Feb 05

Amaoti (Amawoti)

by in History & Memories

Inanda as an umbrella, under it is has a small and hardly known community towards it north known as Amaoti (Amawoti). Amaoti is a small community yet has gigantic and relevant history. Ranging from the area being at one stage a forest with numbered houses and families on its upper hill, and rivers on it low veld where illegal ‘Gavin’ were found; to the area once belonged to Indian people (Indian Community)- Old Indians’ Built houses are evident and plants: mango trees, blackberry tress, Banana trees, Cane sugar, to mention a few. The area also comprises the history of wars of mid and late 80s including that of 1940s: Riot (African vs. Indians settlers), Political instabilities (Inkatha (IFP) followers against ANC followers.

Pity, all of the above mentioned histories are only delivered orally, and it is undoubtedly that it is not recorded anywhere or safe kept on archives somewhere for the benefit of the current and next generations. As of this reason it is of a concern and worry that if these current living legends and reliable source passes on, surely and probably this golden rich history and heritage of Amaoti, like the smoke in the air, will vanish and never available to the attention of the next generations to come.

An Informal interview I had with Jabulani, a middle-aged man from Flagstaff- a small town in Eastern Cape, who arrived for stay at Amaoti in early 80s. He happens to be a vibrant Entrepreneur (owning an enterprise called ‘Zamakhonde enterprises’ as well as Securities, and also a Constructor), an Activist, and well as a Politician…

Within the interview he briefed me more about the ins and outs of the area of Amaoti, far way before it became what it is right now, today. He took me back, reminiscing about good and bad times of the ancient (then) Amaoti:

Amaoti, before it became a society (community) it was then a forest, covered in bush with numbered houses in the area, thus situated only on the upper-hill side of the area, and the forest or bushes on the low lying area, by the river, Ohlange River. The forest and the rivers, including the minor rivers or lakes, were; however, used by the illegal ‘Gavin’ Brewers to store, prepare, cook, distil, and sell their product to their consumers.
Likewise, alongside rivers were huge smoke black drums used to cook the Gavin (and some are still there even today). The brewers used gorges and river sides because they could dodge policemen, and however, police vans had no access to places which were used to brew the Gavin, so whenever police approached they would be seen far before they reach to the scene, and brewers would run up the hill, leaving the place as clean as ever.

Moreover, brewers used to deploy women who would sit before their houses in the hill to watch for police “Mellow Yellow” van as it comes down the hills of Ohlange, a mile or two, away from Amaoti, and alert them whenever the van comes. It is said that, as they see the police van coming down, the women would scream like hell “Meleko!” for they struggled to pronounce “Mellow Yellow”, which was the name used to refer to the then yellow police vans, and immediately, the brewers would pack their stuff and leave the place, and by the time police reach to the place, brewers would be far gone up the hill.Furthermore, those women who did the brilliant job in alerting the brewers from police would, in return, be compensated with a nip of the product “Gavin” to quench their thirst per day; however, it is unknown of how many women would be deployed.

Nonetheless, like in any other business, legal or not, would be its moguls or big names, here too in the Gavin so-called factory had their own moguls or gurus and masters of the market whom were dominion on the time. One mogul that Jabulani still remember was by the name of Somtshazi, from Eastern Cape, Flagstaff. He, however, was not a founder of the factory or the product, and therefore it is still unknown and has no evident of who really discovered the Gavin. Amazingly, the Gavin is still brewed even today, and the majority, almost every Gavin Brewers had and have never worked for any employer, thus are self-employed, and are making a living out of Gavin….

Sihle Mkhamisa, November 2012

For more information on certain organizations or events mentioned in this post click on one of the links below:

History of the IFP (South African History online)

History of the ANC (South African History online)

Durban Riots of 1949 (South African History Online)

This post is also available in: Zulu

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10 Responses to “Amaoti (Amawoti)”

  1. From Philani Dlamini:

    Wow, I’m very impressed Sihle.
    Well as a kid I remember the mellow yellow and associate it with shooting and chaos. When I grew up there were big riots and killings between IFP members (otheleweni / oKlova) and ANC members (amaqabane). There was a practice of “necklace”, putting a vehicle tyre on an informer’s neck pour it with petrol and ka boom! Cruel practice, inhumane! It was believed that cops were biased and supplying one of the two groups with armour. Many people ran away and some disappeared and a lot of people were dying at daylight with kids watching.

    Amaoti has Zulus,and Xhosas mainly with very few other ethnic groups. Xhosa people live in a south part of Amaoti called amaotana and usually hav gatherings where they dance (xhensa). The biggest supermarket of amaoti is Mambha Store. There is a Roman catholic church, many Zion churches and many born again churches (christian). There is one clinic, but some people prefer the Phoenix clinic as it has more facilities.

    There are two Rattan stores (indian) inside the residential area of Amaoti. One of them has been vandilised many times. Its an easy target for criminals as it is normally rented to outsiders like indians or chinese.

    There were once claims of cannibals roaming the area but no one came forward with solid evidence.

    There were also claims of a magical snake in the river, and many people attested to seeing unusual things in the river at night.

    At present (2013) the community has community policing furums that seek to eliminate crime. These groups are very aggressive,people claim. It is said that they use axes and pagans to hit and sometimes kill criminals.

    The area is becoming civilised as there are many people getting educated and building nice houses within the community.

    Posted on March 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm #
  2. From Sanelisiwe Mabaso:

    This is interesting,I only knew the name and nothing else about this place,thanks.

    Posted on March 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm #
    • From Ayanda Ngcobo:

      Sane are you also from Inanda

      Posted on March 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm #
  3. From Sihle Mkhamisa:

    Blessed Philani Dlamini my brother…

    I’m aware of, almost, all what you’ve brought up, and I’m currently working on getting more of such vibrant, soul touching and educating facts like the ones you just mentioned… and I suppose you don’t mind helping me out with some information regarding to whatever issue and history the coomunity has…

    I also would like you to refer me to some other people whom will be my reference and whom I’ll interview to get some more facts…


    Posted on March 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm #
  4. From maxwell makhehla mthembu:

    Mmm yajuba ukwazi so much abt indayo yangakithi,proud to say ngiphuma emaoti!

    Posted on September 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm #
  5. From nathi mthethwa aka vuyavi:

    wow guys i grow up there and im still staying there and ngiyayithanda imaoti i wish we can all get togethere one day and share inkinga esibhekene nayo as i youth yasemaoti love you all guys

    Posted on March 30, 2015 at 11:49 am #
  6. From Rodney Mthethwa:

    Hi Friend

    If your really want to know the history of Amaoti, I suggest that you speak to the people who were born there and not the people who arrived in the 80’s. There are Mchunus'; Ndlovus and Mfekas where you met the Phondo guy who is a businessman there, just ask and you will find them. I was born there in 1951 and only left the place in 1990. Let us talk.

    Posted on August 23, 2015 at 5:07 pm #
    • From Sinenhlanhla Mkhize:

      The mchunus even built a school there, my great grand mother who was a daughter of those first descendants became a teacher there as well

      Posted on July 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm #
  7. From mandla:


    Posted on February 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm #
  8. From Dumisile:

    Wow interesting indeed , i was also born there eNgoqokazi near the Skhulu soccer round my whole family is buried there . I miss this plate very much whenever i talk about it i remember my mother she also used to sell gavin…

    Posted on October 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

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