Johanna Faro

Johanna Faro grew up on Swartvlei farm and was 56 years old at the time of the interview. She describes a childhood evening at home with her mother, and how her mother decorated their house by whitening the walls and drawing patterns.

Johanna Faro shares stories of being warned about the waternooientjie (water maiden) and Oupa Dollie – an old man with a big bag who catches naughty children at night.

Johanna Faro was 53 years old at the time of the interview and grew up on Swartvlei. They carried water home in the evenings and sat at the hearth in winter to keep warm while her mother cooked. They had tin oil lamps for light. Her mother sent her and her siblings into the veld to collect herbs. Her mother whitened the walls of the house, making beautiful patterns. She mixed cow dung with water and spread it over the floors in and around the house to clean it. Johanna says her mom made their home lovely like this.

Her mother warned them against the waternooientjie (water maiden), saying it would catch them in the river. Johanna describes the waternooientjie as beautiful, a white woman with the lower body of a fish. This story scared them as children and made them careful about swimming in the river. Her mother also told them, when they were playing outside at night, that Oupa Dollie would catch them. Oupa Dollie was an ugly old man with a big bag that he carried on his back. He catches children and carries them off into the night. This story scared them, too, so they would come back into the house early in the evenings. Johanna says she wishes she kept the iron her mom used – she put it close to the hearth to warm, with coals inside.



Johanna Faro.

How old are you?

53 years old.

Where were you born (Inaudible 00:20)?

My pa and them lived in (inaudible 00:22), they lived there, that he told me, they lived there. Then they moved here, moved here, to Swartvlei. So we were born here on Swartvlei and when I was in Stand-… grew up, we, we had to carry water, we didn’t have water in the houses. In the evenings we had to carry water into, the water into the house and we had black pots, we had a hearth, we then had to… We sat in the hearth in the evenings in winter when it was so cold, then we sat there in the hearth around the fire where my mother was cooking food in the black pots. Thus we grew up in the land and we had a tin lamp, tin lamps – my ma and them put oil in there and it had this, this clothlike steel thing, the pith was pushed through that and lit. The oil keeps that dinges* moist so that it can burn the cloth that was pushed through the wire. Thus we grew up.

And my ma and them, we always had to go get clay so that they could whiten our houses. On Fridays when she cleaned the house she said we were going to get clay, then she whitened our house. We, in those days we still had to whiten the walls and we… we took cow dung, then we, then she smeared that dinges* floor with cow dung. So beautiful. She mixed it with water and then she smeared the house so beautifully with that. Outside and inside. Too beautiful. And as we were whitening, she also made these patterns against the wall. It was very beautiful. Thus she taught us. We always had to help her do it. That is all that I can still remember.

Did you go swimming in the river?

Yes, we always went swimming. Yes.

Did the old people maybe tell stories about the river?

Yes, my ma always said, “Yes, you can go to the river, there is a water maiden there and he* is going to get hold of you.” Then we’d ask, “Ma, what does the water maiden look like?” Then Ma said, “It’s a beautiful maiden. He has a fish body below and is beautiful above. He looks like a white woman, that is what that water maiden looks like.”

Then we no longer went to the river because we were too scared because there was a water maiden, as we called it.

Do you know of anyone that was pulled in by the water maiden?

No. Because we were scared because… When she explained it to us, we became very careful because we didn’t understand something like that.

Your ma and them told many ghost stories, didn’t they? Do you remember one or two?

Yes, when we were playing outside late in the evenings then my ma would say, “You must come home, because Grandpa Dollie is walking around here. He catches children. He has a big bag on his back and he throws children into that bag and then he disappears with those children.” Then we got quite scared so that we were early in the house in the evenings. Because we didn’t know this Grandpa Dollie because my ma said he was a very ugly man, that Grandpa Dollie.

And the irons we always, my mother always put them on the stove, put them against the fire in the hearth so that it could become hot so that we could iron clothes with it and there was a… She still had this big iron that you put coals in. That iron. And then you ironed because those coals kept it warm. Then you ironed with that iron. I’m really sorry I didn’t keep that iron that my mother had. Thus we grew up.

Have you ever heard people speak of a dassie* adder?

