Trevor Romain’s book Random Kak I Remember about Growing up in South Africa made me smile, made me laugh and made me a little heartsore for the youth that so quickly passed me by.
Zapiro’s quote on the front cover pretty much sums it up: “Vividly evocative of the sights and sounds of the old South Africa, with a hint of madness underpinning it all”. Trevor uses illustrations and words to depict his childhood growing up in 70s and 80s Johannesburg, and although my childhood occurred a bit later than his, and I grew up in another part of the country, many of his insights still made me laugh out loud.
Trevor is an author and illustrator who grew up here but is now living in Texas, and who developed a cult following for his work when he began posting his whimsical illustrations and writing on Facebook. South Africans all around the world clamoured for more and this book is the direct result.
There are loads of pieces that resonated with me but below are some of my favourites from Trevor’s book.
Do you remember?
- “Spending bloody hours wrapping school books in brown paper and plastic on the first day of school”
- “My dad hammering planks onto the tree in the garden so we could climb up the trunk and get into the branches”
- “We played marbles every day” (with ghoens and milkies and glassies)
- “Pulling a loose tooth out of my head by tying a string to the door and slamming it shut”
- “Winding casette tapes with a Bic pen”
They’re little things, things you probably haven’t thought about for years but as soon as you do, you’re transported instantly back to your younger years. They’re also things your children will probably never do, which makes me a bit sad. Kids today don’t even know what a casette tape looks like (let alone a marble) and it seems sad that childhood these days has got so much more complicated.
Trevor’s book would make a great gift for any homesick South African, or any South Africans who still happen to live in this country, but who are homesick in a different way, homesick for a simpler life, when all that mattered was who won at marbles and how we were going to get to the top of that tree.