The “H” of South Africa

For Jenny’s Alphabe Thursday, I am going to write my thoughts, the bits and bobs that I remember of how it was for me, during my almost fifty years spent in South Africa.
These are my ‘H’ memories, opinions and views on a time during a much loved childhood and beyond!

Hippo, holidays, Howick Falls, Hoola hoop, Harrismith, Hubbard squash, Hillview, House Party, Hadada Birds, Humperdinck

I love to start with water, and even better the sound of running water, Howick Falls and holidays! These falls are in the province of Natal about 56 miles before the down hill road to Durban. 

My first memories of this scenic spot is as a final stop off point before we hit the coast.  We would be travelling by car, as kids, from Transvaal province where we lived towards Durban on holiday.  Someone in the car was always asleep and had to be woken to:

“Come on, we’re going down to see the falls!”  You always knew then that the journey wasn’t much longer, we were nearly at the seaside!

The province of Natal is on the eastern side of South Africa, where the warm Indian Ocean lashes the shores.  The surfing coast!  Natal so named because Portuguese sailors, captained by Vasco de Gama sighted the green land on Christmas day, 1497.  Natal means Christmas in Portuguese.  Later Durban was named after Sir Benjamin D’Urban a British Governor of the Cape, who occupied the area and declared Natal a new British colony.

There was no change to the Howick stopover after I was married and had a brood of my own kids; when we reached Howick after a five hour journey, someone was invariably asleep in the car and had to be carried or led down to see the falls.

Along the way we would have passed Harrismith in the province of Orange Free State.  Long straight roads that pass through acres and acres of farmlands.  This town was named after Sir Harry Smith another Englishman who left his mark in South Africa; further down the road you pass through Ladysmith and no points for guessing who that one is named after, Juana Smith.

I’ve only once seen Hippos in their natural habitat, this at a distance from a cruise boat on the Zambezi river when visiting the Victoria Falls in 1974.  Now that is the big daddy of all the African falls!  Howick is but a trickle but still has a 95 m drop, called KwaNogqawa, ‘the place of the tall one’, by the Zulus.

Yes, Hadada birds I am more familiar with, the Ibis Hadada….

In 1981 the call of Natal became too great for us, the call of the sea, and we moved to the South Coast beside the Indian Ocean. At daybreak  you would hear the Hadada birds flying low over the rooftops in twos and threes, their big wings flapping calling out, Ha-Ha, Ha de dah; as if mocking those still in bed at that hour.

Back to Transvaal for a while.  In my “G” post I mentioned 9th Avenue, the home of many firsts for me, where we lived in a suburb of our first city, Pretoria.  It was there that I met my first husband and was also allowed to host my first house party.  The parents were quite reluctant to begin with, but soon agreed; they cleared out the lounge except for the gramophone, (complete with display cabinet on top.), rolled up the carpet and we had a venue!  Sweet sixteen and never been kissed!

Those were years of the Hoola hoop craze, and they are still around today; I recall that mine was a yellow one; my brother had a Hornby train set; but all too soon, it ended up on top of the wardrobe, as his new favourite was a guitar.  Sad, I loved boys toys.

For mother, shops were just around the corner and I remember first eating Hubbard squash, and being introduced to Gem squashs and butternut as new table vegetables.  Absolute favourite of mine, only recently, is butternut soup!

Recipe on request!

Finishing off the firsts of 9th Avenue; my high School was Hillview High, a school ruled by the ram-rod, straight principle, Mr Chapman, with his trusty cane, booming voice and intimidating stare.  Nevertheless, I loved high school and was sad to leave.

One “H” in music around that time, I remember it was Christmas time too, in 1967;  The Last Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck

And if you enjoyed that, click this link to view some more on the A-Z of South Africa.


About liz2you

Life just happens when you plan something else. 50 years spent in Africa and relevant stories.
This entry was posted in Alphabet Thursday, History, Music, South Africa, this is home, Toys and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The “H” of South Africa

  1. Rinkly Rimes says:

    Having spent fifteen years in Africa (seven in ‘Rhodesia’ and eight in Cape Town) I know just how lovely the continent is and I’m not surprised that you can write a whole alphabetical blog about it.

    • liz2you says:

      Very interesting! During which years did you reside there?
      I could have passed you in the street!
      I visited Rhodesia regularly too.

  2. Theresa says:

    Happy to share your South Africa post this morn! Stunning!

  3. love this post! fascinating! The Falls are so lovely! What fun memories! I’m glad you’ve shared them with us! I feel like I’ve been on a mini trip through time and space.

  4. Anita says:

    Howick Falls look beautiful. The Hadada birds remind me of the Bandurrias in Patagonia. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing some of the delights of S. Africa.

  5. Teresa says:

    This is such an interesting post. I loved reading about your memories of a place so different from where I live.

    • liz2you says:

      I love your your little creatures, all looking healthy and cared for.
      I’ll be back to check again.

  6. Great H post! Wow. You wrote about a lot of Hs!

  7. Oh Hooray!

    I was excited when this link opened to your blog! I love this little journey with you! And that falls is spectacular!

    Thank you for writing this series. I am thoroughly enjoying it!


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