Fordsburg’s Finest by Paul Slabolepszy (South Africa)
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“Shoes and Coups” by Palesa Mazamisa (South Africa) – Satirical drama.
In English. Virtual Reading.
Thandeka Ndekhana is a single, self-assured Manhattan librarian in the prime of her life who fled racist South Africa with her parents in the late 1950s. A ten month old infant at the time, she has known no other home since, but New York City.
It is 1996 and Thandeka decides it is time to delay the inevitable no longer and Come Home. All she has to accompany her on her journey are stories, images, half-formed pictures in her head of her homeland and her people, described to her in loving detail long ago by her deceased mother and father.
The single, most highly anticipated event of Thandeka's homecoming pilgrimage is a visit to the house in which she was born. Arriving at 74 Pioneer Street in Fordsburg (an old suburb of Johannesburg) clutching an out of date, faded street map, she is saddened to find the homestead no longer there. In its place, is a run-down Used Car lot, owned by "Foxy Freddie" Volschenk - an outwardly convivial 50 year old white Afrikaner, ex-cop and lover of second-hand automobiles. A bizarre evening unfolds. This unlikely encounter between these two brittle, delicate-but-damaged souls takes us to unexplored regions of the battered, still smarting South African psyche. A rollercoaster ride, fluctuating alternately between wild humour and infinite sadness, dark pain and scorching shafts of madness, Thandi is given more than just a taste of what life must have been like for her beleaguered family in those not-so distant, never-to-be-forgotten days.
Fordburg's Finest is a story of hate, of hurt, humour and - eventually - of healing. Of Homecoming. Ultimately, it is a story of Hope.
As anti-Apartheid South African poet, Adam Small, said in 1996 -
" You have to visit yesterday
to make sense of tomorrow... "