Injongo Educare Project
December 2, 2014
January 15, 2015

IF you ever wanted to be a train conductor and ended up instead a company CEO, here’s your chance to indulge your childhood ambitions – loading trailers for the Uncle Willy tractor rides, one of the highlights of the festive calendar in Cape Town.

Every evening in December until nearly Christmas you can order people to “take your seats on the sides with kids in the middle, sitting flat on the floor!!”.

We don’t have black uniform and cap, with the all-important whistle, of course – perhaps we should, to blow the tractor drivers on their way– and we don’t walk around saying “alle kaartjies, asseblief”, but we do wear our nayvyblue Rotary windcheaters and caps which lend an air of authority, especially when we have to keep the excited kids in check.

They are literally jumping with anticipation as the brightly-painted tractors, driven by the usual club stalwarts, swing round the field. The danger is that the kids could break away from their parents before the “train” has stopped.

The grown-ups are also instructed to watch their youngsters, to keep them from standing during the ride, especially during bumpy parts. Usually there’s a Rotaractor or some other responsible young person permanently on the trailer who maintains order during the ride.

The queue for the rides keeps growing as cars keep coming, unloading families (parents have been met by Inner Wheelers who surreptitiously have relieved them of presents that will go into Father Christmas’s bag).

Then after about an hour of tractors coming and going, it’s all over. The last tractor hangs around in case of late-comers – and often there are, especially with load-shedding. And the sounds coming from Uncle Willy’s “castle” says another show is on the road.

Uncle Willy himself (Paul de Groot) ready to pull away with another load

Ann Lancaster, joins family members for the occasion –– with Mark driving

All smiles as parents and children wait for the next tractor



George Muller
George Muller
George first  joined Rotary in 1972 in Durban. In 1995 he retired after 42 years of fulltime journalism in southern Africa and UK, most of it spent on the Daily News, Durban, where he was assistant to the editor and daily columnist. He was also a freelance cartoonist, best known for his syndicated pocket cartoon, By George,  which ran for 27 years. He is married to Moonyeen, a pre-primary teacher, and has two daughters and five grandchildren in Cape Town and Durban, where he and Moonyeen  spend up to six months, respectively. He joined Claremont club in 2005.

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