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Global Correspondent Report
 

 

 

 

Jeffrey Spahr-Summers, US

Global Lay-Correspondent Report on South Africa

6

 The Natives are Restless

 

I always wondered where the term ‘the natives are restless’ came from, not to imply that it was locally grown, but it certainly described the end of the native's work week out in the country where we lived. Homemade beer in excess, lots of dancing and releasing of tension. They let me join in as long as things weren’t out of control (as was sometimes the case) but they never let me drink the beer.  I liked to sit on the fringe of the action by the fire and just enjoy watching them, these fun loving people (by nature) suppressed to the point of frustration and despair. They lived in shacks at the lower end of our landlord’s property without electricity or water. The floors of the shacks were dirt. Most had very little if any furniture at all. It was a desperately bleak existence. It was obvious to me … the beer made life bearable somehow in the vast darkness of their circumstances.

One night, one of the men showed up at our door pleading for help, “Please master, please, help me.” (I heard him say), he was bleeding profusely from a nasty gash on the side of his head. Dad immediately shut and locked our front door then called the police. I couldn’t believe he refused the man. I didn’t understand. Two policemen came (one white, one black); they assured us that they would take care of him. They loaded him into the back of their truck and left.  I don’t remember if Dad ever explained to me why he wouldn’t help, but I recall seeing the man the next day, limping down the dirt road a mile or so from our house. His head was caked with blood and dirt. The policemen took care of him alright they tossed him on the side of the road just minutes from our house. 

Occasionally frustration (sometimes just the alcohol) would fuel fights like the one where our maid Florence kicked out her husband’s teeth, at which point I would usually leave and go back to our house, feeling like a true outsider from their world. I feel even more like an outsider today as I read about the same old frustration, despair and anger still seething in the masses, ones who don’t have the means to extract themselves from their condition so resentment and indignation fester, growing strong, bold and painful once more.

 

Global Lay-Correspondent Reports on South Africa 1-5:

1: On the Move—December 2007

2: Rain—January 2008

3: Culture Shock—February 2008

4: Lord of the Ridge and Fort Scorpion—March 2008

5: Nightmares and Snakes—April 2008

6:  The Natives are Restless—May 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Read  Poems by Jeffrey Spahr-Summers

 

Free Verse in this Sketchbook issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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