traffic report

on my way to work today, behind me, an attractive young woman alone in a large, mink mercedes, is talking and crying. she stays behind me for a good few blocks, several times wiping tears from her eyes. before the traffic ocean diverts us into different streams, i see her smile briefly. bravely. i want to roll down my window and ask, “are you ok?”, but i am in my metal cocoon. she floats off in hers, and we drift apart. i have so many questions, intrigued.

later, on my way from work: traffic is backed up by huge military trucks filled with belongings and beds. police vehicles flashing their lights are tranced out dancers blinking blue in the twilight. ambulances line up in hopefully, needless, anticipation behind endless taxis filled to capacity… on the other end of the spectrum from my mink lady, the victims of xenophobia, once again on the move. their destination rosettenville, i hear on the news. i want to shout out encouragement, wish them well, but it would only be lost on the waves of traffic noise in the dying daylight.

i hope they’re making their way back from hell. 

silent scream

edvard munch - the scream

i’ve not been blogging the last few days as i’ve been feeling particularly inarticulate and speechless. every time i turn on my radio (which is where i’ve been getting most of my local news), i seem to slide deeper and deeper into indigo, a shade way beyond the blues.
we, as south africans, are faced with overwhelming questions to which nobody has the answers and i’m left feeling frustrated and powerless. south africa used to be THE  symbol of infinite possibilities, of the seemingly impossible made possible, of the power of forgiveness, of unity, of transcendence. i understand the frustration of the disadvantaged at promises not kept, services not provided, but my mind boggles at the differences in perception that exist, at the willingness to mutilate and murder and steal, at the inability to see another human being as exactly that; someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, child. as a mirror of ourselves.
i hear horror stories from every source as mounting fear and paranoia build. more and more people carry pepper spray. my (peace-loving) boyfriend wants to buy a gun. i really don’t know what to do. i know if we all do a little, it can add up to a lot, so i go through my closets. i see what warm clothing i can spare for the people who now have even less than the little they  started out with, but it feels so trifling. i know: there, but for the grace, go i.
i wish i had answers, but when i open my mouth, all that comes out is a silent scream.
if you have any ideas as to what we need to do, please feel free to comment and let me know.
lately i feel… (a poem i wrote during another inarticulate spell)
lately i feel incredibly dumb
like my tongue’s been nailed to a board
like my brain’s been robbed
of some of the best knowledge
once stored there
words which use to roll
around my mouth at will
now will not come
lie lost as worlds beneath stilled waters
and will not come
even when sought
no matter how i prodding poke
my prying oar
still the glassy surface steely holds
and will not reveal nor
yield
it’s hoard
image: the scream, but edvard munch

the show must go on…

… they say. so today, while people were needlessly dying all over johannesburg and the catchphrase of the moment, “xenophobic violence” dominated the airwaves and the headlines, the show went on. the soap i’m in shoots in the johannesburg business district, right next to the carlton centre. today, a few floors up from where mobs were rampaging yesterday, the cameras kept rolling. one scene required that i be splattered in red paint which took forever to clean off afterwards. at least in my case, the red was something i could simply wash off…

as we were leaving the building today, papi, one of the boom-swingers, said to me, “did you hear how quiet it was today? it was so nice. all the shops were closed, so it was quiet. you know, they’re all nigerians, so they were scared to open up today…”. and i couldn’t tell if he approved or disapproved. and i know papi. i’ve worked with him for the past almost 3 years.

on the one hand i feel i can’t in good conscience keep blogging and not refer to what’s happening, but at the same time, i don’t really know what to say. weren’t the people responsible for this violence around during apartheid? don’t they realize that what they’re doing is exactly the same? don’t they remember that we south africans, once upon a time, too were forced to seek asylum in other countries? countries which took us in and gave us haven. there’s a scary mob mentality which seems to be spreading and right now i don’t know where or how it is going to stop. a week ago, i heard a politician on the radio saying that since the violence was confined to alex, it wasn’t a crisis. if it were spreading all over the country, THEN it would be a crisis.

mr politician, i think according to your criteria, THIS IS A CRISIS!