Author Archives: Roché Kester

Paralysis

 

Writing is intimidating. Let us get that out of the way. Diction, word choice, punctuation has left many paralysed. People think a certain type of writing perpetuates sharing, greatness, when the bravery exists in penning, but seldom it goes noticed.

I have held the notion that writing is elite for eons.

In truth, anyone can do it, if time is taken.

With that said, the importance of writing and honing came to my attention this evening with Grounding Sessions, a weekly poetry platform I run (the I will always scare me).

Last week, the show was packed, there was barely breathing space, people came to soak in poetry, and they did. It was a brilliant show, unseen of, new, surprising poets who gathered their worth and strutted their stuff metaphorically.

This week however, the show started off empty. As a host, you try to understand, make sense of and find reason in the lack when it comes to something you have created. You gain a press release answer- it is valentine’s day, but in truth, it was valentine’s day and who would come out? You hope, that some soul would.

Time passes. Friends show up. You remember you are an alchemist despite the fact the feature poet has not shown. You know that this job is can never be discounted. This is universal. This is poetry, it is always in motion.

Steadily, there are enough people to fill the open-mic. Friends save you. They perform. Poetry is performed. You live. You listen to the poetry. This art is what you were seeking.

The poets a brilliant, they share themselves, their writing, do not be fooled, writing is intimidating and brave, sharing more so.

You have hired an intern, a guest MC, he is the type of controversy you are on a bad night. You are grateful for him, but this is not a bad night.

Did we mention that your friends saved you. Vusumuzi Mpofu, Zimbabwean born , 19, performs as a stand in, though he had proved himself beyond when the  crowd was enthralled a week before at the very same gig.

A week before at the very same gig, it was packed. Filled. FULL! Now, alchemy needed to take precedence, Pro-Found is there, Durban born, and tight as a premium poes.

They collab. They recite. Beatboxing/Rap/Singing/POETRY!!!

There is poetry. You sigh. All you have ever wanted was to have poetry prosper. The why’s are personal, but you yearn its growth. You grow from despair to knowing that from the advent of time there was only word.

You love through poetry, and though it seems a hesitant lover, even on Valentine’s Day, somehow the romance of sound, word, sentence, punctuation and concept has always left you loved.

Writing is intimidating, sharing even more so- so bravery in penning should always be respected.

 

 

 


Elephant Shoes to Ground You.

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Winslow Schalkwyk the first feature poet at the relaunch of Grounding Sessions.

So the story goes as follows :Erin Bosenberg a multi-disciplinary media and performance artist  whom I had met  when performing  at Badilisha’s  One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change (2011) , approached me to perform at what was then a very popular gig, called Grounding Sessions . Grounding Sessions was curated by Jamaican born poet D’bi Young as a space for community expression. The event took place at at Tagore’s in Observatory every Monday evening.

Erin hosted the show that evening, but herself  and Desiree Bailey, another performer from Badilisha , took turns at maintaining the show after D’bi had departed Cape Town. That night, I was the feature poet . This meant my set was longer than usual and I could set the tone for the evening.  It felt as if it was my stage , where I could steer the show as I saw fit. The audience members were receptive and seemed to engage well with the work.  Unbeknownst to me , the audience were mostly poets themselves.  Grounding Sessions was a safe space that gave voice to both experienced and novice poets who all wrote around a theme prompted at the prior show.

The theme that evening was – Nothing. After I had had finished, the open mic resumed and poets brought forth various perspectives on the theme.

Like a whirlwind, a young man guitar in hand had entered the room . He stepped to the mic and he said he’d like to share song to which the audience obliged to.The first lyrics of the song were: “I thought I won the lotto, when I fell for miss one of a kind”, okay entertaining enough, but what stuck was when he got to the chorus and belted out the following :  “And all she said was elephant shoes, elephant shoes”. Yes, Jimmy Nevis had intercepted my stage. How did I know this? Because the theme for the next weekend at the Grounding Sessions was …ELEPHANT SHOES and I was completely overshadowed by Mr Nevis!

