Thursday, 15 December 2011

South Africa

Lyn and I crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Rio to Cape Town on the Tjichalinga a passenger freighter that was bound for Yokohama, Japan. We had a cabin topside, which had another dozen or so cabins on the deck level. The bulk of the passengers were travelling in steerage, which was below decks and were not allowed on our deck.

We went down and visited often, there were about fifty young Brazilian/Japanese all going back to Japan for the first time, they were some of the best looking people I have ever seen both male and female, the women were very exotic with the mixture of Black,Oriental and Portuguese.

Arriving into Cape Town with Table Top Mountain in the background.

We caught a train to Durban and after a week in 
Durban, Lyn decided she could not take South Africa any longer as the rigours and strictures of apartheid with its separateness was an anathema to her especially coming from a liberal place as California and the "Summer of Love"'. She was disgusted with the police state attitude and we decided that having only sufficient funds, for one air fare, Lyn would fly home to Sydney and stay with my parents and wait for me to join her.

A mixed bunch of nationalities: from left to right - Aussie, Kiwi,Pom, Dutch, German our companions on the trip across the Atlantic.

Cape Town a mix of English, Dutch and contemporary architecture and our first experience with apartheid.

After Lyn left and went to stay with my parents in Sydney to wait for me to join her, I applied and started work with the the South African Railways as a rigger. My first days work was being transported out in the back of a truck with ten Zulus to Umhlunga Rocks about an hours drive north of Durban. We left about five am, two Afrikaans  were in the front cabin of the truck driving. It was obvious they did not like me or Australians, hence me being treated as a 'Kaffir' by being put int he back of the truck, probably due to sanctions imposed because of Apartheid. 

On the trip the Zulus decide it was time for their morning 'herb superb'. They administered the Ganga into the neck of a small coke bottle, the main part of the bottle was broken off, so their was just the stem of the neck, the ganga was stuffed into the broken underside of the the neck and lit and upturned, the mouth of the bottle used to smoke and to inhale. I watched this being passed around to everyone in the truck and the first round I was bi passed. As the  trip progressed they proceeded with another round of their morning 'smoke' and this time around I decided to partake which caused them great amusement and certainly put some spice into the trip to where we were going.

On arriving at the location, which was an isolated  railway embankment, near the coast. I was assigned four Zulus as my team, their task was to set up a twenty five feet extension ladder, with the top of the ladder resting on the  bottom  of the two electricity cables that ran above the railway line, the power had been cut off. My task was to climb up and straddle the line and with a wrench tighten the stainless steel seperator wire that joined the two electric cables. When that was completed the four Zulus picked up the ladder from the bottom, two on each side,and carried it at a vertical angle, with me twenty five feet above they slid  the ladder along the cables, till we reached the next seperator a distance of twenty yards.

This was managed with top of the ladder resting on the cables and my 
left leg crossed over the bottom cable and inside the ladder, keeping the ladder attached to the cable, the other leg on the ladder with the Zulus moving it from below. Hairy stuff to say the least and not for the faint hearted or for someone stoned on Durban Poison!!!
Two days of doing this and having to put up with the arrogance of Afrikaaner bosses who treated you as a Kaffir was enough and I snatched that job, picked up a measly fourty rand for two days work with the SA Railways and hitched hiked to Salisbury in Rhodesia.

Graham Shields, John Hardman & Meshak and the house we rented in Highlands, a suburb of Salisbury, Rhodesia, now Harare, Zimbabwe

A Xhosa Chief or Zulu or Amabhele, not sure which, with his wives in the Ciskei - one of the then tribal homelands.

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