Letters from Sonja: Saved by a Coca-Cola Bottle
Sonja's 14th letter takes place towards the end of 1959. At this time she has just returned from Germany after Michael's second operation which they had been planning for a long time. It is also time to move into their new home on the hill.
more from author >>
First published: October 5, 2005
Click Here: Previously on "Letters from Sonja: Buziga"
After returning from home-leave in Germany, we landed in Entebbe on Sunday, July 26th, l959.
August 10th, 1959 –
After a long back and forth, we flew back to Kampala. This cost us an additional DM 900,00. The car is still in Munich and the transportation of the car will be far more expensive now, as the car will have to be brought to Venice by a forwarding agency. After arrival of the car in Mombasa it will have to travel to Kampala by train.
Hubert’s new company car was waiting for us at the airport. TheSeefelders came to meet us and Mrs. Seefelder took very good care of us at her home. Michy could even have a bath there. It was afternoon when we drove to our new home on Buziga.
The house had been roughly cleaned, we had electricity and a tank wagon with drinking water was waiting for us in our yard. Unfortunately when the tank wagon was filled, the newly painted tank was not quite dry and therefore the water was not suitable for drinking. All the old furniture that was in the house, including a refrigerator and kitchen stove stayed in the house and now belongs to us. A bill for the connection of the water supply was also awaiting us. (Mr. Radford, who was living on top of the hill, supplied the water in those days. It actually could not have been better to begin with.)
In spite of all that on that first day I really did not know where to start. It still looked quite hopeless. But after two weeks of “slave labour” (Hubert and I were the slaves.) people already started to envy us and we are quite proud that within 2 weeks we have the house in such a condition that one can feel comfortable in it. For us it is the nicest accommodation, we ever had! When we moved in the house not a single electric socket was working and not one electric switch. Both hot water boilers were either broken or did not work because of too much dirt. The rainwater that came out of the pipes was black, but we now have running hot und cold water in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. The washing machine is running again. All windows and doors can be opened again and in the yard the grass has been mowed. The furniture, as far as we have bought it already, is at least according to our taste. We got a very modern bedroom in very light coloured wood and really nice curtains to go with it. Wolfgang (one of my cousins in Germany) gave us a wall lamp and Hubert has fixed it today during lunch break over our beds. We have bought four modern chairs imported from Scandinavia for our sitting room. Hubert is building shelves along one wall from steel-pipes and mvule. Although we still have to use the old curtains and lamps in the sitting room, the sitting room looks rather good already.
Michy a really happy child.
The best thing, however, is the garden. Michy loves it there and apart from eating and sleeping, he spends the whole day outside. Unfortunately he already got lost once. He just started walking down hill. Fortunately we realized that rather quickly. We still found him at the roadside before he could continue his excursion into the bush. That was a lesson for me. I had to be more careful, especially as we had two unpleasant surprises already. Once we had a snake in the kitchen, which, however, was not poisonous. The second time a rather poisonous snake went into one of my “kikabos” (shopping baskets), when I had them standing in front of the house. I must have carried the snake into the car. When we went shopping, we took Miriam, the African girl, who now looks after Michy a bit, with us. When I asked her in front of the grocery store, to hand me the basket, which was behind the back seat, she saw the snake. We all got out of the car at once except for Kivumbi, the driver, who killed the snake with a coca-cola bottle. This was very exciting. I do hope that such things don’t happen again, as the house has been cleaned now and the grass mowed.I have already lost 5 lbs., which is very good, as my clothes fit better again.
Michy in a little paddling pool in front of the house on Buziga.
Yesterday we have played our first game of badminton. Michy has been picking up the balls.
On Friday we attended a party at the German Consulate General, where we saw German cultural films. (Actually in those days someone from time to time came to Kampala from the German Consulate General in Nairobi “to take care of us” in Kampala.)
We have had a letter from Norbert. He now is the director of a Kenya company, earns good money, gets a company house and a company car. So his studies are bringing him some practical results. We are very glad for him.”
The reason that we could not travel by sea was due to some strike, and by the end of the strike the boat was in Dar-es-Salaam and had to come to Europe first. The first boat arrived in Mombasa, from Europe, more than a month after we arrived at Entebbe. That was really bad luck. It cost us extra money, but it could not be helped. We don’t know, were the car is at the moment. The main thing is that Michy’s operation was successful. Michy is really fine and one can’t imagine now, that he was so weak after the operation. He has grown a lot and is a really big boy now. When it suits him, he, however, says that he is a baby. That is a first class excuse for many things! He has got a very nice colour now, as he is always outside. The climate on “our hill” is really very pleasant.
