Great-gran was once a butcher

2011-08-01 00:00

IT’S rare, even these days, to find a woman working among the carcasses of meat in a butcher.

Ameena Fareed, who turned 89 recently at her Ohrtmann Road home, worked as a block-woman many years ago, alongside her husband in their butchery. She was given a rousing birthday party by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a host of relatives and friends.

Without any prejudice, the older generation of Indian men were a little orthodox in some cases, and believed that the place for their women was among the pots and pans in the kitchen, cooking up a good meal for their hard-working family, and tending to the household chores. But this was not to be with Ameena Fareed.

She arrived in Pietermaritzbug in the fifties when her husband, Sheik Fareed, moved to the city to manage the famous Pietermaritzburg Mutton ­Market in Pietermaritz Street. At the time, well-known photographer Denis Bhagwan, who ran a chain of photographic studios known as Crown Studios, tried his hand in the butchery business with Fareed.

This was a unique butchery, catering exclusively for a section of the community that did not eat beef.

Its popularity was measured by the crowds that filled the shop from as early as 4.30 am.

Ameena’s father, Hajee Elahie Bux, immigrated to this country when he was 11 years old, accompanied by his father, who died while en route to South Africa, and had to be buried at sea.The little boy was taken care of by passengers who knew his father, until the famous Rajab family of Durban “adopted” him.

As a young man, under the guidance of the Rajabs, who came from the same village in India as the Bux family, the young Bux achieved a lot. One of the turning points in his life was when he successfully launched Victory Minerals Works in May Street, Durban, a landmark that lots of Durban residents will recall.

Bux later married Sheriffa Shafera, and they had a daughter and two sons. The daughter, Ameena, was the youngest in the family, and when she turned 15 years old she was married to Sheik Fareed in an arranged marriage. Fareed came from a family of butchers, starting his first business in Westville. The Fareed family moved to Pietermaritzburg, and had nine children.

Around 1977, Fareed built his own home in Mountain Rise, and ten years later he died. Ameena took over the business and supported her family, nearly all of whom went through the “butchery”. Their oldest daughter, Gori, opened her own butchery in ­Allandale at one time.

Ameena, a sprightly 89-year-old, is a remarkable woman who still chooses to cook for her family and tend an ever-green garden, pulling out the weeds or supervising the gardener when he mows the lawn.

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