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White people don’t walk here

by Samora Chapman / 23.04.2010

Hey Mister I like your tattoos, I’ve been thinking of getting decorated myself.
“Lemme ask you something son, did god make you with tattoos on your skin? No. These are prison tattoos, I was possessed when I was I laaitie. You’re a nice boy, don’t go destroying something that’s perfect. And be careful around here ma bru, I’m a nice guy now but if you’d come across me 20 years ago I would have fucked you up and taken your camera!”

I stepped down the road to the sound of bird’s song. Cheap radio speakers, street karaoke sing along.

She sits in the same spot everyday, her back turned to the street. Every woman looks better in a sun dress. But we know better don’t we? Those pretty prison pinafores.

Hiding behind a plastic halo. The reflections an imperfection. “What you want? Chewing gum or cigarettes? Now it’s best you keep those feet walking on down that street.”

“Hey wena, give me money for photo. R30 please man, I need gwaais. What’s your name?”
“What? Samora! Hayibo, Samora Machel! Are you a black man?”

Black and white is a misnomer. There’s always a few shades of grey. During Apartheid we were segregated into the racial groups Black, White, Indian and Coloured. And then came the white elephant.

Street corner Numzans.

Catatonia: a form of schizophrenia characterised by a general demeanour of stupour with outbreaks of chronic excitement. Moses the quiet street vendor posed for a flick and was suddenly possessed by a wailing ancestor. His eyes bugged out of his head like a dying fish as he bared his broken teeth. He then sat back down on his milk crate and chuckled.
“Hehe did you see the look on that umlungus face?’”

The beachfront has been torn, gutted and mangled to the point that it resembles a butchered victim. Palm trees droop like forlorn refugees on deaths doorstep, the earth opens out like a carcass as wire and pylons poke the sky. The ‘Something Fishy’ sign has been a melted and grotesque statue for months. A symbol of a world gone mad. They had to tear apart the beachfront to make it shcick and modern so that it matches the stadium.

The graffiti kid crouched on this sidewalk at 2 am. I hope gods got his back Amen. Human faeces clung to his feet like bubblegum. Chrome to the concrete like a sunbirds hum. Stop talking. Keep walking.

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