It is very interesting to watch the lake. The lake is never ever the same but is constantly changing. We already had heavy rain and a storm and the lake can be very frightening then. The water is looking really black during a storm, whereas on sunny days it is of an unbelievably beautiful azure colour. After a rain suddenly little swimming islands appear. Sometimes the lake is like a mirror and every single tree can be seen in the lake. Some days ago Hubert woke me up at night to show me the silvery full moon mirrored in the lake. On weekends the sailing boats from Kaazi can be watched. The lake is just so beautiful!
On October 2nd, l959 I wrote a longer letter to my parents:
It is nothing new to us, that the Omukama of Toro is in Baden-Baden to go through a course of medical treatment. In fact he will be spending about one year touring Europe and the USA. Hubert advised him on planning his visit to Germany. But he only wanted to stay for 3 days in Baden-Baden. (I think he extended his stay there. He also got himself some shoes made to measure by an orthopaedic shoemaker.) The Omukama wants to see the big cities of Europe. We were at the airport in Entebbe, to bid him farewell when he left.
The German brewer, Mr. Robisch and his wife have left Uganda for good. They now run a restaurant and pension in the Black Forest.
Michy, since yesterday, is going to a nursery school at Aunty Brice’s on Kololo. As at the moment there are no children around for him to play with, I thought this to be a good solution. I also want Michy to learn some English.
We have also got a dog, about 9 weeks old, a mixture between an English hunting dog and a South African Ridgeback. His name, of course, is Philax.
Michy with Phylax.
I did not think that the German “Wirtschaftswunder” is a healthy development. Although I sometimes was in doubt, I am glad that I have seen the development in Germany and our decision to come back to Africa was definitely right. This “soap-bubble” will certainly burst one day! People here are far more normal and modest. Quite a number of the young Germans here are enthusiastic about the “Wirtschaftswunder” and see the paradise in Germany, while they are talking about the damned East Africa. I feel sorry for them. Mr. and Mrs. Kayser have also returned to Germany and when we met them during our last vacation. Mrs. Kayser wanted to come back to East Africa.
We feel very happy in our new home. But it will cost a lot of work and money until it is completely done. At the moment we have to save the money for the income tax and the interest for the house. Everything goes very slow, but it is great fun to transform a run down house to a nice place. The finance director of Cooper Motors is coming to Kampala this month. I want to invite him so that he can see what we already did. My neighbours are amaze at how everything has changed in the house, as well as in the garden, in such a short time.
Then we had a set back again. On December 2nd, 1959 I wrote home as follows:
The only pleasant piece of news is that Michy will have a little sister or a little brother by the beginning of June next year.
Me with Michy's future sibbling.
Michy had malaria. He had to take 6 rather strong pills, which cured the malaria. This cure made him rather weak.
The worst case, however, was Hubert. He also had malaria, but the doctor at Rubaga treated him for a cold. In the end, he drove himself to Nsambya Hospital, where he collapsed on a bench in front of the hospital. The doctor diagnosed Black Water Fever and said, according to his information and statistics; Hubert should not be alive anymore. For two days they could not tell me whether Hubert would pull through or not. But he did get better. Believe it or not, he was back at home after one week. It will however take some time before Hubert is fit again. He had a temperature of 105°F.
Here I would like to mention, that the Europeans who had been to East Africa for a long time all said, that Malaria is best cured with whisky. A friend of ours even brought a bottle of whisky to the hospital. Hubert never drank whisky and he did not touch it. The doctors told him, that it is absolutely the worst thing to drink whisky when one has Malaria.
We had in fact the same situation as after our first vacation in Germany. It seems that we have to pay a really high price for every vacation. On top of everything Miriam, the girl who was looking after Michy, has left from one minute to the other as her father fell sick too.
We had a quiet but really nice Christmas. We did not buy Christmas presents. Instead Hubert put up a few rail tracks for Michy to see the electric train running. It was great fun for him and, of course, for Hubert too. After Christmas everything was packed away again.
For New Year the Hohnholts came to visit us with their two girls. The two girls and Michy played very well together again.
more from author >>
First published: October 5, 2005