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I never the performance much thought after, despite his voice being pleasant . The very next week however, the radio blasted : “Elle, elle, elle” .  IT was on the radio, that very song!  This guy was famous all of a sudden. I couldn’t believe it! Fast forward to the next time I saw him The next time I saw him after was at Living Room, a club in Bellville. He was booked to perform , but there was not a chance that I could get close to him  to convey this story because he was surrounded by bodyguards!

I still could not believe that this singer guy,who had hijacked my stage, had turned out to be famous the very next week. It was beyond me. In retrospect it makes complete sense. Tagore’s is that the type of venue that allows for that kind of magic.

When going to Tagore’s you never know what may transpire, but you don’t fight the ambiance of the place either.  You go with it.  It has an air of mystery and sanctity about it. It is ultimately a performance space that houses talent. An intimate platform that allows for poetry and music. Many a renowned and unknown artist has touched stage with that venue. Hence the Jimmy Nevis overnight sensation phenomena.

So now that Observatory is where I reside, and poetry seems so far away, a revival of Grounding Sessions seems in order.

Each Tuesday will host a feature poet and an Open-mic where poets are given the opportunity to share writing related to chosen theme.   The commencement date of the first insallment will be February 24th. The theme is  The History of love, in keeping with the month of love (February) and Black History month.  Winslow Schalkwyk will be the first feature poet. Do come,if not for any other reason besides that I have Elephant shoes to fill, and a dream to see through.

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Artist Profile: Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

It’s very seldom that fresh young talent becomes an overnight sensation. I mean, even the Disney kids put in some work before they blew up in their adult years. It seems as though some people have the ability to become smashing hits within a short period of time.

I’ve been at this poetry thing for a while and I like staying on top of who’s new, what content is new, what new poets have to say and with all that said: cue Kyle Louw.

I was performing at Jam That Session last year, when Kyle Louw approached me after the performance and said he’d love to put me into contact with his friend running a poetry show in Observatory, because he thinks I’d be exactly suited for the women’s day show that was set to happen later that month. It’s Kyle’s doing that I am now friends with Kirsten Mackey and JP Voster of the Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town. It was rather surprising though, that this boy, whom I’ve never ever heard of, never mind seen on stage had access or knowledge of a show that I did not have (indulge me here, this is my not so subtle way of saying I like being in the know). Nevertheless, I took him up on his offer and before long I was introduced to the suave, serious, emotional, insightful, talented, flirtatious poet this is Kyle Louw.

Kyle has only been at poetry for just over a year and has managed to perform at most of the more sought after events. This can only be attributed to his skill, commitment and work with regard to his poetry.

I asked Kyle some questions to shed light on him as poet and person. Watch out for this boy, he’ll be around for a while!

Catch Kyle performing on the 7th July , at the Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town’s event The Swing Café at 19:30 at the Riverclub in Observatory.

1)Why poetry?

Ever had that feeling you know this is what you need to be doing with your life? It’s tough to explain but somehow I know that I can’t and refuse to do anything else with the time I have here.

