Tag Archives: south africa

Bra Hugh

At 78, Hugh Masekela has succumbed to prostate cancer. I remember the last time I saw him, a few years ago at Hackney Empire – perhaps in 2013 or 2014. He had to sit for most of the performance, but his brilliance, rhythm, humour and sparkle was undimmed. I loved the music (obviously) but it was the riffing in between the songs that I adored. He told anecdotes – funny, raunchy, moving, political – and you could imagine him in his heyday.

He was a rare talent and a principled fighter. Rest well, Bra Hugh.

Here is a link to his last interview.

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

GOAT

Lomu1Jonah Lomu truly was one of the Greatest of All Time. I remember first seeing him at the 1995 World Cup, which was particularly special because of political events in South Africa. I was only about 11 and although I didn’t know all the details, I had grasped that it was a significant time. I had seen the lines of Black people queuing to vote for the first time, waiting for hours in the sun, long lines snaking out of polling stations.

I also didn’t know much about rugby but I was blown away by Lomu’s prowess and athleticism. That World Cup was also significant and young as I was, I knew I was witnessing history when South Africa won in its first major sporting event following the end of apartheid.

Looking back now I realise that was only the third World Cup ever and Jonah Lomu was arguably Rugby Union’s first superstar. This morning on BBC World Service his ex coach revealed that even then Lomu was having kidney trouble and speculated at what might have been had illness not cut his career short. Even so, Lomu was absolutely outstanding. An athlete who was definitely one of rugby’s – and sport’s -GOATs.

On an unrelated note, I am not too familiar with Aussie rules, but an article by the BBC last month caught my eye because of the striking image accompanying the story. It was about indigenous star Johnathan Thurston – or more specifically, his daughter’s doll, brought onto the pitch at the end of the Rugby League final. The doll caught everyone’s eye because it was a Black doll and while it was lauded as an inclusive image, it also sparked more conversations on an issue that was already bubbling under – the plight of indigenous players in the game, and indigenous Australian’s status in the country more generally. Sport does have this transcendent quality to it, like poetry or entertainment. Lomu was one of its best ambassadors.

doll

Tagged , , , , ,

The Play’s the Thing

The year is young, but there are already a few things I think I’ll be following or seeing this year.

Apart from 12 Years a Slave, I’ll be looking forward to watching Belle, the story of Dido Elizabeth Bell, the mixed-race daughter of a slave who was raised by her uncle the Earl of Mansfield, who was then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and who made a landmark ruling that paved the way for the abolition of slavery. I’ll also be following the blog of UCL’s project into the British legacy of slavery, which taps a rich seam of history that we don’t often look into in this country.

I usually despair of the lack of plays that I want to see in January, then find myself whisked away by a spoil of theatre across the city from February onwards.

Last year I was gutted to miss The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic. I heard it was fantastic and I can only hope it will return one day. I did have the pleasure of seeing A Season in the Congo and have just (literally, my credit card is still steaming) bought tickets to Sizwe Banzi is Dead, which starts on 6 February:

SizweBanziisDead326

It’s 1972 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and Sizwe Banzi’s passbook gives him just three days to find work. No work and he’ll be deported. That was four days ago.

So when Sizwe stumbles across a dead body with a passbook, he asks himself – does his identity card really define who he is? Could he give up his family and his name in order to survive?

I can’t wait to find out.

Tagged , , , ,