Letters from Sonja:  The Rest of 1962
Dinner on board Africa in 1963.

Letters from Sonja: The Rest of 1962

Gerd gets a Porsche in Kampala.

By Sonja Winklmaier
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First published: November 2, 2006

Click Here: Previously on "Letters from Sonja: Uganda gets its Independence"

October 25th, l962

The latest catastrophe happened during last night and is indescribable.

Hubert has been in Nairobi since Sunday. During the last few nights I therefore had Tisa inside the house. And now she came on heat for the first time. When I entered the sitting room this morning I was almost hit by a stroke. She has torn the large curtain that covers the 7 meters long window front. I think you can imagine the damage. I am almost loosing my mind. Everything else too was in a terrible state. A flower vase was also broken. Soon I won't have one left. I wonder what Hubert will say when he comes back.

Hubert flew to Nairobi for a meeting. Presumably he will come back by the end of the week by car. Unfortunately Gerd also had to go on safari on Monday. So I am totally hanging in the air and everything seems to be going wrong.

On the first evening, all of a sudden one of the lights started coming on and going off without anybody doing anything. There must have been a short somewhere in the line. Eventually the lights went on again and - so far - it seems to be OK.

The next day my iron broke. I have sent John to Gerd's house to pick up Gerd's iron for me and at the same time I have asked Mr. Tessin to get me a new iron. On his way the enormous dog of our neighbours bit John. They behaved terrible afterwards. One would think John had bitten the dog and not the other way round. They refused to take John to the hospital. Everything is a terrible show that is extremely unpleasant when Hubert is not at home. Hubert is always a great diplomat, but I quickly loose my nerves. John now wants to sue the people. Fortunately I talked him into waiting until Hubert gets back so that he can advise him.

Mad!! Gerd sold his car about a week and a half ago so that he can buy a new VW by the beginning of November. He sold the car in such a good condition that he practically lost nothing on it. But what is he doing? All of a sudden, from one minute to the next, he has bought himself a used Porsche 1600! I was very much against it. There are only two Porsche cars in Kampala. Hubert says that it was a good deal and if was single he would have done the same thing. Hopefully Gerd has got the sense to drive careful.

At the moment our neighbours, the Hitchens, take Michy to school every morning. Kivumbi, Hubert's driver, brings him home at lunchtime and at the same time he brings fresh milk . We get fresh milk daily by "special delivery".

At this point I have to talk about some of the people we knew in Kampala:

James was a young man who was very enterprising and hard working. He had started a dairy farm and the milk he produced was excellent.

Prince George Juuko, a younger brother of the Kabaka, lived not very far from us. He was like a member of our family. He was an extremely nice person but quite different from the other Royals. He led a humble life together with his wife Rosaline and their children and was working as an accountant. He very much liked the way we had our tea with lemon juice and every now and then he just came home with Hubert in the evening to share supper with us. He neither drank any alcohol nor did he smoke. He was a real family man. His best friend was James. That's how we met James.

I have mentioned Kivumbi earlier. He was an excellent driver who gained his driving experience during the war when he was fighting for the British against the Japanese in Burma. Unfortunately he must have had some bad experience with the Japanese. Whenever Kivumbi saw Japanese people in Kampala, he would drive a big detour to avoid coming too close to them.

Another interesting person was the man who sold us vegetables, poultry and fish. He came to our house regularly. He was an elderly man and I think he also was a fisherman. Everybody called him "Kabbelar". This is how I understood it and I also referred to him as Kabbelar. But I did not know, whether this is his name or his profession perhaps. He only spoke Luganda, which I didn't know, and very little Swahili. It is surprising however that we could still converse very well; be it with the help of hands and feet. Kabbelar told me many interesting things and called me "mama", although I was very much younger than him. I considered this an honour. I so much would like to know what happened to Kabbelar.

November 19th, l962

Dear Dad,
To worry about politics is of no use. We will always be the dumb ones.
(My dad was upset about things happening in Germany.) In my opinion it is just human that the one who gains power uses this power for his own benefit. That can be anybody. It is the same all over the world. I have never heard about a politician who, after he has reached his goal (to gain power), stayed an idealist.

Uhuru-Edition of the Uganda Argus
Uhuru-Edition of the Uganda Argus.
Cover of the Souvenir Programme
Cover of the Souvenir Programme.

We have packed the complete Uhuru-Edition of the Uganda Argus in this years Christmas parcel to you. I am sure that by looking at the pictures you will be able to somehow imagine what it is like here and how the Independence festivities were. In this newspaper there is also a picture of St. Peter's Cathedral in Nsambya, were Barbara was baptized. Apart from that I have also enclosed the Independence Programme with really good pictures. It would be nice if you could keep the Special Edition of the Uganda Argus and the Independence Programme for us. We have also enclosed 3 Ugandan calendars, one for you, one for Martin and one for Miss Christ.

