Coming from a shoot one morning we overheard a man saying his 90th birthday was coming up. Knowing he must have seen plenty in his lifetime, we had to take the opportunity to chat with him.
Ishmael Abrams was born in East London and moved to Cape Town to further his education at the age of 14. It was during the war and, because his family was had no money, Ishmael was pulled out of school to go work.
“We were five children in our family. We never approached our parents and asked them [for anything] because we knew it was wartime and there wasn’t this and that… We had it tough.”
Even with a war waging, Ishmael said the neighborhoods were much safer then. He reminisced on times when they left their doors open without fear, however now people feel unsafe in their own homes.
“It’s more about survival now.”
According to Ishmael the biggest contributor to crime was lack of work. In his day there were many factory jobs, he used to work in some himself. He told us South Africa was good at making clothing. At the clothing factory he once worked for they had a consignment to make a million trousers.
“They must create more factories… we were so busy that the factory I was doing work in was even doing work for Europe. There was a lot of work for people.”
In his day, they looked up to The Beatles and grew their hair to be long because of the rock stars. Pushing 90, Ishmael joked about still having good hair in comparison to the younger generation.
“The young men of today you find them bald. I don’t know how they get bald… there must be something in the water or something in the climate.”
He urged South Africans to stop looking to the past by complaining about the apartheid era, but rather have the sole aim of uplifting the country.
“We must try and improve our way of living… so that we can have a better South Africa.”