2) When did you start writing poetry and what inspired your first poem?
I have been dabbling with poetry for as long as I can remember, I only started to see it in a professional light last year(2013) April. My catalyst moment was stumbling across Suli Breaks’s  ‘I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate’ video. I watched that and literally wrote my first piece as soon as the video stopped playing.
3) Do you think there is a difference between writing and reciting poetry?
I don’t necessarily see an immediate difference however I do believe there comes a certain level of courage with performing that writing may not need. Having said that sometimes writing your fears down ‘In the open’ so to speak can be scary in itself.
4) Which poets inspire you?
Wow, I am finding poets that inspire me everyday to be honest.
Off the top of my head I would have to say:
Buddy Wakefield
Tonya Ingram
Rudy Fransico
Miles Hodges
Hary Baker
Luka Lesson and our very own Naledi DeighPetic Raba
5) What are the predominant themes in your poetry?
Emotions and perception, I love playing with perceptions! If I had to fit my poetry into a box I would describe it as conscious boy meets girl, I find myself using the female form as my inspiration. Although I may use the pronoun ‘her’ The message itself is for everybody
6) Is your poetry always personal?
I write every poem for myself first, so in that sense yes. I write to understand my views on certain topics and ideas. My work is inspired mainly by conversations with individuals or things I see that resonate with me. I get on stage for my own growth, if what I have to say people can relate to then that is a beautiful bonus.
7) What is your opinion of the Cape Town poetry scene?
IT’S A HUNGRY BEAST! In the year I have had the pleasure to experience it,  it has grown exponentially, with new poetry groups popping up all over the city. I feel this is a good year for the scene and I am excited to be a part of the shift.
8) Do you think poetry is only for certain people?
Definitely not, I have on many occasions heard ‘this is not for me’ before the show, and after the final piece is said those same people are junkies for spoken word. My poetry in particular focuses on an individual level so I feel that everybody is able to take something away from this art form.
9) How long do you rehearse before a performance
My process includes writing the piece out several times before it is where I like it, so usually by the time it is finished memorizing it isn’t an issue, then I go over it a couple of times out loud, but I must admit I enjoy molding it with the audience, as long as I know my work the journey of experiencing it for the first time together with people so to speak is one of my favourite things about what I do.
10) What is your intention with poetry?
To change people’s perspectives on everyday ‘society norms’. To help people realise like I have that just because this says its true doesn’t necessary mean it is. We are all individuals with our own truths and our own beliefs and I aim to hopefully allow people to follow what feels right for them.
Outside of my own work I have recently started a campaign called ‘Voices of Tomorrow’ Its a year dream wherein we will hunt in every high school for hidden talent aged between 13-18. Run six months of poetry workshops to make sure we don’t let a single drop of talent fall through the cracks, then 3 months of mentoring where we will find out exactly how these kids tick, what inspires them to get up in the morning and to find out their passion for poetry. Then in the final 3 months we will focus on performance mentoring where we help mould their talents for the stage and teach them the logistics of marketing themselves and getting their work out there. By the time the year is up the goal is to take all those talented closet writers, give them the voice they are searching for, and watch them blossom.
11) Are there other art forms that you wish to/have explored besides poetry?
oh my god I wish I could sing, but sadly I can’t so I speak instead, I do love fusing poetry with music and I know purist may be against that but one cannot argue that the music only strengthens the poets message. They are of the same family at the end of the day and in this art form there is no space for hate in my opinion.
12) What would be your dream fulfilled with regard to poetry.
Tour the world, grace the stages that have inspired me countless times, rub shoulders with secret mentors and collaborate with my favorites. Outside of myself my dream as I feel our unified dream as poets should be is to grow this art form as a breathing, living and respected entity of this age. So no one ever has to ask “What is spoken word?’
13) Please share some of your work:


June 16th

A few years ago, at the height  of my artistry and my failure I was presented with another means to grow, to expand. A good friend of mine had a connection to stage a play, I think in Worcester, the theme being June 16th.

At that time, I had failed at varsity and  was adamant to prove to my parents that I was still  worthy. Worthy of their love? Worthy of their respect? Perhaps both? And so emerged the journey of “Lest we forget”.

Lest we forget was a play created in remembrance of the struggle of June 16th 1976,now dubbed youth day in South Africa. It marks when youth conspired amoung themselves to stand up  against the presiding government, for their decision to administer education  in Afrikaans. Afrikaans then  being foreign, not innate to the majority  of South Africa’s means of communication and an oppressive language.

The youth centralised themselves to fight, on that day against this atrocity. Lives were lost, humans were wiped out with force because of their opposition to a language and furthermore a system.

“Lest we forget” therefore proved a difficult task to create. How could we relate 30 years later to the struggle of youth – younger, more vulnerable and less protected than us?

