page 2012/41-25 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 25) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_025.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-25


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 25) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_025.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 25 of Nelson Mandela's Warders
Christo Brand

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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‘It doesn’t matter the weather, I had to walk a long way each morning to catch the school bus,’ recalls Brand. ‘Chocolate would go with me. Chocolate was a black man who just turned up at the farm one day and helped my father. I don’t know what his real name was. He would help out on the farm and he would help my mother in the house. Money was so bad that we didn’t have meat to eat. For supper we would have roast potatoes, butternut and pumpkin with bread crumb stuffing and peas. It was not so bad. It was only later in Cape Town when my friends taught me to braai that I got a taste for boerewors and biltong. After supper my father would take out his violin and Chocolate would get his guitar and they would play together. Then one day Chocolate disappeared. I still don’t know what happened to him. Perhaps he got arrested for not having a pass [an identity document which authorised the holder’s presence in an area]. But we never saw him again.’

In 1972, Brand’s father fell ill with pneumonia and the family left the farm to stay with his brother in the Cape Town suburb of Parow. For a year they lived in a single room in the backyard until his father got a job on the railways and the family moved to Ruyterwacht, a suburb reserved for white railway workers. The Brands bought the house, and Christo Brand still lives there today.

During his high school years, the enterprising Brand spent his free time making money. ‘My family was poor so they couldn’t give me pocket money,’ he says, ‘so I had to find some ways to get money.’ He fixed bicycles and sold them, he worked for a builder on weekends learning to lay bricks, plaster and even the rudiments of electrical installations. When the builder’s house was complete, Brand went door-to-door selling stainless steel products and doilies. He acquired enough money to buy a broken-down 50cc motorbike which he fixed and eventually sold. The money went into buying a rust-

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