A tradition of trading

2008-07-17 00:00

I stepped into the cool interior of the store and felt momentarily disorientated, as though a child again, stepping into Friar’s store in rural Matabeleland. It looks the same — piles of goods stacked precariously, a veritable gold mine of nuggets waiting to be discovered. A treasure hunt, to be sure. From Hilton through Howick, Tweedie, Lidgetton, Lion’s River and Balgowan to Nottingham Road, the experience was repeated. Visiting general dealers’ stores felt like stepping back in time.

Riaz Safla, who runs the Tweedie Trading Store, is one of four brothers who are all involved in trade of one kind or another. His family rents the store from D. H. Kadwa who has retired to Durban. Safla’s father, Farouk, had a trading store in Weenen and, before him, Safla’s grandfather ran a store in Cecilia. “When the children needed to be educated, they moved to be closer to their schools,” he explained. A trader who may make the same move one day is Araafath Deen, who runs Lidgetton Cash Store on behalf of his father-in-law, Altaf Baig, who rents it. Deen has a young family so running the trading store suits him for now. Like many other families, Deen lives on the property and enjoys the convenience of being close to work. “I can close the store to go home for prayers and lunch, and being here means I can see my family.”

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