Bjarne's Photo Archive 2: To eMpangeni



1. The Village, Umhlanga, South of Zululand and North of the Bluff and North of Oslo Beach


The Village was a peculiar place where I had met two old friends catching up with a fellow old boy from their boarding school, Hilton. This fellow had just returned from his adventures as a cattle auctioneer in Texas. Later, I came across an intriguing tale about a Norwegian Lutheran minister's son in Empangeni, who had embarked on a perilous two-week journey to school, pulled by a dozen oxen. When he arrived at the boarding school, he had handed over 12 oxen as payment for his tuition. This peculiar tradition persisted to that day at Hilton, where school fees were measured in oxen.



For many expats that lived in remote locations it is necessary to send their children to boarding schools. These schools doubled as places to prepare young men for war, by installing a particular sense of hierarchy and values.


2. Bleu, an old boy, at the Village, Umhlanga


3. Birds, Elangeni Hotel, Durban


The Elangeni Hotel, I was told, had held a special place in Durban's heart. It was where they had hosted May 17th parties in their president's conference room.


4. Beachwood Golf Course, Virginia, Along the Indian Ocean


5-9. The Natal Yacht Club


The Natal Yacht Club's flag had a striking Scandic look. Norwegian sailors and whalers, I thought, must have shared countless Friday afternoons there, gazing at Wilson's Wharf while savouring mutton curry toasted sandwiches. A culinary delight born from Durban's diverse culture.


10. Andre, Elangeni


11-26. The Old Boys were ‘jolling’, a phrase I had become all too familiar with.


27. The Morning After, Getting Ready for a Surf and a ‘babalas bure’ (a hangover cure)


28. Ole in the Morning at the Digs, Durban North


29. Thor Greeted David. Thor has been on the yachts. Many folk from this generation go to work on super yachts as deckhands. To see the world by sea and make a pretty penny.


30. A Madagascan Pot Plant, Ballito


31. Electric Fenced Security Buildings, Umhlanga


32-35. Car Guards Were Everywhere – A Curious Sight


36. Exotic Plants, Ballito


37. The Umhlanga Light - Guiding the Whalers

This image, captured from the Oyster Box bar, held memories of the worst cocktails imaginable, but we drank with gusto and then wandered down to the smoking bar.


38. Ulrik in His Umhlanga Apartment


 Ulrik had proudly displayed a copy of the book he had been engrossed in, Think and Grow Rich.


39. Ulrik's Car with the Unique Number Plate – NUR 10. He has been offered large amounts of money for it. But has refused. Durban has a car modification culture. Neon lights, vinyl, and big speakers, playing hits from MTV.


40. Ulrik's Favourite Chinese Restaurant


41-43. The Beverly Hills, Umhlanga


43-47. Inside the Oyster Box


48-49. My First Encounter with Violence in Virginia, Umhlanga


51-55. Dinner with Ulrik


56. Dibble’s Mother


57-58. Tongaat Hullet Business Properties. The company slowly transitioned into property development, which led to a decrease in farming and an increase in corruption.


59-60. Santorini, Salt Rock


61. Bernt

62. The Normal Crowd Watching South Africa Play Rugby


67-74. The Ruins of the Norwegian Whaling Station


In those ruins, hermits had found their refuge, sustaining themselves through fishing. There, Dibble and I had met Olav, who had lived there for two decades and had countless tales to share.


75-78. Riding on the Back of the Bakkie Through the Empangeni Farm


79-83. Meeting Dibble's Doppelganger at the Farming Store. They both share the same surname. This raises the question of whether they were related in some shape or form.


84. A View Through the Trees Overlooking the Farmlands


85-95. The Whaling Station – Where Whales Met Their Fate.


96-106. The Durban Club – A Place of Elegance

with the usual crowd.


107-120. Empangeni Country Club – A Melting Pot of Cultures


Those country clubs had served as incubators of European culture, where a diverse community, including descendants from Portugal, England, Norway, and Italy, had come together.


121. A View from Rupe's Secret Swimming Spot in Oslo Beach.


Rupe, an old friend of Dibble’s and an impromptu guide for much of our journey, was of Norwegian heritage himself.


122-123. The Empangeni Bowls Club


124-126. Pollinating Rare Plants from Madagascar


127-128. Richards Bay


129-133. Rupe takes us to a church that was built to commemorate his great-grandfather, who died in battle during WW1. He brushes the leaves away to show us his name. A man comes to investigate what we are up to, we end up discussing the significance of the large trees, his theory about the meaning of these European trees is different from any other we heard.


134-135. Empangeni Farm Workshop – Rupe wants to write a book one day called Love In The Workshop.


136. Rune's Bedroom in the Digs – Nature Reclaimed the Space


137-162. The Usual Crowd's Favourite Drinking Hole in Durban North


163-165. Umfalozi – Aggressive Elephant in heat addresses the vehicle.


166-168. The Norwegian Whaling Station – Off-Limits and Enigmatic


169-179. Heard of Elephants and Other Scenes from Umfalozi


180-182. Between Country Clubs


183-191. Over the Indian Ocean - Where Whales Thrived


192. Pelican


193-196. Rupe told us about the last Madagascan tree of its species. It is a male tree and they have found no female. Rupe has recently broken up with his girlfriend. I think he has an affinity with the tree. Being a young farmer up in Zululand makes him feel like a bachelor tree. (Dibble was enthralled)


197-199. Empangeni Sugar Land – Vast and Rich


200-202. Here we visit the old house of my Professor’s relations. It took a long time to get inside. To say the community was sceptical about us being there is an understatement. As we see a car drive out, we ask if we can speak to the owner. Two young men come out and tell us it is now occupied by two Muslim families. They graciously invited us in.


204. Christmas Golf Day – A Tradition of Pitting Lemons Against Pineapples


205-207. Going Back to Collect Forgotten Items from the Country Club


208-214. Pollinating the Madagascan Plants


216-225. Empangeni – We were called to the reservoir because the guards had said the night before there was a spirit (something hippo-like in description) emerging in front the water. Everyone was convinced it was a spirit, which was related to our being there.


226-227. Black and White Checked Flooring – A Common Sight. The black and white checked flooring was a repeating feature throughout many of the historical buildings we visited.


228-230. I couldn’t help but remember Millet’s painting of the Seed Sower.


231-232. Empangeni Farming – A Life of Toil and Reward


233. Zululand – A Place of Rich Heritage


234-235. Meeting Mr. Benson – The Colourful Car Guard in Mtunzini. Being the eccentric he is, he and Rupe get along famously.


236. Rupe Inside the Water Tower – Home to Rumoured Mermaids


237-239. Sugarcane Fields – Vast and Rhythmic


241-251. A Solemn Encounter at the Workshop Engineer's Home – We were urgently called in one day. One of the old workshop engineers was on his deathbed. We waited in his lounge as Rupe went to cheer him up. It was a sober reminder of life and death. The end of things.