As ever, South Africa is reinventing itself. The latest iteration is the controversial decree that 57,000 places are scheduled to be renamed, with signposts such as “Kaffir Kraal” “Kaffirfontein” and “Bushman’s Drift” quite rightly being consigned to the dustbin of history. Although 57,000 renamings looks like the erasure of history that precedes frothing-at-the-mouth national xenophobia, there are still far too many noxious places on the map.
In particular, I’m hoping that two other places, both of which I visited yesterday, will be on the list: Bushman’s Nek is just a poisonous name for anywhere. And it’s on the way to the irredemably twee Splashy Fen, home of one of South Africa’s largest music festivals.
The festival itself has seen better days, and in the company of music critic, activist, and excellent gent, Richard Pithouse, I was treated to the story of why, these days, Splashy is more kak than kiff.
Despite the predations of mercenary promoters, it’s hard to keep good South African bands down, though, and those looking for good new tunes could do much worse than the three bands we heard last night: Tumi and the Volume, 340ml and The Rudimentals, each bringing a multi-racial and anti-racist sound (hip-hop, dub and ska respectively) to a benighted and largely white-late-teen audience, who seemed more interested, as we all ultimately ought, in shagging and get high.
With the rise of music sharing, festivals become increasingly important. Bands are making their cash from gigs, not music sales (and this isn’t so bad – the distributors are succubi whose demise ought to be celebrated). And the more people who go, the more we emancipate ourselves from the evil clutches of corporate radio (no, really). This is only really something that dawned on me on the way up to Splashy. Which is why, next time, I’ll even pay my own way, rather than have the excellent people at Shisa give me a free ticket.
For those unable to enjoy the full Fen experience, get yerselves legal copies of Tumi and the Volume, and play loud while gazing at these Buddhabrot sets, the story of which, at Wikipedia, includes the priceless line
The Buddhabrot was independently discovered and later described in a Usenet post to sci.fractals by Daniel (later known as Melinda) Green in 1993, who wrote:If I were a religious person I would certainly take this as some sort of sign.