Katrina, a Tsunami of Humans.

Katrina, a Tsunami of Humans is just a film I saw in my last year at Plumtree School which had a profound and everlasting effect on moulding whatever character I have. It began when I was selected to tour South Africa with the Plumtree first eleven hockey side. We left from the Plumtree railway station and went through Botswana and from there into South Africa. The last time I had visited South Africa was when I was a baby so had no recollection of it. As a family we spent our coastal holidays in Mozambique at a place called Beira and I loved it there. From the moment we crossed the border into South Africa my whole being turned cold and it stayed that way. Nie Blankes Nie (No Non-Whites Allowed) emblazoned everywhere one looked even on benches. Welcome to apartheid people. It may seem strange to many people that I thought this way, they believing that Mozambique and Rhodesia practised the same thing. You couldn’t be further away from the truth if you tried. Now where was I? Ah, yes, the hockey tour to South Africa.
We traversed the whole length of South Africa until we reached the south eastern coastal resort of Port Elizabeth where our tour was based. I was chilled to the bone the whole way there, I just couldn’t believe what I saw. Needless to say once there I couldn’t have met nicer people if I tried, all whites of course. Basically we played different schools in and around the area and had to be very careful around Uitenhage, the locals rioting again. Then we played at Greys College a famous school in Port Elizabeth and I stayed at the home of the school captain. He had an elder brother who was a Junior Springbok rugby player, then one day playing for his province, he was late tackled and left as a quadriplegic. When I was with them he was starting to use crutches, God alone knows how? Somehow he just threw himself forward and so on and so forth. A lesson in formidable courage and fortitude. This got him to his car where he drove himself to school being a schoolteacher. Once there the kids helped him up the stairs in his wheel chair among many other things. Talking to his Mother she told me that prior to his accident he was engaged to be married. One day, just one, after hearing about this his fiance gave him him back her engagement ring and he never saw her again. Don’t ever, even for one moment, try and tell me that women are the fairer sex. From such incidents a young boys views are formed which is what the preamble was for and now;


It is the third and last term in my final year at school. I do not go home for the half term

Beit Hall Plumtree School assembly held here every morning before classes begin.

Beit Hall Plumtree School assembly held here every morning before classes begin.

break as my parents want me to study, as if I would? So there are only two men and a dog there, older lads which is why we managed to see this movie. Most of the films had no age restrictions on them due to the cosmopolitan age of the pupils. However the local people came to watch the film in our Beit hall at school not having a cinema in the thriving metropolis of Plumtree. Obviously then a more adult film was screened for them at this time which is about how I managed to watch Katrina. To this day it remains one of the best films I have ever watched and why I decided to write on it. I’ll bet most of the world and people have never even heard of it, how sad. It begins with a woman who was formerly a coloured, that’s not black, so Americans will understand. But, is what we knew as a ‘goffel’ or in today’s PC world a point me five. OK then, simply a half cast. She has been re-classified as being white and is doing everything within her power to maintain this. That’s how the times were in South Africa then. Her son has just qualified as a Doctor in England and is returning home to practice with his white Afrikaans fiance. And it unfolds from there. For some reason the Afrikaans girl’s family get suspicious and start looking deeper into it. Then one night her Dad has to tell her the truth, her fiance is a goffel. It is night time and you can hear her screaming, how sad. It then switches to a scene on the beach outside her house where her brothers are busy beating her fiance into a pulp for having the audacity to go out with their sister. Far as I can remember he was also classified white but I need to go deeper into the story.
Now the next night the son’s Mother goes into a discotheque and there is a band playing and the whole place is grooving. Beautiful it was too, a South African band named the Staccatos playing. I’m going to try and add it here now. Please play to understand just how the Mother was feeling and why I loved the film so much music playing a big part of my life.

