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Posted on: Thursday, 25 February 2010

Rashid had R30 – Stories from Explore SA Cycle Tour

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The road between Badplaas and Amsterdam in Mpumalanga is an unforgiving one. One that never really allows you to relax. At every bend there is something to photograph or someone to greet. At every junction you need to make sure that you’re taking it all in. But this road also doesn’t have one single stop for 140km. With the sun making my skin ache and hints of cloud shying away from the sweltering heat I cycle on looking for some place to fill my water bottles, a place that can provide me with some shade and maybe even the company of a few birds …

With my tongue glued to my throat and sweat silently dripping on the road I cycle onward looking for somewhere that could allow me to take a rest. 30km before the little town of Amsterdam I find this haven, my oasis in a dessert of beautiful tree plantations. I stop. I fill my water bottles with near warm water. I quench my thirst. Again.

Rashid

At the front of his little store in the middle of nothing but tree plantations I am greeted by Rashid Sallie. He smiles and looks at my cycle as if to say that I am welcome to rest my sorrows here for as long as I need. I pick up something to eat and more cold drinks and walk towards him, now sitting behind a till that has run out of paper decades ago. I pay.

As I leave the store, on my way to enjoy what has been kept from me for 120km he calls at me. He says “Life’s an amazing ride, you only need to choose between left and right” the rest will be left to the universe. I’m intrigued. Before I realize he’s telling me his story. It’s the story of a man who started with R30 and ended up with two shops in Mpumalanga, property in Sabie and 500 acres of tree plantations.

He laughs. This store was started in 1977 and he bought it in 1985. Indians weren’t allowed to own property then and he had to sidestep his way through undemocratic paperwork. When I ask how he answers. “ ’n Boer maak ‘n plan, ‘n Indier het ‘n plan” this man has a calm spirit. His eyes and smile make you feel comfortable. Its almost as if he has some insight into your soul and he treats that with a fragile hand not to make your feel invaded.

He worked for a company for 21 years when he spoke to his wife and said they need to find something of their own, something they could leave their children with. When a friend took him to this farm with the little shop near Amsterdam he had to have it. But the price was to steep. But by the stroke of sheer luck two months later he found out that the property was being auctioned off he made a bid and won it as silent partner of a friend that now owned this property. He started small. R30 could buy you 36 breads. And he used that to build up his little empire.

He cares about the community; he knows the name of every single customer he helps whilst I’m standing there. I can see the pride of a man that made it on his own. He was able to send his children to varsity and help so many other family members. He is doing his part as a reserve police officer in the area.

When I ask where they live, because it must be far to drive everyday he opens up a back door of his store. Behind this run down shed is a true oasis of love and care and happiness. You cannot see it from the road but every blade of grass is neatly trimmed and the trees are pruned to perfection. On his stoep you can sense the hours of family gatherings. The fruit trees in the back yard have given many a child a smile on a warm summer day. Rashid has made this his home.

On my way out he tells me that he still has one dream to write the story of this shop. With more that 30 years of history and a starting balance of R30 I think it’s a story worth telling. He calls over one of his assistants. This man has worked here since 1977. ‘the store was small then, but now its big, everybody knows Rashid and we love him. He is our family now”.

I leave with a smile. I love how communities get entangled in each other’s lives and families over time and this is such a story. One that transcends any barriers of history and one that will live with the families of their children.

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1 comment about Rashid had R30 – Stories from Explore SA Cycle Tour
  1. June 21st, 2011 at 12:17
    naseema hassim says:

    i am not sure if u r aware,but tragically my uncle,Rashid had paseed away. On 12 May 2011 at around 7pm whilst the family was having supper,there was an armed robbery at the farm. Rashid was wearing his police uniform at the time. he was due to go on his police volenteer duties that evening. whilst running down his hallway to proabably radio his fellows for help,he was fatally shot in the chest. he passed on shortly after in the loving arms of his wife of 46 years.Uncle Rashid was 67 at the time.he was dearly loved and is sorely missed by many.