Last week we took a decision to change the colour of our masthead to a bright pink. This was done to celebrate Women’s Day. Just a small token on our part.
The public holiday was spent with some people attending high teas, getting breakfast in bed or perhaps a bunch of flowers. For Team Vuvu, however, it was spent in the Limpopo heat, deciding which band to listen to.
The only signs of Women’s Day at this year’s Oppikoppi Bewilderbeast festival were in the random shout-outs by artists and bands on stage.
Maybe the signs were all around us: women were drinking their livers dead, laden with dirt and screaming their lungs out, with no visible judgment against them. We saw a beautiful lesbian couple wrapped in each other’s arms, listening to Bongeziwe Mabandla’s set on the top of a hill.
They epitomised some of the freedom women enjoy today.
The Wits Vuvuzela team exercised their own kind of freedom. We pitched our tent where we wanted, showered when we could and got to pick and choose from some of the best performers the festival has ever seen. [pullquote align=”right”]We left on a high note, having experienced something new and survived the wilderness.[/pullquote]
The experience was soured by a minor racist incident, something we had been waiting for. What we hadn’t anticipated was that it would come from a tiny hipster-looking girl. Looks can be deceiving like that.
Oppikoppi has a reputation for being an Afrikaans rock festival, but that in no way describes the entire festival. The programme was defined by diversity.
We watched a set done entirely in isiXhosa, swayed to the “indie-bele” sounds of ShortStraw and danced like we were on Jika Majika when Mi Casa and Zakes Bantwini performed. We didn’t even get to attend half the things on offer.
We left on a high note, having experienced something new and survived the wilderness.
Back to reality
On the way back, reality sent shivers down our spines when we drove past a sign marking the entrance to Marikana. Today marks the one-year anniversary of what is now called the Marikana massacre, in which 34 families lost fathers, brothers, sons and husbands.
Under apartheid, we had a police force that we believe was put in place to drive fear into the hearts of people. Post-1994, we expected a police service that would serve and protect its people. On August 16 2012, we started to question whether we don’t perhaps have a police force instead of a police service.
Driving past the place where so much blood was split and where people are still being killed brought us back to the “real” South Africa. The one beyond the 20 000 people choosing to slum it for the experience, and pretending to get along despite the drunken slurs.
- Wits Vuvuzela. OPPIKOPPI: Made it out alive. August 11, 2013.
- Wits Vuvuzela. STORIFY: Oppikoppi reaches its zenith. August 11, 2013.
- Wits Vuvuzela. Same music, different people. August 10, 2013.