From there on the Doctor spends much of his time trying to find his real father. The film spends a lot of time looking at coloured townships and portraying all the many and varied characters. This culminates in the Doctor finding his real Dad, a goffel of note. Heartbreaking stuff it all was too. The Doctor then decides to spend the rest of his life helping the sick in coloured communities. The Mother goes and visits the discotheque again and this time there is another band playing, known as The Dream Merchants and I can think of no finer ending for this epic film.

It is forty two years since I last saw that film and remember it yet such was the impression it made on me. That was in 1972 and I left my lovely homeland Rhodesia then Zimbabwe in 1984. I went to live in South Africa. The amazing thing being that in the space of 12 years so sickened had I become with Mugabe and his bloody gook terrorists that I entered South Africa completely oblivious to all the things that had made me so cold a short 12 years earlier. How dreadfully sad?

About spookmoor

I'm a 61 year old happily married man with three grown up children. I lost all my hearing as an eighteen year old whilst doing National Service and then had a Cochlear Ear Implant twenty years later. I love trying to explain these things to people and bits about my life. I never thought so at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thus one gets Random ramblings from a man who has seen a lot with a touch of humour underlying all.
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36 Responses to Katrina, a Tsunami of Humans.

  1. George Walls says:

    Great blog my old mate. I remember you guys going off on the tour. We had been on a water polo at the end of ’71 and had a fantastic time in Durban. I knew that you guys would have a gas in PE.
    Keep the stories coming Spook—you’re a legend!

  2. Nessie says:

    Good one Spook

  3. Tess Bold says:

    Spook this must really bring it home to S.A that read this, not just Rhodesians…..it brought my experience back to me. The one and only time I came to S.A at the age 13 and what I witnessed….Just like you when I returned to S.A years later with my own family, I realized that horror had faded somewhat ……strange how one can change…..Thank you for the memories and music….

    • spookmoor says:

      I don’t think I get many SA readers leave alone many else? I have to agree with what you said though. Isn’t it strange how one’s mind and soul can change so suddenly? Once again many thanks for your visit and comment and glad you enjoyed the music.

  4. Gomer Pyle says:

    Thanks for the “vibes” … good stuff !! Well written once again. This is a topic as bottomless, fascinating and treacherous as the famous Sinoia caves …. as for differences or lack of – this is a moot point and the jury is still very much out on this issue….. All I know is that one day when i meet our amazing creator, I do want to ask him what he was thinking at the time ….. and here is where i will leave this subject as its volatility is legendary especially among the myopic !

  5. maggi says:

    Spook you may find it hard to believe but my roots are so deeply entrenched in the Afrikaner history, Gert Maritz, Manie Maritz that crew. Jan Maritz was my forefather, who arrived on the shored a few hundred years back as a young man, a soldier with the Dutch East India Company, and from there it went. As a little girl I spoke both Shona and Afrikaans fluently, only learning to speak English with some degree of decency when I went to school in Bindura. My late mum, much to the horror of her and my dad’s family insisted her children went to English schools, end of story do not argue. Now days it is totally the opposite, I only speak Afrikaans when I ring my dad. Talk about a degree in turning. Whilst doing my family tree, I came across some interestting things about SA, well hidden in google and some archives about the origins of apartheid. I had always been under the strong impression it was given birth to by the Afrikaner folk, just look at Manie Maritz he loathed them, vehemently anti black / jew and an extremely hard man. Mind you surviving the ABW he was a hard man. 1913 a act was passed by the then gvt called the Natives Land Act (forgive me if I have the working incorrect) to control the movement and obtaining of land by the African people themselves. When the Nats won the elections in the 1940’s they build upon what had been started by the British themselves. To this day it actually bugs me that all of this happened – my mom I know felt the same and for an Afrikaner girl from Johannesburg she would have been disowned saying that. Thanks again for writing.

    • spookmoor says:

      Ah, Perfidious Albion at work again? Inclined to agree with you Maggi and thanks for the visit. As matters have turned out, in some ways it is hard not to agree with them? How dreadfully sad. Til time stood still and the river, ran, dry.

