Posts in "Africa"

The grocery store we’ve all been waiting for

I am just back from my first visit to Nude Foods, the grocery store we have all been waiting for! I do mean all of us. Cape Town’s new plastic-free grocer is heaven for hipsters, for sure, with its hemp seeds, healthy hair products and earth-friendly body and home products, and a veritable lezzer nirvana with all those non-GMO pulses and legumes and natural fibre face clothes.

But even if you are a totally unreformed meat-eating, booze-guzzling, SUV-driving capitalist you will probably like the raw understated style of the green-green grocer with its exposed brickwork and sexy container-ing of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and friends.

Plus there are many other little tricks and treats such as  an all-natural stain remover stick that removes even that environmentally friendly extra virgin olive oil should it be splashed on your favourite blouse, I am reliably informed.

The target-obsessed, outcomes-focused busy bees will love the convenience of it all.

Just a few minutes away from worshipping at the altar of your own busy-busy-busy-ness and you will have achieved low cost, high impact efficiency (and probably a few super cool selfies) as you filled your hessian sack with delicious and affordable wholefoods. That’s a nice little update for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram … that should get you some Likes!

After being offered a glass straw at the Alexander Bar last week I was delighted to see bamboo straws at Nude.

The glass straw is a nice idea and a very luxurious experience, but somehow it doesn’t feel realistic to hope that it will take off on a meaningful scale, kinda like washing your hair in Evian (Kim Bassinger and I really tried to make that take off but it just didn’t catch on).

Plastic straws seem to be widely hated at the moment; they are the gateway drug du jour and I am happy to have turned my back on them forever.

Seriously, whether you are a hipster or a total hick you will love Nude Foods at 5 Constitution Street, East City Precinct, Cape Town.

It is unforgivable not to even attempt to do your bit. See you in the water queues…  

PS I was happy to see that there is one kind of plastic that is welcome here and that they are using Yoco. I do love a little disruption!

Yoco, poster child of SA as global fintech hub

Am I beautiful? Oh yes I am!

 

 

What a treat to see Zanele Muholi profiled in the Weekend FT.  It brought to mind my first encounter with the riveting work of this activist-photographer …

GRAHAMSTOWN, July 8 2016: In this challenging two-part exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery as part of the annual National Arts Festival, photographer and activist Zanele Muholi provokes and pleases as she explores different ways of asking the question, Am I beautiful?

The first part, Somnyama Ngonyama (an isiZulu phrase which translates to Hail, the dark lioness), is a collection of self-portraits taken as Muholi travelled the world. They shout defiantly, “I am me!” And even, “I am beautiful aren’t I!”

The exaggerated blackness of her skin in the pictures brings ideas about race and the politics of pigment to the fore, creating a whole subset of questions for the viewer.

Muholi writes: “The black face and its details become the focal point, forcing the viewer to question their desire to gaze at images of my black figure. By exaggerating the darkness of my skin tone, I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other.”

Invite to the opening of Muholi’s show at Stevenson Gallery, Woodstock, August 2017

The photographs of Muholi dressed up as different personas are taken in such glittering cities as Paris, New York and London and reference black and white portraiture and fashion photography. What’s not to love, you might ask.

The second part of the exhibition, 12 portraits of queer beauty queens, men and women – taken in South African townships, villages and cities – seem to ask, “Please look at me … Ummm … Do you think I am beautiful?”

These are 12 different kinds of beautiful, all of them tapping into a gorgeousness that transcends the environment, an ill-fitting swimsuit, a few extra kilos, a scarred leg. They are all out and proud, beautiful in a most vulnerable way.

Curated by Lerato Bereng, this exhibition shows a broad spectrum of the arc of beauty.

*The 12 photographs are part of the body of work for which Muholi is best known, her life-long project of documenting members of the black LGBTQIA community of South Africa. Brave Beauties catalogues hate crimes against the LGBTIQIA community and seeks to raise awareness about corrective rape and other violent crimes against the community.

 

Same-same; so different …

Through a series of photographs and short essays Alexia Beckerling takes the reader on a private, magical soul-searching journey to wholeness…

A goddess in a headdress

Spekbombing and other suburban dreams

As the windy season gets underway in the Cape of Hope and Storms we sit on a couple of ticking timebombs, one of them a natural disaster of epic proportions.

