The author of a manuscript I was assessing, of a novel set in early Natal, said that she was going to alter the name of a home referred to as a Manor in the story. ‘Why?’ I asked her. ‘The colonialists went in for manors. Look at Cato Manor, Tinley Manor, Audacia Manor, and many others.’
Then, synchronistally enough, we went to crit a garden on the Berea which happened to be next door to Durban Manor, pictured here.
With further coincidence, it turned out that the owner was a former colleague at work whom I have lost touch with for many years.
That is by the way. The magnificent building aroused my curiosity, and I looked it up, tracking it down to a potted history of Tongaat Hulett, featuring this picture:
It tells how in 1853 a 19-year-old Liege Hulett, with a personal fortune of £25-00-00, of which £20-00-00 had been used on the fare, arrived in Durban. He leased some land on a shoestring, and started planting things.
Coffee was successful for a while until borer wiped it out. In due course, he started growing tea, and did it in a big way. Then he moved on to sugar. Success bred success, and by the time the then Sir Liege moved on retirement to The Manor House which he had built for him in Durban, the family was in control of an empire.
Of course, as the esteemed Mr Malema will tell you, he only did that by robbing the local residents of their land and then putting in some insignificant improvements.
What he should have done is gone to all the local chiefs and things and said, ‘Look, chaps, if you do a lot of studying on how to grow crops and stuff, and do a great deal of hard work, and then build things to help with the growing and storing and to process and transport the plants you grow to where it will be needed, you can get awfully rich. I’ll show you how, shall I?’
Whereupon, of course, he would have been laughed at with great heartiness.
© Colonialist June 2011 (Letterdash/WordPress)