MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

An observer
Comments: 0
Article views: 946
Latest Badges:

View all An observer's badges.

Through the eyes of an African child

05 January 2018, 11:47

Today I was remembering part of my heritage.

I was born into an Irish catholic family in 1950 and was the youngest of 6 children and we lived in a small, mainly Afrikaans town, Kroonstad, in the province of the Orange Free State. Both my parents worked to help their more than adequate brood, to survive.

After my birth, my mother was too busy to pay much attention to me, so I was left mostly in the care of my black nanny, Letea, who was from Lesotho. She was like my surrogate mother for the first 4 years of my life.

My earliest recollections of my life are mainly filled with images of Letea. She would carry me on her back the way that African mothers do, held by a blanket and bound by a large safety pin while she did the domestic chores around her house. She would heat my milk bottle in a pot on our coal stove and fed me when I was hungry. Life was a bit of a whirl on her back, but I loved being there and feeling the closeness of her warm African body, and the smell of her Africa skin.

Later when I learned to walk, and was eating solids, I would sometimes follow her around our house, playing with and touching the things around me, discovering my own little world, and when I touched something I was not meant to touch I would get a swift sharp smack on my hand accompanied by her words, “Hai. Suga Wena.” (Don’t do that).

Letea had had her own son shortly before I was born but he spent most of his time with her mother in Lesotho, but he came to visit occasionally and I remembered his visits. We would happily play together as small infants do during the day and he was my first friend, but when my arrived home from work, she expected her children to be present, washed and accounted for. She was a fiery, strict but loving mom.

My first language that I spoke was Sotho that I had been taught by Letea and her son. As a small boy I remember tugging at my mom’s dress and asked her for something and she had to ask Letea what I was saying.

Being a small white boy who spoke an African language wasn’t a problem for me then, or Letea, or her son and seeing as they made up the majority of my world then I hardly noticed my other siblings.

I spent many happy hours of contented peace around my nanny who was a vigilant and loving soul, and knew nothing of the confliction she might have felt because of the white domination over her people. She never showed it.

I ate mainly African foods at the time, and remember sitting around a fire at midday, eating pap (porridge) and gravy with the African workers from a car repair shop next door to our house, and dipping into a communal pot of pap and dipping it into an equally communal pot of gravy, sometimes accompanied by morogo (a plant-based African dish). A splendid fare.

As time went on I learnt to speak English and became more integrated with my own family, but had a high regard and respect for Letea. She slowly weaned me from her care but was ever present in our home for which I was grateful.

During my primary school years, I would sometimes sneak into her room in the late afternoon when something was troubling me and speak with her, not realizing that she was disempowered from giving me advice or comfort. The laws of our land forbade it. As the propaganda put it, “Blacks had to know their place”. What a despicable system.

Today I was remembering her and those times, when skin color, language, culture, religion or family didn’t make any difference, and there was just an appreciation of being together. In African culture they call it Ubuntu. 

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.


Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Barend Dippenaar
Cyril's weakness tested

Cyril Ramaphosa may say he is not weak, but his failure to act decisively and promptly against those who are wrong testify against him and the evidence discredits him.  Read more...

0 comments 2079 views
Submitted by
Mbuso Linda
Educated to be in debt

It's unfortunate that our generation pay a bigger price on a ballot box more than anywhere else on our current economy. I know that my generation is tired of affording debt. Read more...

0 comments 1542 views
Submitted by
Ronel Kemp Wright
Dear Mr Ramaphosa, I don't unders...

I really, really like you, Mr Ramaphosa, and would really like to go for a morning walk with you. I respect you. But, I need you to also understand how we feel.  Read more...

0 comments 1334 views
Submitted by
Graeme Long
Brexit: Theresa May's betrayal

Leaving the EU (hard Brexit) is going to create major economic pain for the UK. It will cause loss of many jobs, a multi-year recession and lots of emigration. Read more...

0 comments 5788 views
Submitted by
Sean Beukes
Advice for the hapless DA

I live in Cape Town and have voted DA for many years now. Let's face it, in all these years they have been the only party to vote for; the ANC having royally messed things up. But now they are throwing it all away. Read more...

0 comments 4346 views
Submitted by
Desmund Bernardo
Who is really benefitting from re...

There seems to be a simple concept missing from the renewable energy debate when listening to talk shows and reading articles on the topic. Read more...

0 comments 1685 views


RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2018 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.