Many of us feel helpless in the face of the corruption and the selling off of the state. The ANC, founder of the Rainbow Nation, seems to have gone for a ball of shit. There go our neat little dreams of a happy ending where our silent acquiescence, complicity even, when we were too young, too scared or too comfortable to even see things as they were, gets swept under the carpet.

We feel helpless, too, in the face of the drought. The City Council, NGOs, water experts and so on squabble about who is to blame and who has had too many baths. The national government, the aforementioned and recently unhinged ANC, turns away to hide their chuckles as the DA-run city faces its own Armageddon.

My first cuttings … but is it definitely Spekboom? Buddha seems to think so …

Most of the people who might read this will be fine. Whatever happens, we will likely be able to buy water (for those few pesky applications where wine won’t work as a substitute) and antibacterial gels and vegetables and meat at “disaster” prices, and medicine even, should it come to that.

It is the others, the silent hundreds of thousands who have never been on the internet, who will  become parched, disease-ridden water refugees. They will wrap up their few possessions in bags and battered suitcases, pick up their many children and start walking, leaving livestock dying and bloating in the fields.

These are not pretty pictures but more of us are becoming aware, way too late, that they are realistic scenarios and actually quite probable. It will eventually become all of our problem.

Those of us not scratching a living in an increasingly inhospitable land, suburbanites who have the benefit of the time and space to ponder the future, are not always in touch and realistic in a meaningful way. But many of us in the wine-soaked middle classes aspire to being good citizens … well kind of, as long as we don’t have to miss aerobics. (It costs quite a lot you know)

Much as I hate to say it, even those of us who see the likelihood of an Armageddon around the corner, want to “get involved” only in ways that do not involve too much risk … or effort even. Be a good citizen without too much effort or real danger: it’s the South African suburban dream.

And [add drum roll here please] along comes Spekboom, which is not just a gardener’s dream, although it is that too. This tree, like many plants that are indigenous to this region with its capricious weather and varied environment, will grow forever (or, at least, 200 years) on a hint of moisture and the distant sounds of laughter and the wafting smell of braaied sosaties.

Listen to the podcast that got me started … (I don’t know who made it but she said please share it)

 

Those of us who missed the Struggle, because we were too young, too white or too ordinary are now excited by the call to arms of guerrilla gardening; Spekboom is our only ammunition. This indigenous miracle plant, presumably stripped out of forests and gardens in favour of English Roses in the colonisation of the landscape, is a veritable warrior against drought and climate change. And … wait for it … it is delicious in salad!

I am serious … a master of carbon sequestration and delicious and nourishing to boot. This takes cool cuisine to another level. Being incredibly fire resistant it makes perfect fire breaks, it grows in the desert (which we might soon be living in) and is a source of water for human and animal consumption.

The call to arms here is to pick it, share it, propagate and plant it. That’s my kind of war.

And in an effort to avoid being on the wrong side of history again I checked with a friend who is a conservationist. She, who has spent a lot of her career managing the removal of invasive species,  said there was no reason at all not to go Spekbombing.

Bombs away!

Zeitz Mocaa: It’s about us

Even in Milan, in London, in New York and other art-obsessed places it would have been difficult this week to totally escape the hype around the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz Mocaa), the world’s largest museum of contemporary African art, in Cape Town.

In the Mother City, too, there was a haze of sparkly dust. Some of us also got a street-level, bottoms up view inside the belly of the beast and saw a lot more than hype: less smoke, more mirrors.

How we gasped when we heard about the many millions spent on re-imagining and refurbishing the old grain silo at the V&A Waterfront.

How we ‘Oohed’ when we were told that tickets to the opening VIP reception cost R70k a piece. How we ‘Aahed’ when we heard the party was being hosted by Gucci, as if the Italian fashion label was a better choice than, say, MaXhosa, Stoned Cherrie or David Tlale (but of course we are still trying to turn our gaze away from those crumbling old edifices in the north).

Thankfully, two icons who featured large in stories about Zeitz Mocaa (which is widely being called “Africa’s Tate Modern” because it couldn’t possibly just be what it is of course) in newspapers around the world were our very own, universal superstars, Desmond and Nelson. Tutu, Mzansi’s beloved Arch, was at the VIP launch, probably not wearing any Gucci at all. He is reported to have made a phone call to the recently departed Tata of the Beloved Nation, Nelson Mandela, and reported: ‘Madiba says Yes!’