We had to tap into the hurt, the so-called empathetic imagination and put ourselves right there. It was tough. We had vigorous rehearsals where one would sit on a chair and the other would interrogate their motives in a dim-lit room devoid of help. We created a past, present  and future so scenarios of how freedom is experienced. This play would have brought me to tears, alas, it  was never staged.

The marches, the hurt and passion of the day never leaves me. I cannot create a better social milieu, you cannot, lest we forget.

I wrote a poem for the day. Read it, and dare not forget:

Lest we forget

this land is  blood soiled

scarlet hugged and pain bound

echoing memories of lives gone

in throbbing chests of women

who will never be grandmothers.

Lest we forget

Teas gas, no longer visible

olfactory organs pick up no scent

of blinded comrades penetrated by rubber bullets

running by bodies who have struggled and are now spent.

Lest we forget

mass funerals, communities in turmoil

hearts pain stricken

oblivious to recovery

after mother , father sister and brother

are buried for issued passes as lesser beings.

Lest we forget

songs of freedom,

marches to Union buildings,

boycotts of inferior schooling,

imprisonment for twenty-seven years,

noble rebellion of minority rules.

Lest we forget

the belief we are similar

mirror images

reflecting Gods,

souls of furnace ,connected in likeness-

no dilution will incur

perpetuating rivers of the hurt

that run rapidly

repetitively, cognitively and inwardly.

Lest we forget

we will regret current times

where censorship of truth is contracted by law

without our permission,

remaining reminiscent

of our blood soiled land

scarlet hugged bound by pain,

lest we forget.


Lekker smet

I’ve been known to return home rather late in the evenings.Perhaps this is due to the modern ailment coined FOMO(Fear of missing out)or perhaps it’s because I’m exceptionally social or perhaps because where I reside,in a suburb situated at the end of Cape Town,not too much goes on.

I like the action,the lights and the vibe of the city.It has always been an aspiration to live and work in the city centre,and though this may be hard for people in other provinces to fathom,Cape Town city remains a hub of activity where people flock to. More so the city is maintained and is aesthetically attractive,unlike the city centre of the other major city centres in South Africa.

One evening after watching a show,I left town and returned to the faraway suburb of Kraaifontein. Having exhausted all my cigarettes,the best option seemed to be to visit the local bar called Uncle Stan’s pizza pub-the only place open after hours that retains the R22.50 as opposed to R35 at filling stations.

What you have to understand is that this place is smet.You may not be familiar with this term smet,but it is a slang term for something grungy,filthy and even common.You’ll find the most interesting characters in smet places but you will also be ogled shamelessly if you are a female.It’s the type of place that you’re not going to “check in” on,on Facebook.More so I doubt if any selfies have proudly been posted on Instagram with has tags such as #Inniekraaibak#Unclestans#mannesonder tanne (trans.#InnieKraaifontein#unclestans#menwithoutteeth).

I suppose the appeal of a place like Uncle Stan’s is that it is close to home for its usual patrons.It becomes a matter of convenience if you’re really in the mood to drink. A local watering hole where you build a community of drinkers and kak praaters(trans.bullshitters) also has its appeal since people are by nature gregarious. This might not appeal to many,but in Stan’s there exists slot machines,which draws it’s own brand of hopefuls.

As I entered Stan’s,I immediately become self-conscious.All eyes are fixed on me and I receive slight nods,wry grins and blatant stares.I ask the barman for my brand and just as I pay and about to leave,a poster catches my eye.Could it be?Perhaps it’s true?I refer to the poster and ask the barman “Hey mister,is that for real?” and a patron to the left of me answers “it’s on the poster,it must be real”.He then proceeds to ask me if I thought that things like this are impossible here in Stan’s.He then went further to say that I should know that Stan’s bar is famous.

The poster relayed that on 15 May,Mel Jones would be performing comedy in Stan’s at 20:00.I couldn’t believe it.Was Stan’s famous after all?Had I been missing out on a cultural hub on my doorstep because of my preconceptions?This had to be remedied,so as I left I fixed the date and time in my head,because yes, I would be there to see Mel Jones for free comedy in my neighbourhood.

