My dad passed away last month. Three years ago I took him to watch the quarter finals of the rugby world cup in France. This is a little tribute to him.
Interestingly enough, my dad was born during the great depression, and died during the current crisis. He was by no means a perfect man. But he was reasoned and reasonable. I never heard or saw him treat any stranger with anything but respect, no matter who they were. He spoke isiZulu fluently.
In this video he talks about Tom van Vollenhoven as the greatest Springbok he ever saw play. Wikipedia has an interesting piece on him.
My dad was a verligte Nasionalis. He supported the reform of apartheid. He regarded it as both unjust and unsustainable. But he certainly never voted anything but Nationalist during apartheid as far as I am aware.
He once told us that we could learn a lot from everybody. Including those who “swept the streets”. On another occasion he told me he does not care what job I did when I grow up, as long as I do it well.
That summed him up quite well. He was’nt ostentatious or materialist.
After he completed his degree in medicine he worked for short time as a GP in Johannesburg. He hated it. He became friends with a number of jewish doctors. They advised him to specialise in orthopedics and to do so overseas, preferably in a place like Edinburgh. That way he could easily find a job anywhere. And warned the doctors, South Africa’s future was uncertain as white rule will increasingly come under strain.
My father duly completed his degree at Edinburgh, but he returned to South Africa straight after. Only to return overseas twice. Once for his honeymoon with my mom. And once for the World Cup rugby with me.
He met my mom at the University of Pretoria. He was driving a Porsche (the one occasion where he was flashy) and she had just been selected to be Lente Koniging (Spring Queen). All rather glamorous.
My dad became head of orthopedics for both the whites only Paardekraal hospital (now called Dr. Yosuf Dadoo) and the black Leratong hospital, a position he held for quite some time during the apartheid era. My dad was very proud of both these hospitals and the service they offered.
He often talked in disparaging tones of the new private Krugersdorp hospital that was built during the late 80′s. He called it “die piek paleis” (the pink palace) and declined offers to work there.
Shortly before he died he told me that both Leratong and Dr. Yosuf Dadoo are now in a terrible state. And its ironic, the last time I saw him alive he was a patient in the Pienk Paleis.
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