Cartwheels on the roof

That was surely the green light for the last of the cynics and doubters…

Whether you got caught up in the hype or not, totally ignored it, rejoiced in it, let it get up your nose or smiled wryly as it slid elegantly off your gold lame tank top … the only thing you should not have done is let it obscure the actual point of it all.

Did you see it? Did you go? Oh the beauty, the newness, the poignancy and the pure playfulness of this enormous space filled this hopeful continent’s creative minds.

Even if the Letraset-style descriptions of the work in the brand new galleries were already shedding the odd letter and the café on the top floor is not yet open, you could have stood in the cavernous spaces and just let yourself consider the possible connections between the past and the future and all the millions of points along that continuum.

You could have felt fussed and freaked out about “all these white guys” who still seem to be large and in charge. You could have felt angry that the whole show seems to be built on an outdated and out of favour power system. You could have felt annoyed at the American and European names, or you could have felt grateful for the opportunity to stand in front of the art. In that moment you could have felt that most exclusive of things: the feelings that were available only to you in that exact moment and specific space at that limited time … which is over now, like the rest of the past.

William Kentridge is a white guy, too, but wow he gives so many of us a lot of pleasure and makes us pause as we wonder at how we feel so constricted by our past and free of it at the same time.

The Gucci party was probably pretty fab but, as Italians superstar moments go, I think it was eclipsed by a golden moment in Milan this week when the original supermodels Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen joined Donatella Versace on the catwalk to mark the passing 20 years ago of Gianni.

It just goes to show that everything has a perfect place and time. PS The five were dressed in gold, floor-length gowns and the late George Michael’s Freedom was playing as they walked along the runway. A golden moment indeed!

Back in Cape Town, you might be thinking of the Zeitz Mocca opening weekend: “Oh puh-lease, I live in Cape Town, I don’t have to be part of the bun fight of an opening weekend with its free tickets.”

You might add: “I am not one of those people who turns up to queue rain or shine (both of which were options on a typically capricious Cape Town spring weekend). I will go once the fuss has died down, it will be nicer and quieter then.”

That misses the point totally. The opening weekend was packed with all the usual suspects, plus a lot of people who don’t normally ‘do art’.  They posed and people-watched and took selfies in front of Nicholas Hlobo’s haunting dragon in the cavernous atrium while their children did cartwheels on the roof, providing a totally different show and a snapshot of us.

It is, indeed, about us. You can choose to see it or not.

 

Give reality the slip at the Wild Coast 

The more things have changed the more they have stayed the same since the days when it was one of ‘Sun King’ Sol Kerzner’s original palaces of relaxation and fun in the nominally independent Bantustans of apartheid era South Africa.

The resort – set on 750 hectares of natural bush on the Indian Ocean Coast, where the sun always seems to shine – continues to offer a haven from the chill and the rest of reality outside.

You can see forever: The bright blue pool seems to be surrounded by ocean

In this wonderfully warm and friendly world, real life and the flood of news about corruption and capture seem very far away indeed.

One doesn’t want to spend too much time in complete denial of reality, but a little break from it all surely does wonders for mind, body and soul.

For a high-speed re-set I recommend a quick visit to the casino, which always helps to shift me into a different gear entirely. Watching ordinary looking people bet thousands of rand on a single spin of the roulette wheel always has me aghast, setting a kaleidoscope of judgment, envy and thrill spinning in my head.

For a minute you might, as I did, imagine yourself in a faraway imagined place or on the silver screen with Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore playing with a lot more than their entertainment allowance, as they did in that racy and hedonistic tale, Indecent Proposal.

A few lucky spins stretched my own entertainment allowance and kept me amused for a couple of hours. I didn’t mind at all, though, when that came to an end since much fun was to be had outside under beautiful clear winter skies.

Better than cocktails: Foot massages by the pool

A more wholesome but equally heady and fantastical way to forget your cares is a horseback ride on the beach.

This highlight of so many bucket-lists lived up to the dream for me as the sweaty beast I was riding headed calmly for the shoreline and splashed through the foamy waves for most of the ride. I was reduced to the gulping, giggling teenage girl I had never been as I took in deep breaths of fresh sea air and pure thrill.

