Dancer in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Travels with a Biro”

Cape Town was chilly and very windy.  Very very windy and for three days the cable car up to Table Mountain was closed.  A big signboard outside a shopping area fell and killed somebody. The wind made it unpleasant to walk and we took a tourist bus around the city on one day and then another in the city centre the next.  The city streets were like wind tunnels, making us retreat in to shops and cafes.

On the fourth day the wind stopped and the sun, already out, decided to turn warm.  And like a magical transformation Cape Town was suddenly full of people in summer clothes, the sea looked less ominous and the re-distribution (so to speak) of rubbish and leaves was cleared away.  We luxuriated on the terrace of a restaurant and let the warmth seep in to our skins.

Part of the way in to our meal a beautiful young woman came along and started to dance.  She didn’t come in to the restaurant, but stood on the pavement doing a pleasant nondescript dance, bereft of music apart from her periodically clapping her hands, and after a few turns burst in to song.  The song was a lament of some kind, in Xhosa (there is a distinct clicking sound to the language) and it was lovely to listen to.  The young woman wore a European dress, silky and flowing, and did her little dance in a slow, thoughtful way, clearly not a natural-born performer, but lovely nonetheless.

When she had finished she went from table to table with a small bowl.  People dropped coins in, some ignored her. When she got to us we also put some money in.

“Your song was lovely,” I told her.

“Thank you,” she replied without guile.

“It was in Xhosa, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, my mother is Xhosa, though my father is a white man,” she volunteered.

Indeed, she had got that creamy look to her.

“And do you dance professionally?” I asked, always keen for a gossip.

“Ooh no,” she smiled – again, that smile that was somehow matter-of-fact, totally without vanity although she was stunning to look at, “my parents wouldn’t like it!  And anyway I don’t have time, even if I wanted to.”

“So what do you do ordinarily, then?” I asked, hoping that I wasn’t somehow putting my foot in it.  I could picture her selling jewellery in the market, or printing lush Africa fabrics …

“I’m at University,” she replied, “I am studying law.”

Click here for other blogs/sketches on South Africa

Click here for elephant facts

Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites.  Her sketches are on her web site .  Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.

If you enjoyed this item please share.

Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  Her books are available as e-books on this site:-            “A Call from France”          “French Sand”         ”The Man with Green Fingers”        “Saying Nothing”

They are also available on Amazon & Kindle, or can be ordered as paperbacks from most leading book stores and libraries.

Posted on 01/12/2012 by Catherine
Like it?Share it!

Books now available on Amazon: