The story is how a young girl, Emily Kleintjies, born into the Cape Coloured community in South Africa, finds that she cannot accept being classified a second class citizen by the Apartheid laws of the country. She rebels, and at the age of 16 years old, moves to Johannesburg, where, with the help of friends she makes, she establishes a life as a White, changing her name to Emma Kline.
When, as a student in London, England in 1953, I read the Thomlinson report in the Readers Digest, I was shocked. This was a South Africa I did not see as I was growing up. I contacted my parents, and told them to leave the country. They laughed at me.
Returning to South Africa, I joined various groups that surreptiously worked against the apartheid system. As a pharmacist in the town, Potchefstroom, I befriended many of the leaders of the African community, and helped them wherever I could. Eventually, I had a visit from Brigadier Stemmet of the Security police, who told me quite bluntly, "We will no longer protect you or your family." That night, after his visit, out dog, Gamboo, was poisoned and died. My wife and I then encouraged my children to emigrate.
The story, The VASE with the MANY COLOURED MARBLES, is based on people I grew up with and learned to know. How much of the story is true? Far more than you expect.
The book is very much based on the people I met, knew and worked with in South Africa and London England.
Who was Emma? She was a young girl I met at the Municipal swimming pool in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Over the years, her mother gradually filled in her story whenever I spoke with her. This was a story that had to be told; a story that had to educate the world to the true meaning of the word apartheid, and the horror and tragedy the apartheid policy caused. It is also a story that highlights how the lack of a Westernized education, started by Hendrik Verwoerd among the Africans of Southern Africa, would lead to the degradation of the country when they eventually took over governance.
This is a story that must be read.
The Vase with the Many Coloured Marbles: Book 1, Emma. Book 2, Marla
Introduction“The fairest cape in all the world.”So said Jan van Riebeeck as he established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa, on April 6th, 1652. The Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias was the first man to round the Cape in his ship, but it was Vasco da Gama who recorded a sighting of the Cape of Good Hope in 1497. The beauty of Table Mountain with its “tablecloth”, as the thin strip of cloud that forms over the mountain was called, was the perfect way-station for ships travelling to the Dutch East Indies. The city grew slowly at first as it was hard to find adequate labour, prompting the city to import slaves from Indonesia and Madagascar, many of them becoming the ancestors of the first Cape Coloured Communities. Dutch was the first language spoken, but with the arrival of British forces in 1795, English was introduced. The Dutch language spoken in the Cape over the years gradually evolved into Afrikaans, a language that became primary under the National Government of Dr. Malan in the national elections of 1948.Cape Town today is located at the northern end of the Cape Peninsula, with Table Mountain forming a dramatic backdrop to the city. With its mild, wet winters, and dry very warm summers, it has become the vacation jewel of many South Africans. Cape Town is also where the South African Parliament sits, and is the legislative capital of the country. It is also the city in which the ship you have taken from England will dock, a magnificent welcome to a country that is remarkable in its beauty and diversity.The Protea, a flower found growing wild in the Cape, attracted the attention of botanists in the 17th century. The extraordinary richness and diversity of species characteristic of the Cape Flora are thought to be caused by the diverse landscape where populations can become isolated from each other and over time develop into separate species. Recently, after a major fire that destroyed acres on Table Mountain, Proteas appeared that had never been seen before, much the delight of botanists all over the world.Within approximately a thousand-mile radius of Cape Town, you can drive from the semiarid plateaus of the Little Karoo separated from the Great Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain range. You rise to an altitude of 2000 – 3000 feet of the Western Cape along the Atlantic coast, to Namaqualand on the west and the Komsberg and Roggeveldt escarpments on the southwest, merging with the high veldt of the Free State and Transvaal provinces.As you drive, air conditioners at maximum cold, the red dust somehow seeps through the closed doors and windows of the car, causing you to cough and cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief. The wind, unchecked by trees or shrubs, blows it about as it ruffles the wool of the sheep that thrive here. If you are lucky, and drive through a flash rainstorm, you will be overwhelmed by the botanical garden of flora not seen anywhere else in the world that seems to spring out of desert sand as the rain drops hit the dry earth. If you are unlucky you will catch a swarm of locusts that fills the outside of your car with their sticky corpses before you pull to the side of the road, waiting for the swarm to pass. You are overwhelmed as they batter themselves unceasingly into your windshield and side windows. At the nearest garage, you stop to wipe the sticky mess off your car, allowing the engine to breathe as you fill up with petrol before you continue on to the alluvial diamond fields of the Orange River Delta in the Richtersveldt.Or you can drive along the coast of the Indian Ocean through the beautiful and captivating garden route, visiting the ostrich farms of Oudtshoorn whose farmers made untold fortunes when ostrich feathers were the rage of the European fashion market. You would make a detour and visit the Cango Caves, one of the world’s great natural wonders on the way to George and Knysna before stopping at Plettenburg Bay, a prime holiday resort known for the unusual pansy shell that washes up on its