The man with the hoe

In Dagga, Part 2, I wrote about a photograph of a man with a hoe, a small-holding farmer on the outskirts of Durban, ca 1972:

One branch of that extended family in Durban owned a small holding in a lush, hilly area where they farmed peanuts, among other things. Being so young at the time of our visit, my memories are necessarily fragmented, but augmented (and maybe created?) by photographs that, in later times in my childhood, my family would pore over with nostalgic recollection; photographs which I now, with an even deeper cut of that ache for home, wish I had before me. One photograph stands out, a picture of a tall, lanky and dark, moustachioed man, dressed in dark blue cotton trousers (or was it a blue overall rolled to the waist?) now all muddy at the ankles, a white shirt, rolled sleeves, a hoe over his shoulders and staring dead pan and exhausted at the camera. Behind his right shoulder, a corrugated zinc water tank, fed by a pipe running from the roof of a building of which only part of a wall is visible. The ground is dark and muddy; in the far background of the picture, a deep, indiscriminate, dark green jungle.

I have now found the photograph and all the stuff about memory’s trickery hold. I got some details wrong: the left-right composition, that his facial expression is clearly visible, the sense of a jungle in the background. And the photograph is not as vivid as it appeared in my memory when writing the above:


Durban farmer, 1972


One Response to The man with the hoe

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