Inspired by: Lynching Black Men
I had first picked it up in his voice on the phone. Calling him from Oslo at his work place in Pretoria about once a week in the latter part of the 1990s, I could hear him sounding ever more tired each time we spoke. He would of course express tremendous delight upon hearing my voice, proudly shouting to his colleagues, “My son is calling from overseas!”
When I last saw him Easter time 1996, he was as charming as ever. But he was beginning to look a little frail. And it seemed he had stopped caring too much about his hair, which he always groomed immaculately before, dying it pitch black constantly.
I was just beginning to find my way around in Norway at that time myself, and coming home to Welkom that Easter, I had bought presents for everyone. I even paid for renovation work on the family house, buying some nice furniture for my mother as well. Better times had arrived. Let’s celebrate.
Pappa would be fine, I thought. At age 63 then and still working in Pretoria, I felt it was, indeed, time for him to retire, come home, relax, and enjoy life. I would do every thing possible to ensure that my parents have a good life all their days. But my ever-resilient Pappa went back to work. His work was his life. Little did I know that it would be two years later the next time we meet again after the Easter holidays, 1996. He would be in an abattoir-like city council mortuary, lying supine in a coffin; eyes open wide, staring into oblivion. The autopsy cut sewed up ugly, unbefitting a once most elegant gentleman. In the end, we are just things, I thought … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It”. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)
March 08, 2013
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Reblogged this on Simon Chilembo and commented:
Thinking of immigrant fathers all over the world, on Fathers’ Day. Many sons and daughters of immigrant fathers in South Africa have contributed to making the country a better place to live for all, and they still do. Reflective June 16 to all: Who am I? What am I? What can I do for my country?
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[…] My father knew well how bad Xenophobia is. That is how, and why, even long before we managed to escape to Zambia in 1975, it has been a family tradition to, when approached, without any strings attached, help anybody from Africa settle in South Africa, if that’s their wish and need. Clean and legal all the way. Pappa was very good at helping and teaching foreign brothers practical things as to how to go about living successfully in South Africa, from fixing jobs, to languages, to car driving. There are several families in my old location, Thabong, who came to being through Pappa’s facilitation. In Zambia, Pappa would further facilitate safe passage in and out of the country for many a South African freedom fighter, regardless of political affiliation, although we were/ are an ANC family through and through. In our homes in Lusaka, we provided, as a matter of course, shelter, comfort, some sort of family setting, and the like for many a young immediate post-Soweto 1976 generation South African in exile. Although South African refugees, particularly the inexperienced youth from wild South African townships, notably Soweto, had their bouts of madness in Zambia, on the whole, South Africans left a respectable reputation in the country. Other countries will have their own to speak for themselves. […]
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