Even in midwinter a large bright blue pool, which seems to be surrounded by ocean, was always alive with children and the odd adult splashing around.

Less daring adults reclined on loungers around the pool sipping cocktails, reading books, admiring 180 degree seaviews and having foot massages.

Slippery slopes: The Wild Waves water park

An award-winning golf course, multiple beauty and wellness spas, Segway tours and the Wild Waves water park are just some of the other options at the resort, which is much more about family fun than its reputation might suggest.

Once known as a haven of gambling and the risqué entertainment that fell under the banner of “immorality” in the era of extravaganzas, these days you are more likely to see birdwatchers than topless dancers.

At another point in time when South Africa seems to be a corrupt and captured place, the Wild Coast Sun offers a break from it all with loads of sunshine and good times.

Give reality the slip at this resort less than 2 hours drive from Durban, where everything seems a few degrees warmer and happier even on a midwinters’ day in 2017.

The normalisation of madness

A number of insights during a debate at the University of Cape Town – Betrayal of the Promise: Understanding South Africa’s Political Crisis – came from the youngest panel member Sikhulekile Duma, a researcher at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University. One, in particular, resonated with me when he talked about how we have normalised madness in South Africa … and not only because “we accept that Khayelitsha exists”.

Picture the scene: We are sitting in a lecture hall at a great South African university. We are listening to respected leaders from the academic, legal and business worlds calmly discuss the silent coup that we all believe has taken place in our country.

GuptasThe stories of multi-million rand bribes, hundreds of leaked emails and free holidays in Dubai all lead to a foreign (possibly naturalised) family, which is widely accepted to have bought the state.

They are not puppeteers, we are told, they are brokers of corruption and favours for the elite. They are the fixers and the can-do guys at the top of the pile in a neat system where the patron need not shop around, or take too many risks.

Normalising madness indeed!

 

 

New classics infused with ancient African tradition

Warm up: young musicians from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay got the audience started

A Nigerian Kora player, a South African composer, a Kenyan master of ceremonies and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille were among musicians, VIPs and invited guests gathered at Iziko Museum in Cape Town to listen to “new classics” in celebration of the 54th anniversary of Africa Day on Thursday.

After being warmed up by a few jazzy numbers played by young musicians from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay, which features youngsters from the community of Imizamo Yethu informal settlement and Hangberg, the audience was moved to seats under a collection of whale casts and skeletons in Iziko’s “whale well”, for the main show.

In the whale well: Could have been creepy …

A few jokes were made about this Jonah-esque setting before the audience was treated to a varied and moving selection of music, both ancient and brand new. Soon no one even noticed the enormous skeletons suspended above.

The programme included world premieres of new compositions by African classical music composers Tunde Jegede, from Nigeria, and South Africa’s Bongani Ndodana-Breen. The new, challenging scores were performed enthusiastically and elegantly by the Africa Arts Ensemble Noir, a chamber orchestra of 15 players from Cape Town with soprano soloist Amanda Osorio.

The showcase of classical music infused with ancient African tradition was the culmination of a series of concerts and public dialogues presented by Africa Arts. The series, titled Africa Connections, was aimed at fostering a new understanding of Africa and breaking down cultural paradigms about classical music.

Africa Connections has allowed audiences at a variety of venues in Cape Town to engage with Jegede and Ndodana-Breen on the subject of how their African roots and the continent’s classical traditions have impacted their work as modern composers.

Ndodana-Breen said on Friday that the Africa Day concert was also about re-imagining how we look at African creative expression.

Amanda Osorio and Bongani Ndodana-Breen

“We need to go beyond the stereotype of what African music is, locked in the ‘tourist curio’ realm of drums,” he said.

Soprano Osorio, who is also co-executive director of Africa Arts, said she was thrilled about the response to the organisation’s collaboration with the office of the premier of the Western Cape Government and Iziko Museums.

She said: “Africa Arts was very honoured that we could enable two African premieres and commission two world premieres with talented African classical music composers, and that the audience gave such a favourable reception.”

She said the event showed that there was a hunger in Africa for classical music experiences that showcased the talent on the continent and celebrated inclusivity in the arts scene.

Ndodana-Breen added: “Africa has ancient traditions, as we saw in Tunde Jegede playing the Kora but also it has modern artistic expression just like Europe or Asia.