beaches.If you want to, you can continue on to Port Elizabeth, where you would sit on the rocks, opening oyster shells or mussels and slurping their contents after dipping them into the ocean for flavor, or you would decide to spend the cash you have in its large shopping centre that caters to tourists. Eventually you reluctantly tear yourself away and drive along the coast, crossing the Sundays River in an inland detour to visit the University town of Grahamstown on the way to East London, where you can spend a few days enjoying the warm water of the Indian Ocean.You can then drive on into the Transkei, officially known as the Republic of Transkei and inhabited by the Xhosas, one of South Africa’s many African tribes, a tribe that gave birth to Nelson Mandela. You would visit Umtata, its capital, today known as Mthatha, or you could decide to continue on into the heights of Hogsback, with its artist colonies, where the climate is like that of England. You would look for a room at one of the few hotels and spend your days walking the trails through forests full of blooming azaleas and rhododendrons as waterfalls thunder in the background. The adventurous can shower in the falling water like a nude nymph, the solitude broken only by a hiker whistling to warn of their approach, allowing you to quickly cover nudity and hide in the bushes. More often than not the crashing water of the falls would drown out the whistling and as the hiker came closer to the falls he would pause and rub his eyes in disbelief at the mirage of a water nymph.Then again, you can continue north to the subtropical Province of Natal warmed by the Agulhas current, past the towns of Margate into Durban surrounded by its fields of sugar plantations and banana trees. You would enjoy the sight of avocado trees full of monkeys that captivate your heart and make off with whatever article you may leave lying around. Driving north through Natal, you can pass through the holiday resorts of Umhlanga rocks, to the Umfolozi, and visit the Hluhulwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, and St. Lucia Bay before driving north into Piet Retief making your way slowly to Johannesburg. Or you could continue north around the border of Zululand to Nelspruit, and the start of the Kruger National Park.Then again you could have preferred to drive through the vineyards of the Cape, sampling wine as you slowly make your way to the town of Stellenbosch that hosts the fourth largest university in the country. You would enjoy having lunch in any one of the many early houses built in the Cape Dutch Architectural style, unique to this small area of the world and without question magnificently beautiful. With heartfelt regret you would pull yourself away from this beauty and continue on to the frontier town of Beaufort West, the oldest town in the Central Karoo and the world’s richest collecting grounds for reptile fossils that today are displayed in museums throughout Europe.After filling up your car with petrol, you would continue driving until, crossing the Orange River and driving through the dry grassland, you would eventually reach the city of Bloemfontein, the judicial capital of South Africa, a city poetically known as “the city of roses” because of its yearly rose festival. The city also boasts the University of the Free State, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in South Africa.Should you have driven further to the west, you would have reached the city of Kimberley, home of the largest man-made hole in the world, where the early settlers dug for diamonds.You could continue on by crossing the Vaal River at Parys and driving through the small university town of Potchefstroom to visit the gold mines of Johannesburg with its yellow mountains of processed sand, the result of mining the vast gold fields. Johannesburg has a wonderful climate, almost 1,753 meters above sea level, shaded by cumulus clouds that look like stairways to the heavens as the sun sets in the evening. The Highveldt of the Transvaal, today known as Gauteng, is where your blood thickens to handle the lower oxygen levels in the atmosphere, a climate visited by athletes from all over the world to train months before an Olympic event; a climate where your skin tans golden brown in the ever present sun.From Johannesburg you could travel North to Pretoria, the administrative capital and the de facto national capital, a city where Winston Churchill was imprisoned during the Anglo Boer war of 1899 to 1902. You could then continue East to the Lowveldt and the Kruger National Park, teeming with wild game. You would try to sleep under mosquito nets to escape the bite of the Anopheles malaria mosquito that keeps you awake all night with its singing. You could drive to, and gasp at the dramatic view of, the Blyde River Canyon, the largest Grand Canyon in the world.Then again you could slowly make your way north to Pietersburg, and the scenic Magoebaskloof mountains, and drive on to Tzaneen with the road dropping some 600 meters in less than 6 kilometers, as you reach the northernmost point of the great Drakensburg Mountain Range that runs South and West, its influence felt in all four Provinces.Or, instead of driving to Johannesburg, you could have veered off to the Drakensburg Mountains, that in winter are more than often covered in snow. The beautiful Drakensburg mountain range, the border between Bechuanaland, today known as Lesotho, and South Africa, in the centre of the country where one can play in the snow in the morning and after a 500 kilometer drive into Durban, sunbathe on the beautiful sandy beaches in the afternoon, with the crashing waves a picture of surfers.This is South Africa, an ancient land at the tip of Africa unequalled in its rich diversity of fauna and flora, a country where many argue that man’s ancestors walked erect for the first time. South Africa, a land where the different cultures of Africa, Europe and the East clash almost without respite even to this day; a land all the cultures agree, is richly endowed with culture, mineral wealth, natural splendour, wilderness and wildlife that is the envy of the world.This is South Africa, a country into which Emma was born.