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Leven in de Transkei (door Veronica Sityo) PDF Afdrukken E-mail

The Good Old Days
At a small tiny village called Tafeni or Detyana about 10 km from Canzibe, there I grew up.

The least I can remember about the village is a nice summer morning. When the third cock crows (at about 6 0’clock) the home made sour porridge was almost ready from all the house holds. This porridge was made from the yellow maize, the same maize planted for cows in Netherlands. No wonder I still can’t get my hands off this maize!!!!! We would grind it and soak it in luke warm water. The following morning we would regrind it, sieve it with a sieve made from any old tin. Boil it and serve it sour, hot no sugar!!!!!

Sugar was a speciality we would only enjoy on Christmas!!!!!

To add up from this tiny break fast, boiled maize cooked the previous day was heated up and salted and eaten. This was followed by coffee or thee made from traditional herbs. At least fresh cow milk was added to the coffee or thee still no sugar or only sugar for old people. As for children, water would be added in this thee but no sugar!!!!! We would get sugar on Christmas.



Memories of the Christmas Day
As every nice small thing was promised to be given on Christmas day, this was too good to be true. As children we would divide ourselves into groups determined by age. As from August we would start a so called meeting. Here we would collect money and save it to buy the nicest things for Christmas. This we would achieve by working for anyone for a small pay!!!

A few days before Christmas, a least would be made. Groceries, sweets and brown sugar would be bought for every member of the meeting. The day before Christmas we would prepare our own home baked bread and meals for the Christmas day. We would ask an empty rondavel (traditional house) from anyone willing to give us. Here all our food would be prepared and we would sleep here, singing and dancing the whole night. We would have all our meals in this rondavel.

At our homes, Christmas was as busy as it was to us. This was the time all the children would have new clothes. Parents would be busy buying or borrowing money to buy clothes for this day. The day before was a preparation day for the meals. The home baked bread was the most important dish to be to be prepared. In wealthy housed about 6 or 8 of these bread would be baked only for this special day. A sheep would be slaughtered in some houses.

The Christmas day was symbolised by the cleanest children, we would wake up as early as possible. Bath ourselves in the rivers and dress up our new clothes. Every body would leave her own bread to try the neighbours. Just knock on the door and ask for Christmas and you would be given what ever any body prepared to give away that day. A lot of joy with traditional music sang all over and every stomach would be full this day. White butterflies would be rejoicing with us if the weather was nice.

It was the best day of my life usually ending up with a lot of stomach cramps and running stomachs for some who could not stand over eating. I NEVER HAD A PROBLEM BECAUSE I LOVE FOOD!!!!!

These days almost a lot of families can afford this bread any day of the week. Shame, no more Christmas special bread!!!!!



The unforgettable Day
I must have been about six years when it happened, but still as fresh in my mind as it happened just yesterday.

It was on a Saturday and a very quite day, all our parents had gone to a funeral. As children we were just playing outside when we suddenly saw two women walking on a road just nearby our house. One was about nine months pregnant and the other one was walking holding a baby by her hand.

Suddenly a man came walking very fast from behind. As children, our curiosity was raised when these women started running instead of walking. From running they started shouting for help. The man was really approaching them also at a nearly running speed. We as children were just curious about who from the three was going to win the race, unaware the race was going to be an unforgettable memory.

The women holding a baby managed to run to one of our neighbour’s houses, leaving the child behind but there was nobody so she locked herself inside. The pregnant one was helplessly trying to run but she did not make it. The man caught her and jumped from behind, they both fell on the ground, remember with her big stomach!! She was desperately crying for help but we were just children, we could not help. I still even remember her words” Help!!!! he is going to kill me!!!! She was repeating these words and so loud that we got confused, not knowing weather to run to her or what!

As children we were still watching when the man suddenly turned her around and drew a sharp object and repeatedly stabbed her every where he could reach without saying a word. I still remember how loud she was crying repeating the same words “He is killing me”. The only person home older than us was my eldest, we all ran to her and asked her to see what the man was doing. Immediately she saw what was happening she started crying so loud and pushing us all inside the house and locking us up.

More confused we started climbing on the window to see if the man was still stabbing. The woman was not crying anymore, and the man stood up and picked up the little boy and worked away.

After locking us up, my sister ran as fast as she could, shouting a special code for help. Everyone who heard her passed the calling till it reached the majority of the people in the funeral, On my next column I will share with you what happened after!!!!



The code was heard and the village responded!!
Understand that I am talking about the olden days, when life still had value in South Africa. These days, some will imitate as if they are dead when they hear the code, keep peeping on their windows to see if anyone respond and then they follow if they see people responding to the call.

Usually what would happen would been men running to their huts to collect their traditional axes (amazembe) and run after the prey or the perpetrator. That they will know because the women calling are also giving direction to where the perpetrator is running. This makes it easy for the men to chase.

But we remember our day was not going to be the same because people were at the funeral and it would take time to fetch amazembe at home. So they used a short cut, men always walked with sticks with big heads called izagweba. These were usually used as indication of manhood and for beating dogs if they attack men. Today they were used to chase a killer!!!

All men from the funeral ran as fast as they could, following the direction from the code!! Women were passing the code as far to the neighbouring villages for the men of those villages to help in case the funeral men don’t manage to catch him. Through coordination and hard calling from women they caught the killer man with the four year old boy on his shoulder and brought him back to the deceased woman who was now covered with a big blanket by that other wife after the man left.

As children we did not miss any opportunity to keep watching at what was going to happen to the man. The village men took turns in assaulting him. They were beating him with their izagwebas and blood was streaming all over his body. Remember we had the whole view because the distance from them and my home was just about 70 meters. So we were kept told to stay inside not to see what was going on but this was our discovery. We wanted to see it all, we would use any opportunity to peep and see.

This took the whole day because the nearest police station with police to come to the accident spot was about 70 kilometres. First a man had to walk for about 7 kilometres to reach the nearest bus station to take a bus to the police station. End of the day police came and the man had to load the dead body of a nine months pregnant woman by him self without any help. Still we saw that too because parents did not notice we were peeping. What we overhead from the people talking was the long time it took while the women was dead already for the child in the stomach to stop moving. It took hours, meaning in my opinion these day, that child would have been save if there were means like roads, transport and hospital accessibility. Jammer!!! But he did pay the price though; he was imprisoned for 20 years.

A few year ago when I visited home from Holland, my mother was telling me that he was just released from prison.

 
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