12 November 2005

Great Film, No Electricity and Being Starstruck.

Yesterday (11.11.2005) I had one of the strangest days in a long while. I was quite exited in beforehand as I knew that the biggest Kwaito stars of South Africa, including Zola, were to come to Bush Radio for an interview and I was interested to meet them. Or just to see them actually. I was also excited about the tickets I had for the South African premier of Tsotsi, a film about township life. Tsotsi has been well received at some international film festivals, such as Glasgow and Toronto, and now it was opening up the Cape Town International Film Festival. Our tickets were also valid for the after party where all these stars were supposed to perform. That is a good prospect for a day.

Everything was quite normal until the afternoon. I was editing some sound production for the morning show when electricity went low but did not stop completely. Victor, our morning show host who also has the technical know-how at the station, looked a bit worried. Not quite as worried though as he looked two minutes after when everything went down. No electricity and we started running to the storage room where we got the generator and started the broadcast again. That was five to ten minutes of the dead air - the two words that radio people have nightmares on. The situation was surreal as the whole station was dark and quiet and only mixer, CD players and few other gadgets were on. Soon the generator run out of petrol and as we learned that the whole of Cape Town did not have electricity, we could not get more of it from the petrol station. They cannot function without power either.

So few brave men used the tube and the old "sucking the petrol tank of the car to get the petrol -trick" and we went on again. This time we suffered twenty minutes of dead air. Which was not too bad considering the circumstances and the fact that also most radios listening to us were off as well. Power cut continued and our Managing Director Zane Ibrahim gave the order to shut the output until we got the power back.

I assume it was due to the power cut that the artist could not make it to the interviews either. I also had one interview for my documentary project and had to use microphone and minidisc and take the hit with the sound quality. I have never experienced a radio going off air because of power cut. It was quite hectic.

I left the station after five and all the traffic lights were still out and everything was slightly chaotic but nothing major happened. My friend Shaqir, who was coming to the film premier as well, picked me and my housemate Shedrick from our place after seven and we arrived to the town centre soon after. The film premier was held in the Artscape Opera House which is as central as it gets and seats more people that most cinemas that I have seen. As we were walking in we crossed the red carpet where the superstar of the evening, Zola himself, was entertaining people and welcoming the audience. He shook some people's hands and when I past him we did the South African handshake, which at this point I know already although there are some variations out there, and he said "Wait wait… I wanna talk with you". This was said in the microphone in front of the blinding lights and everybody's attention, not to forget the TV cameras, so I was not quite sure what is happening. He complimented my style (there is a first time for everything) and asked me am I from Soweto as I was wearing my Loxion Culca trainers which are quite loxion indeed (=location which means township). He was talking to me for a while and I was starstruck. Probably more than ever before.

I am not sure, but I think Shedrick was also quite impressed by what happened. He is actually from Soweto, from Naledi, which is right next to Zola which is where Zola gets his name and comes from. Shedrick also enjoys Kwaito music a lot and he lives that life, so obviously he should have been interviewed but apparently a white boy in Cape Town wearing baggy trousers and township style shoes was "quite something else" as I was told afterwards.

Film started a bit behind of the schedule and audience were rather sarcastically demonstrating against some speeches by some ministers that just took a bit too long and which had a bit too political manner. But finally the film started and what a film it was. I am not going to talk much about it, as I recommend you to see it yourself if you are interested in African and particularly South African life. Tsotsi means a small time criminal or a thug and the story was about young Tsotsi growing out of his habits in a different way that we are used to see these things happening in the films. Cinematography was great and I hoped that I could take similar still images with my camera. It was a very stylish film and soundtrack was amazing. Zola was responsible of that and he also had a supporting role in the film.
I can also imagine what kind of emotions the organisers of the event had gone through during the day and the power cut, that could have stopped the opening night of the festival at any moment.

After party took place outside in front of the opera house. It was a strange environment for such a great evening of Kwaito, which generally is more Johannesburg than Cape Town and which definitely is more township than city centre, as we were in the middle of the tall buildings and the neon lights of the big corporations. We saw Brickz, Ishmael, Zola of course, Pitch Black Afro, DJ Cleo and Cape Town's DJ Ready from the Prophet's of the City, who was the one to start hip hop in South Africa.

Fantastic day ended with a ride home with Shaqir's friend Kurt and his sister and brother. They found me being interviewed hilarious. I ended one of my previous pieces by talking about how seven means everything is great. It is actually Zola who has made this saying common on his TV show Zola 7, so I think it is only right to end this one with a number as well - 7!

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