A dassie adder? No, I heard a coolie* talking about it one day. Then I said I haven’t seen such a thing, my man. I haven’t seen such a thing. You must show me. Because I haven’t seen it yet. [laughs]

But dassies I know about. I know dassies, porcupines and…

Did your family hunt?

Ghmmf. I laughed myself silly one day, me and Andina-Bêrend (?? 05:09) went – we call her Andina-Bêrend, she knows who I’m talking about – we went to the wood,  we went to get wood. Was winter. Then a small buck was running there and the dog was running after the buck. I said, “Andina, if this dog catches this buck, what do we do with the buck? How do we slaughter it, because we don’t know how to slaughter it?”

Then she said, “No, man, we’ll just take it home, just like that. We leave our wood, then we take it home and then we ask someone at the house to slaughter it.”

(laughs). Thus we grew up. I can now remember that. How we grew up.

Johanna Faro was 56 jaar oud ten tyde van die onderhoud. Sy het op die plaas Swartvlei grootgeword. Sy beskryf hoe dit saans by die huis was toe sy klein was en hoe haar ma hulle huis se mure afgewit en met patrone versier het.

Johanna vertel dat haar ma haar teen die waternooientjie gewaarsku het, en dat Oupa Dollie, ’n ou man met ’n groot sak, stout kinders sou vang as hulle saans buite rondloop.

Johanna Faro was 53 jaar oud ten tyde van die onderhoud. Sy het op Swartvlei grootgeword. Hulle moes saans water indra en in die winter het hulle by die vuurherd gesit om warm te bly terwyl haar ma kos maak. Om lig te maak het hulle het bliklampies met olie in gebruik. Haar ma het haar en die ander kinders veld toe gestuur om klei te gaan haal. Haar ma het die huis afgewit en mooi patrone teen die mure gemaak. Sy het beesmis met water gemeng en dit op die vloere in en om die huis gesmeer om die stof weg uit hou. Johanna sê so het haar ma hulle huis baie mooi gemaak.

Haar ma het hulle teen die waternooientjie gewaarsku en gesê die waternooientjie sal hulle in die rivier intrek. Johanna beskryf die waternooientjie as ’n pragtige wit vrou met die onderlyf van ’n vis. Hierdie storie het hulle as kinders baie bang gemaak en daarom was hulle te bang om rivier toe te gaan. Haar ma het ook vir hulle gesê Oupa Dollie sal hulle vang as hulle saans laat buite speel. Oupa Dollie was ’n lelike ou man met ’n groot sak op sy rug. Hy het kinders gevang en hulle in die nag weggedra. Dié storie het hulle so bang gemaak dat hulle al vroeg saans in die huis was. Johanna sê sy wens sy het die strykyster gehou wat haar ma gebruik het – sy het dit teen die vuurherd gesit om warm te word en kole binne-in gegooi.



Johanna Faro.

Hoe oud is Antie?

Drie-en-vyftig jaar oud.

Waar is Antie gebore (onhoorbaar 00:20)?

My pa-hulle het in (onhoorbaar 00:22), daar het hulle gebly, het ou vir my gesê, hulle’t daar gebly, toe’t hulle hiernatoe verkas, hiernatoe getrek, Swartvlei toe. So ons is hier gebore op Swartvlei en toe ek so, stand- … grootgeraak het, toe’t ons, ons moet water dra, ons het nie water gehad in die huise nie. Ons moet saans water indra, die water in die huis in en ons het in swart potjies, ons het ’n vuurherd, ons moet toe … ons sit in die vuurherd saans in die winter as dit so koud is, dan sit ons daar in die vuurherd om die vuurtjie daar waar my ma kos gekook het daar in die swart potjies. So het ons grootgeraak in die land en ons het ’n bliklampie, was bliklampies, dan gooi my ma-hulle daar olie in en dit het so ’n, so ’n lapperige ysterdingetjie, die pit word daardeur gesteek en daar word hy brandgesteek. Die olie hou mos daai dinges nou klam, dat hy kan brand die lappie wat deur die draad gesteek is. So het ons grootgeraak.

