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My Bitter Sweet Memories

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

By Louisa Layters

Its faded with age, but this photo depicts the wedding photo of Louisa Layters, with her husband and flower girl, her niece Shirley Patterson, daughter of her sister Katherine, in their Kommetjie garden.

We lived in Kommetjie for decades. We were a family consisting of twelve children (Japie Daniels, Joy Daniels, Freddy Daniels, John Daniels, Jane Williams, Katherine Simon, Lillian Daniels, Johanna Williams, Louisa Layters, Anne Botha, Elizabeth Davis and Sadia Ahmed) who were lovingly raised by my mother, Louisa Daniels and father Jacob Daniels.


My father was the caretaker of the water pumps and he used to maintain the electricity of the surrounding buildings by switching it on in the morning and off at night. As children we used to follow him all over and he was a very wise man with knowledge about everything that required maintenance as well as about farming and the fishing industry.


My father used to grow his own vegetable garden from scratch and we benefited from it by selling the fresh produce to the white neighbours. Fresh fruit and vegetables were also sold to holiday makers. Our father also had a horse cart and he used to go to Sunnydale butchery and all the surrounding neighbours gave their lists of things that he had to buy for them. As children this was the highlight of the week to go on this joy ride.


We had a fountain a little distance from where we lived and this pit produced fresh, crisp, clear and clean water that we used for drinking water as well as for bathing and cooking. We had no electricity and used paraffin lamps and candles for light at night. To cook, my siblings and I went into the bush to chop wood for our coal stove for my mother to cook meals.


At the back of our house were huge dams and during winter they filled up and we used to make boats from zinc, iron and plank boards. Our carefree days were spent in the fields surrounding our house and we picked wild flowers such as Heaths, Afrikaners, Pypies, Sierrings, Sewe Jaartjies and many others. The white people loved those flowers so much and they use to pay us for them. Using that money we bought Penny, Tickey and Six Pence sweets such as black balls, scenecentjies, sharp toffees, pink stars, funny faces, name sweets and liquorice drops, to name but a few.


A favourite delicacy for us as well as everyone in the vicinity was when my father slaughtered one of his many pigs or chickens. Although we were very poor those years, it was by far the best years of our lives as we were loved unconditionally by our parents and we were raised as well-disciplined and respectable human beings.

Jacob and Louisa Daniels with grand daughter Georgina Wessels.

My mother use to char twice a week at the Kommetjie Hotel. As children we played at Long Beach and climbed the sand dunes. We went for long walks to the shipwreck, Kakapo, and spent hours on the rocks taking off mussels and all sorts of seafood for the pot. We also used to hike up the mountain to a place called Cobra Camp where the military canons were kept and the remains are still there today.


Our mother used to fondly remember and tell us of how the shipwreck (Kakapo) came ashore in the year 1900 and the sailors gave all their non-perishable groceries and clothing items to them. She also had vivid memories of World War II. She said during those years they had to cover all the windows with blankets so the place could be in darkness as the aeroplanes would just fire bombs at the sign of any light or life. The war ships also patrolled around the beach front and our parents used to always be on the lookout for any danger that may have lurked.


We were never allowed to swim in the Kom or in the pool, or walk on the walls as it was reserved for Whites Only. There also was a dairy where everyone had to bring their own bottle for milk. Us Coloureds had to wait until last as it was based on Whites first and not first come, first served.


Although we lived in the apartheid years, those were by far the best years of our lives. My parents were God fearing people and used to read every evening out of the Bible and we prayed every night without fail before we went to bed. We walked to school called Annie Gedenk Skool in Slangkop now known as Ocean View. One of the class rooms was also used for church on a Sunday.


On Saturday nights the Tea Terrace Lounge situated next to the Café was joyful and festive with music and the white people used to dance and they were very happy and had loads of fun. We could watch from a distance but could not go nearby as the party-goers chased us away.


It was a devastating, traumatic and very awful day when we all had to be moved due to the Forced Removal Act. My parents were very saddened by this and although trying their best, they eventually both passed on in Ocean View due to grieving and longing for their home in Kommetjie.


Psalm 91:1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.


Lord, I choose to live, dwell and permanently stay within the shelter that You provide for me. Fill my heart, mind and spirit with the peace that comes from knowing that You are near. Amen.