  6. Mike Tanski says:

    I remember having kids of other colour in school in Rhodesia…..just no “natives” in fact some of my closest playmates were colored or Indian, and one day I asked one of my little pals why he was darker than me and he said it was because he was colored. I said so was I, I am pink, but he said no, he was half white half black. I asked him how that happened and he said it was like when you put jam on your toast and it mixes with the butter, and from that day forth I called him “Jam” . We also had “house boys” no maids, and they usually lived on the property and some had their families living with them and their piccanins and us would play together, not giving our obvious differences a second thought. Then as a young teenager I came to SA and was told by a Gestapo teacher or two that blacks were inferior and to be left alone. I wondered why nobody had ever told me that in Rhodesia…….I am actually glad that I ended up not fighting that war, because I just may have ended up shooting a playmate or two from years before…..the enemy did not come from somewhere else, it came from within the country, left to be trained by communists and then infiltrated back in. Rhodesian fighting Rhodesian, because of ideology……

    • spookmoor says:

      It reminds me of my son Mike who had a little Indian friend and my wife asked him, whats the difference? Thoroughly perplexed he replied, ‘nothing, he’s just slightly darker than me’. Oh, if only we could think like kids?

  7. Mike Tanski says:

    Yep, I worked with Goffels and we would sit and eat our lunch together, laugh together, tell stories together and as I looked into their eyes I was acutely aware that the government had decreed that I should be superior to my friends, and they were aware too. It hurt to have that hovering in the background. These okes were my friends and they bled the same as I did, dreamed like me, lived like me, felt like me, but the government didn’t think so.

  8. msasa13 says:

    Good story as per usual, Spook. I think most of us would empathise with the relief felt when we crossed the border going home, a nice relaxed feeling. Durban was magic but Beira was more homely, which explains why I enjoy Portugal so much.
    When we decided we were leaving, South Africa was never a consideration. It was so obvious that the domino effect would change things there quite soon, no point in going through the whole thing again. Great place for a holiday still, but never to live.
    Frankie has just reminded me of Joy Packer’s books. I have read quite a few, and enjoyed her work. Must look her up!
    Thanks again for a good read!

  9. David Chodzko says:

    Well told story. I was born in South Africa but spent most of my young life in the three countries that became the Federation. Once I started going to school, I would spend four months of every year in East London so I became painfully aware of the differences, even as a child. Later in life when I lived with my wife and kids in Rhodesia, we would travel down to Durban to visit family and I can remember, to this day the sense of relief I felt when we crossed back from SA into Rhodesia. The apartheid laws hung like a dark cloud and I was always relieved to be out from under it.

  10. John Morris says:

    The Staccatos. Now that jogged my memory. And I wonder how many people know of goffels!
    Grey College in PE were a formidable lot in all sports.
    Knee writing Spook.

    • spookmoor says:

      I’ll try to John but I live for the comments yet so few people do and thank you.

      • Paddy Hulst says:

        Growing up in Holland, I played with a very cosmoplitan group of kids of a couple of nationalities some of whom were darker.. We left for S.A. and arrived in 1954 june in CT. travelled to Jhb settled in Melville. I was an only child,my parents decided that I would go to school end of the year so I could orientate to the different culture here in SA. We lived in a block of flats across the road from the public swimming pool.. I was very lonly and missed my friends and there were many of them,as we lived in a massive apartment block built in a rectangle in Holland surroundig public washing lines and a childrens playground, there were dozens of kids always around,weather permitting.
        I noticed a bunch of black kids that used to play soccer on the lawns around the public pool almost on a daily basis, and asked my Mom if I could join them. I joined them and noticed that they were very ragged and had no shoes.. After a couple of days playing together a bunch of kids coming from school saw us and got very agressive and I learnt my first derogatory word aimed at me, kaffir-boetie……
        These were to be my future school mates. I asked my Mom and she explained what it ment..

