The year was 1983 or 84 I just cannot be sure but it really does not matter since I wise man once told me that, one should not allow exact times and year to ever get in the way of a good story. By the way this is my life story and all that is said on this book comes from true incidents or events. And the people are real, people who I met through this journey of life.
So, my mother asked me to go to Swaziland to fetch the title deeds of a property that my father had bought in 1966/7 from an attorney in Manzine.i still remember that this property was in Fairview Township. The next task was to go to Lesotho to do the same since the old man had bought more property there too.
It is at this point that I wish to tell all Africans who have a claim on a piece of land and cattle anywhere, even within a remote area. Go and Claim it. It is at the centre of all wealth creation process. It will give you the security you need to move out of poverty for your generation and build a better economic platform for the next. Believe me, now I know better. Had I known this then, Donald Trump would have nothing on me.
Before I left I had consulted with Matilda Moloi my old late high school Girlfriend whose family lived and had business in Manzini.In fact we went to a Matric Dance together and won the best dressed couple prise. Her brothers Derrick and Charlie were great fun, Derrick the intellectual and Charlie the smart jokester. I even fantasised of Mrs. Moloi as a future mother in-law. She was very Good to me.
So, Matilda, gave me the lay of the land and off I went to Swaziland. I went passed Witbank and decided to go via Carolina route.
Now, you all know that Black Prisoners were sold to white farmers as cheap labour particular in the potato districts. What is funny is that one of my white Class mates in high school came from the same area and he told me that the workers called him ‘Mazambane’ meaning Potatoes.
I had read the exploits of the late Henry Nxumalo on Drum magazine a few years earlier and I was keen to see the equivalent of the American Chain Gang of prisoners in my country. Well, I did not have to wait that long.I came past this farm and found Prisoners working in a raw just as I had imagined it.
I parked my car and got out in the opposite direction to where I was going. For a few minutes I stood there to my and their amazement. A few feet away on a tractor stood a white man in a Khaki Shirt with blue patches on the chest .We looked at each other for a while with no one saying a word.
The prisoners were as baffled as the farmer to my presence………..I stood there in my white button down shirt with a tie which was my signature dress then. Everyone wondered as to what my next move was going to be. One by one all the prisoners stopped working and looked at me.Something in me said to me ‘Son Give Them Courage’. I then moved to the window of the car and pressed the hooter and raised my fist in the Jessy Owen Pose and shouted: ‘Amandla’.
The prisoners responded as if in a practised unison: ‘Awetho’.
It then dawned on me that the farmer could actually just shoot me since I was trespassing and also inciting a riot. I jumped into the car a turned around and headed for the Swazi border at great speed. I was now on an adrenalin rush………………looking back to see who is following. Just before I got to the border near Hendriena I started reflecting as to what I just did back there. What was that all about?
I then parked my car in one of the bays at the border gate so as to mingle with other cars. I went in to fill a form and then handed my passport, all tensed up. My passport was handed to me without any hassles and I crossed into Swaziland without incident. As I drove into Mbabane a great sense of relief overcame me and somehow I felt secure and proud of what I did to the prisoners, even if it was just for one minute and against one farmer. I was proud of this spontaneous action on my part, I could not have planned it better.
Little did I know that within Ten Years, South Africa would be a Free Country. So Strong was the White Minority Grip on the country that even as a betting man, if you asked me how long it would take before the birth of the new South Africa .I would say 30 years or in the year 2000,which we though was very far,and we would only live it in space ships.
I went to the Hotel where Matilda had advised me to stay and checked in.I then went to the attorney’s office to do my business. I checked the rates that were due and I was advised that I should go to see the site. I arrived there to find a family living in the yard is a shack and they told me that they were paying rent to some old man whose surname kept coming up since the attorney’s office. I was there to reclaim what was then to be my heritage .I was getting the feeling that this old man was a crook and that if I met with him. I may end up in a Swazi Jail. Remember at that age I solved most problems with violence. I ran 12 km at an average of 3:50 min/km flat and packed a mean left hook and a devastating right cross. I was not to mess with .I had 4 official gym fights with 12 KO’s and the difference in the streets of Soweto. If I hit you, you fell-Period.
So it was advisable that I not meet this old man at all. I then stated writing my report to my mother about the state of affairs in Swaziland. This I had to do for our attorney in South Africa and also as a recordial for our family.
I then drove down to the Moloi’ s residents in Manzini to pay my respects and also to check out the town for some business opportunities.In general I found the city dead and I was not experienced enough to do this task even though I was cocky enough to think that I know it all.
Night fall came and I took off to where I was to sleep for the night and I felt NOSTALGICK that my father who had died some seven years earlier was not there to see me as a young man.The last time I was in Swaziland I was with him, my mother and brother,Peter.I was six years old then.
Night time was sweet and a little hallow at the same time. I took in all the smells of lavender that only Swaziland can bring and from my open window I could see Mbabane at a distance and I got that feeling that you only feel on your first night in a foreign place, the sounds, the architechture,the foreignness .
The next morning I left the place where I was staying and went into Mbabane on my way out. I spend time in the market place which was just full of hawkers selling the same things. The was nothing special or different from them all. I went into some offices full of civil servants who always want to feel more important than the public they are supposed to serve.
I left Swaziland disillusioned and headed for the border. Did the rituals and crossed without fanfare into South Africa.
I then headed to the farm where I caused mischief the previous day. This time I did not stop but started hooting from a distance with my hand raised in a ‘Power’ salute. I could see the prisoners responding in the distance. I know they knew who I was and I gave them I little lift once again.
In my mind, I think that I did help at least one of them out of dispear.I felt like a small stone being thrown into a dam. The ripples of that one stone can be 20 or 50 .But whatever happens the dam has been disturbed at least for a while but sometimes these ripples last forever and never stop.
And as I hit Joburg I felt I did good and that the energy I left with the prisoners will somehow help us reclaim our country.