It’s been a long, cold winter. It’s also been dark and tough on the pockets and high on uncertainty.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom though—I recently went to the island of Réunion where I attended a music festival and was simultaneously freaked out by seeing so many people in the same place at the same time without masks on and buoyed by the communal experience of listening to live music, which seemed to have been an experience we’d resigned ourselves to having lost in the fires of Covid. I also had a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit a factory where they make vinyl records—not something that even the most avid collector often gets a chance to do. It was suitably science geeky and alchemic and memorable.
I made a brief fly-by-night trip to Makhanda for the National Arts Festival and, while I was depressed by the sad state of the town and the unavoidable realities of the inequality that plagues so many places in South Africa at the moment, it was good to see performers performing and audiences watching and something vital been shared.
It’s finally also been a winter of reconnections with old and dear friends and of sharing memories and experiences that shaped us and continue to do so and I’ve been reminded that through it all we’ve had some remarkable adventures and have some good stories to tell.
All of which is hopefully somehow intangibly and tangentially reflected in this month’s shorter, not necessarily sharper, selection of music to watch gas fires burning by and warm your feet to.
In Réunion they have a Creole expression ‘Sakifo’, which the music festival takes its name from and which translates roughly as ‘what you need’. Hopefully you’ll find this month’s playlist has just enough sakifo to get you through the loadshedding and the petrol price hikes and a future without Boris Johnson.
- Tymon Smith is a member of The JRB Editorial Advisory Panel, and a freelance journalist who writes about the arts and South African history. Previously the literary editor of the Sunday Times, he is the recipient of a silver Standard Banks Arts Journalist of the Year Award for feature writing. He was the head researcher for the interactive DVD Between Life and Death: Stories from John Vorster Square, and is working on a book about the Johannesburg police station.