“Yesterday’s concert could have been a concert of new music in London or New York. It had a modern cosmopolitan but African feel to it.”

 

On May 22:

Classical music infused with ancient African tradition

In honour of Africa Month, Capetonians will this week get the rare opportunity to engage with two internationally-renowned classical composers and hear how their African roots and the continent’s classical traditions have impacted their work as modern composers.

Africa Connections, a series of concerts and public dialogues, will showcase the classical music journey from ancient African kingdoms, such as Mali in the 12th century, to today. Presented by Africa Arts, the series is aimed at fostering a new understanding of Africa and breaking down cultural paradigms about classical music.

Africa Arts Group is a registered non-profit organisation that produces “innovative opera and classical music projects that celebrate the rich and diverse creative talent of South African artists”.

The concerts feature music by Nigerian kora master and composer Tunde Jegede, pictured left, and South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, internationally renowned African musicians who have infused Western music with African traditions. The composers have received international acclaim for works ranging from opera and chamber to symphonic music that are influenced by classical African cultures.

As a composer, Jegede has worked with major orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and the London Mozart Players. Over the years, he has kept his creative diversity intact by working closely with singers, vocalists and spoken-word artists from a wide range of traditions, including opera, pop, R ‘n B, reggae, hip hop and jazz.

His own jazz ensemble, The Jazz Griots, was created to explore the connections between African and African diasporic forms of music and, in 1995, the BBC produced a television documentary, Africa: Remember, about his music.

South African composer Ndodana-Breen’s music is a blend of African and classical styles and reflects on various scenes from his native Xhosa culture.

He has received commissions from across the globe. According to The New York Times, his “delicately made music – airy, spacious, terribly complex but never convoluted – has a lot to teach the Western wizards of metric modulation and layered rhythms about grace and balance”.

On Tuesday, May 23, the Institute for the Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town will present a rare opportunity to hear Jegede perform the kora, the West African harp-lute. The event will include a discussion and Q and A session with Jegede and Ndodana-Breen, who will be exploring African classical traditions and how they have impacted their compositions as modern composers.

On Wednesday, Jegede will perform his original African-infused music with some of Cape Town’s leading jazz musicians at Harringtons Cocktail Lounge on Harrington Street in the East City.

The series culminates with a gala event on Thursday, featuring world premieres of two new works by Jegede and Ndodana-Breen played by Africa Arts Ensemble Noir, a chamber orchestra of 15 players from Cape Town with the soprano soloist Amanda Osorio.

The event, commemorating Africa Day, will also showcase young talent from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay, featuring young musicians from the community of Imizamo Yethu informal settlement and Hangberg. The young musicians will entertain invited guests with lighter, popular African music.

The event will be streamed live at www.africaarts.co.za at 7pm on the day and recorded for a later radio broadcast.

Africa Connections is an Africa Month initiative curated by Africa Arts and presented in collaboration with the Western Cape Government, Iziko Museums of South Africa and the Institute for Creative Arts at UCT.

In addition to the live events, Africa Arts, in partnership with the Western Cape Government, will launch Africa Connections, a commemorative publication. The publication, to be launched at Iziko on Africa Day, May 25, is described as “highlighting the bonds between the Cape and the rest of the continent”.

More info http://www.africaarts.co.za/events

 

Musical feast at Durban’s beachfront festival

Durbanites look set to get a lot more than “what is needed” this weekend, May 26-28, when a star-studded line-up from around the world plays on two stages at the third annual Zakifo Music Festival at Blue Lagoon Beach.

Ray Phiri

“Sakifo means what is needed in Creole,” says Jerome Galabert, one of the event’s co founders.

Galabert, who owns Sakifo Musik Festival in Reunion Island as well as Reunion Electronic Groove, Francofolies and Ioma, added: “With Zakifo Durban our intention is the same.”

The organisers of the Durban festival describe the line-up of 22 acts from as far afield as the UK, Jamaica, Niger, Congo and Lesotho as “one of the most multi-genre global music line-ups ever gathered together in one festival programme”.

