My first week in Soweto was nothing short of amazing. Besides the mosquitoes, which, because of their nocturnal omnipresent buzzing, I believe organised a welcoming committee to keep me awake at night with that almost torture inducing sound, I had nothing but a great time.
Ever since the first day I walked into the gates of Funda Community College I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing group of people I have ever come across. From the poets, to the rap artists, to the painters, to what I can only describe as the marketing and administration gurus in the form of Aus Dikeledi and Bra Moeketsi, to the lecturers at Funda Community College. I have been blessed to be surrounded by some of the most dedicated and hard-working group of people under the sun.
Besides Funda Community College, the Mollo Was Ditshomo cooporative for artists across Soweto, and many other organisations and businesses I have had the pleasure of working with, the one place that has brought me the most joy ever since my arrival in this iconic township is the Es’kia Mphahlele Library. To be honest, the main reason I decided to leave all that was dear to me in Klerksdorp and travel over 100 kilometers to the almost proverbial place of gold was the knowledge that when I arrived in Soweto I would have the pleasure of working in this historic building.
From the first moment I walked through its doors I felt I was home. Truth be told, the place still needs a lot of work to regain the status it possessed during its apex days – the walls need paint, the furniture needs to be replaced, there is no electricity, the plumbing is faulty, and every other problem you can associate with a building that has been lying dormant for more than 8 years – but one never knows where their heart will find a home, and mine found it here.
I would be lying if I said my first week in Soweto was nothing but rainbows and sunshine. I mean with all the mosquitoes, living without electricity, having to leave my family, and all the other “inconveniences” that come with living in a new environment, my first week in Soweto had its own low points. But the concurrent events that came as a consequence of me being in Soweto – rubbing shoulders with giants in the world of art, having unlimited access to the Es’kia Mphahlele library, getting to go to places like the Soweto theatre and the Hector Peterson Memorial – have managed, in their small ways, to numb the pains of the stings that comes with relocating.
Two weeks ago – in the company of the world renowned composer, producer and chairman of the Funda Community College board Mr Makgale Makhene, the visual artist Smangaliso Sbiya and one of the best administrators in the country Aus Dikeledi Molatoli – I went to the opening of another world renowned artist Professor Pitika Ntuli’s art studio in Kew. I got to experience art at its best with discussions carried out between different artists from different art disciplines, and this could have never happened if I had not come to Soweto.
My stay here has had its ups and downs, and I have made both friends and ‘enemies’, but I don’t regret packing my bags and coming here. I just hope my experience here I’m Soweto is one that will leave me a better man.