A tribute to Johnny Clegg: What a wow
Less than a week after the pillaging at the Sasol garage in Soweto, less than a week after South Africans found themselves in Jozi to swim in a pool of global citizenship only to find themselves drowning in a crowd of stampedes and looting and crimes, less than a week after thousands of concertgoers peeled the longing for Beyoncé and other international off their skins and exposed their pores to the greatness of music, entertainment and queens, and less than a week after that same greatness was made clear by the harsh reminder of poverty and inequality outside that very stadium... South Africa’s eyes can be washed cleaned by the video that is the Johnny Clegg tribute.
You can be the wokest of woke South Africans, you can be amongst the most sceptical (of which I definitely am) but I dare you to witness our own greatness in this cover of The Crossing by a host of home talent and not have your skin crawl with the overwhelming power of patriotism.
Perhaps I will regret these lines later, and I can almost certainly guarantee that each word will rear its ugly head when the ruckus of politics silenced by the hum this song finds its voice again and I start to tear at the falsity of a rainbow nation – but today, I can’t. Today, even I can’t refuse it.
Earlier this week, we witnessed the CCTV footage of the Sasol garage. We saw the women run, desperate and helpless. We saw the tweets bear witness to the fact that many men stood and watched while women were stripped of their belongings beaten and chased.
Those who were there heard the applause of the audience morph into the ominous cries of people screaming for their friends – lost in the crown – no one sure if their loved ones were safe. We bore witness to the sparse metro police cars on the opposite side of that filling station, with cops lulling themselves to sleep with Metro FM playing in the background – the indifference louder than the cries of help themselves.
We reckoned with the strong arm of structural apartheid. Of the lines and barriers drawn being torn apart in the most awful of ways. We stood on the verges of apartheid’s spatial planning and realised its inhumanity. If you didn’t think about it like that, think about it that way now.
And so, perhaps, this is why that at this time, whether it is illusion or hype or desperation - we eagerly traverse the bridge between Sunday night, a night that can only be described as a looming (yet in some ways understandable) apocalypse - and now… today…. Where we collectively listen to The Crossing with hearts and minds that need to launder themselves clean with the voices born of this country we call home, and with the voices we hope will sing away the demons and sing to us a dream. A dream where we can we can put our wokeness to bed and wake again tomorrow. We can put our wokeness to bed and wake again tomorrow.
We are coming. Even if just for a moment.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.