rm : Citizen Watch Skyhawk.
George Pemba Cottage with the "Red location cottages" further beyond
This building, situated in Avenue C and close to the New Brighton Railway station, was in operation from the earliest community establishment and served Red and White locations.
Veteran Jimmy Matyu recalled: "There were not many police vans at the time, but there was a kwela-kwela commandeered
by a fighting, stick-wielding Transkei-born policeman nicknamed 'Sotewu' who was fluent in Xhosa. The van was used to transport those arrested in the streets for failing to pay their poll tax or who had forgotten at home their dompas identity or reference books we referred to as a 'stinker', or 'nzenga'."
This building later became the home for the famous South African artist - George Pemba - and his family, after they were forcefully removed from Korsten in the 1950's.
Very interesting Articel which was written by Jimmy Matyu in the Herald and entitled:
"A boxer, a baker, a preacher – and very strong
WHENEVER I drive past a shabby old iron-and-timber home at the corner of Avenue C and Ntintili Street in Red Location (Elalini ebomvu), near New Brighton railway station, it brings back to my mind fond memories of its heavyweight owner, journalist, lay preacher and boxing fanatic Jimmy “Strong Man” Pemba.
The home, which is now falling apart, seems to have defied the demolition by the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality of the historic corrugated military barracks around it which had been used (at other sites) during the South African War of 1899-1902.
Around 1905 these barracks housed black workers who had been forcibly removed from areas of Emaxambeni (Hyman‘s Kloof and now known as Russell Road), Kwantamobomvu (off Mount Road), KwaMpundu (Mill Park). Their removal – like that of other Africans in Korsten – was based on an outbreak of bubonic plague.
Today those structures have been replaced by bright coloured matchbox houses.
Pemba was a younger brother of artist George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba, affectionately called “Gabby”, who died on July 11, 2001. As I recall events of bygone days and personalities who placed New Brighton and Red Location on the map, Pemba‘s name crops up in my mind.
He was a weightlifter of no mean repute and his contemporaries at the time were body builders – the country‘s first black Springbok weightlifter Milo Pillay, of Gelvandale, and businessman G K “Chief” Rangasamy, of Malabar, a doyen of teachers of physical education in the Eastern Cape, who was honoured as the “Father of Weightlifting in Southern Africa” in 1969.
As a weightlifter in the heavyweight division Pemba had the strength of an ox and was the envy of many men. He would hold public exhibitions by pulling a vehicle with leather strap
s or a strong rope placed around his powerful shoulders.
He once demonstrated this feat in Jolobe Road, pulling a loaded truck, for a story I was writing for the Golden City Post in the ‘60s.
Born in Korsten and raised in Kleinskool, Pemba was popularly known as “Strong Man”, and many a man envied his strength.
After completing his primary education at Bethelsdorp Coloured School, he continued his education at the non-racial Paterson High School when it was still in Mount Road.
The school produced some of the most educated blacks in the city at the time and who became leaders, among them poet, academic and anti-apartheid activist Dennis Brutus and Pan-Africanist Congress leader and teacher Dennis Siwisa (both former Robben Islanders).
After leaving school, Pemba started his own businesses – he was a successful barber, the first black baker in the area, and later a grocer in Red Location.
I used to buy bread at the bakery he operated from his now dilapidated home.
Pemba also started a boxing club from his home. His two star flyweights were Nyami Pemba and Presley “Champ” Ntsonga. Another boxer was his nephew Keke Pemba. I used to watch them spar at the New Brighton Oval.
He was a founder member of the Bantu Traders‘ Association in New Brighton.
Pemba, who always wore a cap, was passionate about physical education and his bakery, and was also a prolific writer on religious topics and once a special correspondent for Imvo Zabantsundu, the King William‘s Town-based weekly isiXhosa newspaper.
I recall the verbal war waged between Pemba and John “Long” Goliath at our boxing meetings at the Alabama Hotel conference room on Sundays in 1960, with Goliath claiming that Pemba owed him purse money for his fight against Wellington Sqayi in December 1954.
These exchanges came up as we revived amateur boxing on non-racial lines as the Eastern Province Amateur Boxing Union. Both men served in the executive, with Sizwe Kapi, Abraham Chabedi, Joe Hewana, Nyami Pemba, Mtunzi “Badman” Vellem, Grahamstown municipal social worker Cecil Nolutshungu and Uitenhage municipal social worker E S Gxowa (first president). I was secretary-treasurer.
Our union grew strong and we managed to produce amateur boxers like Sizakele “Kid Dynamite” Konzi, Aubrey “Kid Cool” Peta, Fikile “The Scar” Qubantu, J