Brylcream and The Freedom Charter


Andries Carl Nel's photo.

I had a very small copy of The Freedom Charter up on the back wall of my English class at Fairmont High School, Durbanville, in the early 80s. It was so well-hidden among all the other pinnings that, even during a group inspection of one of my lessons by 5 (yes, FIVE) moustachioed, safari-suited, hinspektors, noone saw nuffing. One of the 5 heads even left a small greasy memento of his brylcream on my teeny “We, the people”.

I think they were far more concerned with my interpretation of Paul’s teachings on marriage – it was a Scripture lesson, after all. I think I completely skipped over the bit on ‘wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands’, and went off on some completely irrelevant tangent about equality and mutual respect in modern marriage.

But, when Dr Van something-or-other stood up after the lesson, and said, “Kom saam, Mejuffrou. Ons moet praat”, I honestly thought it would be about the kommunistiese pam-flet on my board.

Off we all trooped to the Principal’s office, me and the 5 refugees from Snor City, clipboards firmly underarm.

“Mr Wigg (the principal, very bemused by this large delegation), I want to just tell you that this young lady is a verrry talented teacher and has a grrreat future ahead of her. Howeverrrr, she must neverrrr everrrr be allowed to teach Scripture again, as her views are herrrr-et-i-cal.”

And that was it. Received an excellent assessment from all five. Never taught Scripture again. Had been handed a legal and official edict, to teach just one subject – not the required minimum of two – the only subject that I truly loved, English.

I wonder to this day what eventually happened to that hugely significant, but yellowing, dog-eared leaflet, with its tell-tale grease spot.


Cde Moss

Buyisa Ndubane Mayekiso, look what I found! I’m sure you’ve seen this article about your dad and his early life in the unions, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. And there’s even a delightful photo of you as a baby!

I remember so clearly meeting your father at a parents’ meeting at Holy Family College (previously Parktown Convent) and being quite over-awed that Cde Moss was actually seated in front of me wanting to find out about the academic progress of his daughters.

I think it was one of those moments of clarity when I realised that there really was no going back in South Africa. Those brave, but (let’s be honest) eccentric, Sisters of the Holy Family who had built that school in the veld in 1905 – against all advice – could probably never have envisaged the monumental changes their institution would go through from 1991 onwards. I am pretty sure that the founder, Mother Ambrose, would have been utterly delighted at how the unique ‘early intake’ of pupils at Holy Family College have turned out to be some of the most incredible, thinking, successful, involved South Africans we have today.

So, finding this article from 1986, was a truly unexpected, but wonderful, Saturday surprise.

Click here: Moss Mayekiso – Worker Leader LEARNANDTEACHMAGAZINE.WORDPRESS.COM
Buyisa Ndubane Mayekiso‘s reply on Facebook:
Thank you so much for this (and just in time for father’s day 🙂)

I am in awe of the struggles that my parents went through, my father (and mother) are such an inspiration to us.

Amazingly; I worked with Neil Agget’s nephew (Stephen Aggett) a few years back; but until i read this article, I had no idea Neil and my dad were close friends and he (Moss) has just confirmed that they shared an office.

I’m really proud of my history and that of Holy Family College – the impact it (and especially you) had on my sister’s and I is immeasurable. cc. Khanyisa Mrubata & Mzamo Mayekiso Mzamo Mayekiso

1973: South Africa

I’m not sure this footage is particularly rare…but, anyway…

Perhaps it might be best to watch the footage now before you read the rest of this post.

Click on the link:  Joburg & Cape Town 1973

The year is 1973, the year I matriculated from Loreto Convent Sea Point, Cape Town and turned 17 on Christmas Eve.

There is nothing out of the ordinary in this footage of not much more than routine daily activities, too oddly familiar at times. How many dads (it was always the fathers) filmed these sorts of quite pointless, unedited scenes of the mundane on their prized cine cameras?

And yet, this particular footage of ‘ordinary’ South Africa contains hundreds of people, hundreds of lives, so many parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of today’s young South Africans. Just one of many normal days – routine, seemingly harmonious and peaceful.

This was a mere 3 years before 16 June 1976.

And just 3 years after The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act forced all black South Africans to become citizens of artificially created ‘homelands’.

