Sunday, 9 November 2008

Theo Cholo

Yesterday, we met with Theo Cholo. The little information that we could find on him proved to be greatly incorrect (never trust the internet, you see). Rather than being ‘24’ in 1973 as we thought, he was in his late 40’s. We expected someone with a similar experience to Saths, but we found someone who seemed to have more in common with the RI elders.

He was quite funny when speaking about his choice. According to the bible, he chose Sonnet 123:

No, Time, thou shall not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old;
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow, and this shall ever be;
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee.

But upon reading it, he didn’t like it nearly as much as he liked Sonnet 122:

Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full charactered with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain
Beyond all date even to eternity—
Or at the least, so long as brain and heart
Have faculty by nature to subsist;
Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
Of thee, thy record never can be missed.
That poor retention could not so much hold,
Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score;
Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
To trust those tables that receive thee more.
To keep an adjunct to remember thee
Were to import forgetfulness in me.

So, again, memory plays a wonderful trick on the mind. He lived in a township outside of Pretoria. Masie was gracious enough to drive us there. But I know that he loved every minute of it as by the end of the interview, both Theo & his wife were referring to him as ‘son’ and insisting that he return again to their home. Once again, the magic Masie smile broke out from ear to ear. He would have driven to London to meet the men that we were meeting.

We have been staying at Masie’s home in Soweto for a couple of nights this week (Weds & Thursday). The place is beautiful – the first thatched roof two story house in Soweto. Now there seems to be a few more, but his was the first. And it looks madly out of place, but it is a warm & wonderful home.

On Monday, we are meeting with Sonny Venkatrathnam, the owner of the ‘bible’. We are thrilled to finally meet him as I have been in communication with him since September 2006. We hope to be able to look at the ‘bible’ and photograph the various passages to help ‘prove’ to the comrades whom we have interviewed that they did indeed sign this or that passage.

Things are progressing well with the project. We may head next towards Cape Town if we can secure an interview with Eddie Daniels, if not we will head back to Jo’burg to meet with Michael on Saturday. We also hope to find the phone number for Kadir Hassim, another signatoree who lives in Pietermartiezburg, just north of Durban.