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Dignity’s Isn’t Always Pretty from The Lives of Black Folk Read by Katlego Chale

Dignity’s Isn’t Always Pretty from The Lives of Black Folk Read by Katlego Chale

Ekse grootman, hoezit nga daar, beyond the grave? Man you’ve been on my mind, these past few days. Yeah, I even tweeted about that art collector from Cape Town. The one who once came for a weekend, when you had a flat in Yeoville. Except now I remember that was when you lived in Braamfontein. You moved around quite a bit, didn’t you, Bra Fikz? Anyway, remember that cat? Remember how he was screaming blue murder and telling you how he would ‘finish you’? How we chased him down the stairs when he tried to get physical with you? Well, I didn’t tell you at the time but I actually felt irritated by you, that time, man. We were both very broke, and I couldn’t understand why you didn’t just let the White bloke buy the damn painting.

After all, he’d been buying us drinks the entire, sleepless, chaotic weekend — the three of us getting motherless while we played jazz records and talked art, literature and politics. We were in such high spirits! Mr Art Collector had flown in all the way from Cape Town, and my understanding was that the two of you had already settled on which piece he was buying from you. Then came Monday morning, and all hell broke loose — when you told him you weren’t interested in selling him any of your work. Not a single piece. I’ll never forget the look on that dude’s face. The smirking disbelief, turning into crimson rage; as he realised you were dead serious.

*Read the rest of Perfect Hlongwane’s Dignity Isn’t Always Pretty and other stories from the Black anthology, The Lives of Black Folk. The book is available from Kulani on 076 616 2845 and on sales@culture-review.co.za for R220.

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Perfect Hlongwane

Perfect Hlongwane

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Perfect Hlongwane

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The real reasons, as everyone in that house knew, were that my uncle was a gangster and a known tsotsi, with many enemies, and she couldn’t or wouldn’t trust him to bring me back in one piece. My gran’s place was where we spent our school holidays, my parents having moved to Swaziland (now called Eswatini), shortly after the birth of my older brother.

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