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‘EB Koybie’: Shenanigans between Durban and Bombay a memoir by Ebrahim Essa

Image credit: Mail & Guardian

SOUTH AFRICA: In this part memoir and part satire, South African author, Ebrahim Essa chronicles a quirky adventure of life in Durban & Bombay in his first published book.

A childhood growing up in a 1950s Indian-township found on the outskirts of the South African port city of Durban is where Essa’s book takes the reader.

Essa’s insane love for Bollywood comes out in this larger-than-life book as he even titles a chapter after a Bollywood film. It is in this vibrant Indian-township that he bunks school to watch Hindi films, trade ironing his brothers clothes in exchange to access banned imported comic books. There’s also the case of where he tries to outrun gangsters in the iconic Grey Street Casbah in the heart of Durban.

A ship to Bombay and Lemon Creams

Just as he begins to win at life, the system of education under apartheid rule prompts his father to pack him off to India to study. He spends 21 days on board the SS Karanja nervously snacking on Lemon Creams before reaching Bombay.

“I had five paternal uncles, four in South Africa and one in India. For some reason, each uncle had a son named Ebrahim. What a stupid idea. It made me feel like a sausage from a boerewors factory.”

Excerpt from the book EB Koybie

Essa discovers that studying in India isn’t all that it’s made out to be and it gets worse. He battles the condition of jaundice, long-drop toilets and electricity cuts during the ‘65 India-Pakistan war.

In the book, Essa is revealed as a master storyteller, whose uncanny memory of places, people and events situates the reader right in the middle of his recollections. Because of this clarity, Eb Koybie drives home the importance of people telling their own stories, no matter how small or simple they may be.

Fatima Moosa, Mail & Guardian

Ebrahim Essa tickles and pokes fun throughout this amazing read as he documents a fascinating period of the South African Indian way of life in Durban, Kwazulu Natal.

Five things you need to know about EB Koybie

  1. In 1937, his father melted gold under the chassis of a car and tried to smuggle it to India. He got caught.
  2. In 1956, his family was evicted from Cato Manor & they moved to Grey Street.
  3. He had to iron his brother’s clothes to catch glimpse of the then-banned comic books from Amrika.
  4. He used to get fireworks from Praveen Gordhan on Diwali.
  5. He loved the village-life in India but couldn’t stand the long drop toilets and the bottle-green arsed flies.

About the author: Ebrahim Essa is a comic-book and Hindi film aficionado based in Durban. He taught high school Physical Science for 30 years before retiring in 2016.

He is a widely published letter-writer to various newspapers across South Africa, the author of “The Life Story of Suliman Essa Patel” and was also a contributor to the anthology Undressing Durban (Madiba Press, 2007).

Eb Koybie currently available at the following book stores in South Africa

EB Koybie is Ebrahim Essa’s first book which is also available on Amazon.

Source inputs: Mail & Guardian

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