“I had five paternal uncles, four in South Africa and one in India. For some reason, each uncle had a son named Ebrahim. What a stupid idea. It made me feel like a sausage from a boerewors factory.”
In this part memoir and part satire, Ebrahim Essa chronicles a quirky childhood growing up in the 1950s in an Indian township on the outskirts of the South African port city of Durban. Here, he bunks school to watch Hindi films, irons his brothers clothes to access banned imported comic books and tries to outrun gangsters in the Grey Street Casbah. Just as he begins to win at life, apartheid education prompts his father to send him to India to study. He spends 21 days on board the SS Karanja nervously snacking on Lemon Creams before reaching Bombay. But studying in India isn’t all that it’s made out to be. It’s worse. He battles jaundice, long-drop toilets and electricity cuts during the ‘65 India-Pakistan war. Ebrahim Essa tickles and pokes even as he documents a fascinating period in the South African Indian community.
About the author:
Ebrahim Essa is a comic-book and Hindi film aficionado based in Durban. He taught high school Physical Science for 30 years before retiring in 2016. He is a widely published letter writer to various newspapers across South Africa, the author of “The Life Story of Suliman Essa Patel” and was also a contributor to the anthology Undressing Durban (Madiba Press, 2007). EB Koybie is his first book.