I have never had a good flight to Cape Town. In fact, I dread the town. If it is not its temperamental weather, its a racist incident on the sly or some other nonsense. Ok, I might be a little sensitive too – but in Joburg, you do not get a lot of black waiters serving white people before my ilk. But I digress.
I nearly missed my flight (you see, I dread this town) … Eventually I join the queue to the British Airways monster waiting for us. And already, a few people in front of me are going to #FLF. There is the banker types on the queue too – from Meryll I think. They smell, look and perhaps even feel like money. I exchange cursory glances with the literati types on the queue and eventually we are off.
At the airport, a driver awaits us. I am the first one to spot him. And then it happened, some of the literature celebrities arrive – on the same spot to be whisked away by the polite driver. Peter Bruce, Ghanaian Ekow Duker (with a lady I know from Wits, who had an air of disdain for me at varsity and now!), Nigerian Abubakar Ibrahim (A Season of Crimson Blossoms – Cassava), Anastasia Tomson, Paul Ash, Grant, Victor Dlamini and we exchange pleasantries. I had to smoke at this point and it was a well-deserved smoke. Then we were off to our different destinations in Franschoek.
The place is not even a town – its a hamlet – for South Africa’s ultra-rich. Vineyards on vineyards. Empty but still standing fancy restaurants. The town does not need restaurants for the residents have houses as big as restaurants here. People do not buy cars on finance here – you have to present a check to the dealership. Victor Dlamini tells us a story of a friend who tried to acquire a Merc here on credit. He was utterly disappointed because the dealership expected a cash payment.
In the evening, the cocktail was lovely – wine and fancy nibbles of cheese, olives and figs – and lots of white old folk, sprinkled with my ilk. Shelagh Foster and Sheenagh Tyler paid tribute to the 80-year old founder of the Franschoek Festival. The 80 year old – who looked eerily but pleasantly like my mother’s mother, invited us to her house for wine and nibbles. Victor Dlamini, myself and Abubakar Ibrahim got lost and we could not make the date.
We had an existentialist discussion with Ibrahim – on why he writes, his subject matter and the politics of the continent in general. As I sit on the cold stone terrace of the Town Hall here and write this, I am overwhelmed by a sense of achievement – that my work as a publisher – is gaining traction and some validation in a community that I could not imagine myself seeking such from.
As I prepare for my four panels, I am assured that this is going to be a good Festival – for the Geko brand and for the Geko authors in general.
So far, so good, and I am truly delighted to be here.