Durban excitement

June 27th, 2004 by MrLuxuryFashionGuru

Alright, too many things to say, but not much time to say them all right now.


I’m in Durban right now, which is South Africa’s third (I think) largest city.  It’s a vibrant port city on the East Coast, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).  I came to see Robin and Sizwe, with whom Janine and I worked on ThinkQuest ’99 (some of you will know what I’m talking about, the rest can ask me some other time).

I’d planned on spending either one or two days here and staying at a hotel.  Instead, I went to an art exhibition at the Alliance Francaise here, chatted up two friendly older women and now I have free accommodation in a really nice part of town (neighboring homes being auctioned by Sotheby’s international realtors and all that ;).  But seriously, the people here have been really lovely, and I’ve been ferried around, given money (!), wined and dined (gotta love South African wines!), brought to churches and housed comfortably on the unending generosity of the people here.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, South Africa.

At this point, I want to officially complain about having (finally) decided to “simplify” and pack lightly (only a day or two, at most!).  Normally I bring enough to last a lifetime (oh, but what if I get invited to a swanky cocktail reception?  I’d better bring my dress shoes and a nice shirt; And what if I want to visit a gym?  Better have my track shoes and some workout clothes…), but this time I thought: “it’s ridiculous for me to lug a ton of stuff to a city just over an hour away for a weekend junket.  You always think you need to be prepared for an unexpectedly long stay, but this time it’s simply pointless (yes, I do usually carry a spare toothbrush in my bag whenever I go out, even in Singapore).”

So this time, it’s really happened – I’m staying a week instead of the two days originally planned.  Thank goodness my capsule-capsule luggage *just barely* covered all the situations I’ve been in so far. (Invited to a series of concerts at a music festival?  No problem!  Going clubbing at Durban’s oldest and hippest dance club, open only once a week?  Ready when you are.)

The artwork produced by Ningizimu under Robin’s guidance is truly remarkable, breathtakingly intricate and almost unimaginably creative and beautiful.  I’d seen pictures of the wall-hangings before (they’re called “banners” but they’re really more like installation art), but photographs do no justice to the presence and lustre of the pieces.  They’ll be exhibited in Paris, Nantes and Geneva in the next couple of months, and they really do deserve to be seen in galleries and exhibition halls.

Now I’m really looking forward to hearing Sizwe performing with his steel drum band at Ningizimu on Tuesday (the primary reason I’m extending my stay here in Durban).  I think it’s going to be extraordinary.

Hmmn, that wasn’t much of a summary, now was it?

Anyway, I’ve been cooking lots for the three of us (Sally, Sizwe and myself).  I made pasta and garlic bread yesterday, chicken soup and pan-fried vermicelli today (fried bee hoon, for those who know ;).  I *love* cooking!

At the fete de la musique, there was a very talented sextet of South African youths from a nearby township (KwaMashu) that played beautifully, and one of their most poignant, original songs was titled “You Must Come to South Africa”.  The lyrics were very simple, along the lines of:

You must come to South Africa (x3)
You’ll see the beautiful country
You’ll see the beautiful people
You must come to South Africa

The reason I mention this is not because I agree with the sentiment (which I wholeheartedly do), but because it made me think of what Xin Wei once said about state-sponsored art.  I wonder what she would have thought of this song, given that it can easily be considered corny, nationalist propaganda, yet has as much credibility as can be mustered for any piece of art.

Last note: As Emily, Doug and some others have realised, to call me from the US, you need to drop the zeros from the country (27) and area codes (31).  But in any case, I’ll only be back in Port Shepstone on Wednesday.  In case of emergency, Pastor Maggie has a number to reach me here in Durban.

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14 Responses to “Durban excitement”

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    Not really what I was referring to, I don’t think- but then again who knows-
    Glad you’re having a fabulous time-

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