On Thursday morning, in a villa in St Giles on Reunion Island, four South African improvisers woke up to the news that utata Madiba had finally passed. It was the weirdest out-of-country experience for us. First we felt the huge pangs of not being at home, mourning and celebrating with everybody in the country. Then there was a moment of anxiety, cynicism and discomfort; what were the how, when, wheres of it all? Finally we got all teary and sad and relieved.
I put on my Madiba fabric dress. We went to face a long day of workshops and shows. I arrived at the workshop and my dress was immediately noticed. Lisa, one of the Reunion Island improvisers, started singing nkosi sikelel’ iafrica in my ear. Everyone came for a hug.We spoke about it during the day; Reunion loves Madiba. There is even a stadium named in his honour. Later on there was a spontaneous singing of Asimbonanga.
In the evening, before our show, we observed a minute of silence. It was beautiful. On our last day and night there our host, Keng-Sam, played one of Reunion’s most well known Creole singers Mandela songs for us. It was beautiful. As we landed in Cape Town on a huge airbus filled with foreigners and locals we observed another minute of silence. It was beautiful.