AfroFuturistic Dream of Cape Town


Breathing in deeply.
Lifting my head off my pillow.
Waking up to the dawn of a new day.
Slowly rubbing off the darkness from my eyes. Stretching my arms.
Walking out of my room and heading over to kettle. Preparing my first coffee to get me through the morning.
Now with my cup in hand. I opened the curtains. And gasped at the skyline.
I don’t recognize what I’m seeing. My eyes are met with a vibrancy that has replaced the grey that once filled the city’s frame.
There where no cars. No parking lots. In sight.
There were looping tubes spiraling through the city. With glass carriages shaped like marbles shooting through transparent tunnels. It looked not dissimilar from a Ferris Wheel rolled out across the city, threading areas together. Unrolled from it’s spindle.
It was simply astounding.
Overhead I heard a swift “whoosh” from a carriage moving past the roof of my apartment block.
There was a young boy who had his face pressed against the glass door.
He had smooth skin just like the coffee in my cup. With long dreadlocks flowing from his head all the way to the floor. Where he stood. He cast me a magnificent grin. With several teeth still growing in to his young face. I waved back in awe. Before long his image was swept from the skies without a trace.
And as I followed the carriage. My eyes set upon the skyline once again. The tall buildings that where once covered in grey and imposing over the city. Now where embraced by the greenness of vines that looked like Ivy. Casting my eyes to what was once the ABSA bank building, I now no longer so their red glowing logo from my window. Amidst the vines that wrapped the building, you could see colorful flowers, flourishing in a magnificent pink.
My head felt light.
I breathed deeply. Feeling like this must be a dream.
Taking in the fresh air and feeling it flow through me. From my lungs to my limbs.
Filling me with the realness. Of what I had witnessed.

..

After standing on my outside on my balcony for a while. Sipping through my coffee.
As I turned to the left. I caught the eye of my neighbor just across the way.
Mr Kurosaki.
I almost dropped my cup when I saw him.
His balcony. Once bare and minimum with bare steel.
Was now covered with pallets that held boxes of deep dark soil.
And were home to a beautiful. Bright array of bonsai trees.
I shouted a “Hello” towards him and he responded “Ohio”.
Barely believing what I was seeing and feeling a little light in the head.
I turned around and waddled my way to the shower.
I had to get dressed and explore this New Cape Town.

What else has changed?

In a mad rush. I wash up and get one a clean white shirt. My cleanest pair of shoes.
And some pants. Yes, that’ll do.
I run out to the elevator and pushed the button.
Tapping my feet. It’s taking too long!
Turning to the stairway. I run down.
And head out to the exit.
As I reach the arch of the doorway.
I step out onto what used to be a road.
It was now covered in a carpet like grass.
The sides of this new pathway were decorated with strange colours of various shrubbery.
Some of those plants looked like they may be vegetables.
In fact, as I walked along the way I could have sworn I saw a young woman picking off something edible-looking just a moment ago.

Hmm..

I had arrived at what used to be the train station.
It was now a terminal for the Tubes.
I asked around me, wondering where I should pay for a ticket.
An old man stopped to answer me with a laugh. He had dark weathered skin. And freckles on each cheek.
A bowler hat that wouldn’t look out of place in the Jazz age. He had a smart simple brown suit.
And carried a cane made of wood. The carvings looked like lions made of fire artfully racing around his staff.
He tapped me on the shoulder. And spoke firmly and warmly.. “just get on, my son”
“In this city. We move freely” he told me.
I got on the tube. And remembered the dusty discomfort of sitting on trains that left from this very spot.
I looked around the carriage. And some mothers in head wraps marshaling children into their seats. Black Families together at this time of the day? I can’t remember how many times I’d ever actually seen such a thing in Cape Town. At the Southern tip of Africa.

..

In a matter of minutes we had arrived in the heart of the City.
We used to called it the “CBD”, I remember.
But such a name seemed to me to be too dry to describe the vivid image of what was in front of me.
The central station. Was bustling. You could hear so many languages walking through there.
Loud Xhosa and Zulu. Mixed in with Afrikaans, Sesotho and was that French? Conversations flying in all directions.
I saw what looked like a businesswoman bustling through walking purposefully.
She wore a hijab over her head, it was a light shade of lilac. She had a newspaper tucked under her arm.
The words where written in Arabic, I couldn’t understand what it said.
Looking up above the crowd. I saw huge holographic projections airing what looked like a news broadcast.
“Welcome to African News Network”
Read the glowing words flickering above a young faced reporter standing nervously at a border fence. She was standing between South Africa and Zimbabwe. At the border. Today was the day where we were to bring down the fences.
She reported firmly, while people dressed in uniforms, in the background, tore down the metal structures that once divided us.

..

As my eyes scanned the terminal I saw the broadcast projected In different languages. Large writing above our heads. Flicking between languages Portuguese, Tswana. You name it.

I walked on.
Towards the city center.
And passed a giant park. It used to be Company Gardens.
But the old statues were no more.
There were young people playing with balls and bicycles.
Couples on picnics and old men and women playing chess.
There was a young woman who walked passed me with the Afro-comb still in her hair.
She wore a flowing white jumpsuit. It was decorated with Hieroglyphs.
And her feet were bare.
Her ankles had slight gold chains around them. With tiny bells that made music while she walked.
She strode right past me with a coolness and confidence, that demanded my full attention.
I lost track of where I was moving. And tripped over my own two feet.
Falling to the soft ground. I felt the grass between my fingers.
And trusted the sparse beard that covered my face. To hide the embarrassment of my fall. Covering the redness from my cheeks. Without a trace.

..

Now, in somewhat of a trance.
I kept walking forward. Towards spaces that I used to know.
I made my way to what we used to call Green Market Square.
And what a feast for the eyes it was.
I was greeted by the aroma of spices and roasting meat. That had me salivating at the mouth spinning in different directions.
It was a giant market. With all sorts of dishes from far away places. Things I’d never seen before.
I saw Tunisian flags from the store to the left of me. And a swarm of Brazilian football shirts to my right. Standing around a store, ordering meat roasting over a street fire. They shouted loudly.
“Rodizo”.
There was dancing. Music pumping.
An energy in the air that filled the atmosphere. This was the heart of the city.
I walked through the craze of movement and music that had engulfed the space.
And stumbled into the middle of a cleared area.
A silence dropped.
And samba music began to play.
The beats where altered though. With beating drums. An African beat – some would say.
People rushed into the clearing. And danced with freedom and swagger.
A young woman grabbed my hand. And tried to teach me to dance.
I clunked my two left feet. And tried to greet her. Asking her where she was from.
“Ethiopia”
She had said. And I smiled.
I saw her curly hair move in the wind. It reminded me so much of my sister.
I tried to make conversation. With a few awkward jokes. Hoping to distract from the lack of rhythm in my steps.
She continued to smile and laughed politely. Holding my arms tightly.
And we danced for a while.
..

Some time had passed and I had worked up an appetite.
I bid her adieu.
And walked towards a store and ordered me some Jolloff rice.
By now it was mid afternoon. And I fancied a drink.
Walking with my plate in hand I walked over to an area where I heard Xhosa voices and quickly I found me some Umqombothi. Beer made from maize. I ate and drank happily. Enjoying the sights and sounds of the market place.

..

Now feeling a little dizzy.
I walked out of the city center to find out what else about this city had changed.
Moved towards a street called Kloof. I was curious what had happened to the old hipster haven from the days that I remember.
I found myself walking through where there used to be a McDonald’s. Looking down the road at stores decorated with a vibrancy that spilled out over into the streets.
Here the streets where made of cobblestone. And Jacaranda trees toward over the walkways.
Leaving a sea of purple to give Kloof a new frame.
There where Cafe-Boutique stores. Selling Afro-chic clothing.
You could see young people garbed in Kente’s and Head-wraps walking through. Heads held high like royalty.
I waved at a group of young people on my right.
Catching their eyes and feeding off of their contagious delight.
And as I continued walking through. Taking in the different sights.
I decided to stop and strike up a conversation with a young woman reading from her tablet.

