eye of the furnace

From the balcony I spot Kolade and Emma making their way to the studio. They’ve parked in a loading zone, I cup my hands and scream, “Are you staying long? The cops will tow your car away.” Kolade doesn’t hear me, so I scream a number of times before Emma hears me and hollers that it’s after five and so they won’t be charged. The Arogundade’s are here to connect Kolade with Muta, this will give Emma much peace and her hubby immesurable joy.

Their arrival reminds me that Peter Rovrick is coming around with poets from the Poetry Africa Festival. I’ve been on twitter, facebook and updated the website to promote the event. I’ve spent some time with Mbali Vilakazi who’ll be facilitating the conversation. I shouldn’t be nervous but if I weren’t I’d be some other person. I live therefore I spin on nervous energy.

It’s not long before Mbali arrives, she’s prepared, more prep’d than I expected, she still has a few questions so I ping pong between her, Andy and Neo spreading said nervous energy, but luckily Neo and Andy are immune. Someone tells us the poets have arrived. I ask Mbali to go inside, I want to chill on the balcony a bit. She leaves and its then that I realise why it is I’m unable to stop myself from shaking. Sandile Dikeni is sitting on the balcony too.

Quiet, just sitting. He’s been in the studio a while and I’ve said my hellos but as a personal rule, I try and not say anything other than ‘hello’ to Sandile. I understand how people faint when they finally meet that bassist, actor blah blah. Sandile is my kiss-the-ground-in-a-groupie-faint poet.

When I first met him at Chimurenga I nearly fell, the people
around him were acting ‘normal’, going on about their Chimu business and I wanted to tap Unati and ask him to slap me, shake me, anything me to make sure I was in the room and this was real. Well I didn’t, I chose to act ‘normal’ too, so I spent the rest of my work day on google with a friend who’s been a bit concerned about my ‘Dikeni fixation’ for the rest of my work evening.

Today I decided to talk to him, so after clearing my throat, reminding myself to breathe I pulled a chair and sat next to the man. I tell him I can’t believe what’s about to happen, that I never thought I’d ever be in a space with him and Mutabaruka. He looks at me and says, “Well, why not?”

I can’t answer that but after thinking about it a while I know it comes back to me not wasting time on certain fantasies. I leave him outside and join the wisdom thirsty few waiting for the show to start. As I sit I realize what it is that’s kept me close to Sandile. In Pietermaritburg Ashraf Jamal spent some time sharing his love for Muta’s work, going through cassette after cassette of the man’s work prospecting for something that would have me titty latch onto his wisdom until finally I said “yeah, dis poem maaannn” parakeet like.

Sandile’s work has come to me like a religion that does not have evangelism as a get ‘on the bus’ strategy. I sit inside his words and feel the urgency for change, an acceptance of daily injustices and a quite resilience in every line. I look at the people in the room with me, wonder if they too are wondering why the air is Muta loaded. I don’t wonder long. Mbali opens the session and I’m lost to everything else.

I listen to the rest of the broadcast but I am drawn again to Sandile and know that I never bothered to dream of this moment because it was enough that I stumbled upon him that day at Chimu and that was enough. I am happy for Kolade, who’s dream to meet Muta has been realised- I understand exactly how he felt. At the end of the session I find that Sandile has left, as quietly as he came. I can’t share my discovery.


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