Diary of a Wash Outby Kuntha Ndimande / Images by Musa Nxumalo / 01.02.2013
This is the Highveld and many people here; corporate number crunchers and data capturers, brand managers, promoters, reps, exciters, BCom first years, repeating law students, generation X.2 BA students and librarians, bloggers and downtown joburg concept store owners, all of us, we look towards this day with both relish and feigned distaste, quite aboriginally Soweto. It’s considered snobbishly behind-the-times in some quarters and yet, by the hungover mid-morning of the 17th, in whichever ditch one happens to emerge from, there is only to laugh or cry at the licentious history of the night before, and if at all you can recall the events, to harbour a secret longing for the next December 16th carnival.
The playground was Elkah Stadium, in Rockville, Soweto with all the suitable fittings; green pastures, beer Bedouins, an MIA Savannah mascot, a nurse with her sickroom on wheels, ice lollies to soothe and a policeman to scare the bullies away. Us kids, we were primed for a scorching afternoon to revel in the December sport of excess, music, mirth and unbridled inebriation.
Day One of The Mid Summer Experience, a two day festival over the weekend of the December 16 should have been just that, but the forces were against us and the festival organisers. And along came the rain. And in as much as the playground and the anticipation – a line-up of headliners and hit makers – made believers of the handful of us kids, made us preach about the futility of complaining about the weather and ignore puddles of mud… but the rain stayed with us, never abandoning us, drizzling, pouring down on our intended decadence.
As we strode back and forth with conviction, ineffectively dodging sodden grass which would swallow your whole foot and white Converse All Star boot, we struggled and continue to struggle to let go of ourselves for the day. In us there lived hope yet. A young lady with a pair of impossibly red lips with whom a friendship is sparked shares her story over a pink drink. “Re Ja Joy!” She alleged as we toasted on it against a backdrop of a grey sunset. The moral here is not invisible despite the Rain Man’s attempts to reduce it. Fortunate for us that to ‘dance in the rain’ is the subject of many memes clogging the social network feeds and timelines. Secretly, with both our roots and our psychology steeped in ritualistic behaviour, we danced the rain away, to the beat of Vetkook vs Mahoota’s hangover platitudes.
The evening was damp but refreshing, the air filled with a steadfast resoluteness. We all became more tolerable of one another in the midst of free flowing food and drink. The handful of us kids wandered about the stadium, gingerly mounting the empty stands as fans of this great public holiday, the Day of Reconciliation. Singing and frisking to the beat, sucking the marrow from the bone of Ricky Ross’ forgetable lyricism on that song. After what seemed like the fourteenth cycle of holding on we looked back and forth at one another. And then up to the heavens, one more time, for a downpour of the baddest party there was. The consensus had to be reached. The over-sized cans of beer had to be thrown in. A cosily lit pub very far away from this place and the memory of it had to be found and wooed back to bed.
Day 2 of the Mid Summer Experience festival. There was no show. Just more of the same hope upon hope of the day before, but sans the rain this time. We could have thrown our toys after two days, because that would have been justified. Instead we stayed and were happy to lament over the whole sorry affair, if only for a moment. The conversation, dotted in overlapping tones of jovial yellow and the greyish brown mud of disappointment and regret. We talked about how much we’d learnt and how much we actually never learn. Each year, the old festive season brings with it a mixed bag: things to keep us busy, distracted and spending, giddy and abosrbed, speaking the tragic language of candy floss, happily assimilating. The December holidays was the amusement park and this weekend of the December 16th holiday was its Looping Star, the ride that looked most promising. Sometimes intentions alone are not enough and the planet has other plans.
*All images © Musa Nxumalo.