Damian ‘JR Gong’ Marley

Including a wide galaxy of stars from Damian “JR Gong” Marley, the son of the original Marley, to a number of South African favourites such as Thandiswa Mazwai, Ray Phiri and The Soil and Congolese-Belgian act Baloji, to Tuareg musician-activist Bombino and Ghana’s Jojo Abot, this festival promises a multi-cultural multi-genre feast.

The festival, from May 26-28, will take place on Durban’s promenade, with two stages, a cultural area, food carts and stalls, craft beer bars, local traders and interactive installations and art exhibits. The backdrop will be provided by crashing waves.

Zakifo, which was was started by Galabert, Sipho Sithole and Andy Davis, is part of a music festival circuit in Southern Africa that takes place over three weeks. Other events on the circuit are Sakifo festival in Reunion, Maputo’s Azgo festival, the Bassline Africa Day concert in Johannesburg and Swaziland’s Bushfire festival.

Award-winning South African a capella group The Soil

Sithole, festival co-founder and owner of Native Rhythms, said: “Zakifo is a destination festival, a people-to-people encounter … We guarantee you that over the years this festival will become part of travellers’ annual calendar coming from all over the world.”

Zakifo is hosted with support from the Department of Arts and Culture, East Coast Radio, Air Austral, eThekwini Municipality and Durban Tourism.

Tickets are available at Computicket.

Back by popular demand: #FeesMustFall

front-sizwesandisile-back-ameera-conrad-oarabile-ditsele-tankiso-mamabolo-cleo-raatus-sihle-mnqwazana-thando-mangcu-in-the-fall-pic-by-oscar-o-ryan

The relevance of this show is magnified by the intimacy the performers have with the stories. Pic Paul O’Ryan

Back by popular demand! The Fall will be showing at Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from June 8 to 24.

Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Research Chair of Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University, wrote of The Fall: “With all the images of violence in the media, it can be easy to lose sight of what sustains the journey that began with Rhodes. The Fall takes back the narrative and invites the audience to look beyond the headlines and to see the real human stories. It is a powerfully acted play, a profoundly complex and moving portrait of students’ struggle to free themselves from the burden of the historical legacy they inherited.”

and we said …

#FeesMustFall, #FindTheMoney, October 2016:

What a pity that before assembling a team to look into the cost of higher education – a team that, incidentally, looks better suited to dealing with international espionage – President Jacob Zuma didn’t spend some time this week as a member of an audience at the Baxter Theatre marveling at our country’s young people.

In watching The Fall: All Rhodes Lead To Decolonisation he could have heard firsthand the informed and eloquent arguments of a diverse group of recent UCT graduates who were involved in last year’s seminal #RhodesMustFall protests.

Perhaps we can still hope that one or more of his newly assembled “funding for fees” team – which oddly includes the minister of state security and the minister of defence and military veterans, but excludes the minister of finance – will see the show. It is on until October 29 and seems quite likely to move somewhere else after that.

The relevance of watching this production while universities around the country are exploding with anger and frustration is magnified by the obvious intimacy the performers have with the stories.

The frank, collaborative piece of workshop theatre was devised by the cast, with facilitation from Clare Stopford. Oarabile Ditsele, Tankiso Mamabolo, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Sihle Mnqwazana, Cleo Raatus, Ameera Conrad and Thando Mangcu draw on their own experiences, making for a richly textured depiction of the issues and ideologies present in the movement. The production is directed by Conrad and Mangcu.

oarabile-ditsele-ameera-conrad-sizwesandisile-mnisi-tankiso-mamabolo-cleo-raatus-sihle-mnqwazana-of-the-fall-pic-by-oscar-o-ryan

The Fall: a frank, collaborative piece of workshop theatre devised by the cast. Pic: Oscar O’ Ryan

The subject matter is expanded beyond statues and fees, syllabi and social classifications. Discussions of race, class and gender, patriarchy and sexism are all expanded to what feels like the edges and beyond.

A surprising and subtly handled storyline focuses around Cleo, who identifies outside of the normative gender labels. This narrative relating a personal non-binary experience in a hetero-normative landscape also provokes a challenge to media bias.

Where are all the queer bodies, the trans bodies, Cleo asks. Why aren’t they represented in history or media coverage? After all, no one doubts that they turn up when they are needed, “manning” the barricades when there is a fight to be fought.

The absurdity of racism is laid bare in ways that frequently make the audience wince. Humour provides great (if occasional) relief.

