In the morning: interviews. South Africa cultivates world class journalists . The greater need for truth the more committed journalists there are. Maybe this is wrong. They embark on key training (schools) to imbue principles of fact and investigation, record
and instinct. I am interviewed by The Citizen and The Mail and guardian.
I spend the day on the green, a massive green filled with gigantic tents full to bursting with stalls selling all kinds of wares. The stall holder could be a Xhosa woman or a white settler . It’s an international festival and the stalls reflect this. And there’s thai food stalls Indian food stalls , Chinese food stalls. I am in heaven. The requisite man on stilts walks past, so too the juggelers and street theatre practitioners. Children grapple candy floss and sweet stuff.
I am stopped by throughout by people who came to my workshop yesterday or to the performances over the past two days. A tall shouldered ruddy nosed gentleman selling Kudu steaks from behind a counter says in a gruff south African Settlers accent. “I came
to your show yesterday” he passed me the burger with a stern twinkle in his eye “food for thought” he says. His daughter looked at me with pursed smile as if to say now there is a compliment
I go sit and a wisened gentleman sidled up to me with a grin on his face. He had a
perfect English South African accent. Softly spoken but sure. I remembered him from a workshop I gave yesterday. “Hey” he said in mischevieous voice bright as a djhin. “My wife died fifteen years ago” he said after swallowing his food. He felt my inner bracing. “she visits me occassionally.” He paused to check that I hadn’t run away and in so doing allayed my fears.
“ but there’s one occasion she always, always comes to me” his voice had gentle risen as if it were a question “I wrote a poem about that and I read it to a couple of my friends
last night and I said to them what you said in the workshop. I said “look I wrote this poem and I want to read it. I don’t want you to worry about liking it or not. I am reading it to you but I am reading it for me.” I told him his feedback made the entire workshop – the art of being an artist – worthwhile.
In early evening I attend a reception orgnaissed by Sustained Theatre. This is a festival after all and a good place to meet people. From England Corinna Edwards, Kully Thiarai, Garfield Allen, Tyrone Huggins , Felix Cross, Bea Udeh are just some of the dynamic contingent brought here. I see Bra Willie and his face lights up. We warmly hug each other remembering when we met last in Durban at a poetry festival. But Bra Willie is now The poet Laureate of South Africa!
Garfield Allen and I spoke with good words. They were a long time coming. Outside in the blushing white light of a South African full moon Felix Cross notes that his young boy who has a telescope back in London will see only a partial moon from home in London “but
the detail from the telescope is amazing” he says. The concept of different moons being seen on the same evening by a father in South Africa – the whole moon – and his son back in London – a partial moon – is surprisingly moving.