Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fettered freedom

Liberation. In July, 1981, I experienced a brief period of bliss. I had completed two years of military conscription. I had no plans, a little money, and my widowed mother was able to continue supporting a 24-year-old son for a while longer as he pondered his future. Happily ensconced back at home in Bonza Bay, I set about readjusting to civilian life, always aware that within a year or so I could expect to be called up again for a "camp". I developed a phobia for any registered mail.

One of the places I took myself to was the local Bonza Bay Hotel pub, a men-only, whites-only place where mainly old toppies discussed endlessly the issues of the day over much alcohol. The Hobnob "ladies' bar" was another place people still frequented, and I did this imagined self-portrait of myself in one of the cubicles there. Unable to get the Adobe photomerge programme to work, the picture is presented in two parts, with the black guys behind the bar shown in the picture below.

One of the unforeseen paradoxes of having black people work in "whites-only" places of recreation like this under apartheid was that one got to chat to such people and to know them as human beings. One of the barmen, Richard Tshawe, became a good friend to all the Bentleys and their mates. We even took him on occasion to his ancestral home in Cofimvaba, of which more later. Sadly, due to scanner constraints, I won't be showing the remaining contents of two large drawing books I worked in at this time.

Being back in Bonza Bay meant I was able to while away time beside the river and sea. This seems to be a drawing, done around 1981, of two people pumping mud prawns.

Bonza Bay is marked by the high sand dunes which stretch from the usually blind river mouth east towards Gonubie and west towards Nahoon. This is a view from up one of the dunes towards Nahoon Reef, a world-famous surfing spot.

A delightful reeded corner of the Bonza Bay (Qhinerha) River was "reclaimed" for use as a parking area around the late 1970s, early 1980s. This is a drawing of an old toppie and his Citroen, which was parked on the at-the-time gravel parking area, which was subsequently expanded and tarred. The oke on the right I think is an old mate from my primary school days who I've not seen in donkeys - Julian Jackson, or JJ.

As I did in so many sketches from my army stint, shown on previous postings, in this you have a face somehow emerging alongside a pair of guys fishing on the Bonzies coastline. Other pictures from the drawing books I shan't be able to scan show old toppies on the Bonza Bay Bowling Club green and a couple of other atmospheric pencil drawings of the lagoon. Ah, the peacefulness of it all. Yet life, of course, never stays still for a moment.

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