We smile a rather grim smile as we hear about the moment when, as the statue of Cecil John Rhodes is finally being removed, it dangles above the plinth for a moment “as if deciding whether to go, or to fall and crush the black bodies beneath it”.

As much as that moment of removal was invested with much meaning, a moment when, in one performer’s words, the “ancestors’ dignity was restored” it was just a moment, a moment that has passed. The play goes on to unpack how this symbolic moment extended into a series of other pivotal moments.

Moments when dignity is restored are few; much more often it is the opposite.

In one excruciating moment the audience is given some insight into the horror of proving you are poor enough to be given a loan to help with fees. Here, all of the family’s shame must be laid out for all to see, often over and over.

The shame of association is piled on some of us when one of the students talks about a white classmate saying that black people were better suited to working outdoors because of the pigment in their skin. White people, according to this theory, needed to remain indoors … running things, you know, governing and so on.

Those familiar with the preference for shortening “tricky” names turned scarlet when we were told to: “Learn my name!” A second lash of shame was delivered with “like I have learned the names of Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky”.

2PoliceChain 1PoliceChainAnd so the struggles – long and short, big and small – continue. #RhodesMustFall, #OutsourcingMustFall, #BladeMustFall, #FeesMustFall.

At the heart of it all lies South Africa’s stalled transformation process. We are left feeling that money must be found to fund this part of decolonisation.

Maybe there is some money in the defence budget? Extra cash in the state security system’s coffers?

Aah I see now … maybe the ministers of state security and defence and military veterans might be able to help after all.

Precious drinking water running down the toilet

As water experts gather for seminars to discuss the Cape’s crisis and pop groups record songs to help people manage the time they spend in the shower, thousands of litres of drinking water continues to run down the toilet.

www.bobtheplumber.co.za

Robert Ince, from Cape Town-based company Bob The Plumber, says there are many small and effective ways that each household can save water. He says his company is delivering flow restrictors to clients and being called out to install some grey water systems, but the public in general is “waking up quite slowly” to what they can do.

It will surprise many, and (please God) shock at least some into action, to hear that flushing the toilet is our second highest use of potable water. That means drinking water is running down the toilet, hundreds of thousands of litres of it.

A simple solution that every household can start implementing immediately is flushing the toilet with grey water at least some of the time. No system or installation is required, the total investment is a plastic bucket, and effort involved is minimal.

A bucket placed in the shower as the water runs to warm up and alongside the person as they shower will collect quite a lot of water even during the recommended two-minute shower. This might raise awareness of how much water is being used per shower and will definitely collect water to be used for DIY flushes.

When the toilet needs a flush some of the contents of the bucket can be poured directly into the bowl to flush it. One doesn’t even have to lift the lid of the cistern. Sometimes the water is slightly soapy but what is the harm in putting some detergent into the toilet.

Ince said flushing the toilet used between 6.5 litres for the modern cistern and 13 litres for the older model of toilet per flush. Imagine if every household in Cape Town used grey water instead of potable water for just a few flushes a day.

There was a time not so long ago when gardeners were using grey water saved like this to keep herb gardens and so on going, but Tokai mother-of-two, Anne Taylor tells us, things are so bad now that most people feel that is too decadent a luxury.

A simple attachment that reroutes water from the washing machine to the garden

Taylor, who described herself as a “water warrior from the Eastern Cape”, recommended a simple small attachment which she fitted to her washing machine outlet pipe that reroutes grey water to her garden. She warns people to get advice on the size of the pipe so as not to damage the machine in any way.

Ince added that attaching a flow restrictor to a showerhead is another very easy way to save water. The restrictors, which are designed to fit “99 percent of shower heads on the market today”, are small devices with a huge impact, he says.

Households that are able to spend a little money to save a lot of water could install a grey water recycling system with a pump, which improves household water use dramatically.

Another smaller intervention suggested by Ince is to get a plumber out to adjust the pressure regulation on the water supply. He said many homes were set to six bars, which meant that a lot of water was just running down the drain, when two bars was normally sufficient.

The City of Cape Town has recommended the implementation of stringent Level 4 water restrictions, which may come into effect from the beginning of June, which would ban all use of municipal water for outside and non-essential use.

Cape Town’s dam levels are critically low with only around 10% of usable water remaining.

– African News Agency