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Friday, September 22, 2017

Liquorice & nigger balls – Childhood tales

Liquorice & nigger balls & Southern Africa

Liquorice & Nigger balls were part of most children’s lives in Southern Africa. Liquorice was for pay-day, the hard, round, black sweets were cheaper, lasted longer & this made them  universally popular with all of the kids.  We bought them at tuck & corner shops everywhere.

Privilege seemed to stop short of affecting pocket-money, especially in Durban’s southern ‘burbs. Our parents were boilermakers, welders or mechanics & we figured all the rich people lived in the Transvaal, but we could all afford a nigger ball or three.  We all had shoes, of course, but we never had to wear them much until we got to high school.

These iconic sweets found their way into clubs, swimming pool counters & even a song. Jeremy Taylor, a liberal who had his own clashes with the South African regime,  immortalised them in his song,  Ag Pleeze Daddy.  

In those days, the only thing that evoked any concern about nigger balls was the possibility that a younger child might choke on one. They were no more offensive than marbles until the 1980’s.  After that, they were called jawbreakers, came in many colours & often got confused with gum.

While thinking about our perceptions of life in Transvaal during the era, I came across this great site which I have permission to link to. Please take some time to enjoy this excellent read.  

It really made me smile, & showed me that I also had got it wrong.  It wasn’t just Natal where we weren’t all living the Hollywood lifestyle. It’s a given that so many people were worse off than we were, but there are other sites that explore those social imbalances, & that’s beyond the scope of this website.

The writer works for tips 🙂

The word nigger was never used as a term in Africa.  That was an American thing.  It was also a British thing.  Guy Gibson (Dambusters) flew in a mission that used the codename Nigger, It was also the name of his dog, although the labrador retriever was renamed Digger in the later movie about the daring attacks on German dams by the RAF 617 Squadron in 1943.

Nigger, the dog, pet & mascot’s grave

RAF_Scampton_022

Licence & attributes

Byline: The affection that the men were able to show to the dog but not each other has been noted in various critical studies as an example of how men were in 1943.  When discussing PTSD in white African war vets, Ernie  confirmed this British “suck it up silently” attitude was the accepted norm in the colonies & beyond.  Indeed, it continues in the bush war vets until today.

Attributes:  Featured image licence, credit to Windell Oskay

In case there is any confusion, I am anti using any term that might hurt or harm another person.  This post is just an observation that some terms considered mean today were once widely used without any malice during other times.  Context of the times should be considered.

Article first appeared on greatwhitetribe.com

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