identity

Mrs. Barbara Greyling, Bloemfontein

Retired typist Mrs. Barbara Greyling (née Prior, born Jun 21 1944 in Aliwal North, Eastern Cape) is a keen genealogist and painter with a home full of old photographs and artworks. She reminisces with fondness on a day in 1948, when Errol and Sophie Prior took her and her brothers out for a visit to a photographer’s studio, where the family had their portrait taken.

In 1967, Barbara married Joseph Johannes Greyling with whom she had four children. Her husband Joe, who was a millwright, passed away in 2010.

Today, Barbara lives on her own in a gated retirement community in Bloemfontein, where she fills her days with gardening, painting flowers and keeping the family history alive. She has twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Barbara with her parents and her brothers (1948). Barbara sits on her father’s lap. Mom holds Freddy, the youngest one. Ralph stands on mom’s left and next to her husband, their oldest boy Patrick.

Barbara’s dad grew up in Witwatersrand with six siblings. When Errol and Sophie married, the couple first worked at Sophie’s family hotel. In 1958, following his father’s footsteps in the mining industry, Errol started teaching Fanagalo (a pidgin language based on Zulu, English and Afrikaans, used by miners of different ethnic groups to communicate) at the training centre of the Welkom goldfields.

Barbara’s grandparents, Frederic and Irene Prior (1925). Barbara’s father Errol is the tall boy standing in the middle.

Barbara’s great-great-grandparents, Joshua Prior and Jane Styles (ca. 1855)

Barbara’s great-great-grandfather Joshua Prior was born in Middlesex (UK) on the 15th of March 1819. Aged 15, he ran off to sea and ended up in South Africa. In 1845, he married Jane Style, daughter of an English settler. As a result of conflicts with the Xhosa population in the Eastern Cape, the family trekked to what was then known as the independent Boer republic Oranje Vrystaat. Joshua became a well-off farmer owning nearly 60 square miles, or roughly 38,000 acres of land. His wife Jane passed in 1892. When he died a few years later, he left each of their nine children a farm.

The wedding portrait of Joseph Johannes Greyling and Barbara Prior (1967)

Mrs. Moreki, Bochabela

On December 5 2018, Khotso Pudumo of the National Museum in Bloemfontein introduced me to Mrs. Jessie Moreki (90). Bessie became my first sitter as I finally picked a project up again I had started working on in Batho Location four years earlier.

She posed with a portrait of her parents, dated 1932. Back then, Bessie was 3 years old. This morning, when I visited her with a print, she pointed me to another picture on the wall, a digital enlargement of a photo taken on her brother’s wedding day in the mid 50s. Brother Joel Mateza, first from the left, sits next to his bride. Bessie is the lady with the radiant smile, standing in the middle. She brightened my day with that same beautiful smile this morning, nearly 60 years later.

Mrs. Moreki still lives in the home her father built in Bochabela, where she grew up.