19 July (written 5 months later)
Today we departed Hurlingham Manor early with Elna to get a ride to Park Station. She had a appointment at Wits University (or Univ of Joburg), so she was kind enough to give us a lift for our morning bus ride to Kimberley. We were going on our fifth week in South Africa and had spent much of our time in Gauteng with Elna. But it was on this ride to the train station we learned the most about her. She had grown up in Mafikeng, a border town with Botswana, where her father worked for the train company. She told us one of her earliest memories about Mafikeng was her out on the traintracks watching black migrant laborers heading to the Rand. One of the passengers had spit out a massive piece of chewing gum. Elna picked it up and chewed it, whereapon her mother found out what she had done when she arrived home and proceeded to wash her mouth out with soap. Elna seemed to make it seem that it wasn’t necessarily picking gum off the ground and eating it, but the fact that an African had been chewing it that was the part that needed cleansing.
It has always been of interest to listen to white South Africans, especially Afrikaners for their memories of the second half of the 20th century. They’re made out to be such vile and racist people, yet they were very similar to white Americans of the same era. Continue reading