Today In Fact, 30 August 2013

When our family arrived at Durban harbour aboard the Lloyd Tristino in April 1967, we were ostensibly bound for England, having left Kenya. Verwoerd was less that 6 months in his grave and there was a long standing policy of re-accommodating Afrikaners who returned to South Africa. Mnay returnees were given farms and land in various parts of the country. Our family was not Afrikaans, the only phrase my father knew at the time was “gooi daardie stompie weg”, a phrase he had picked-up in Eldoret, where some Afrikaners lived.

My parents were not keen to live in England and so my mother made an impassioned plea to the two immigration officials at the Durban harbour. She was a most convincing public speaker. They provided us with one-way train tickets to anywhere we wanted to go in South Africa. My mother was asked to pick a place on the wall map in the immigration office.

She closed her eyes and pointed at a spot. It was Waterval Boven. The more senior of the immigration officials shook his head and suggested that we would do better to go to Nelspruit. I think he knew that English-speakers would not be welcomed to that small town in 1967.

That is how my family came to be South Africans.

I mention this only because on this day in 1900, Waterval Boven was occupied by British forces under General French.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer ( )