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KZN journalist pays homage to history of Phoenix and its buses

Zainul Aberdeen holds up a copy of his book Phoenix Buses, which will be discussed this week at the Durban International Book Fair at Sibaya Casino. Picture: Jehran Naidoo/ Independent Media

Zainul Aberdeen holds up a copy of his book Phoenix Buses, which will be discussed this week at the Durban International Book Fair at Sibaya Casino. Picture: Jehran Naidoo/ Independent Media

Published Aug 2, 2022

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Durban - Daily News journalist Zainul Aberdeen pays homage to the Phoenix settlement and its buses that transported residents during the days of apartheid and segregation in his book, Phoenix Buses.

Aberdeen, who used to work on a popular private bus company, Mayville Coachlines, for around eight years before he got into journalism, said the book paints a picture of Phoenix before it became cluttered with houses.

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Mayville Coachlines and Springfield Safari Tours were two of the most dominant bus companies back then, Aberdeen explained.

Aberdeen takes the reader on a journey from the birth of Phoenix, a time when the Mount Edgecombe sugar mill was still in operation, until the arrival of the Indian population in the area.

He then touches on the number of buses and bus owners who ran their businesses at a time when the apartheid government frowned upon the success of the Indian population.

Aberdeen said he chose to write a book on Phoenix buses because of the role they played in society at the time and the sense of community commuters and bus operators shared in those days.

“This book about Phoenix and the other books I intend to write about other Durban areas, is a tribute to those that were employed by the private non-subsidised bus companies and also a tribute to all those who were involved in it.

“The subject of buses were always left out when South African history was discussed, be it on the lines of a specific race group, like Indians for example. We hear a lot about Indians in politics but nothing to do with buses.

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“From a young age, I have had this passion about buses. I made them with lego blocks. I travelled a lot. I also worked on them for about eight years. I managed to capture all those experiences in this book.

“This book takes you back to how the engineers first designed Phoenix, where the people came from, what factors influenced the creation of the suburb and then we get to the concept of who provided transport in the 60s and 70s,” he added.

The seasoned journalist was speaking during the Durban International Book Fair on Monday evening at Sibaya Casino and Entertainment World.

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The event aims to promote local authors and their publications, many of which tell stories of South African history and culture.

The fair will run from Monday to Friday at Sibaya and is free for the public to attend.

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