Author Vino Govender looks back to an era of dancing to The Flames and big pots of breyani being cooked on the backyard fireplace.
Author Vino Govender looks back to an era of dancing to The Flames and big pots of breyani being cooked on the backyard fireplace.

Casbah To Candella... A nostalgic trip down memory lane

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Aug 3, 2019

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Durban - Take a nostalgic trip down memory lane paging through Casbah To Candella - Those Days, by Durban author and poet Vino Govender.

While the book is a story set in Durban in the struggling 1960s with the main character, Dumisani, being adopted by an Indian family, it also provides a historical account of the Indian community from Grey Street across to Mayville, as well as insights into Tamil and Hindi cultures of that time.

Govender said the book captured nostalgic moments such as catching the bus from Standard, Bellair, Cato Manor and Candella roads, simple meals of puri and beans, pumpkin and jackfruit painstakingly cleaned and prepared together with the popular mint chutney.

It also takes the reader back to haggling at the Victoria Street fish market, functions under a marquee with liberal quantities of Mainstay and huge pots of breyani prepared in the backyard fireplace, with music by the likes of the Flames and dance groups, such as The Flash entertainers.

“It may have been termed a grey area, but back then there was a togetherness.

“Everyone lived side-by-side, looked out for each other and no one went hungry. We may not have had TVs or electronics, but we swopped stories around the fireplace and listened to music. It was a contented life, yet with bare essentials.

“There was a culture of sharing and unconditional love which I think was lost when we were moved,” she said.

Govender said while the book provided a chance to reminisce for the older generation, it was also an opportunity for younger generations to find out more about the 1960s and 1970s era.

“I started the book last year because I’d been interacting with children and I wanted them to know where they come from.

“There are a lot of successful older people in Durban from that generation and they grew up with the morals and values that young people need to emulate today,” she said, highlighting that a simple code of good manners and respect could reduce the level of violence in today’s society.

Born in the Transkei, but having grown up and worked in Durban, Govender has now retired and lives on the Durban beachfront.

“When it comes to Durban, I love the mixture of people we get here. I’m a people’s person and enjoy being with other people, it doesn’t matter to me where they come from or what they do,” she said.

Govender has written two previous books: Tomorrow’s People, a collection of stories about young people, and African Blossoms, a book of motivational poetry. She will be launching her book at the Durban Book Fair in Mitchell Park on Sunday.

The Independent on Saturday

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