Indres in Sundsvall

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Indres Naidoo came to us in Sundsvall in 1987. I enjoyed seeing him and as he had lived in Mozambique we had some of the Portuguese connection there too. When the ANC delegation was completed (9 people) they attended a course at the Trade Union (LO) school of Brunnsvik where the theme was theory of local administration, the civil structures of Sweden, the laws, etc. Useful information as Indres later on would be elected as member of South African parliament.

These 9 ANC members were later allocated to different areas around the country. As they were an odd number one had to come somewhere alone. It was the ex Robben Island prisoner that came alone to Sundsvall. He was now 51 years old and I was a junior with my 35.

The local ABF office was in charge of setting up the program in the region. This is how Indres described his stay in Sundsvall. ”The people who were in charge of me drove me all the way to Sundsvall, where they rented a flat for me. A fully furnished flat, right in the centre of town. I got a daily allowance for food, but I never ate at home. The only thing that I ever had at home was breakfast, because I was out at lunch-time. I went to factories. I went to schools. I went to government offices, and I used to have my lunch there.”

And he continues to explain:

“The agreement between ANC and ABF was that we should spend time with all political parties, the Social Democrats, the Communists or Left Party, the Liberal Party and the Centre Party, and that agreement was kept. I was very busy. I sat in at meetings of the local council and they took me along to show me how the local administration worked. I spent two days with the police force.”

“I then spent two days with the Centre Party. I was taken to a farm and it was very impressive. On the farm there were a husband and wife and two adult sons and a daughter. Just the five of them controlled the entire farm. It was a dairy farm and they had fields of alfalfa. They worked very hard. They were up at five in the morning, milking the cows.” Whose farm was that? (Selléns?)

If you want to read more about Indres and his life you can acquire his book “ Island in chains” or look at these interviews.

http://www.liberationafrica.se/intervstories/interviews/naidoo/

http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/indrasena-elatchininathan-naidoo

medborgargatan

 

The SFI

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I registered myself as a resident in the parish of Skön on the 1 November 1973. After applying for residence and if accepted I would be given the 4 magical numbers that open most doors in Sweden. These numbers complete your personal number. Without the 10 digit personal numbers you practically do not exist. I needed four to add to my 520329.

My permit came on the 23rd December almost as a Christmas present. Now I could apply to the Swedish course. I immediately did that. This does not mean that I did not look for employment meanwhile.

Mona and I went to the ABF. This is a labour movement run school for adults on the national level. At one time it was very important to further educate in the model of study circles. The leader of these circles more or less was one in the democratic group but got some pay. We were interviewed by a Mrs Marie Viking. We spoke English with her and she was in charge of language courses. After the interview Mona was asked if she would like to take on a course.

I went to the labour exchange and eventually met the lady who was in charge of the foreigners. We filled the forms and expected a quick answer so I could start off with the Swedish lessons. I met a Portuguese architect working on the plans for the new hospital. Mr Reis offered to accompany me to the employment agency. Once there he presented himself and said something like- I am architect Reis, when can my friend start the course, as he has waited for a long time for an answer?

The lady behind the desk asked for my personal number and disappeared for a while. When she came back she said.

-He can start on Monday!

The Swedish course I enrolled for was a bit away from town in the Ljustadalen area. It reminded of an industrial work place. There I did my 9 intensive weeks of Swedish in 1974.Besides learning the language we also got some information and guidance to prepare ourselves for work. I had grown a beard as a way to cope with the winter as I did not at the time wear anything on my head! Question of principle! Hejdå!

Hellbergs

The powerful religion

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Those few weeks in July 1972 on the island of Alnö passed very fast. The house situated as it were on the southern part of the island was extremely quiet. A quietness only interrupted by the singing of birds and the passing of cars or mopeds on the road below.

We went on boat trips with captain and shipbuilder Olle Hillman, at the wheel. The small motor boat was called Mona. The excursions took us to several of the smaller islands that surrounded the larger volcanic but very flat island. This island lay practically in front of the city of Sundsvall. There were industries all around and crossing the bridge from Alnö you’d bump against a large sawmill with large amounts of wooden trunks waiting on their different stages to be cut and made into planks only to be shipped abroad from the nearby port.

When not cycling round the island on a tandem, we could visit what was the pride and joy of the commercial town. IKEA! This was my first ever visit to what has become a worldwide furniture and decoration giant. We obviously did the night scene and finally got a glimpse of the much proclaimed Marina disco. My memory from it was an encounter! Spanish waiter Ricardo de la Rosa, an artist married to a Swedish girl. He invited me when the sun was up to meet him at a place he was decorating. As it turned out Sundsvall’s first Pizza restaurant- “The Triestina” later renamed“The Vagabondo”.

One weekend I was driven to a cottage out in the mountains. The trip took some three hours and the cottage was built by Olle. The name of the place is Vemdalskalet and the mountain chain runs west almost separating Sweden from Norway. We saw the views, went for walks and Aime made waffles!

I soon discovered that the Hillmans were working people with their own religion. They did not drink alcohol but rather drank milk even with their meals; they cut their cheese with a special designed knife that I was expected to be able to operate. They ate their cooked potatoes with the peels on; hard pieces of bread accompanied the food. They did not smoke!

But they were loyal to the workers and cooperative movement!  In front of the house there was a small shop selling food, the Konsum where Olle did volunteer work, Olle would not fill petrol anywhere else but at the cooperative OK. We shopped for everything at the large consumer owned OBS! Everything was insured at Folksam and if Aime wanted to learn English she would go to the ABF organization for her study circles. The party they voted for was the Swedish Social Democratic Party, and everyone was a member of the trade union. This was not theory; it was practice every day of the month, every month of the year. It was a powerful religion!

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