From Michael Kang:
Calling all freaks, poets, musicians, dancers and artists far and wide - this means you! Greetings from Capetown where the days are long and comfortably warm, and the water is cccccccoold! Here at the tip of the African continent, the waters of the Indian Ocean mix with the Atlantic and diverse cultures try to make sense of how we are all supposed to get along while we are engaged in this great human "race." Having never stepped onto South African soil, I wondered how it would all be now that the grip of Apartheid has been legally loosened some decade or so ago. Well, in some ways it's not so different than all the race issues we face in the US, except that the have-nots seemingly have very little here. The coloured people comprise more than 80% of the population, yet most are economically confined to living in townships where the government is working at providing more services even though the task of achieving equality seems a rather distant pipedream. The big difference here is that the leaders seem to really want to address the imbalance of wealth.
I have been staying at the house of someone I met at the beach the second day I was here. I had been enquiring as to the availability of bio-diesel in a few random conversations with people that I had met who happened to work in the oil industry. Lo and behold, I get into a post-surf conversation with this guy Eugene, and he happens to be a bio-diesel manufacturer and his wife is an environmental scientist with two kids going to a Waldorf school. They have taken me into their home in Kalk Bay, a little artists' town on the False Bay side of the Cape. It really has started to feel like I have lived here for years. In fact, Capetown is known throughout South Africa as the "chill zone," and the pace definitely reflects that. My days are mostly filled with a morning cup of tea and then I'm off to check the surf at one of 50 or so surf breaks that are within an hour's drive from here. The first day I arrived, I looked at the crystal-clear turquoise water in anticipation of a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean. It was 30 degrees Celsius in the air but a whole different story in the water. In the summer, howling SE winds cause upwelling on the Atlantic side, dropping the water temps to around ten degrees. In other words, fucking freezing - the type of freezing where your hands and feet go numb in about 20 minutes. Needless to say, it has been full booties and hood since that first brutal introduction. As for the quality of surf, I would have to say that Capetown has the highest quality/variety of waves of any place I have ever been. I definitely plan on coming back to SA for the surf alone.
Surfing in Capetown :: Photo by Michael Kang
In a few days, I will be launching into the true reason for my trip to Africa: an in-depth exploration of Mozambique and Zimbabwe with my friend Chris Berry from the band Panjea. We will be seeking out whatever musical gems are on offer in some more remote locations and recording locals with the intention of writing songs with them and more or less immersing ourselves into some of the musical traditions. Although Capetown has some amazing musicians, there isn't as much of a traditional music scene, although a lot of the music I have heard is infused with a variety of different distinctly African flavors. I definitely have some new music for you all to listen to when I get back.
Baboon in Capetown :: Photo by M. Kang
The last thing I have to share with y'all is that I highly suggest all of you leave the Unites States at some time soon to remove yourself from the "psychic net" our government has craftily woven over our psyches. I imagine that I am preaching to the converted, but when you get away to see other parts of the world, it becomes painfully obvious how insane our way of life is in the US. Even though most people will take you at face value when they meet you, it's obvious that the whole world is watching us in disbelief and amazement at the seeming apathy that has stricken our society. The concept of not voting is pretty foreign to most South Africans. I try to persuade the people I meet that there is a silent revolution happening in the States that is gaining strength, but the more I say it, the more I realize that it's time for all of us to really stand up for what we believe in and manifest change. I know that many of us are doing exactly that, and I just want to let you all know that I will be here to help in any way I am able.
Sending love from the tip of the landmass that birthed us all.
Check out Kang with SCI performing "Sometimes a River" from last year's Wakarusa Festival.
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