Granted,I’ve never seen Mel perform before,but she has become one of the comedians whose name is recognisable and respected.When attending Nomad Artiste Colony’s Spoken Word Showdown,the culture of comedy and comedians as an entity has lured my interest.It would seem that comedians run in packs.They attend an array of events to network,check out the competition and gain information as to where and how they can get stage time.I suppose they are much like any other artists,but there is definitely a group-like-camaraderie amoung them and it seems everyone knows everyone.I knew that watching Mel meant I got to see a established comedian in a rather unusual venue and naturally it had to be done.

The night of the show I begged and pleaded with my sister to come to Stan’s with me.Her immediate reaction was “why would I ever go to that place”, but with the promise of a few drinks I managed to convince her.As soon as we sat down we realised we were two of four females at the bar.We chatted and waited until we spotted Mel.It was then that I realised Stan’s bar was in fact not famous,but the reasons for Mel’s presence was an initiative by Grand slots,who organised entertainment at various bars where their slot machines were installed.

Kagiso D Mokgadi,a comedian from Pretoria, acted as MC and opened the gig for Mel.He had a hard time of it.The crowd was disrespectful,rowdy and somewhat aloof,as if they were used to having comedians of Kagiso’s reputation in Stan’s bar.The man has performed at the Baxter for goodness sakes,for money!Here however,in this cove in Kraaifontein,he was disregarded by folk who did not concede a cent.I felt for him.

Kagiso D Mokgadi

Kagiso D Mokgadi

 

When Mel stepped to the stage,it was a different story.She took control,moved chairs around,told people to sit and persisted that this was a show and she’d like to be heard.Mel is what I’d call a no-nonsense-lady.Assertive,fearless and confident.She handled that room of men with such tenacity that immediately they were hooked.Best of all-she was exceptionally funny.Her brand of comedy is rooted in her Mitchells Plain neighbourhood and contains anecdotes of childhood stories,hair,names,old boyfriends and even karaoke.

Kagiso D Mokgadi and Mel Jones

Kagiso D Mokgadi and Mel Jones

Her comedy was aimed at a “coloured” audience and a mixture of English and Afrikaans persisted through her set.She was funny without being insulting and without being pretentious.She was quintessentially comfortable in her skin and felt no hesitation to reprimand anyone who disrupted her set.

Mel Jones

Mel Jones

Despite her initial hesitation in going with me,my sister sang Mel’s praises and laughed her head off.She later admitted that she was so glad we went.

I think it was admirable the way Mel handled herself considering the crowd was initially unruly,but it’s also a very brave thing to perform in a venue that does not necessarily avail itself to artworks such as planned and organised comedic sets.

I suppose the lesson here is:
-not to be too proud to take the less glamorous jobs as an artist.
-to be comfortable in your art,you know you are talented,the crowd just has to be eased into realising that too.

-I’m hooked on comedy.

-And of course:Smet can also be lekker.


New kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town

 

Spoken Word Showdown

Spoken Word Showdown

As far as poetry goes there are a few existing competitions that has gained a good following and reputability. Nationally, the DFL Lover + Another competition sees poets from each province competing for the title. The Word ‘n Sound Poetry and Live Music series runs throughout the year in  Johannesburg and has become a must-see-event with regard to the poetry scene. In Cape Town the InZync poetry competition presented by SLIPnet has drawn huge crowds and fantastic poets, not forgetting the Naked Slam hosted by Lingua Franca that in a short time has also become very popular.

Cue the new kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town, an initiative by the very talented poet Kirsten Mackie and JP Voster, a DJ,and goes by the name of JP Silver. I had first met this dynamic duo when I was actually set to perform at their poetry show called Ms Kiki presents and since then they still manage to amaze me with their professionalism, respect for artists and the love of an array of art forms.

