When Nelson Mandela passed, there were broadcasts about, him, his struggle for freedom, and South Africa. And more than once I heard the South African national Anthem, and it was very familiar music to my ears. Except, I’ve never been to South Africa. As a child, I lived in Tanzania (1964-1965) and after a short stay in my homeland, a year in Zambia (in 1966-1967).
Back home I was not, how to say it, the most popular girl in school. My primary school mates gave me a really hard time throughout primary school, which was in those days eight school years.
Going to Africa was a wonderful time-out for me.
One thing it did for me, it somehow cured my non-stopping rhinorrhea (known as runny nose). I was probably not a pretty sight… . Another thing, I stopped vomiting in cars. You can imagine how much fun it was, sitting in the back of a combination bus, which were used at the time for field trips in school. I was always seated close to the edge, so I could pop my head and vomit outside the vehicle.
My oddities resulted in constant bullying in school. Bullying that happened every day, in and outside school. it became the main focus of my life between the ages of 6-14. And, albeit there was no internet, it was ongoing and devastating. A subject for a different post.
This post is on good memories. Memories from Africa. A timeout from the old neighborhood. Or rather, two timeouts, with a year of pain in between.
I believe it might have been the ocean air and waters, that cured my runny nose. Or maybe my body matured. Or possibly, another explanation is tht in Africa, there were no pines and cupressus trees. Or maybe because the childrens’ rooms were nicely separated from the living room, where my father smoked his pipe. Or maybe it was something else. I also stopped throwing up. We owned a car, of the first time, and we went on a seen day safari, and I never threw up. I think.
Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam. 1964-1965
I remember to this day the wonderful ocean, the beach , the tides in Oysterbay, the international school, the girls uniform ( a white and blue stripe dress) and an American boy named Jeff. For a short period I attended a local school where Indian children also went. I remember the boys braids attached to their heads as loops at their ends, which was very strange to me. I remember the long Indian movies that my sister Iris RIP loved to watch. She also loved Coka Cola (known as Coka) ,Fanta, and Indian food, Samosa ( סמבוסק sambusak ) all of which I disliked myself…
We lived in a house with a large yard, which was on Kaole road in Oysterbay, and there was a road going uphill exactly from our house. We had a Tanzanian house manager named Alexander. The British used the degrading terms “Boy, House boy”. But Alexander was around 50 years old, he had a wife and children who lived somewhere else, I believe in his village of origin, and he resided in a small house not too far from our own home. Being around 10 years old at the time I was unaware of all that. What I did know, was that he cooked, took care of the house and was a nice man.
We had a black spaniel dog named Samba. I remember my sister came running one day crying ” there is a mouse in Samba’s bed!”. Obviously, it was the one and only pup she had (with us). It was a black, mongrel female named, if I recall, Ticky. The pup was given to neighbors down the road later on. I am not sure how it was allowed to happen, because my mother is not a pet lover, but she agreed to have the dog since there was a rally large garden. I remember also, that an Italian neighbor who was a doctor once saved our dog after she fought a Cobra snake that attempted to enter the house. My father was between two surgeries at the time.
I remember our neighbors, the Underhills, who had many children and their parents kept driving in and out their yard. My parents nicknamed them ויסעו ויחנו , after a phrase from the bible that described the Israelites migration from Egypt to Canaan (Numbers and Exodus , “And the children of Israel journeyed from …, and pitched in …. “. There are 42 such stations).
I also lived in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1966. I remember my friend June, with whom I cycled some six miles to school every day, because of the shortage of gasoline. I remember my mother hated the winds… I remember Kabulonga school for girls, a winter uniform with a grey round hat, a burgundy blazer, a tie and grey skirt. I remember Miss Naidoo, a beautiful Goan woman who was my math teacher. Was it in Zambia or in Tanzania…? not sure.
Funny what you remember after 50 years. I remember the Zambian theme: one Zambia, one nation. I remember a few words in Swahili (unfortunately I never learned it properly): mimi, wewe, kikombe cha chai, simba, …
I remember the wonder safari we had. We went to the Kilimanjaro, and stayed on the Kibo Pea, in a wooden hotel. It was the first time in my life I saw snow.
We went to the Ngorongoro Reserve, and visited the crater, lived in the lodge. We went on a guided tour landrover and saw all the wild animals you might expect to see, where I also fell in love with the elephants, to this very day. We visited Tsavo reserve, visited Mombasa (I still remember the large ‘elephant tusks’ things on one of the roads entering Mombasa.)
Another tour we made in Zambia was to the Victoria Falls, an amazing sight. The rain forest, the fall itself and some other sites . It was amazing. I was about 12 years old.
I remember the astonishing harmony of Africans singing. And I remember the music of both national anthems.
As I said, the South African national anthem that was played in several TV broadcasts following Mandela’s death, reminded me of the anthems I heard as a child. I googled and found a few versions of the Tanzanian, Zambian and South African anthems. My favorite is this one. I was also intrigued to learn why these anthems are shares by three countries.
Interestingly enough, Wikipedia claims that “In Finland the same melody is used as the children’s psalm Kuule Isä Taivaan (Hear, Heavenly Father). In this form the song has found its way to the common book of psalms used by the major church of Finland.”.
The sweet memories of childhood.
1) Oysterbay beach
c) really typical: The Indians (From India) used to sit at the beach watching the ocean, for hours
This is the closest I could find. Not Indians, and not sitting…