The more things change…
CHANGE is a constant inevitability. The world is a dynamic place so change takes place in just about every facet of life. It is said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It comes across as remarkably odd but a fair sprinkling of happenings in recent times give ample credence to such a notion.
Over and above, these occurrences serve to jog the memory banks.
The hunger to innovate sees the rapid introduction of new technological tools on almost a daily basis. The latest and smartest technology permeates just about every industry nowadays. It’s the way of the world.
The relaunch of the Nokia 3310 mobile device is a prime example of technology taking us back through time. The phone first became available for sale 17 years ago.
The weather of late has been behaving strangely. It could be the effect of climate change, an issue that needs close attention. The wind storm that swept through the greater part of Durban a couple of weekends back took just about everyone by surprise. But most devastating have been the flurry of hurricanes that have wrought widespread havoc in the Caribbean and some parts of the US.
Though prone to the harsh realities of nature, residents in these places least expected massive damage this time round. As television coverage illustrated the decimation, I was reminded of the flooding that engulfed Durban in the 1980s. The impact on the low-lying areas of the banks of the uMgeni River collapsing was felt severely by both residents and workers. Farmers who plied their trade alongside the river were denied any income as they lost all their crops. I recall one very long night when my father was unable to return home from his workplace in the city centre due to the extensive flooding. He was forced to spend the entire night trapped in his motor vehicle.
The welcome inquiry of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol brought back horrid memories of John Vorster Square, now known as Johannesburg Central police station. The place not only symbolised institutionalised apartheid, but it was also the place where rampant acts of detention, torture and brutality were a reality. You did need to find yourself on the wrong side of the law to know about the infamous building.
Squad was the name of a Cars popular show broadcast on Friday evenings on Springbok Radio. Many of the episodes used John Vorster Square in the script.
Authorities in Durban are keen to revitalise the Ocean Terminal. It is hoped to attract passenger liners to the city, thereby providing a fillip for tourism. One recalls the famous ship Karanja, which travelled between India and Durban in years gone by.
It was a popular service as the holiday commenced immediately the person got on board the ship. It was a day’s outing at the terminal for family and friends who had gone to bid someone goodbye or welcome the person back home.
By the same token, it was not uncommon to spend virtually the whole day at the Louis Botha Airport (which became Durban International Airport and is now King Shaka International Airport) when a close family member was travelling overseas. It was cause for celebration – food was pre-prepared and enjoyed in the garden area at the airport.
In the past few months, we bade a reluctant farewell to a host of icons in their own right. Ranjith Kally, Dee Sharma and Ray Phiri come to mind. Memories of their personalities, relationships and the work they performed come flooding back. Ranjith was a master lensman.
I used to often bump into him at a range of functions. He covered just about everything. And he travelled far and wide. I once had the pleasure of spending time with him at a concert in the Umtata Stadium.
His company was fascinating. Dee was a gem of a musician and a thorough gentleman. Whether at the Island Hotel or the Athlone Hotel, he gave it his all. I first met Ray when he was performing at the Kings Park Stadium. He was gracious in allowing me to interview him for a lengthy period.
Ray took to music at a very early age, and was influenced by all types of music. In fact, he derived plenty of inspiration from LM Radio. The station closed in the mid-1970s. It became Radio 5 (now 5fm). LM Radio is back on-air and broadcasts in Johannesburg and Mozambique.
I’m saddened by the retirement of Johnny Clegg from the music scene. Many up-and-coming musicians would do well to take a page out of his book. Johnny was booked to perform in the Student’s Union at then-University of Natal (I got to compère the show – perhaps he was impressed with me playing
on campus Asimbonanga radio even though it was banned!) I was taken aback by him being so meticulous. He paid attention to every detail relating to the show, be it transport, marketing, banners, ticket sales, sound or lighting.
When Kevin Anderson stepped on to court for the US Open tennis final against world No 1 Rafael Nadal, I couldn’t help but think of other South African stars from yesteryear, such as Kevin Curren, Johan Kriek, Frew McMillan, Amanda Coetzer and Cliff Drysdale. It was good to have Durban’s Robbie Koenig on commentary at the final a few weeks back, as it was Robbie Naidoo who had commentated in the 1990s at Wimbledon.
Cricketer Graeme Pollock made some ill-advised comments about racial transformation in the sport recently in London. Though he apologised, Pollock needs to be reminded that if Daryl Cullinan was not white, he would not have lasted as long as he did in the national side.
Cullinan was given far too many opportunities to prove himself. In our democratic dispensation, players of colour in the Proteas set-up cannot be seen to be on their own. They deserve all the support.
As we strive to move ahead in a changing world, let’s not forget where we’ve come from, what we’ve experienced and the memories that sustain us. It’s so true that you reap what you sow!