When the whole street watched TV from one house

12 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
When the whole street watched TV from one house

The Sunday News

Kasi stories with Clifford Kalibo

THERE are so many lessons to be learnt from aspects of the early Ekasi life of the 1960s to the late 1970s. There was a sense of community, a sense of oneness and a sense of belonging among the township dwellers. The society was like one big family irrespective of tribe.

The lessons to be learnt can really be an eye opener to the younger generation as to how generous, unselfish, and resilient the township folks were in the face of great challenges.

Unlike nowadays where family members are served food in individual or personal plates, and you hear of “Your food is in the microwave” or “Your food is in the fridge”, that was never the case those days.

In the townships, usually a large communal pot of “ezanga phakathi” (offals) mixed with a green vegetable, “itshomoliya”, would be prepared for the family, alongside another huge communal pot of sadza or isitshwala or ibhodo.

There were no individual plates, children would eat together from one plate of sadza and another plate of relish. It was a scramble, and one had to eat with skill and speed.

Sadza and veggies would be consumed first and the meat would be eaten last, and there was no scramble for meat, it was picked in order of seniority starting with the eldest to the youngest.

If there were not enough pieces, the eldest in the group would split their pieces and share with the others.

That indeed was a sense of love among the township children which started at a tender age. The head of the house, that is to say the father or “inhloko yomuzi” would be served separately, huge chunks of meat and a big lump of sadza, in his round Kango bowls which had lids on them. These bowls were known as “imiganu yokumbokota”.

The father would usually leave some meat and sadza and would call the youngest kids in the family to come and finish off the food. That again was a sense of love. The mothers usually ate with one or two younger girl children.

The communal pots were designed to cater for the whole family. Here when talking of family, the writer is talking of a typical 1960’s township family that would consist of a father, mother, children, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbours as well.
Township houses were tiny by then, mostly consisting of four rooms (those being the best houses), or three rooms and in some cases two rooms only.

Family members would share the space as best as they could. Parents had their own bedroom wherein they could sleep with one or two of the youngest children. The rest of the children would all be huddled up in one bedroom.

Beds were a scarcity and everyone would use the floor and cover themselves up at night with a few thin and uncomfortable blankets.

Nobody would complain of cold nights, the warmth was self-generative from the many numbers of people in a single room. Often, living rooms doubled up as a separate bedroom for the girl children.

A living room sofa would be someone’s bed at night while the floor would hold other occupants.
People in the townships had no privilege for personal space those days. There was nothing like a private bedroom or a private study room.

This did not, however, demoralise the Ekasi people, instead it sharpened their oneness and gave them a sense of avid and unflinching resolve and keen determination.

You should have noticed how the people in the townships sat, stood and leant very close to each other, with no embarrassment or annoyance.

Privacy was not really a thing that folks from the Townships expected – when you lived in a confined space with many other people, you were expected to share with your neighbours.

A case that comes to mind is that of Mr Simbuwa, probably the first if not the second man to own a television set in Sizinda township. Because of the sense of sharing that existed, the neighbours, both old and young would crowd in his living room every evening to watch television. Television was still a new thing and it was so exciting to watch.

They would watch every programme, including advertisements till close closedown.

The bathroom was usually a very tiny room with a brass tap and a low shower, and the toilet was even a tinier room or cubicle with a cistern only.

There was nothing like a tub, where one would lie inside a tub full of warm water bubbling with scented bath foams. In winter there also was nothing like a nice long hot shower and a fluffy towel. Boys would bath together in the tiny bathroom using lukewarm water, and a small piece of soap. One towel would be shared by all the kids.

The water would be poured into a large zinc container known as “ibhavu”. The girls took their turn to bath after the boys were done.

After bathing, the children would apply Vaseline Petroleum Jelly onto their bodies (mostly on the face, legs and arms). During that time Vaseline Petroleum Jelly was a speciality.

There were no brands such as Nivea Cool Kick Body Lotion, Nivea Revitalizing Body Lotion or Ingrams Camphor Cream. If there was no Vaseline at home, the kids were content to remain like that.

On winter evenings, families had no electric heaters, but would huddle around “imbawula yamalahle”, which was a fire made of hard coal, inside a perforated metal container.

Transport to get into the City Centre was never an issue. People would simply walk into the City Centre; it was one foot in front of the other until a person arrived at his or her destination.

Ekasi people believed in the principle of safety in numbers. So more often they would travel to the City Centre in fairly large numbers. Buses and private taxis (Rixi, Trixi or Skyline) were often boarded on pay days. (Remember my article a few months back -”Pay Day in 1973 – Indlovu Iwile”).

Ekasi folks would often spend a lot of time out of doors in the street, until late at night. The dynamic social bustle of a small Township Street at night, was a wonderful sight to behold in the 1960’s.

Yes, to the younger generation, this early Township life that I have described in brief in this article might sound to have been a dull and miserable one, but believe me it is those very townships of the 1960s that bred some of the finest legendary musicians, soccer stars, heavyweight boxers, wrestlers, engineers, teachers, politicians, doctors and professors that were ever witnessed in this country.

I will soon be publishing a series of articles on some of these simple township folks who grew up to be internationally acclaimed household names.

Feedback: Clifford Kalibo 0783856228 /0719856228 email: [email protected]

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