Monday, June 7, 2010


The Afrikaners were mainly members of the Dutch Reformed Church, so sadly for them they did not escape the base during basics, like the Engelse did, to attend church. I had no specific church, so tried out several denominations, and in a historic place like Ladysmith, this meant not only seeing a bit of the characterful town, but also a tiny slice of civvy life, especially young women. But our first church service came via a clergyman who visited us "on campus". I'll always remember, I think he was Anglican, how smugly this oke said something like, "it's a sin to worry". All very well for him, I thought, he's not in our position. Anyway, I did a few sketches of him and of the more committed soldiery, listening and then praying (or possibly sleeping!)

I did several "takes" of this guy, with the one on the right, I think, capturing the sanctimonious persona he tried to present. It is also less laboured than the one on the left.

Here I probably got too carried away with the pen. But at least I am drawing freely, allowing whatever arises to happen.

The okes at the top are bowed in prayer/sleep, while the ones at the bottom lend their ears.

I remember Ladysmith as being quite hilly, which is why these two churches, sketched while outside "my" church (which I think was Anglican) are seen from below.

After several months of male-only army kak, it was great finally to be in a fairly civilian set-up, albeit within the constraints of a church, and only for about an hour or two. Here the young female congregants couldn't have had more admirers. Also, consider the impact on the congregation of this influx of uniformed men. It was part of the militarisation of apartheid society.

Every conscript's dream. They'll all tell you, in varying degrees, just what an impact it is on one's senses to return to civilian society after weeks, months, in basics or, later, the three-month second part of one's basic training, or later still while on "the border". From the colourful clothes to the perfume to the obvious allure of the female form, it made you hanker for your freedom.

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