did. The Bantu children taught me Zulu ditties, and would chuckle with glee when I sang them in my British accent. We hardly understood each other's language, but we laughed hard and often.

A popular African singer in the 1970's was Margaret Singana. Her smile alone could light up the veld (field). Here she is, singing Mama Thembu's Wedding Night. Take it away, Margaret


1 comment:

Joyful said...

I enjoyed your reminiscences of summers past in South Africa. I also enjoyed the Wedding Song.