Tag Archives: People

The Irene Morning Market

I wrote this article for a course I was doing in 2012 – it was enthusiastically received and I thought I would share it – for those who may never have experienced South Africa?

Sadly, this market is no longer held at the location I have described here – in about early 2016 it was moved to another venue several kilometres away. It is still very popular but somehow not the same? I was last there in late 2016.


Irene is a small suburb south of Pretoria with a village-like atmosphere. It used to be a sleepy hollow but is now enormously popular – even trendy, particularly at weekends

In Irene is “Smuts’ House” that was once the home of General Jan Smuts, a statesman and soldier who was instrumental in the establishment of the League of Nations. (see https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jan-Smuts)

Smuts House is a museum and national monument surrounded by extensive grounds and, twice a month, the Irene morning market takes place there. People travel from all over the region to attend and stall holders arrive early to set up.

Most popular is the food stall area where you can buy almost any kind of food. From Indian delicacies to Portuguese snacks to Chinese spring rolls and custard tarts. There are traditional South African stalls with boerewors rolls (literally “farmer’s sausage”) Spicy and delicious, these are our answer to the New York hot dog.

Artisanal cheeses, preserves, pickles and jams. “Waatlemoen konfyt”, a watermelon preserve using watermelon rind to make a crisp, sugary, delicious treat.

The pancake lady and her twenty-five litre barrel of batter – with a tap. Rotating twelve pans on the burners and flipping pancakes. Her son manages the cinnamon sugar and rolling – they barely stay ahead of the crowd.

Moving on to find curio sellers, local and regional, with carved wood and soapstone, wire sculptures, beadwork and leatherwork.

Bedding, clothing, art, a children’s painting table, coffee and soft drink stalls. Second hand book stalls and plenty of old bits and bobs that my sister describes as the “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” section. Oh, and collectables of all sorts from old tins to badges, brooches, toys and, and, and…

Pets, particularly  dogs, feature a lot. I learned about “Merle” Great Danes from a tired looking couple ( http://www.all-about-great-danes.com/merle-great-danes.html ) with their magnificent young grey-dappled, white-chested Merle in attendance. Two chaps had a Scotty dog in a zippered “medics uniform” of waistcoat and peaked cap. A beautiful, bored Labrador retriever and a dignified border collie and a man with the slobberiest, puffingest bulldog named Larry!

Camel rides – on aloof-looking camels with the most exotic eyelashes.

A young blonde girl had a colourful “jewellery” stall – a real splash of colour. So eye-catching, I asked if I might take a picture. Poised and relaxed her bright eyes and friendly, unselfconscious smile made the braces on her teeth a part of her sparkle. There is a lesson in this for young people with orthodontic problems because that smile, already so dazzling and natural, will be a real winner when the braces come off.

 

 

People. Fat and thin, well-to-do and modest. Mothers and children, babies and grannies, hot and bothered and cool, calm and collected. Sleeping, exhausted babies and wide-eyed demanding tots in prams with grannies and mommies in attendance revealing varying degrees of love and tired defeat. People, bewildered and brash, shy and outgoing, smiling and grim-faced but all with a common purpose – the Irene morning market.

Guns – letter to the editor

This is a letter to the editor of my local paper when I was living in South Africa. I think it is excellent – short, sharp and to the point.


Letter in the Kempton Express 30 May 2002

 ARE STOLEN GUNS GUILTY? By Sebella O’Donovan

There are far too many crimes taking place in South Africa and even more innocent people lose their lives due to these crimes.

Every week we read of yet another murder.

What really concerns me, is statements made that “it is the stolen guns on the street that are responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people”.

Do people really believe that should there be no guns, that crime will not take place?

How many people are murdered with axes, knives, strangled with bare hands, poisoned or even burnt alive? The list is endless. Yet we continue to blame the tool. (one particular tool).

We are also led to believe that the more helpless we are, the safer we are from criminals.

That an intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or even spray, but if shot with a .44 magnum will get angry, and kill you?

That ordinary people, in the presence of guns, turn into slaughtering butchers and revert to normal when the weapon is removed?

That a woman, who is raped and strangled with her own stockings is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet?

Is it not time for all of us to remember that it is the evil in a man’s heart and not the tool, which causes the crime?

Criminals need to be punished and the more of our liberty and freedom that we sacrifice, the less we’ll have of either.

Perhaps we should be looking at a society where innocent and free people don’t have to live in servitude to a government or to criminals?

Beard coming…

There seems to be quite a fascination for beards here, where I now live – particularly among young men, and I mean YOUNG men!

Thing is, many of these beards just look so odd.

There’s this beard coming towards me. A huge, luxuriant brown handsome beard and I notice that the beard has this skinny little guy attached to it.

The beard turns so that it can look at someone and you observe a rather attractive young thing in animated conversation with the bush on legs. The beard turns to the front and continues its approach and then one sees the cap and a pair of eyes glittering behind the foliage, under the deep shadow of the cap brim.

This chap is so proud of his beard but it is TOTALLY out of proportion to the little fellow that it, the beard, is wearing.

Another time and another beard heaves into view. This luxuriant, reddish monster is forked. Each fork is about twenty centimetres long and the distance apart at the ends is probably also twenty centimetres. From the centre of the fork to the moustache is probably the same distance. As it gets nearer one notices a nose and a pair of eyes peering over the shrubbery. Once again the face is shadowed by the bill of one of those omnipresent baseball caps.

Below and behind this forked growth is a youngster of perhaps 20-22 years with the build and innocent-seeming eyes of a child. He looks up at something and the beard levers away from his chest to a position horizontal to the ground, weirdly reminding me of the bonnet of a car being opened!

Now there is nothing wrong with a beard – I myself have sported one since 1980 – but somehow these slightly built, young guys just look so incongruous with these luxuriant facial jungles that are so out of proportion to their stature.

I’m sure that out in the woods somewhere there are great big lumberjacks who would LOVE to have such magnificent growths as I see strolling around with these waif-like fellows attached!

Then again of course there are blokes who are in in charge of some truly smart beards that are perfectly balanced to their faces and frames. Where the man dominates and the beard knows its place!

I suppose it is like body art – to each their own…and I must add that some of these slight, magnificently bearded, fellows seem to have no problem with the chicks! Perhaps there is a lesson in that – but we won’t go there.