The Real South African Experience

I was given  the incredible opportunity to attend a Johnny Clegg concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens with my UK born lover, his friend from Ireland  and his friend’s girlfriend from Honduras. We blended with ease into the crowd of multi coloured, mixed race, mixed couples, mixed babies, white, black, yellow, orange, brown shades that dotted the sold out picnic grounds. It was a night that I will not soon forget and will look back upon with fondness. It was the first time in my adult life that I have experienced a place completely void of racial tension. All around me were people, South African people. All in one place, all in close proximity, all happy, all sharing their happiness. All singing, all dancing, all acknowledging a shared admiration. All ages, tiny brown and white and black and orange tots standing on mom or dad’s shoulders or running around causing havoc. Old grandparents,  grandfathers and grandmothers wrinkled with worries of the past, smiling and swaying and singing and sighing. Young adults with new realities, young students with small fires burning bold in their hearts, young teens with easier dreams. Internationals with little or no knowledge, internationals with books and books and a brain filled with words that can only be imagined. All of us there, all of us South African for that 2 hours of magic and memories.

As I write this entry, I am sitting in SARS,  the South African Revenue Service. I have been sitting here on this hard, cold, thin, iron, shapeless, backless stool for over and hour and a half. I am surrounded by black, white, orange, brown faces. Tired faces, angry faces, distressed and confused faces. My neck hurts from looking hurriedly up at the screen that intermittently flashes numbers that we all hope are ours but always seem to belong to someone else that just walked in off the street. We all want to shout, we all want to scream, but no one wants to hear us, no one has the time. My bum hurts and my mind is trying to escape from the confinement of my itching skull The white guy on my far right is loosing his shit. I’m assuming that this is his first time. He tried to make friends with the black girl next to him but she just rolled her eyes. He has no time and she has so much. It is so quiet in this cold building and yet the people are buzzing. Our knees and ankles and fingers and eyes are jumping and darting and twitching and clicking. There is a quiet panic growing. It is heavy in this space, heavy like that old mans eye brows. Why does that happen to white peoples eye browns? They are so big and wispy. The old white man with the wispy eye brows has made friends with the two old coloured women he has been placed between. They are all laughing about the fact that they arrived at 9am and it is now 1:30pm. They are laughing and spitting anger. The white guy on my far right has said all the blasphemous words that I know. He has put down his cellphone after having taken a selfie of his angry face with the crowd behind him. He looks as if he is praying…. shame maybe I should tell him that his number will come. There is a very handsome black guy on my far left, he looks as if he is going for an interview with Hugo Boss, he keeps falling asleep and waking up with his toffee sweet almost falling out of his mouth. I am trying my best not to laugh.

Oh, goodness, 525.

That’s me.

That’s my number. Bye.

This is South Africa. We are either incredibly happy or fiercely angry. Noting in moderation in our country. Ever.


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