DSC_4856           DSC_4874

I asked her about what she was reading. And She told me “Adichie” with a smile.
I probed her with questions about the new Kloof street. And I was curious about what was now.. en vogue around the city.
She laughed at me. Called me “plain looking”. And walked with me to a nearby store where we purchased a scarf.
Or was it a tie?
Made of shweshwe.
To give me some “character“.
So now fitting in. I asked her what she did.
“Economics. I’m an Economist” she said. Looking squarely at me over the frame of her glasses.
I probed her for a while about what work an economist would do. In this “new” Cape Town.
She told me about her research on the Food Networks in the city.
About the canals. And the gardens that lie at every corner of the city.
The city itself in fact. Had become a Garden.
“Here. We take responsibility for what we eat” she said quite firmly.
I began to grow pensive. As I thought about her explanations.
Before too long. We said our goodbyes.
And now walking along Kloof with my new trendy disguise.
I found a seat at a bench along the way. And I started to write.
About all that I had seen that day.

DSC_4943-2

..
Now feeling a little cold.
As the Cape Winds began to blow..
I made my way to the Promenade. A walkway close to the ocean. I wanted to catch a glimpse of the sunset.
So I hopped on a communal bicycle. I found it by the wayside. I rode along on my way.
Bumping over the cobblestone streets. And zooming through grassy pathways.
That were once cast in tar and concrete.
Moving freely through what would have been standstill traffic. At this time of the week.

..

And there I was. Walking along the pier. Staring out into the ocean.
Breathing in the freshness of the air. Letting it flow into my lungs. Through to my limbs.
Filling me up with the realness. Of what I witnessed.

I took a soft stroll.
Feeling tired. The day’s activity now beginning to take it’s toll.
Feeling a little lonely. I watched the couples. Walking hand in hand.

As the sun set.
I gathered myself together.
And headed back towards the tube.
There where no lights cast from the buildings in the evening.
You could only see soft glows of fire-lit lanterns from the markets sprawled across the city.
I am sure they don’t sleep, I thought.

Haha.

I got myself off at the station moments from my doorstep.
And walked along the grassed roads. Lit only by the moonlight.
I entered the building and pressed the button on the elevator door.
It took too long to descend.
So I marched up the stares once again.
Every now and again stopping to look out windows in the stairwell.
My legs grow tired. And as I huffed and puffed up to the third level.
I stummbled upon a stolen moment.
A glimpse of young love. Two free hearts. Embraced in kiss.
Set against the backdrop of the twilight.

IMG_9349

I slowly crept up the final set of stairs.
And unlocked my door.
Throwing off my clothes with a grin so wide. And with my head diving into my pillow.

..

Breathing in deeply.
Lifting my head off my pillow.
Waking up to the dawn of a new day.
Slowly rubbing off the darkness from my eyes. Stretching my arms.
Walking out of my room and heading over to kettle. Preparing my first coffee to get me through the morning.
Now with my cup in hand I open the curtains. And stare blankly at the skyline.
Nothing new with what I was seeing.
There were cars. Overflowing parking lots. And thin lines of smog within line of sight.

Casting my eyes to the ABSA bank building, I see the red glowing logo from my window. Amidst the greyness that wrapped the city. There was a distinct absence of colour.
My head felt heavy.
I breathed deeply. Feeling like this must be a dream.
Taking in the stale air and feeling it flow through me. From my lungs to my limbs.
Filling me with the realness. Of what I now witness.

20141207_195059

..

After standing on out on my balcony for a while. Sipping through my coffee.
I turned to the left. I caught the eye of my neighbor just across the way.
Mr Kurosaki.
I raised my cup when I saw him.
His balcony was covered with not much more than bare steel.
He was on his morning smoke.
I mumbled and audible Hello to him and he responded with a nod.
Barely believing what I was seeing and feeling light in the head.
I turned around and waddled my way to the shower.
I had to get dressed and get to work. In Cape Town.

Wondering will this ever change?

 

Acknowledgements:
Great thanks to my dear friends for realizing this vision.
Âurea Mouzinho
Gokul Nair (Photographer Instagram: GOKU_EXPLORES)
Tiffany Mugo
Dela Gwala

 

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