that Natal Mercury Idler Jon Penn was kind enough to mention
Facts About Durban again in his column yesterday.
to view the column.
I promised to track down some new facts about one of the many
shipwrecks which have occurred on Durban beaches. I have made
progress and have not only managed to get a picture of the
ship aground but have got the contact details of an actual
eyewitness to the event. Watch this space soon for more details.
meantime, however, there were a couple of stories included
in Facts About Durban which I was unable to confirm by the
time we went to press. Durbanite Mike Rochfort has been in
touch to say that one of them, at least, is perfectly true
in that sand from the Umgeni River was used in the construction
of the foundations of the Empire State Building in New
York. He writes that the appropriately-named Sandgate Castle
was loaded with the sand in Durban as ballast and was to have
dumped it at sea before arrival in New York.
The harbour authorities there apparently radioed the ship
and asked it offload the sand at the quay from where the contractors
took it for use in the building. Mike quotes the Perm Book
of Test the Team (1994) as his source. Test the Team was one
of the late and much lamented Springbok Radio's best quiz
shows and, as I recall, one of the panel members was from
of my having published Facts About Durban was that a very
interesting old book has come my way courtesy of reader Ethel
Rainbow. The book, Origin of Durban Street Names by John McIntyre,
was published in 1956 and has plenty of good stuff in it.
Street, for example, was named in the very early days of Durban
in honour of Sir Harry Smith's victory in 1846 over a large
force of Sikhs near the village of Aliwal in the Punjab, India.
Sir Harry visited Durban in 1847 as Governor of the Cape Colony
where he had arrived, as the book puts it, with the honours
of Aliwal fresh upon him.
grateful if anyone reading this who knows what happened to
John McIntyre would get in touch
through Origin of Durban Street Names I was reminded about
Captain John Rainnie who was port Captain of Durban in 1904
when the Armadale Castle became the first large ship to enter
Durban Bay and tie up at the quay. Captain Rainnie had two
links with my family in that he was friends with my great
grandfather Samuel Popham Jackson in Grangemouth, Scotland,
and having arrived in South Africa, lost his eldest daughter
Nellie in marriage to my great uncle Edwie Miller from the
other side of the family. Captain Rainnie was a Durban City
Councillor between 1930 and 1944 and the road named after
him is in Maydon Wharf off Methven Road.***
Click image to enlarge.
Courtesy: J. Jackson
Rainnie is the nattily dressed gent in the centre of the picture
above. The picture was taken by my mum around 1936 during
one of his frequent visits to her family's farm Collington
in East Griqualand. The good Captain would apparently always
arrive at the farm bearing a gift of great price; namely a
box of Scottish Kippers which he obtained from his son who
was the captain of a ship plying the route between Scotland
and the east coast of Africa.
Methven Road, mentioned above, was named after Cathcart Methven
who was harbour engineer in Durban from 1887 and is also credited
with kick-starting Durban's municipal art gallery when he
donated one of his paintings, Durban Bay from Clairmont,
in the late 1890s.
About Durban I mention the Bunny Chow which is possibly the
only dish native to Durban. The piece I wrote on Bunnies proved
to be too long to fit in the book and had to be cut but I
have put the original version on a page of its own. Click
here to view. I'm
thinking that I should post a picture of a Bunny for the benefit
of foreign readers and I promise to take a picture the very
next time I have one for lunch.
I'm pleased with life at the moment is a very mild understatement.
One of the reasons is that Facts About Durban has received
an excellent review in the monthly magazine Metrobeat which
goes out to all ratepayers in the eThekwini Municipal area
which incorporates the whole of Greater Durban.**
Facts was reviewed by editor Peter Bendheim who described
it as "...Allan Jackson's little gem..",
and said that it "should hold instant appeal for all
who have an interest in the city".
to read the full review. THANKS
Facts About Durban for some theories on the origin of the
believed to be the biggest South African flag ever made
was unfurled before a large crowd at the Durban Wings Club
Airshow at Virginia Airport in Durban on Sunday, 13 July 2003.
skydiver Mark Horning jumped from 6000 feet over the airfield
with the 70Kg flag in a bag attached to him in a tandem parachute
harness. Once he had sucessfully deployed his parachute he
unpacked the flag and flew it sucessfully during the rest
of the jump.
Mark Horning after his jump.
Click to view an enlargement
was 5200 square feet in size and measured 18x27 metres. It
was made by parachute manufacturer Aerodyne Systems from fabric
supplied by Galvenor Textiles and would have cost Mark a cool
R28000 if the companies hadn't sponsored him.
I mention that eThekwini is the name now used to refer to
the Greater Durban Area and especially to the Municipality
that runs the show. I also revealed that nobody knows for
certain what the word means. Grant McKenna sent me an email
with a few thoughts on the matter:
There is much debate over the meaning of eThekwini,
and neither the eThekwini Heritage Department nor the
eThekwini Metropolitan Unicity Municipality will state
as an absolute fact the derivation of the name.
Some argue that the name is derived from a joke made
by the leader of the amaThuli, Chief Shadwa, when the
amaThuli settled on the bay; the story is that Chief Shadwa
or a jester looked down from the area of today's Berea
and said that the bay was a one testicled thing. Certainly,
as Adrian Koopman points out in his brilliant work, "Zulu
Names"[UNP; Pietermaritzburg-2002] , Elizabeth Pooley's
"Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand
and the Transkei" has the Tonga-Kerrie recorded with
the Zulu name umthekwini, referring to the single round
fruit at the end of each stem. This shows that the term
"itheku" is or has been used for a one-testicled
animal or person, instead of today's "ithweka".
It is the fact that the word "itheku" is not
used today that leads many to believe that the legend
of Shadwa's joke is a myth.
Janie Malherbe made the claim that Bishop Colenso
advocated the meaning in his pioneering Zulu to English
dictionary of an "open mouth or a bay" for iTeku
because of modesty- clearly she did not read his dictionary,
which unblushingly gives many explicit words and their
Commandant Sighurt Bourquin, the well-known authority
on the Zulu, pointed out that the shape of the harbour
would not be readily apparent when it was covered with
mangroves viewed obliquely through the trees.
Probably eThekwini is probably the locative form of
itheku- bay, lagoon. There is however a suggestion that
it is derived from the Xhoza iteko- a meeting place, and
brought to the area by the British Settlers in 1824, many
of whom had learnt Xhoza whilst in the Cape. Grant
asked to state that the above does not necessarily reflect
the opinion of Grant's employer.
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