The sort of interview that I would propose to do with you, and any
other army children who I can trace and who might be willing to speak
to me would probably be along the following format:
Establish when they were in the operational area, and how old they
were at the time, and also the role that their father (or both
parents) played in the SADF, then:
What their life had been like in SA before going to the operational
area - probably a more civilian environment? Then their expectations
about the operational area, the story of preparing for the move, their
actual experience of the move, and the first impressions of arriving
in the operational area. There will be all the usual issues of
changing school and leaving friends behind, having to get used to a
new school and social environment, which I would ask about, before
going into the specific impressions of the very small community, the
military aspects of the environment more military vehicles and armed
soldiers), increased danger to patents if eg. going on patrol - it
being an operational area etc.
Experiences of the school - discipline harsher or softer than previous
Having to go to boarding school from Std. 7 which might not have been
necessary for people who stayed in SA
Were they taught by NSMs - what was that like
Great involvement of the military in the school - usually benign - or
it was when i was there
The community - lack of amenities one finds in most towns, so children
entertain themselves - bomb shelters to play in
Problems with small communities - people living in each others pockets
- knowing each others business
Possible freedom - lack of rules due to it being a small community -
very young kids getting to drive cars and motorbikes, shooting -
flying to specialist dentist services in Windhoek - most medical
people they would have encountered would have been military - usually
The danger - expectations and experiences of `revs' - I'd obviously go
into as much detail as possible on this - trying to get the story of
the experience of each rev - as much as the interviewee can remember.
Did parents do practise drills.
Reaction to the fireplan - getting use to the sounds of machine gun fire.
For those who had to go to school in Oshakati in the armoured convoys
- from Ondangwa and ? Ruacana - the experiences in the convoys - it
would have been an hour each way on a daily basis - similar/different
to their experiences on school buses
Ordinary things that the kids did - going on holiday back to SA - who
their friends were back in SA, and how friendships changed while they
Who were their friends in the operational area - what did friendships
involve - what games, pranks etc etc did they play? Did they sleep
over at each others houses (there's much variation about this, but
would parents have wanted to have their kids sleep at home just in
case there was a rev?
Did children's social status depend in any way on the rank of parent -
or the unit they belonged to? Army vs. Police? Son of a colonel
always being made the leader of a group?
Then anything else that comes up ...
Then the `coming to the end of the time there' - experience of knowing
that time was approaching to go back to SA - what they would miss,
what they would not miss, what they expected it would be like to be
back in SA - what they looked forward to.
Then experience of being back in SA - were expectations met, or
disappointment. How did having spent that time in the operational
area change them. was it positive/negative/mixed. Are they glad they
did it? Would they wish their children could have the same
experiences - not possible now.
Looking back - favourite memory (if not related above) - least favourite memory.
That's the sort of interview structure that I have in mind, although
feeling free to deviate from it to explore things that come up, and I
might think of other questions to ask, which I can send you.
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