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Nostalgia of an innocent child enjoying slap chips in the shadow of De la Rey

By unknown | Apr 19, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

What is it about childhood that makes objects bigger than they actually are and every morsel of food taste so gorgeous?

I am reminded of this every time I see someone munching chips, or French fries to some.

When I was a child, uncorrupted and innocent of greed, hate, lust, vice, jealousy, envy and the other negatives that come from growing old, I loved chips, nay, fish and chips, to bits.

Every time my dad took my siblings and me to town - Lichtenburg at the time - he would treat us to packets of fish and chips and a loaf of brown bread washed down by a litre of Coke or Fanta.

We would sit a respectable distance from a giant statue of that recalcitrant Boer War hero, Koos de la Rey, erected smack in the middle of the town's only public park.

Then and now, if you ask black residents of townships and shantytowns on the outskirts of Lichtenburg who De la Rey was and why his statue stands head and shoulders above the rest, I can assure you, almost none would give you the correct answer.

It didn't bother me to ask questions about the huge granite edifice with the bearded head of the volk hero atop a horse, clad in ancient military fatigues and a moerse rifle hanging by the sides.

It doesn't bother me now.

Not even after De la Rey's ghost was resurrected through a song by one Bok van Blerk, did I feel the urge to Google the oke and learn about him. Even all those years ago when he stood large in the middle of the town, whenever I had my fish and chips the world looked soft and kind.

I recently passed through the town of my youth after a long time. Somehow, in my older age, the De la Rey statue looks small and diminished and lonely and unloved.

Somehow, the facade of its inner strength and evocative pose has faded. The shiny grey work of art has lost its lustre and shine. It has turned ashen green, like someone with gangrene.

Somehow, I want to mount the steel horse and hug this hero of the volk and reassure him that alles sal reg kom.

Perhaps the statue is a metaphor of all that has befallen the volk since that traitor FW de Klerk sold die Vaderland to backward darkies and ungodly commies.

I no longer care for fish and chips, unless the former is from a good fishery or fresh from the Costa de Sol seas in Maputo.

As for chips, I think they are an overrated snack, full of useless starch and dripping with bad fat, especially chips purchased from most corner cafe joints jostling for trade in downtown Jozi.

But it shows how the same chips can evoke memories long buried in cavities of time.

Time when the black man knew his place and the white man was the boss - and always right.



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