Kite, um, “Festival”by Rob Scher / Images by Adam Kent Wiest / 29.10.2011
I remember going to the Boswell Wilkie’s Circus years ago. I ignored the depressed looking animals, the shabby tent and strange carny folk. Instead I was mystified by the nomadic charm of the performers, and totally buzzed on sugar. I had hoped the Cape Town International Kite Festival, an event the eight-year old version of myself would have been stoked to attend, would hold similar prospects.
Adam builds a kite, proudly displaying it upon completion. I remember the sense of validation I would get from doing that kind of thing as a kid. Maybe life is a constant attempt to recapture this sense of achievement. It’s been years since I hoisted a kite.
The location of the festival isn’t immediately apparent. The skies aren’t as much filled as peppered. The R15 entrance feels a little steep and our convoy splits at the suggestion of fish and chips at Kalky’s. Journalism and desire to re-invoke my childhood excitement for kites draws me to the entrance. Apparently this is Africa’s largest Kite festival – it might also be Africa’s only Kite festival… But it’s not so much of a festival as an outdoor market with some kites.
It’s immediately apparent that the event is best enjoyed if you’re pre-pubescent and under the influence of massive amounts of candyfloss. Children happily fly their mulitcoloured, quadrilateral wonders while their parents look bored. Then there are a few odd, singular middle-aged men milling about, with kite in hand, and of course the Chip ‘n Dip guys, Mini Doughnut man and of course the twirly-potato-on-a-stick okes. There’s a commotion by the Coca-Cola stage. No festival is complete without live entertainment and we’re in luck – a local belly-dancing troupe arrives.
I approach one of the older kite flyers, fascinated by the anthropology of such an individual. Completely engrossed in the activity, my new kite comrade appears to be in a zen-like state, eyes focused on his distant target. He kindly offers me brief control of the line. Taking hold, I feel the tension as the four-cornered beast fights against my grip to be free of its entrapment. It’s fun for a time. I’m transported back to a simpler time, recapturing the love I once had for this activity. But the moment is brief. I hand the reigns back to the elderly gentleman. Kite-man is a testament to an enduring spirit of youth. Combine this with actual youth, and Kite-man also becomes a testament to creepy middle-aged men with weird past-times.
The wind is apparently too strong for a lot of the kites. It’s been strange. The appearance of a dirty looking clown hastens our departure. The clown notices my gesticulation as I point Adam and his camera towards him. Suddenly we’re in his sights and he starts waddling towards us. We both turn simultaneously and break into a jog for the exit.
*All images © Adam Kent Wiest.