“Ey Goldilocks. Wena, yes you peroxide Rasta. Senifuna ukaba abelungu he? (you want to be white don’t you).”
Oh no he didn’t. Was this arrogant prick referring to me? My mind exploded into a myriad of thoughts provoked by this simpleton. I felt that if he knew the lengths I went through to look the way I do, he too would be ashamed of his statement.
My hair colour tipped in a pale gold dust was in no way a cheap peroxide solution. I spent a number Randela’s and over 4 hours on this look for him to call me a peroxide Rasta. Rasta, seriously? I guess some people like him are confused and need clearity, Rastafarianism is a religion and not a hair style. Just because Snoop Dog/ Lion whatever his name is these days; grew locks then fell hard for the religion, it doesn’t mean we’re all marching towards being a Buffalo Soldier.
Although in my head I had a different kind of march happening, the kind a disgruntled black woman struts towards a disrespectful simple man. In my mind the wind was coursing straight at me as my heartbeat accelerated with every step I commanded towards him, I slapped my outer thigh multiple times as if to summon an inborn power while waving my head and finger like a turkey saying something like , “ukomba mina? Ngicela singajwayelani bhuti, ungakhulumi i’nto ongazazi.” In not so many words,’shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about’.
I snapped out of it. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to make that roll off of my tongue effortlessly. Instead, I just huffed at him and strutted off in my Naomi Campbell Walk. Oh yes, the walk comes out when I’m fuming with rage or when my toes are piercing with pain from my stunning heels on nights out; that the only justice I can give them is to look good for the last time in that walk before they time out, usually in a cab.
I wish I was in a cab right about now. I was running late for an interview and being as broke as an empty promise I decided to walk from Woodstock to town. It wasn’t that far, but being a day dreamer really does take a lot of head space and time. Also, I couldn’t sleep, I woke up at around 5am and decided to shower and wash my hair. I must have been anxious for the interview but doing my own hair was not a good idea. It felt pretty good though, taking care of myself always gave me perspective and at this leg of my life I really needed it.
The call for the interview was unexpected, an acquaintance I had met a couple of times at Neighbourhood Bar, with some friends called me up after we had spoken about life, art, men and women. We got on well and became friends. Kayla was a graphic designer who was expanding her business and needed staff. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted the job, as a creative, I just could not bare the thought of a Mon-Fri/Sat/Sun 8-5 (possibly 6, 7, 8 ,9, 10 11, 12, 1…). It was quite taxing being in a fulltime job before but freelance work was no walk in the park either.
Fudge it’s 10 to 10am! Walking had its perks but today was not the day for a morning stroll. I was perspiring, my hair had fallen out of place and I was almost out of breath. I arrived at 9:58. In the two remaining minutes, I used the reflection on the Citroen parked on the side of the road to dry pat my face before placing my locks neatly and buttering my lips. As I was doing that the dark tinted windows began to roll down. “EEEE!” The lady on the other side of the window got a fright too. I nervously laughed, apologised and explained that I’m here for an interview.
“Oh, you must be Sanele”, she said.
“I ammmmm.”, I lingered on the ‘m’ in confusion.
“I’m Celine, Kayla’s associate.”
I almost died when she said that.
Fudge, what the hell is going on with me today? I composed myself and called upon Goldi my alter ego, to save me from this situation. Goldi was an alluring, more confident, articulate version of myself. She also had a nack for getting me into trouble at times but knew how to handle herself in tricky situations.
“Oh great. Is that a french accent I’m picking up or is it just your French name?”
“Ha you noticed, I was born in France but have lived practically all around the world. You’re one of the very few to place my Frenchness, very observant, I like it.”
You see this is what Goldi is good at, she clears the mind and finds links that exist. The accent was difficult to pick up on but she drove a French car, with a name like Celine every kid who grew up in a household that listened to Eddie Zondi on Sundays would know that Celine Dion is of French descent. After drawing those parallels it was not difficult to place her, well for the astute Goldi anyway.
We then enter the building and meet Kayla and her other associate Ryan. We settle down and Celine wastes no time and gets straight to business. “I’ve perused through your CV and its quite impressive but I want to hear it from you. How did you arrive at this path you’ve chosen? How did you become a creative?” I began to realise that this would be a deeply personal interview, but then again which interview isn’t? I tell my story like a book, “I’m originally from Johannesburg. A challenge made me the creative I am today. In search to validate the whole of womankind at 8 years old, I proved a boy wrong in his statement that girls could never draw…”
Ryan interrupted, “Sorry but which ethnic group did you say you come from?”, Yes he used those very words. “I’m Zulu.”, I reply. “I know a bit of Zulu, ngishushu (I’m hot).”, He says. “Ryan I believe that’s Xhosa.”
Celine annoyed with Ryan, directs the conversation back to the interview. “I see you went to UCT why did you not go back home to Johannesburg upon completion of your degree?”, The nerve, was this tourist in my country asking me why I am here? This could have been a trick question so I had to be careful.
“University is a great academic experience for an individual, but coming straight from high school to undergrad, ones life normally gets consumed in the books and the real life industry experience is lost. Cape Town is one of the largest creative hubs in the continent, I had to explore it’s offerings.”
“Which part of Johannesburg are you from.”, asks Ryan. “Soweto”, I reply.
“Oh Soweto, I’ve been there, by Maponya Mall.”
Of course he’s been to Maps, it was the Sandton of Soweto.
Celine sneers at Ryan and proceeds with her question, “Why have you chosen to apply at this company?”. I didn’t apply, I was asked to come to the interview, I think to myself. Where is Kayla in all of this, she called me here? Ryan jumps in and says,“We called her here. Kayla knows her and I was interested in the different influences in her background.”
In reality Celine was not asked to be part of this interview, but she came across my CV in a forwarded email she was accidently cc’d in and that’s why she was here. She was a bit much to handle and well Ryan and Kayla wanted to minimise any of her drama. At the realisation of this Celine threw a cadenza of fit.
This was possibly one of the most uncomfortable interviews I have ever attended. For a moment time took a different pace, everything went into slow motion. It was like experiencing a volcanic eruption with eyes wide enough to capture and process the havoc that would expunge life as it was.The sheets of paper flew into the air, some dramatic latin opera song coursed through waves of my mind. In fear of a paper cut and any other form of wrath that this woman possessed, I silently escaped the room abandoning Kayla and Ryan. Celine’s voice could be heard from outside the building, I didn’t wait to find out if she would calm down. I made my way back home.
I could not explain the turn of events or how I manage to get myself into these situations. Needless to say I didn’t get the job. Nonetheless, I learned a few things about this city.
Only in this city will a tourist who has settled here imply that you, a local, should stay in the city you were raised. And how can I forget Ryan, the white guy who focuses on my ethnicity rather than my skill set as a requirement for a job? Ah Cape Town, nothing masks your prejudice more than the illusion of your beauty.
Days like these always seem to wipe me out. I think I need a nap…