On Wednesday evening we went to see the play Cabaret at the Hexagon theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (see review in previous entry). It was very good, set in the declining years of the Weimar Republic in Germany, when the Nazis were growing stronger, and the atmosphere of menace was conveyed very well, as well as the way people retreated into vacuous entertainment in order to avoid having to confront it.
Yesterday we went back to the archives about 9:30, and only ordered a few items, where we knew we would get more information. We found a few more descendants on the Greenaway side — girls who had married a Crawley and a Klusener (but the famous cricketer Lance Klusener doesn’t seem to be related). We also found more information on the Davis family (related on the Cottam side), and the Beningfield, Raw and Hickman families.
Then went to the Masters office, parking in Burger Street. It was very different to what it had been when we had been before. They were registering estates at a table outside on the verandah and seemed much busier than in previous years. Also, they did not have more of the files we were looking for, which are apparently now stored in Pinetown, and have to be ordered a couple of days in advance, and as we were leaving tomorrow. It had previously been a rather sleepy place, frequented mainly by lawyers clerks. There was one there, ernestly evangelising another bloke who had come in and asking him if he knew what would happen if he died. We looked only at the estate of Moira Bessie Winship, and one of the staff watched me while I did it — perhaps they’ve had problems in the past with people nicking stuff from the files. There were pamphlets explaining the work of the Masters office in Zulu, and so it seems that they have greatly expanded their clientele. In the past most of the deaths reported there were of whites and relatively rich Indians and blacks, so they are probably handling much more work than they did previously. It will probably increase even more in the future, as people discover the advantage of using the Masters Office to avoid inheritance disputes.
In the evening we went to dinner with old friends Pat and Jennifer McKenzie. Pat cooked a traditional meal of roast chicken and vegetables, and we talking mainly about family history and its intersection with general history. One of Jennifer’s ancestors was a Truter, who had been the first Afrikaner knighted by the British, but another relative told them not to be proud of him, as he used his position as judge to plunder the Masters office. We talked about corruption in the civil service, which was as widespread under the Nats as it
is now, but they were better at covering it up, because they weren’t hampered by a free press.
Today we leave Pietermaritzburg and we are going on to Margate for a week. One of Val’s colleagues at work won a week as a prize in a competition, but could not use it, so gave it to us.