This list of just a few of the momentous events that had already taken place in South Africa a few years earlier stands in shocking contrast to the footage:

  • Fatima Meer had been banned for planning a mass rally with Steve Biko.
  • Winnie Mandela had been placed under house arrest.
  • Thabo Mbeki had been sent to the Soviet Union for political training.
  • The Prime Minister had announced that all Coloured people would be removed from the common voters’ roll.
  • The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Bill had been passed, whereby every African was issued with a certificate of citizenship of their respective ‘homeland’.
  • The National Party manifesto had reaffirmed its belief in separate development programmes for the white, black, Coloured and Indian population.
  • South Africa had been banned from competing in the Davis Cup.
  • The Herstigte Nasionale Party had published its manifesto describing its aim of a society dominated by Christian national concepts and Afrikaans as the only official language.
  • The United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid had urged a boycott of all South African racist sporting organisations and supported an African proposal to exclude the Republic from both the Munich Olympics and the Olympic Movement itself.
  • The Progressive Party (via Helen Suzman) had won one, lone seat in Parliament with 51,760 votes cast.
  • The International Olympic Committee had expelled South Africa from the International Olympic Movement.
  • The Minister of Justice had announced that the Attorney-General of the Transvaal would prosecute thirty of the 357 people arrested in Johannesburg after an illegal march in protest against the continued detention of the twenty-two Africans held under the Terrorism Act.
  • The seventh ‘homeland’ had been inaugurated with the installation of Chief Gatsha Buthelezi as Chief Executive Officer of the Zululand Territorial Authority.
  • The first General Students’ Council of South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) had been convened. SASO had become identified with a well-articulated ideology of Black Consciousness.
  • The Prime Minister had announced in the House of Assembly that South African scientists had succeeded in developing a new process for uranium enrichment, and were building a pilot plant for this process.
  • The United Nations Security Council had condemned all violations of its embargo against South Africa. Resolution 281 had subsequently been passed calling on all states to strengthen the arms embargo. It had been adopted by twelve votes to none against, France, Great Britain and the United States abstaining.

Now might be a good time to watch the footage again. Here’s the link again: Joburg & Cape Town 1973

This time, did you note that, aside from the recent jarring addition of some arbitrary music at the beginning, the rest of the film is silent? We didn’t yet have simultaneous recording of sound for home-made film. There were no gimmicks, no zooming, no close-ups, and very little post-editing. Just long, single takes, usually standing still, with subjects moving towards or away from the camera, unsteady panning, and moving strangers disturbingly tracked by the lens as they moved past the photographer’s standpoint.

And all in utter silence.

In a time of great noise, posturing, anger, oppression, violence.

An utterly surreal silence.

Good morning


Well, good morning to y’all. For all of you who are treating today as part of a long weekend, and would probably have missed this, because you don’t have to get up for work… here’s my really shockingly bland photo of what was actually a really lovely sunrise this morning viewed from my kitchen window.

Just so sorry I could not somehow include the melodic dawn chorus of the resident hadedahs roosting in my trees.

Kisses In The Moonlight

20160615_200709.jpgSo, to prove that we did actually go to the (amazing, wonderful, age-defying, magnificent) George Benson concert, here is a pic of Emily and me before the start of the show. And, of course, on every picture hangs many a tale:
  • This, as Maggie so rightly points out, is not a selfie but an ussie because there’s more than one of us in it.
  • If you look carefully, you will see I now own a snood.

This is something I always thought was protective underwear that Hobbits needed for long journeys through inhospitable terrain.

It’s actually something (often furry) that you put around your neck to help hide a treble chin in something called an ussie.

  • There are no pics of the stage because they were so awful that I am embarrassed to post them.
  • Nobody does love songs like George.

For one whole evening, I was twenty-something at varsity and in my first job and breaking hearts and having mine broken, all over again.

So freaking delicious.

  • My daughter has now experienced a real-live, off-the-wall, heart-stopping, oh-my-ancient-memories drum solo in On Broadway.
  • The bemused guy behind us in our pic was immensely gracious when I asked his permission to get up and dance during the show.
  • Explanation for previous point:

I kid you not.

This was George Benson, people – George Dance Your Heart Out Benson. Jirre.

  • Cultural learning for the night Number 1: White people don’t (not can’t) dance, especially if there are written regulations on their chairs telling them not to.

Ask the nicely-turned-out blonde one on my left who, if she could have, would have crawled onto her husband’s lap to get any further away from me, whenever I got up to jiggle. She literally turned her back on me for the entire show.

I carry the title Volksverraaeier with pride.

(And I used ‘literally’ correctly in the previous sentence.)

  • Cultural learning for the night Number 2: Black people don’t read notes left on their chairs.