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"I can only tell you things that happened as I saw them, and what the rest was about only Africa knows." – Oom Schalk Lourens

black man playing piano


Dan Lefoka stepped back. He bent down.  Plunging his hand into the soil he pulled out a weed. He pulled out weed after weed, churning the earth with his fingers, humming as he worked.

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lion watermark


Mark gets up from his desk and makes his way to the back of the classroom. He lifts the sash window, looks at suburban Stanger from the old-lounge-now-high-school, and shouts “Voetsek!”—and nothing, not even a pause. The dogs carry on barking. Mark walks back to his desk.

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Tyrannosaurus Rex attacking people in Jurassic Park 1993

Jurassic Park

It’s 1993. I’m 10 years old. And Stephen Spielberg has gone and made a blockbuster about Tyrannosaurus Rex and some psycho Velociraptors. It’s a cautionary tale exposing the dangers of biological tinkering and… blah blah blah—did I mention Tyrannosaurus Rex, psycho Velociraptors?

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African boy in Zambia with hand in front of face

A view outside

Charlie Ray and I were milling around, kicking up dust, as I did when I was a boy. It was 1977 and we’d hit a dead end in our road-trip through Botswana and into Zambia, ending up on the Mission Station where I grew up. Back to where it began. And then Ruth and Ruby showed up.

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Germiston South Africa in the eighties

When I was little

I use my dad’s step ladder to peer over into our neighbour’s garden. It is beige, like ours, and there are children, too. I tell them my name is Caitlyn because, at 5, I figure I can be whatever I want, which is to co-pilot a stealth helicopter that lives in a mountain and be in a fake-platonic relationship with an ex-army guy called Stringfellow.

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It’s dry and dusty. Volumes of mining waste rising and falling across the otherwise flat horizon, like great burial mounds; a piloerection of rubble surging in reflex to the fall of industry on the East Rand.

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Hillbrow from Ponte Johannesburg

The Dump

They stood hand in hand and looked at the dump. The history teacher with the clear blue eyes, one that skewed under stress, and the art curator with the soft cheeks and big beard. A dump for sure but their dump nonetheless.

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