PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
An observer
 
Comments: 0
Article views: 960
 
 
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
Phillip Dampier
Misstating American public broadc...

The SABC's larger problem is that there is significant evidence the government does exercise control over the SABC's policies and programming for the benefit of the government in power.  Read more...

0 comments 810 views
Submitted by
Fuel War
Would you work from home for 30 d...

The war of attrition against fuel price corruption has begun. A new initiative has been launched to combat the rampant corruption in the fuel price. Read more...

0 comments 956 views
Submitted by
Sally Ann Martin
The damage narcissists inflict

In an ideal world, we could round up the narcissists of the world, put them in front of a large pool of water and rejoice as they wither away. Read more...

0 comments 675 views
Submitted by
Reid Abrahams
Letter to the editor: Water repor...

The lesson is clear - give people the slightest window of opportunity and you open the flood gates, as it were. Again, that’s just human nature.  Read more...

0 comments 725 views
Submitted by
Wilfred Alcock
Amaberethe is not the solution

As a country we must earnestly embark on programmes at improving the well-being of every individual in society so they can reach their full potential. Read more...

0 comments 204 views
Submitted by
Sally Ann Martin
Is it an 'ism' or is it art?

While we might agree that there are certain common themes that may be generally found to be beautiful, what is beautiful is indeed a question which can realistically only be answered by the individual based on their own perceptions.  Read more...

0 comments 247 views
 

services

Press Code We subscribe to the Press Code.

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 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

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 24.com network.

Settings

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.