Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back in the RSA

By early 1992 I was back in a much-changed South Africa, having arrived in the UK just over a month before FW de Klerk's momentous February 2, 1990, unbanning of the ANC. Working on the Eastern Province Herald in Port Elizabeth again, I covered primarily the transition at local government level which echoed that going on at a national level.

Codesa, the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, was the big thing on our return to SA. A transitional government was in place and, while the ongoing battle between the ANC and Inkatha continued bloodily, there was also much hope for a relatively peaceful transition to democracy. I kept this fax, which includes the Codesa logo, for the little drawing.

Back then it was still very much "die Universiteit van Port Elizabeth". Today it is the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

This was done in the early 1990s and perhaps reflects the mood surrounding the ongoing violence.

Oh and back then, as the text on the right just shows, we also had water shortage problems.

This guy looks set to celebrate the advent of democracy.

And suddenly, with key apartheid legislation scrapped - including Group Areas and Separate Amenities - everyone's culture was welcomed.

The one-city negotiations basically saw the National Party and ANC sparring, with the Democratic Party acting as a sort of referee. The old City Council coat-of-arms would soon give way to something reflecting the new dispensation.

This has no obvious political message, but few can blame the guy on the right for his close scrutiny.

Satour was very much a product of the National Party, and the little guy here seems to be bending over backwards to be accommodating.

A few more quirky characters from my subconscious.

And another.

When Charles Garai became mayor, he was delighted. But of all the councillors and officials I interviewed, he was probably the most wary and suspicious of the media.

Sign of the times. This I kept for the drawing, but it shows this family were quitting SA just as the ANC was about to take over.

No this is not on its side - check out the little oke on the right. The OPVBK was the Afrikaans for the EPSFA - EP Society of Fine Arts - which has since reverted to its original name, the EP Society of Arts and Crafts.

Mandela's long walk to freedom seems to be suggested here.

But who were these spooks, lurking on my page?

A semi-abstract lion-like shape.

The PE Municipality had a wealth of skilled staff, including this guy, Dazeley.

More names above a strange beast.

And Target Kloof was again in the news as an accident site.

Hey look, everyone's upside down but me.

Don't check me out, ek se.

Not P van Wyk, but rather PW Botha.

Reading between the lines.

Alan Zeiss was another top PEM official who was none too trusting of the Press.

And water, again, was high on the agenda, with a serious drought afflicting the bay around this time.

These little figures share space with the name of Rocky Ridgway, a former Democratic Party councillor and businessman.

Angles on fax paper.

An African connection.

More PE names to conjure with, including John Rushmere and Jonathan Mercer.

And more: Rick McKiever and Anton Vlok. Who was John Gibbon?

The little figure here seems to sum up the radar which PEM senior official Carl Fischer had for the media.

Back from the UK, I was delighted to have a few dealings with that country's consulate on my return as the UK started to resume ties as SA moved towards democracy.

I put this on its side so the figure, bottom left, could stand naturally.

Pity I bent this thick bit of card when storing it.

A hatted hipster.

Reggae music, mon.

John Price was another guy in the news in the 1990s.

The calculations were clearly too much for this little fellow.

And this guy got tied up in knots.

Echoes of Guernica.

Shadow man.

Mossel Bay assumed greater importance with the Mossgas oil-from-gas project.

Face on fax paper.

More fascinating figures.

Who was Mike Watson?

The trade union Numsa has its heart in motor city PE.

This was the logo for the old PE Technikon, now incorporated in NMMU.

Lord of the Rings.

How well have old institutions like this one kept going in the new SA, I wonder.

Access to information.

The Algoa Regional Services Council (ARSC) was a short-lived body ahead of the integration of local authorities.

Another face in the crowd.

And another - nothing unusual about either of them.

And another.

And, yes, another.

A chameleon, perhaps?

Two very tiny creatures.

Jenny O'Rourke was the mayor's secretary for decades.

I see this refers to Ahmed Kathrada, who was a contemporary on Robben Island of Mandela.

A trifle phallic, this phella.

Tube, tunnel, landscape?

Concrete flame.

A tiny sculpture to end.

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