It is a cold Saturday morning, my head and the sky are a little grey and cloudy : my head from too many Hunters’. The sky, I don’t know, its February, where is the sun?
I’m exhausted, I slept well but in short sharp bursts.
The mosquitoes here bite black people too. In Lakeside they seem just to like the lighter hue.
Im in Langa, spending the weekend at a Hotel-home stay. Nombulelo has welcomed me into her home in Langa quarter.
Tony, a very dark, very relaxed, very likable black English man, is hosting the art competition. We met around the fire last night, drinks in one hand, chicken in the other, and got to talking about culture, measures of blackness, language and living in South Africa, as black people do.
It is my second time in Langa, the first time, I did not even know that I was in Langa, so this, I now count as my first.
It is also my first time meeting, speaking to and connecting with a black Brit. The England that I know is very white and does and likes things that I don’t quite understand.
Jace, a french graffiti artist from Reunion – an island off the cost of Africa, is staying with me and my partner at Nombulelo’s house. He is the master of ceremonies so-to-speak . Right now my brain has switched to Xhosa first language, French second language. The Hunters helped that situation. This is going to be tough. I know maybe 100 words in Xhosa, and at a push, 20 words in french. Let the games begin.
Saturday, turned to Sunday and Sunday rolled, over-fed and sleepy into Monday. Mý new world is big text books, The History of Psychology , old white Europeans and theories and thoughts that do not resonate with me. This past weekend helped me remember my creativity, my drive towards honesty, equality, experience and cultural fluidity. This past weekend fuelled me with my, almost forgotten, reality.
The weekend heated up and with the sun came the faces, open faces, old wrinkled foreign white, now pink faces, middle-aged, black, scarred faces. Mens faces, women’s faces, young coloured faces, mixed race faces, White English faces, Black English faces, French Brown faces. The faces. Oh the faces. So many open faces, willing and wanting to be a part of the change.
Art is contagious, creation is a disease, when it is around you can not help but catch the infection. Langa was ablaze with oozing infection. Colour was everywhere, on the walls, in our eyes, on our feet. The streets were flowing with a confident, contained energy.
Langa, it seems, is known for that confident, contained, settled energy. An energy that tells you that there are roots lying here, deep, strong, sturdy roots. Roots that bare fruits that feed souls.
We were alive together, and acknowledging. We were acknowledging. Art, creation, life and each other. It was a powerful thing to be apart of.
Jonathan Hendricks, an enthusiastic, driven, coloured guy from the flats created the winning piece. His images celebrated the black woman and all that she is naturally. He captured all of us Queens and awarded us a space on the wall, a space in the city, a space to be admired and celebrated. A local Langa resident, last years winner in fact, came second this year round. He graciously, and willingly gave Johnny his old title. They shook hands, shared a hug and parted ways, each of them winners, each of them talented.
Staying at Ma Nombulelo’s house ment that I could easily walk from Ikhaya le Langa to Bhunga rd, to the bottle store, to the spaza, to the pool, to the theatre space, to different restaurants and back safely and easily. Langa quater is a collection of streets in which the community has come together to create opportunity, education and experience.
I had the most amazing time speaking broken isiXhosa, random phrases in French and sharing English whenever it was necessary. Langa is the first place in the whole of Cape Town where my lack of Xhosa vocabulary has NOT been a cause for negative judgement on me. The first and only place where I was told in a black space that my dark skin was beautiful. The first and only place where my culture was a discussion rather than an argument.
Langa gave me something special to look forward to, something to be excited about, something to be proud of in this strange area-divided city.
I look forward to more excursions into the , actual, centre of our Cape Town city.