Still dancing together after 50 years

Edwin and Olga Arendse on their wedding day 50 years ago.

Eastridge residents Edwin Arendse, 72, and his wife Olga, 69, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday April 29.

However, the couple’s love first blossomed more than 50 years ago when they first laid eyes on each other in Saron; more than 130 kilometres outside of Cape Town.

“The first time I saw her was at a dance in Saron and we danced the night away,” Mr Arendse said.

Ms Arendse then moved with her mother Evelyn Chagora to Benbrook Street in Claremont.

At the tender age of 18, Mr Arendse, packed his bags, bound for the Mother City, in search of employment. “I moved in with Olga and her mother as a boarder and that is when we got to know each other more intimately,” he said.

The two spent time getting to know each other, going to the local bioscope and enjoying many hours in nature at Ardene Gardens in Claremont.

They eventually got married, at t Saviour’s Church, on the corner of Bowwood and Main roads in Claremont in 1967.

Their wedding was no ordinary affair as they had a double celebration.

“My sister Leah and her husband Jack got married with us. It was a big affair. Leah and I were very close and did everything together,” Ms Arendse quipped.

Before getting married, Ms Arendse gave birth to their first son, Gavin, who was tragically killed at the age of 20, in Eastridge.

“We had six children together, however, only two are still alive. I am still grieving for my son Melvin who was stabbed to death in 2015 at the age of 42,” she said.

Ms Arendse’s face drops when she speaks about how they were forcibly removed from Claremont under the Group Areas Act, more than 30 years ago.

“It was very heartsore. My father was born in that house. It was heart-breaking, but what could we do about it?”

Despite all the challenges they have faced, the couple’s love has stood the test of time.

It’s clear by how they look at each other that they are still very much in love. “God pulled us through it all. We had our ups and downs and (my husband) can be quite boring at times,” she giggled.

Mr Arendse was a migrant worker who spent six months at a time in Bredasdorp.

The couple were elated about reaching the milestone anniversary and told the Plainsman: “Fifty years is not 50 days. Many people don’t reach this point and today’s marriages end very quickly.”

The couple enjoy their twilight years surrounded by their four grandchildren; one great-grandchild and three adopted children.

Granddaughter Charmonè, 16, who is completing Grade 11 at Glendale High School, said her grandparents give her sage relationship advice.

“They say that today’s men are not as committed and that I must find a partner who is respectful and that will take care of me. “They also tell me to work hard to achieve my goals.”

The couple advised the youth to endeavour to have a good relationship and that they must keep their wits’ about them when choosing a partner.

As their anniversary celebration drew to a close, the couple, danced and could be heard softly singing the words to their favourite song Hey Paula by Paula and Paul released in 1963: “Hey, hey Paula, I want to marry you. Hey, hey Paula, no one else will ever do.”