Just a lank jol in Joza

By Elizabeth Vale and Stacy Moreland

The Freedom Day long weekend left those of us still in town contemplating the meagre entertainment options open to us. The town seemed smaller than its usually microscopic size and the thought of frequenting the same establishments seemed less than freeing. Freedom Day gave us the opportunity to free our minds and consider all the times we have sat and bemoaned the size of Grahamstown, yet have not taken into account the bustling township or loxion, where most of the population live and play.

This is a side beyond the cathedral, even further than BP. We strove to liberate our minds by seeking some fun beyond the borders of KFC and Kingswood and finding out what Joza and the so-called ‘coloured area’ are like on a public holiday.

We begin our journey at Dakawa Art Centre, where we parked anxiously in wait for a friend and tour guide. This was the perfect opportunity to scope the view over Joza and Makana’s Kop, while enjoying the warm sunshine. From this vantage point there was nothing to bother us other than a few stray dogs and a wayward drunk man – similar pups and drunkards were probably walking on New Street as we waited

Realising our tour guide had not pitched; we decided to take the adventure into our own hands by cruising down Albany road to check out the social scene. Obviously, two seemingly white girls in a vintage car riding through the coloured area raised some eyebrows. We had barely driven twenty feet, before attracting considerable attention and being stopped by two men in a metallic blue car asking if we were “from here”. After we had sufficiently explained ourselves and the presence of our unfamiliar pale faces, permission was given to continue.

It was not long before we came across a rugby match at the Oval. Cars with tinted windows pulled over on the side of the road, blasting music that seemed to pulsate. Crowds gathered to chat, drink and smoke, while we pulled over to take some photos and enjoy the atmosphere.

Soon it was time to continue the journey. Getting back in the car, I turned the key in the ignition and … nothing. We were stuck far from campus and feeling extremely lacking in melanin. Panic-stricken thoughts penetrated our hysteric laughter; neither of our parents were in town, we didn’t know anyone nearby with a car, and we were quickly running out of airtime in a place that was becoming stranger by the minute. 

Our thoughts were soon interrupted by a friendly voice; “Hello ladies, do you know where we can get some fish and chips?” A white Tazz, splattered in mud had pulled up beside us. Our new ‘fish and chips’ friends promptly invited us for “a chill, a zol and some beers.” Sadly, at a time like this, we needed to keep our heads about us.

After a while, Stacy mustered some confidence to approach a group of red-faced rugby supporters and establish our location. We did manage to get the car started again, and a valuable lesson was learned. It was not that the place or the people regarded us as outcasts, but we had made ourselves feel that way, by assuming that our skin colour, background and gender made us seem different to everyone else.

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