Friends in low places

This morning, I head off to Cape Town. The conference ended. INPUT is gone. The SABC, the host public broadcaster, imploded with heads rolling as its ties to the ANC are made ever more clear to all. It cannot be called a public broadcaster anymore. It is an organ of propaganda for the ruling party. Period.

Perhaps that is why the INPUT conference had so few people from the SABC attend?

On the second to last night of my stay here, we went out. Sylvia takes myself and a Nigerian to listen to some music. We try to Bassline, which once was THE place to go. But it’s dark, deserted and too quiet. So to we zip off to Kippies, but it is closed. A place next door is strangely full of white with huge expensive cars out front and big, BIG blacks dudes frisking people at the door. We all thinkt he same thing – gangster hangout.

One last try. We head to Brixton, where Sylvia says: “I would never stop on the drive to or from work unless Basil was in the car.” She’s clearly not enthusiastic about my choice.

We enter a place of wonder though. The stage is crafted to look like a township hovel, a shebeen maybe with its tin roofing and siding. There are newspaper posters all over the wall behind the band that capture the bizarre headlines of the day: MAN WEDS DEAD WIFE. DE KOCK FINGERS DE KLERK. RACIST SCIENTIST HAS BLACK GENES. and so on. There are politburo-like signs on the other walls. Strange pillars hold up the ceiling. There is a THIS magazine form Canada on a rack.

Sipiso is the owner. he discovers I am Mohawk. He tells me he went to Ryerson in the early ’90s. “I went to that place on Spadina..” The Native Centre? “Ya, that’s it man. I have a love and respect for your people, man.” We hug like like long brothers. I mention that I have written for THIS. Sylvia tells me she will send him my stories. I am blown away by his generous and warm spirit. We sit back and listen to some fantastic jazz, jams by street musicians from the Cape, Durban, Joburg, and two guys from Nigeria. Sylvia is above the moon for having stumbled into “one of those places we used to go to but have lost contact with somehow. A place that is not quite respectable but has lovely people and an unpredicatability.” She is a poet.

We drift off into the night. Nuff sed (as the hat and T-shirts that the owner has quietly, surreptiously, given us as presents, wrapped in newspaper so “the others won’t see that I am giving it to you, otherwise they would get jealous.”

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