How Gugs was “played” and other anecdotes

2018-04-12 06:02
gugs@60Geoff Mamputa

gugs@60Geoff Mamputa

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She withstood the freezing and wet Cape winter.

Alone on the barren sandy wastes of the Cape Flats, dressed in zinc and iron for protection against the elements, hosting children from eMasakeni, the temporary dwellings and nase Dutch.

They were not much different from other s coming from shacks, holding the roofs sagging under the weight of rocks in place.

Wet and hungry, tired from running from umgqomo and seeking sanctuary in your cold sand floor .

You withstood the banging on your tin ribs by revellers at the afternoon spend, gathered to forget- albeit briefly- the pain of being plucked roots and all from what is now their distant home.

To forget the split families, some who remained behind because they had a lighter shade than your dark hue and could therefore “play’.

Maybe the only way they could connect with Klip(Retreat), Simey, Tiervlei, Parow, District Six, Athlone, Rylands or Kensington was through the soothing voice of Bra Don Tshomela, the Cordettes, Lost Generation or the soulful yet haunting saxophone of Winston Mankunku Ngozi and the Ngcukana brothers and their dad, Chris Columbus, from Langa.

The wildness of the jitterbug on feet clad with Church’s of London, Bass and Medicus shoes with a full set of iron tips for effect, reminded them of the polished floors of the Old Drill Hall, the Luxarama and all the halls they used to parade in. Shida mntwana!

Yet, here they were, in the god forsaken sandy wastes, dancing to forget and coughing their Tuberculosis filled lungs- caused by the dust and the damp of the Cape Flats or maybe the overcrowded council houses which were far from the airy houses in town or Simonstown.

Here, they were to forget that, during the week, this is the only secondary for these cursed people of God.

To forget that some people with vision had risked all, to see a secondary school in Nyanga West.

It was the beginning of a brighter future for this community. It was called Fezeka Bantu Secondary School, housed in that zinc and iron hall with Form 1 facing the one end and Form 2 the other.

Here, Fezeka was our pride, our breakthrough in 1965 before the upgrade to Lehlohonolo Primary School where they would platoon with primary this and primary that school for the next few years.

It could have been the shame of this hokie school or the fact that, as always, township communities were invisible in plain-sight, but no photos or records exist of this school that went on to serve the broader Bantu communities of the Cape for the next fifty plus years.

Oh, by the way, Fezeka got a further upgrade by moving to an abandoned St Joseph’s Hospital in NY75 at the edge of the township.

Here, new challenges started. Situated at the far end of Nyanga West, learners had to walk from far flung areas like NY110, NY111, Nyanga East to be there for morning classes by 7AM.

I pity those who were but 1 minute late. Rara, aka Mr Ndandani, the deputy principal, would be at the gate, ready at 6:55. The esteemed Mr Ngambu, the founder principal, would capably assist him in teaching punctuality to those who arrived late, via a few cane lashes. They just had a way ngo swazi because one would feel the pain for the next few days, helping you not to forget the fruits of late coming.

Another challenge would be avoiding and evading the unwelcome attention of the different skollies, tsotsis and ruffians as you made your way back home.

Eish it was worse for amajita ase East. Ek se, it was no child’s play ukudlula eLovers(Lane), which was a narrow path that coursed through the bush, linking the West with the East.

It is now the road that runs past Sithembele Matiso High School(previously X3), from NY 3A to Nyanga.

Since this was all bush and high sand dunes before the adevent of New Crossroads, this became a popular spot for lovers, away from prying eyes. Unfortunately it was also a favourite spot for skollies who hid in the bush to pounce on unsuspecting lovers.

This is what Fezeka Students from Nyanga had to contend with for the sake of education.

As part of the Gugs at 60 series, if you have pictures of that era, please share. Forward to the editor.


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