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
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?