Our show was cancelled last night so I decided to drink wine with a friend who was in town. I took an Uber because I didn’t want to drive drunk, and Vava picked me up. I could hear from his accent that he was Congolese, so of course the conversation swung round to how long he had been in Cape Town (14 years) and how the recent xenophobic (I hate that word, used so wrongly) attacks had made him feel. I could almost see his decision to tell me the truth, and suddenly he poured out his story, leaving me in tatters.
He told how in all his 14 years of being here he never ever, not once felt safe. He told me of his lengthly legal battle for citizenship and how disgustingly Home Affairs treated him. He told me about the hideous violence he had left behind, that still haunts his dreams, and his heartache around the current violence and the absolute lack of commitment by government to do anything about it. He almost sobbed when I showed sympathy and then he had to control his desperation when he shouted about not one conviction for the 2008 violence. By then we had reached the Alexander Bar, where I was going.
We just sat for a moment and held onto the day, 27 April, Freedom Day, and how it really just wasn’t that at all.