Ciro De Siena on leaving Grahamstown

On Saturday night, I attended a farewell party for what some might call a Grahamstown legend. A few of the attendees were reduced to tears, but not I. Nope, the only tears I would have cried were tears of happiness, because, after seven and a half years, this person was finally leaving Grahamstown.

The whole event raised a rather important issue for me. What is it about this little Eastern Cape dorp that sucks us all in? More importantly, what is it that keeps us here long after our studies; long after we should have been plugging away in the real world? I’ve given this a fair bit of thought.

Perhaps good ol’ fashioned love has a lot to do with it. People seem to fall hopelessly in love in this town, and I personally know of a good number of people who are “just going to do a quick postgrad” in order to stick around with their better halves.

Perhaps it’s the studentness of it. In this, the town of two streets, everyone seems to know everyone. The
effect of this is massive. It makes going out on the town very, very different to anywhere else in SA. It
makes lectures much more interesting. It makes meeting people for the first time much easier than it
should be.

Maybe it’s the comparatively cheap alcohol, food and living costs, not listed in any particular
order. Maybe it’s the unique digs life that only a Rhodent and former Rhodents truly understand. Is it the
ultra-low staff to student ratio? Is it a case of big fish in small ponds? How many more rhetorical questions
can I possibly ask? No more, I promise.

As someone who is super-keen to leave this bubble, roll up my sleeves and get stuck into the big bad beast
that awaits us all, I can’t stop thinking about this phenomenon. The brilliant local band Undone even
wrote a song about it.

Back to the farewell party: I understand that for Grahamstown to survive, some of us are going to have
to stay here. After all, if every student disappeared after their studies there’d be no lecturers. It’s just that this particular individual, in my humble opinion, has so much to offer the world. Not Cape Town, not Jozi, the whole damn globe. She is as brilliant as she is witty, as dependable as she is honest. I know Grahamstown will miss her sorely, but think about it this way: do you really want to come back to Grahamstown for your child’s graduation in 30 years’ time, only to see this legend walking down High Street, stroking a portly cat and talking to the pigeons?

I thought not. I don’t know how to work out who should stay and who should go. Maybe we need a big leave-o-meter. I have a feeling these things work themselves out in some weird sort of natural order.
All I know is, for whatever reason, Natasha Joseph needed to leave. Tash, much respect. Go well.


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