En my ma-hulle, ons moes altyd loop klei haal het, wat hulle kan ons huise uitwit, sê sy Vrydae as sy uitturn, ons gaan klei haal, dan wit sy onse huis uit. Ons het, daai tyd moet ons nog mure gewit het en ons het ons huise … ons het die beesmis gevat daai tyd, toe’t ons ons, daai dinges-vloer het sy gaan smeer met die beesmis uit. So mooi. Sy’t dit aangemaak met water en dan smeer sy die huis so mooi uit met dit. Buite en binne. Te mooi. En soos ons nou gewit het, het sy sulke patroontjies gemaak ook daar teen die muur. Dit was baie mooi gewees. So’t sy ons geleer. Ons moes altyd vir haar gehelp het om dit te doen. Dis al wat ek nog kan onthou.

Het Antie by die rivier gaan swem?

Ja, ons het altyd gaan swem. Ja.

Is daar miskien stories wat die oumense vertel het van by die rivier?

Ja, dan sê my ma altyd, ja, julle kan maar rivier toe gaan, daar’s ’n waternôientjie en hy gaat vir julle in die hande kry. Nou vra ons: “Ma, hoe lyk die waternôientjie?” Toe sê Ma: “Dis so ’n mooi nôientjie. Hy’t vislyf onder en is mooi bo. Hy lyk soos ’n wit vrou, so lyk daai waternôientjie.”

Toe’t ons nie meer rivier toe gegaan nie, want ons was te bang gewees want daar is ’n waternôientjie, het ons altyd dit genoem.

Weet Antie van iemand wat die waternôientjie ingetrek het?

Nee. Want ons was toe bang, want … soos sy nou vir ons verduidelik het, is ons toe baie versigtig geraak, want ons verstaan nie so iets nie.

En daar is mos baie spookstories wat Antie se ma-hulle van vertel het. Onthou Antie nog so een of twee?

Ja, as ons saans altyd so laat buite rondspeel, dan sê my ma: “Julle moet huis toe kom, want hier’s Oupa Dollie wat hier rondloop. Hy vang die kinders. Hy’t ’n groot sak agter sy rug en hy gooi die kinders ín daai groot sak en dan raak hy weg met daai kinders.”

Toe’t ons bietjie bang geraak dat ons vroeg saans in die huis, want ons ken nie dié Oupa Dollie nie, want my ma sê toe hy is ’n baie lelike man, daai Oupa Dollie. En die ysters het ons altyd, het my ma altyd so op die stofie, so teen die vuur gesit in die vuurherd dat hy moet warm raak dat ons kan onse klere daarmee stryk en daar het ’n … toe’t sy nog so ’n groot yster gehad wat jy kole binne-in gooi. Daai yster. En dan stryk jy, want daai kole hou hom mos nou warm. Dan stryk jy met daai yster. Ek is darem spyt ek het nie daai tyd daai yster gehou vir my wat my ma gehad het nie. So het ons grootgeraak.

Het Antie al gehoor van ’n dassie-adder wat die mense van vertel?

’n Dassie-adder? Nee, ek het nou hier eendag gehoor ’n koelie praat daarvan. Toe sê ek ek het nog nie so ’n ding gesien nie, my man. Ek het nog nie so ’n ding gesien nie. Jy moet my wys. Want ek het hom nog nie gesien nie. Heh, heh, heh. [lag]

Maar ’n dassie weet ek van. Ek ken dassies, ystervarke en …

Het Antie-hulle altyd gejag?

Gmmf. Ek het so gelag, die een dag toe gaan ek en Andina-Bêrend (?? 05:09). Ons noem haar sommer Andina-Bêrend, sy weet van wie ek praat. Toe gaat ons hout toe, ons gaan haal hout. Was so winter gewees. Toe hol daar ’n bokkie en die hond hol agter die bokkie aan. Ek sê: “Andina, as dié hond nou dié bokkie in die hande kry, hoe maak ons met die bokkie? Hoe slag ons hom af, want ons weet nie hoe lat ons hom moet afslag nie?”

Toe sê sy: “Nee, man, ons vat hom net so huis toe. Ons los onse hout, dan vat ons hom net so huis toe en dan vra ons vir iemand om hom te slag by die huis, om hom af te slag.”

Heh, heh, heh (lag).

So het ons grootgeraak. Ek kan nou daai onthou. Hoe ons grootgeraak het.