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Prince Charles visits Kuyasa

The Day the Earth Continued Moving

by Sean O’Toole / 10.11.2011

Meet Art Mzendana. For the past two years this 23-year-old self-starter businessman has operated a spaza shop outside his home, at the spot where Mpofu and Mqha streets intersect in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha. His red-painted wood stall sells mostly fresh produce, apples, pears, onions, cabbage, which Art buys at Epping market and repackages. A bag of blackening bananas here will set you back R5.
“How is business?” It is Saturday afternoon and Art is seated alongside his sister and a mutual friend inside the shop.
“Just picking up from there and there,” he responds. “You see those ups and downs, mos. You know how business is like.”
A few minutes before I entered Art’s stall something unusual happened. A man, a white man in a grey double-breasted suit and large security detail, obliquely passed by his shop. The man was wearing a red poppy in his lapel and was stalked by a wolf pack of photojournalists. His name is Prince Charles and he had come to look at the geysers and solar panels installed on the roofs of Kuyasa homes.

Prince Charles visits Khayelitsha

Interesting fact: the 2300 energy-efficient homes in Kuyasa represent South Africa’s first internationally registered Clean Development Mechanism project under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Kuyasa is the first Gold Standard Project internationally. The man in the grey suit, who earlier that afternoon spoke about the plight of small-scale farmers and looming catastrophe in fisheries to an audience of UCT students dressed like they were attending a matric dance or their graduation (the degrees of smart-casual varied), is interested sustainability and climate change. During his visit to Khayelitsha he was not interested in apples, pears or blackening bananas.
“Why didn’t you sell some fruit to Prince Charles?”
“I was shy,” offers Art, whose face is marked with tiny scars and fresh abrasions. “I was shocked when I saw him. When I first saw him I knew it was Prince Charles.” He points at his sister and friend, “they didn’t know him.”

Prince Charles

Nor did fellow Mqha Street resident, Bukelwa Shude, a 36-year-old mother of two. Indeed most Kuyasa residents, who hadn’t been told of the visit, disinterestedly surveyed the flotilla of suits and lensmen as they moved down Mpofu Street towards the railway station.
“I’ve read about him and seen him on TV,” says Art, “but this the first time to see him face to face. He is old, on TV he is a modern guy, but now he is old.”
The conversation turns to what the British satirist Evelyn Waugh, in his remarkable piece of reportage on the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930, described as the “startling and frivolous” in news reporting. I ask Art what brand of suit he thought the prince was wearing
“Eish, that was an expensive suit but I didn’t look at the name,” he says. “I wouldn’t think Dolce & Gabbana.”
And what about his shoes, does Art think the ambulating prince might be wearing Crockett and Jones? Locally, this classic English footwear brand, established in 1879, is associated with a certain vintage of urban wise guy. (“He goes for quality, man / not quantity, never / the price is no obstacle,” reads Oswald Mtshali’s poem The Detribalised.)
“We are talking Prince Charles here!” Art summarily reprimands me.
The subject quickly shifts from the visiting royals to our local ones. On the previous day, Prince Charles was in Ulundi to meet the reigning Zulu monarch, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, also IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Clearly Ondini Palace, the Zulu royal house in northern KwaZulu Natal, is a long way from Khayelitsha. In this windswept and largely Xhosa community, Zulu royalty means very little.

Prince Charles visits Kuyasa

Responding to the question who the current Zulu king is, all three people inside Art’s stall chime, “Shaka!” When I ask Bukelwa Shude, who has lived in Khayelitsha for a decade and jobs as a domestic worker, if she knows that Buthelezi is also a prince – his official title is Prince of KwaPhindangene – she shakes her head. (Admittedly I didn’t know either, that is until two hours earlier, when Prince Charles acknowledged “Prince Buthelezi” during the opening formalities of his speech.)
It’s time to wrap: I have a news story to file. After listening to Art’s sister diss the geysers – “When it is cold, the water is also cold,” she says. “When it is hot, the water is hot. This is a useless geyser, this is a nonsense geyser.” – I buy a bag of bananas and head home.

While researching background, I come across a Life magazine article on the three-month long British Royal Family tour of South Africa in 1947. Reporting on their March 19 visit to Eshowe, a Life magazine journalist recorded how “the South African earth trembled under the savage beat of a Zulu war dance”. For some reason it is gratifying to be able to report that that 64 years later, on November 5 in Khayelitsha, there was only a bemused glance, an indifferent stare, and no ululating. The earth also didn’t tremble.

Prince Charles visits Khayelitsha

Prince Charles

*All images © Sean O’Toole.

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RESPONSES (5)
  1. crazy fool says:

    Funny that the prince of imperialism is let in to visit, yet the Dali Lama isn’t.

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  2. whitegirl says:

    I feel the pale pudgy fingers of Colonialism start to tease..and yes, I am blushing

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  3. Prince Nero says:

    It’s like a reverse “Occupy” by the 1%.

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  4. Maria says:

    Michael,The design is lnikoog nice but I do have some structural observations as follows:1.) I think that you should consider rotating the building itself relative to the floor panels. The side walls in your structural view are carrying most of the roof load and I think that they will be supported better if you rotate 90 degrees so that these walls will be sitting more on top of the the lower beams.2.) If you are intending to use the loft for storage or sleeping you will have to come up with more support in the center. Right now the ceiling panels as they are will not support very much weight. They may even sag in the center of the building under their own weight. There are a number of ways that you might be able to fix this. One approach would be to put a beam across the building under the middle joint where the ceiling panels come together. This beam needs to be fully 16 long and might need to be a bit beefy too. This makes transportation and re-assembly of this particular item more difficult. In thinking over your floor plan usage it would be very nice from a structural point of view if you could allow a post in the very middle of the little house. This would allow making the cross beam a lot smaller in cross-section and would allow it to be broken into too smaller pieces.3.) I very much like the shape of the roof as you are showing it with more shallow pitch on the sides. This does, however, make for more potential structural issues with supporting the roof. In your structural view above you appear to be relying on supporting the middle part of the roof on the ceiling panels. This will make the problem that I mentioned in item #2 even greater. I am sorry to say that this roof line as you have shown it would not work without some serious extra support under the bottom edges of the central roof. You would be much better off moving the bottom edge of the center part of the roof out so that it can be supported by the top of the walls. Unfortunately if you do that you lose the really cool lnikoog roof line. I will have to give some thought as to whether or not there is some other way to support the roof as you have shown it at a minimal cost.Please feel free to contact me directly for more detailed discussion of the structural options.Malcolm

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  5. Liliana says:

    羅醫師 您頗有文學家大器風範 考慮書寫文學類 非醫學領域 的作品吧 以文學治療人心 all the best.mike(I need to say thank you ,coz I have been much more happier after your kind asisntasce.)

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