The sista lady Jenny Mbaye reached out sometime ago requesting an image of Cape Town from my archives. This would accompany her contribution to the book, which was at its production stage at the time. The book is out, and there’s an accompanying image which I took at the taxi rank in the CBD. Her chapter is titled Rogue Flânerie: Cultural Takhawalu In Urban Extremes. Here’s an extract:
“Open Cities Lagos is a conversation enacted across Lagos and with other cities, with a focus on the day-to-day experiences, grassroots initiatives and new opportunities for development and inclusion.”
“You are not supposed to leave your tour group!”
I was standing on the deck, bewildered, watching the boat I came with slowly moving away from the harbour. Our tour guide warned us while we were reaching the shores of Robben Island that the boat would leave sharply at 4.30pm. At 4pm, we had done the bus tour around the Island, seen the clay sites where prisoners were slowly loosing sight and strength; we had taken ‘the’ picture facing Table Mountain and the CBD from the other side of the ocean; we had learnt about the wedding optionwith free boat ride on every February 14th; we had witnessed the mostly deserted houses, the school now closed since 2011, forcing the kids of the museum staff living on the island to commute by boat to Cape Town everyday; we had done the tour of the prison guided by one of the ex-cons, victim of the Apartheid regime; we had followed and proceeded to the whole script and I had 30min to pay my respect to Sheikh Abdur Rahmaan Matura buried about 260 years ago on the island after having defied Dutch colonial rule and being imprisoned there in the 17th century.
I thus went to the burial of this historic figure that is not included in the tour package and came back at 4.20pm to witness my boat leaving the harbour. As said, bewildered.
(Personal notes, November, 11th, 2014)
Dr. Jenny Mbaye (PhD.) is a lecturer in Culture and Creative Industries at the School of Arts and Social Science, City University London. Prior to this, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town. Her work focuses on cultural labour and creative production processes, as well as the work and policy practices of urban creativity in African contexts.