Thoughts of a SA musician:
I am white.
As white as snow, though some of my dearest black friends have asked if I am sure I am white?
Why, I don’t know?
Could be that I can be cheerfully loud and full of ubuntu, but I do not wish to be presumptuous.
It was a compliment anyway.
In 2015 when my father died of whom I wrote the last time, I went on a course for cultural entrepreneurs in Cape Town.
I was one of 20 delegates from all over Africa and one of four whites who attended the course.
It was wonderful!
It was also an eye-opener.
Though not completely free of the worldwide indoctrination of our culture, my folks firmly believed in love.
I was thus spared some prejudices and some I have had to unlearn as we all still do…
As a group there was so much creativity and love between us that we still have contact.
I took some of my fellow course goers out in my little car for dinner one night and turning to my friend, with a big smile I was slightly shocked to see a complete (black) stranger next to me – we were crossing the road. He was shocked too, because I was so friendly. When we both realized I was mistaking him for my friend who had gone into the restaurant, a sense of unease had already crept in.
Why was it that between my fellow South African and me there was not the same easy flow as my friend from Gambia?
It saddened me instantly.
We have such a long way to go to healing in this country and it is going to take more than a song and a dance to fix the problems we face.
Yet sometimes that is all we have – a friendly moment of souls connecting.
For a fleeting moment there was a pleasant surprise for us both at the friendliness between me and my fellow stranger.
Don’t get me wrong, I always greet people with a smile where I can.
It was just clearly unexpected and that was what saddened me.
In 2008 I wrote music for a poem, “Voluit Mens,” “Completely Human”:
“Ek verlang tog na ‘n ander lewe soms…wat in hierdie een rakelings by my verby is”.
“Sometimes I do long for a different life…one that narrowly passed me by in this one”.
How different things could have been in this world we live in!
In the end it is a choice – of poetry or discourse and it is everything that makes us completely human.