One of the Independence arches
One of the Independence arches.

I managed to repair the curtain surprisingly well. I only have to finish the seem at the bottom.

John is well. He got a Tetanus injection. There were no further complications. Hubert has paid him some smart money. The neighbor did not reimburse us.

Gerd went together with the Herolds and Mr. Rietmann to the Queen Elizabeth Park. They went there in the American car of Mr. Rietmann. When they drove through a pothole, Mr. Herold hurt one of his vertebra. He has to lie in bed now and wear a corset, which gives him problems. The Herolds are now living outside Kampala in the opposite direction from us. I don't specially like this part of town but Mrs. Herold and the girls seem to like it.

Of course some time has passed since Michy's birthday. His party was quite successful. I am sure that the children all went home very satisfied. Michy has received birthday greetings from Prince Richard Walugembe, the son of the Kabaka, who is in the same class as Michy, on royal letterhead with coat of arms. Michy was invited to Richard's birthday party to the Royal palace the next day.

Mr. And Mrs. Bosch want to return to Germany next year.

Mr. Bosch was in Uganda for the German Company of the same name. But he was not related to Messrs Bosch of Stuttgart. One of our German friends in Nairobi, Mr. Hans Kayser, was working for Bosch in Nairobi. He, in deed, was related to Mr. Bosch, the founder of Bosch, Stuttgart.

Some days ago during the night the wheels of Hubert's boat trailer, as well as Michy's nice bicycle, and some tools were stolen from our yard. I am very sorry for the loss of Michy's bicycle. It would have been one year old this coming Christmas. Michy really enjoys riding the bicycle very much. We will however not be in a position to afford a new one.

We have got new neighbours. They are an American couple that are writers and have three children - 6, 9 and 11 years old. This family comes from New York. They will be staying here for about 9 months until the book they are writing at the moment is ready.

Barbara sure is a cute little girl. It would be very nice if you could see the children. Barbara with her 2 and a half years is talking in three languages. I cause a sensation everywhere with her. She talks to me in German or Schwäbisch, with the sales lady in the shop in English and with an African customer in Swahili.

M/V Africa
This shows the M/V Africa.

December 5th, l962

Meanwhile it is 99.9 % certain that we will come on vacation next year. We have booked the boat passages and also made a down payment already. Our plan is to travel by railway from Kampala to Mombasa and then board the M/S Africa. She will bring us to Triest. From there we will travel by train again. On August 1st we will travel back from Triest. That means that we will be spending about 2 months in Germany and the rest traveling. I am rather busy now, as I still have to sew all the clothes for the children and myself. Michy will be missing the 2nd term in school completely. He will be away from school for 5 full months next year. Could you please find out, whether Michy could perhaps participate in the school in Reichenbach for 2 months as a guest? The best thing would be in a first class. I will read and do number work with Michy and I don't think that he will be missing a lot. I would appreciate it however if Michy could experience a German school. He will just have to listen. That should somehow be possible.

We also want to have Barbara's eyes operated in Tübingen during our vacation.

It would be a great help if you could send me some pins, long, thin and - if possible - rust proof. The ones that are available here are very short, blunt and rusty. They ruin the material.

Next week Hubert takes his last leave before we proceed to Germany. He has already brought bricks. He wants to cover up the tank and finish it completely during his vacation. That will be a great relief for me.

Gerd has already started to assemble the railway. He does not think that he can finish the scenery in time for Christmas. He has bought a new train for Michy for Christmas.

December 19th, l962

Today I am enclosing some photos of the children. The pictures were taken in front of the sitting room. On two of the pictures in the background one can still see a bit of the lake. The buildings in the background are the summer-residence of the former Kabaka and now the residence of Prince George Mawanda, the older brother of the present Kabaka. Michy does not want me to send you the pictures. He really wants to surprise you. He thinks you will not calm down for a whole day when you see him, as you would have to laugh so much when you see how he has grown.

Hubert has been working very hard in the heat we have at present. This evening the tank was covered with a "freitragende" - free supported - construction of special interlocking bricks. On top of this still goes a layer of reinforced concrete. My knees got soft just from watching.

We will go to the theatre together on Saturday to see this year's pantomime "Aladdin with the Magic Lantern". It is supposed to be a very good show. The children are very much looking forward to this event, especially Barbara, as she will be wearing a nice dress.

Back To Germany on M/S Africa
Back To Germany on M/S Africa.

Click here to continue to "Early 1963, After Independence"

By Sonja Winklmaier
more from author >>
First published: November 2, 2006
Sonja Winklmaier moved to Uganda in the 1950s to follow her husband, Hubert Winklmaier, as the German Volkswagen Factory sent him to work with their agent, Cooper Motor Corporation.

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