The Moon and The Telescope
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, recordand 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 cameto 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 aperfect 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 friendslast 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 “butthe 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.