Here is the Afrikaans translation by Janine Layters, daughter of Mrs Louisa Layters:


MY BITTERSOET HERINNERINGE


Ons het vir dekades in Kommetjie gebly. Ons familie het bestaan uit 12 kinders ( Japie Daniels, Joy Daniels, Freddy Daniels, John Daniels, Jane Williams, Katherine Simon, Lillian Daniels, Johanna Williams, Louisa Layters, Anne Botha, Elizabeth Davis en Sadia Ahmed) wat liefdevol grootgemaak is deur ons ouers, Louisa Daniels en Jakob Daniels.


My pa was die opsigter van die water pompe en hy was ook in beheer van die elektrisiteit in die omliggende geboue. Soggens vroeg sou hy die elektrisiteit aanskakel en saans sou hy dit weer afsit. As kinders het ons hom oral gevolg want sy kennis van die boerdery en die vissery industrie het eindeloos gestrek. My pa het ook sy eie groentetuin gehet en ons het vrugte en groente aan die Blanke bure verskaf. Ons het ook vars groente en vrugte aan die vakansiegangers verkoop. My pa het ook ‘n perdewa gehad en ons Blanke bure het hulle kruideniersware lysie vir hom gegee om die inkopies by die Sunnydale Slaghuis te doen.


As kinders was hierdie uitstappie die hoogtepunt van ons week. My ma het as dagwerker twee keer ‘n week by die Kommetjie Hotel gewerk. Terwyl sy by die werk was het ons by Longbeach geswem en die sandduine uitgeklim. Ons het ook vir lang uitstappies na die skipbreuk, Kakapo gegaan en vele sorgvrye ure daar spandeer. Ons sou ook lekker Mossels en nog vele ander seekosse van die rotse afhaal.


Ons het ook ‘n fontuintjie ‘n entjie van ons huis gehad. Uit hierdie put het vars, bros, helder,skoon water geborrel. Ons het emmers water heen en weer gedra vir huishoudelike gebruik d.w.s vir kook, bad en om skoon te maak. Ons het geen elektrisiteit gehad nie en het parafien lampe en kerse gebruik. Ek en my broers en susters het hout in die naby gelee bos gekap vir ons koolstoof waar my ma die heerlikste etes voorberei het. Ons kombuisie was die beste plek om te wees want nie net het dit die fantastiese geure en aromas gehad nie, maar was ook lekker snoesig en warm.


In ons agterplaas was groot damme en gedurende winter was dit lekker vol en het ons bote van sink, yster en planke gemaak. Ons kommervrye dae was spandeer in die velde wat ons huis omsingel het. Heaths, Afrikaners, Pypies, Sierring, Sewe Jaartjies en soveel meer het daar gegroei. Die Blankes was so lief vir hierdie pragtige rangskikkings dat hulle ons daarvoor betaal het. Met hierdie geldjie het ons verskillende lekkers soos swart balle, scenetjies,toffees, pienk sterre, gesiggies, name lekkers, liquorice drops, ens gekoop.


‘n Gunsteling lekkerny was wanneer my pa een van vele van ons varke of hoenders geslag het. Al was ons aanvanklik baie arm was ons met onvoorwaardelike liefde grootgemaak. Dit was by ver die beste jare van ons lewens want alhoewel my ouers baie streng was het dit ons die nodige disipline geleer om hoe ons medemens met respek en liefde te hanteer.


Die dag wat die Forced Removal Act intree was ‘n verskriklike traumatise, harseer, donker dag wat ons nooit sal vergeet nie. My ouers was veral baie hartseer en depressief en alhoewel hulle, hulle beste probeer het om brawe gesigte op te sit, het hulle weens verlange na hulle tuiste in Kommetjie gesterf.


Psalm 91:1,2 Hy wat by die Allerhoogste skuiling vind en die beskerming van die Almagtige geniet, hy sé vir die Here: U is my toevlug en my veilige vesting, my God op wie ek vertroou.


Gebed: Almagtige God, ek kies om te lewe, bestaan en permanent te bly binne die Tuiste wat U geskep het vir my hart, siel en gees met die Vrede om te weet dat U naby is. AMEN


Geskryf deur Louisa Johanna Layters, vertaal deur Janine Layters



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