Ms Kiki is a platform for poets of various genres that serves as a means of self-expression and also allows the audience to experience various poets in their element. Ms Kiki has also gained a very good reputation having seen reputable poets gracing the stage.

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Of late the Nomad Artiste Colony has launched added another leg to their repertoire called the Spoken Word Showdown, a competition that consists of heats that take place every Monday  at Players Restaurant & Bar at The River Club Observatory  at 19:00 pm. What however makes this poetry competition distinct is that it is dualistic. Spoken word in this sense  includes both poetry and comedy, which allows a platform for poets as well as comedians.

Last Monday , I attended the second quarter-final of the competition and was immensely impressed by the way these two art forms worked so well together. The showdown sees each  poet/comedian perform , thereafter the audience is asked to shout of a few words which the artists then have to use to compose something original on the spot. There after , the audience is then asked to vote by applauding whom they regard to be their favourite and voila …we have a winner in each craft.

The show was hosted by wordsmith Kyle Louw who did a stellar job and again proving that he was born for the stage. The poets that made it to the second  quarter-final included DejaVu Tafari, Sharnell Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright. Dejavu could unfortunately not compete as she was in Bloemfontein working on the Reversing the Legacy exhibition with which she’s been touring to various provinces. The two remaining poets still managed to carry the show and provided great entrainment and insightful poetry.

Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

 

When you first meet Sharnelle Hill,she may appear somewhat timid, but this petite lady reveals herself as a firecracker if enough time is spent. In some way her unassuming manner provides softness with regard to her poetry which focalizes a female narrative. Having seen Sharnelle perform a few times, I was quite taken aback by how her writing has grown, as well as how she now filled out the stage with her presence. Sharnelle agreed with my sentiment that she had improved since her maiden poetry performance “I feel as if that the competition has pushed me to be more creative and think more seriously of what I produce”, Hill said and also stated that she feels that her level of performance and writing is on the pinnacle of a personal breakthrough.

Sharnelle Hill

Sharnelle Hill

 

As with Sharnelle, Peter also seems coy at first until he hits the stage. This was my first time seeing him perform, and I was quite taken by his poetry. I did however feel that him reading his poetry, did deter from his performance, but he also concurred that he is fostering that side of his performance. Peter does however have an enduring quality about him and his writing ability is not to be questioned as he trumped everyone with his impromptu poem based on the words provided by the audience.

Sharnelle Hill and

Sharnelle Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright

The comedians were very entertaining and I was so appreciative that this component of the competition existed. It opens one’s eyes that with in every art form there exists a community of artists committed to living out their dreams and pursuing their passions. In the quarter-final comedians Eugene Matthews, Westley Cockrell and Lee-Ann Anny Davis were the competitors.

Eugene Mathews is nothing short of fabulous to say the least. He has been performing comedy  for “3yearsand 4months” to be exact. You may recognize him from the CTV television show called TaxiVision, and also features on the radio show called The Taxi. He performs regularly at the Armchair Sundays in Obseveratory and has regularly hosted to The Premium Comedy for Angels event. Eugene has a natural flair and his conversational style of comedy makes one feel quite comfortable even though his jokes are on the racy side. Eugene’s set speaks to culture, but also the realities and nuances of being a gay man and this is rather refreshing considering how he tells his tale and is unapologetic about it. Eugene also said the following with regard to the competition “I’m impressed by how well the event has been organized and advertised”.

Eugene Matthews

Eugene Mathews

Westley Cockrell, a sound engineer originally from George incorporated his small town roots into his comedy. He is Afrikaans speaking and though he does his set in English, he pokes fun at stereotypes of Afrikaners. Wesley suggested that there be specific time allocations, especially for he comedians.

Westley Cockrell

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Lee-Ann Anny Davis

 

Lee-Anne Anny Davis had me in stitches throughout her set. She has a great stage presence and layers her set with topics about her education, motherhood and her heritage. She mentioned that one of the comedians who inspired her was Melanie Shevlane, who’s been in the comedy game for yonks. It was interesting that she mentioned this, as I could see similarities with regard to the content, but Davis does have her own style, distinct, concise and hilarious.

