South African Vibes

South African Vibes

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My trip to South Africa in November 2009

Contrasts enhance the picture

South AfricaPosted by Marie Nov 22, 2009 21:10:48

From the peaceful Spier to the noisy vibrating big city Cape Town.

The nights at Spier were velvet black skies with bright stars in constellations different from home as well as a wall of silence behind a symphony of different sounds from crickets, frogs and birds. Especially in the mornings there were a lot of birds tuning in, some with very strong high-pitched voices that sounded eerily human. These sounds were a nice background to all the thoughts and impressions that kept buzzing in my head throughout the conference.

Last Friday it was time to change surroundings. The taxi trip to Cape Town went fast: the chauffeur broke every traffic rule in the book in his vain urge to be the first in an endless queue of vehicles heading for Cape Town. I was very grateful to arrive safe and sound at the hostel near Table Mountain where I had booked three nights.

The luxury offered by Cape Town Backpackers Hostel was far from what we experienced at Spier. I found the hostel very good, though. Nice clean rooms and helpful welcoming staff – much more personal and sympathetic atmosphere than the cool somewhat colonial elegance at Spier.

Whereas the evenings were a bit slow and lonely at Spier, they are vibrating and full of life here around the main street, Long Street. Cafés, clubs, restaurants open until late and people everywhere.

We visited the music pub Mama Africa both on Friday and Saturday evening to listen to two different groups. A polyrhythmic explosion – the drum solos didn’t leave anyone in the audience untouched. And what an audience: a multicultural mix of people of all ages, colours and nationalities. When a veiled woman entered the pub and started moving to the rhythms the picture was complete. Wow, when will we see that in age/group-conscious Sweden?

From the conference I retain the phrase “Laughter has no colour” and it is also applicable to music. Music in itself has of course a lot of colours in its expression but this has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. And music knows no age limit either. At Waterfront, I’ve had the pleasure to watch and listen to swinging 75-80+ musicians with e.g a saxophonist playing with his arthritic fingers; perhaps not the most perfect notes but notes played with heart and joy. Music must reach its listeners’ hearts to mean something, to arouse feelings inside the listener. If it doesn't, it will be just a background.

Crossing the street in Cape Town is hazardous. When the pedestrian light turns green after a loooong while, you have four seconds to cross the street before it turns red again. You just have to run for your life while the murderous car drivers, in their urge to put the survival of the fittest into practice, are roaring their engines to prepare for hunting down the slow ones.