(Photographs will be attached later.)
The last time I visited the Motherland was in 1997, eighteen years ago. Back then I visited several west and eastern African countries, South Africa being among them. When Dolores Easter, a Chicago friend, suggested that I join her for a two-week sojourn to Durban to visit her “adopted” daughter, I went online and got a reasonable last minute ticket on Vayama.com.
September 1st we were on our way.
After a smooth 14 hour 42 minute flight on South African Airlines from John F. Kennedy Airport in NYC, we arrived at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Oliver Reginald Tambo (born Oct. 27, 1917, died April 24,1993), like Nelson Mandela, was one of the key architects of the African National Congress freedom movement, and was the ANC’s president from 1967-1991. The irony was not lost that the airport was renamed after a man whose work was once considered high treason, but is now so highly regarded that the memory of the long hard road to freedom for all South Africans is preserved and promoted to everyone crossing the threshold of South Africa’s busiest point of embarkation. Tambo had as much to do with advancing Jo’burg’s aviation as JFK did for New York’s, or Edward J. “Butch” O’Hara did for Chicago’s. I thought it was a potent tribute. After arriving at O.R. Tambo, we took a brief domestic flight to Durban, a beautiful jewel nestled on the shores of the Indian Ocean, touching down at King Shaka International Airport named for Shaka Zulu (1787-1828), the legendary Zulu general and king. My soul sang!
Nokuthula and Andile Dube, Dolores’s “daughter” and “granddaughter,” picked us up and off we were to their winsome abode in the Hillcrest suburb of KwaZulu-Natal, part of King Shaka’s Zulu nation.
The Dube family is full of stars! Nokuthula is a petite, soft-spoken little lady whose veneer belies a brilliant business mind. She started Nokuthula Dube & Associates (1998-present) that specializes in “Construction and Social Development Consultancy.” She places able indigent men and women with government contract jobs and construction firms to provide training in construction and life skills to people ordinarily barred from those opportunities. Her husband, Bongani, is a policeman who has worked both the pre- and post- periods of Nelson Mandela’s presidency. Bongani said before Mandela, black policeman were not allowed to address white violators (e.g. domestic violence, theft, traffic violations), but under Mandela’s leadership all policemen work responsibilities are the same irrespective of race. Their fraternal twins, Andile and Sabelo are college students. Andile is a sophomore at AFDA Film School studying acting, dance, filmmaking, and singing. She is also a steel drummer and is learning the guitar and piano. Sabelo is a business major at Howard College, but he’s no stranger to the arts. This rare humble sibling says his talents are beneath his sister’s. Sabelo dances with The Gift Dance Company and is performing in the JOMBA! Fringe 2015.
The JOMBA! Fringe 2015 (founded in 1996 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal) had just commenced (Sept.1-6). JOMBA! highlights independent dance companies from the Zulu nation, and provides the opportunity for novice and seasoned dancers and choreographers to present their work on a professional platform. Out of the eight choreographers chosen this year, “The astounding crowd pleaser for the night was The Gift Dance Company who performed an original piece called The Gift. Four young men; Njabulo Zungu, Nqubeko Ngema, Soyiso Ndaba and Sabelo Dube had the audience clapping, gasping and whistling as (they) took to the stage with energy and exuberance (showing) the love and passion they have for dance.”
The Centre for Creative Arts (www.cca.ukzn.ac.za/) is the umbrella organization for four creative arts festivals, JOMBA! is one of them. The other three artistic limbs are: Time of the Writer, Durban International Film Festival, and Poetry Africa. Visit the website to get the schedules for their upcoming festivals.