The winners of the evening, by vote of the audience were Shanelle Hill and Lee-Ann Anny Davis. Both well-deserved.

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

The crowd was also entertained by the guest performer Michael-Ashley Jones, who has the most spell bounding voice. I first meat Michael at a series of gigs called MUTE in the Northern Suburbs. He is refreshing and very talented.

Michael-Ashley Jones

Michael-Ashley Jones

The heats for the third quarter-final has already begun. To sign up as either a poet or comedian you can send your bio, a photo aswell as your contact number to nacct@mailbox.co.za.

 

 


Mandela: The sentiment lives on

freedomI am of the school of thought of the sentimental. I cry easily and feel deeply and I struggle to find words and cognize external stimuli when in shock.

Thursday night saw me standing in a two-hour line to go to a party I just “had” to be at and someone randomly mentioned; they are saying Mandela has died. I went on with my life, still waiting in line. How many times in the last few months have I not heard those same words, those same debates and even in July I was not brave enough to say how I felt, that I was of the sentiment that in 2013 someone, anyone should say “Free Nelson Mandela”.

Once in the club, an announcement came from the DJ. “Can I please ask everyone to raise peace signs to the sky, we’ve just received news that Nelson Mandela has died”. I stood there and watched how everyone raised their peace signs, but my arm remained stuck to my side”. The D J then played That’s what friends are for and life continued.

When I got home, I spent two hours over a toilet bowel, puking out who knows what feeling (this was not due to alcohol intake, I had picked up a bug from my little brother) and woke the next day feeling terrible. While driving all talk was about Mandela on the radio, his death his life, his struggle. In between feeling physically sick and overwhelmed, I had not shed a tear.

At work, it was all the buzz. One everyone’s lips was Mandela  and all I could do was throw-up and battle to feel human. Eventually I threw in the towel and asked to leave work. I came home and slept.

So yes my life went on, and now I am here, still woozy and silent. I can’t explain why I am too deeply saddened to verbalize what I feel. A month ago when asked in an interview who my icon was  I said “ The most obvious answer would be Nelson Mandela, but I think that Mandela is a representative of a sentiment that we aspire to, so I think it’s fair to say that the sentiment he represents is my icon”.

The face of freedom is what he has become to South Africans, but there are many faces of freedom in South Africa, who have died, are not mentioned or scarcely documented.  I’ve always felt that in this land, the struggle is not so much for freedom, but in actuality it is between what we choose to embrace as ideals. Are we the Nelson Mandela figure, the one aspiring for peace, the one with the sense of humour, a sense of interconnectedness, a wisdom that permeates to an understanding that we should not fight each other, but rather embrace .  Are we the opposite? The image of the system that is apartheid, filled with hatred, fear and greed. Judging rather than understanding , oppressing rather that uplifting one another?

What are we really as South Africans? Who are we? These are the questions I grapple with every day when I encounter personalities on either side of these spectrums. The death of Mandela does not mark the end of what he represents. Perhaps with his death, it may feel as it has, a sense of what he represents has left us, but that is not true, perhaps that is why I am in a limbo state of mourning. I feel that those ideals will live on if we choose it, matter of fact it was present before a face was ascribed to it.

My father says when Mandela was released from prison he was present and I was hoisted on his shoulders amoung the crowd at the Grand Parade in Cape Town. That’s the closest I got to meeting him/ seeing him and knowing him and that is actually okay with me. I know that his legacy and sentiments are present in me regardless, because it’s in me, it lies at the core of my soul and who I am. My hope is that South African’s don’t forget that freedom and equality  was bred because it was part of the collective conscience, that is was every soul populating our land wanted. That is what won, freedom won because we chose it, and may it continue to be that way. May equality soon follow.

RIP Nelson Mandela, long live South Africa.