        Beginning of school, quite confusing at break I was recognised “Daars die kaffir-boetie” and thereupon started a very difficult period in a new country with a very hostile reception… I cant begin to tell you how many fights I had..My Dad is dutch and my mom Irish,they met in England WW2. It came to a head some months later,when defending myself a kid fell and cut himself whilst we were were fighting, I received a thrashing from the teacher with a big stick,incidently the teachers seemed to favour the Afrikaans lads, as it was an Afrikaans school.

        When I got home I told my Mom she had a lift off when she saw my backside,following day she went to the school and withdrew me from the school..To cut a long storey short my mom couldnt trsf.me to an English school (Govt) as I was Dutch.. So my mom turned to the Convent who agreed to take me… We left Mellvile and moved to Discovery where I attended the Convent,had a happy couple of years there. Due to financial constraints My parents put me in Discovery primary,which was a bit of a culture shock after the convent,but I settled in…BUT going home after school I heard the cry, daar’s n” englesman, and the shit started again… 3rd boer-war all over again..

      • spookmoor says:

        I sure can believe it and saddened to hear this. I trust life treated you better as an adult and many thanks for the visit and comment.

      • Paddy Hulst says:

        You know Spookmoor, Its not about the way things happened,as distastefull as it was,it was the middle 50’s the National party had won the elections,and I guess there was strong nationalistic feelings running through the nation..
        I think it was more about what the parents/teachers were telling the children about what the English had done to the Afrikaaner and the historical events leading up to the great trek,and the Boer wars,etc etc. Also the fact that the clergy had peverted the scriptures to make the Afrikaaner beleive that he was superior to other racial groups.. So in a sense the children were mirrorring what their elders were saying we were all victims of circumstance…

      • spookmoor says:

        Agree with you Paddy.

  11. frankiekay says:

    I still don’t like SA – I wrote several posts bemoaning the place. They never got posted, cos my better half gently reminded me that perhaps I may be trying to sell my books to South Africans and I shouldn’t put their backs up at the start!
    If we had ever gone to work on a mine in the pre 1994 era – for sure I would have been arrested – probably for joining the ANC or something – or maybe just for greeting a black person – who knows!
    I wrote a little bit about how the wheels fell off for me in this post – but I admit I tempered the original! http://frankiekay.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/im-a-small-town-girl/

    And BTW…
    A relative (by marriage) married her fiancée after he was involved in an accident (a kudu ran into his car.) Her parents kicked up a huge fuss – told her not to marry a cripple in a wheelchair – she went ahead, they have a lovely boy (now about 21years old)…

    • spookmoor says:

      Delighted with your comment Frankie and it would be you being the first and only one to comment. I admire your bravery.

      • frankiekay says:

        Its funny you say that – I hate racism – and yet Im often called one – cos if I think a person is an idiot, I say so. No matter what colour he is. You imagine when when a person complains with the classic “you are only saying that cos I am black” my answer “No – cos you are an idiot” doesn’t go down too welll

      • spookmoor says:

        Tsuh, I’m not a boy, springs to mind.

      • frankiekay says:

        Yeah – I say “man” alot. I was told it wasn’t PC – so I said what should I say. I was told to try “baby”???Didnt go down well with the wives!

      • spookmoor says:

        Maybe ‘guys’ would have gone down better?

      • frankiekay says:

        I’ll try that!
        Won’t help the pointing finger – I point my finger at people to emphasise my point of view!

      • spookmoor says:

        Same here and I have had people grabbing it and trying to ‘busticate’ it too. Did you ever see Katrina? If not try and find a video of it as I’m sure you’d love it. The music among other things is sensational.

      • frankiekay says:

        No I didn’t. One of the Joy Packer books was similar???
        Usually if you ask me if Ive read the book, I have. Movies hardly ever …let me know if you find it

      • spookmoor says:

        I wish I could.

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