An old world exists hidden in the recesses of some of Johannesburg's quaint suburban patchwork. Some remnants lie behind palisades crawling with flowering plants; other signs exist just in the archives at Baileys and various scattered media. My fingertips pry these places with a mixture of glee and apprehension and what I might discover. I am a good month into the new project and I have written scant little about it, save for a few transcripts. Just one dive in and I am being swept away by the current that prevails. I am on a spate of interviews as part of the data collection phase; and I have yet to speak to a person under the age of 60. Life is revealing itself to me at a whole other level. Writing does no justice.
The stories pile up on my virtual desk. Some merge in tapestries of biography that will themselves reveal to be whole new stories to look into. Other's add colour to the mainframe of a story that works its way into my new work. And it's all just the raw material for now... a range of logs that wait for the craftsmen to get to work creating canoes that will carry contemporary readers across the river to the other side... to a view of a world that our generation can only ever read about and never really know.
I am to write a biography in the next few months; and the realness of a non-fiction work is filling me with an amazing sense of being once again a part of something wholesome. I love narrative biography; the basis for 'Daughters are Diamonds' was just that. This is different though; I am walking into a world that even my imagination at a stretch would be unable to tease out. It will present itself as the life story of a man who, arguably, may not have commissioned the work if he was alive. That in itself lends to a responsibility in the way that I present this. The comments resonate, both in the archives, and from the transcripts of his contemporaries, his children, his recorded notes and memories. There once walked a man distinguished more by his sense of presence than by the guarded allegiances he made with the freedom struggle of his time. My thoughts are scattered more by the brilliance in simplicity than by the ostentatious delving into this almost forgotten world.
At some point, I must emerge from this trance and get back to the drawing board for some real work. For now, the flower-picking continues...
Local Council By-Elections April 2017
5 hours ago