There are people in balaclavas.
Men in balaclavas. They’re all over the place. Restless. Maybe they can’t breathe? We all can’t breathe – or so Fanon said. And Fanon has all the answers.
But we are here. I think we are beautiful. I believe we are. For sure Jess is beautiful. She sings like an angel. But not one of those nice angels. Maybe Michael. That’s the angel of death no? Anyway, she’s in all black. It is a Black Sunday after all. So that’s fitting. But she’s in all black. Which is quite pronounced on her because she’s quite light skinned. Apparently women with light skin have some sort of privilege? So the woke people say. Anyway her voice is commanding. Hence I believe she’s an angel of death. Only such a commanding voice can scare life out of a black body. Because we blacks are diehards. It really takes a lot to kill us. I’m a diehard fighter myself. Even though my CiC won’t issue the instruction to occupy ABSA.
But I am certain that when God is done playing games with black people, he will call on Jess, give her a melody – some old school jam hopefully (she really masters those!) – and beg her to sing a command for us to die. And we would. We would roll over and die. There’s nothing Jess cannot command us to do. Surely even God knows this. He does! Hence he made her the angel of death.
Sweet sweet melodic death. Death strong enough to kill those already determined by death. But she might fail. Coz sometimes, she drops the tempo, she croons almost silently. You really have to be alert, woke, to hear her. So in that instance you’re not really allowed to die. Coz otherwise you won’t hear nothing. And you must hear her sing. You absolutely must!
As much as you ought to keep away from the men in balaclavas. What are they hiding? Nobody knows. Which is a good reason, always a good reason, to stay away from something.
But Neo does not think so. She says it’s her first time on stage. So she does not know anything about the stage. Performing in front of a hundred thirsty people. No one has a drink here. But they cheer so loud. Like, how do they do it? Screaming without anything to wet the throat. But so they cheer. Especially when Neo admits to the shivering of her clitoris in nervousness. That’s a dope phrase is it not? And quite revolutionary too. I think. Everything strange is revolutionary. Never heard never seen before.
It is the reason we come here no? To escape our monotonous banal routines we call life. Something new. Always. Which is what FSAF always manages to achieve. For three years running! New and better. Always. Even the collage of posters on the near wall attests to this. No two posters are the same. And there’s a shit load of them. The posters.
Sahrieda has her eyes closed, head bent forwards. I think she too is afraid of the men in balaclavas. Criminals wear those things don’t they? Well, not all of them. Johan Rupert doesn’t. But in the movies, the petty burglars do. Not here though. I’ve been a victim. Too many times. And all the time they were not afraid to bare their faces. Their beautiful black faces. With menacing eyes. But an apologetic smile. They cuss a lot too. To let you know they’re serious. But they never hide their faces. So why are these one in balaclavas? They can’t be criminals. Maybe they’re Marley’s ‘old pirates’ that Sahrieda insists we sing along with her about. She shows no respect to this classic standard. She and her pianist. They grab it by (the clit?) and force it to relay their pain. Their plea, dream, for redemption. Bob Marley is dead. He found his redemption. We are doomed to living. In search of ours. She sings this one with her eyes wide open though. If only one knew her well enough to decipher from their wideness what redemption she is seeking. And why from our beleaguered faces?
Why not on the hidden faces of the balaclavad men? They have 420 tattooed on the forehead of the balaclava. That is not the number of the devil. Same quantity of digits though. But its 246 short. So they’re not devil worshipers. Those are the other people we have to worship – no I meant fear. Fear. Not worship. I know it sounds like one and the same thing. But it is not. It really isn’t. We must fear those people. The balaclavad men are 246 short of the right to be feared. So what must to can happen? I think we must settle on a less dramatic word. Let’s say they unsettle us. Like the settlers did in 1913. They render our feelings without land, without sanctuary. The unsettlers in balaclavas. Hiding behind a mask. Whereas we are so open. About everything.
Like the poet who spoke about her something. We don’t know what. But she said it in a very poetic fashion: In measured pauses, and timely emphasis. So of course we had to clap. But we know for sure that she exposed a lot of herself. Of her soul. Because that’s what poets do. Like us. We are free spirited. So why are these ones hiding behind the balaclavas. What are they hiding? 420? Is that number a clue. No let it be an enigma.
Much like the rappers on stage. What they say is an enigma. Mostly we can’t make out the words. When we do we struggle with their meaning. So it must be dope. Deep. It surely must! But they don’t require much of us, the rappers, just a bobbing of heads and the occasional ‘yhooo!’ will suffice.
But the balaclavad unsettlers require too much. Too damn much. Because we know what they mean. They mean to expose. By hiding so much. So viscerally. Four-twenty. They expose that we are all wearing masks. Which in itself is not a very bad thing. But we are not ethical enough to earn those masks. The writers don’t read. The dancers don’t exercise. The critics are swooning fans. The lovers are liars. The barman can’t mix a cocktail. The damn balaclavad unsettlers concretise this. The bloody brutes!