The Sunday News
THIS week the writer reels back to 1973 to give you an in-depth picture of the setup Ekasi on a pay day when all employees had received their monthly pay. This would be around the 25th day of the month. “Indlovu iwile”, the guys would say as they remarked that it was pay day.
Pay day was a very happy day indeed for everyone starting with the employees and cascading down even to the newly born in the Township! Very early in the morning on a pay day housewives, wrapped around in material known Ekasi as izitenje or amaZambia, would be seen sweeping the yards with grass brooms or “imithanyelo”. The women would be talking, chatting and chirping to each other in excited tones. Some would lean over the fence yengotsha and talk animatedly.
You could feel the euphoria in the atmosphere. There was excitement all over even for us who were school kids then. Everyone was friendly to one another. Even the classroom bullies, whom I mentioned in one of my episodes were in a jovial mood, and we would be spared from bullying on that particular day.
And because it was our parents’ payday we rarely had appetite for milk (umkara) at school. Pay day was a different day in the daily routine for the unemployed or olova as they were commonly known. It was different in the sense that they did not go for employment hunting or ukuyafolela. You would find those guys wandering aimlessly in the streets but in a happy mood and dressed in their best but worn out clothes.
On knocking off from school kids rushed home to await their fathers. The mood of the mothers would have gone even a level higher when we got home. We were ordered to bath and apply Vaseline and change into fresh clothes and put on a type of black Bata tennis shoes that was called “Tenderfoot”. The houses would be spotlessly clean and the floors shiny from ox -blood Cobra floor polish. The women who had been cleaning wearing intsaro, were now putting on fresh apparel, mostly shiny and colourful “tererina” dresses.
All those scenarios that I have described would be in preparation for the arrival of our fathers who would get paid that day. At around 1pm there began a hive of activity Ekasi.
There was this Indian guy Mr Ramadan who operated a shop known as Liquat Stores which was situated along Railway Avenue where currently there is Miriam’s Bar.
He would be seen in his old Thames truck doing house to house deliveries of 50kg bags of Palte Harris meal mealie, 12,5kg khaki bags of Royal Star White Sugar and 5 litre cans of Lever Brothers Covo Cooking Oil or “isaladi” as we called it. Also to be seen making grocery deliveries were two vehicles, an old Bedford of Sizinda Open Doors, “koNgwenya” and a Peugeot belonging to Mahomva Fish and Chips “koMahomva”.
There was a gentleman who went by the name Sizabantu, so named after his store Sizabantu Stores, which was situated along 6th Avenue in town. The man sold clothes on credit and would come for collections on pay days. You would see him driving around Ekasi in his van which had seen better days.
As from 3pm or so the much awaited payees would slowly start trickling into Ekasi. Mothers and kids would be standing by the gates, (that is if you were lucky to have a gate those days, as most houses had just a plain entrance), waiting to receive goodies from our parents. The father of the house would be carrying a lot of goodies on his bicycle carrier.
The mothers would ululate as they received the parcels and umdala would be thronged by the whole household. In the house the man would hand a khaki envelope to the wife.
That envelope contained the man’s monthly salary. I remember mothers would kneel down and thank the fathers profusely for working hard for the family.
The goodies included such items like sweets, biscuits, cream doughnuts and chocolates and meat pies which were big and had lots of meat and stuff like carrots and peas inside. The pies were a specialty of the RR Canteen near the Railway Training Centre. Even up to now I still think of those pies which we enjoyed on pay days. Gone are those days and those pies! The only place which currently has pies almost similar to those of 1973 is Oriental Pies along G Silundika Street.
Supper on pay days was chicken and rice. No one touched sadza on that day. We were sent to buy soft drinks and each household bought a crate of drinks composed of Coke, Fanta, Tarino, Lemon Twist, Krest, etcetera. The father would buy himself some quarts of beer and mothers would be busy frying and preparing the special supper.
You saw people carrying crates of beer and 20 litre containers of opaque beer. This beer was to be consumed at the houses. In the meantime, radios were being played on full blast. On pay days people had a habit of taking their radio speakers outside the house, usually at the front of the house. You would find the man not putting on a shirt and sitting next to his Super 60 or Super 80 speakers enjoying his beer and music, clearly a sign of pay day excitement.
I remember on pay days kids were given izuka or five cents each. That was quite a lot of money. One cent would be kept for the weekend movie or ibhayiskopo and the rest spent on items such Rum and Butter toffees, and of course one had to remember to keep one cent “protection fee” for the bullies at school the following day.
The unemployed guys (olova), whom I spoke about earlier on were also part of this excitement. On that day there was plenty of beer and cigarettes for them. They were being sent around and given good tips.
The excitement would go on for a few more days after which time it died out slowly as the wallets began to shrink.
Tempers would then begin to rise again towards mid-month. The housewives were no longer friendly towards one another as they swept their yards, they were always cheeky and in a foul mood. The men would be weary and hot tempered after work. The bullies at school were edgy and more menacing.
As the weeks went by, yet another pay day would be drawing closer and closer home. You could sense that excitement starting to build up slowly in preparation for another pay day.
Pay days were happy days. Stay tuned in for yet more thrilling episodes. Feedback: Clifford Kalibo – 0783856228 /0719856228/ email: [email protected]