Some sad news on Sunday, September 18 led me to my happy place. Weird right. As in how can the sad face, bring on the happy face? Answer: a big hit of nostalgia.
South African Kwaito star Mandoza died last night and after shedding a couple of tears I wound my way down the a slightly dusty, not-very-well-maintained path of musical memories. I clicked through a half dozen of Mandoza’s biggest hits of the early 2000s on Youtube, feeling the need to dance and laugh and cry as I remembered one of my happy places. Where is your happy place? I have many, one of them is central Johannesburg, speakers blasting Mandoza surrounded by people laughing and moving.
It’s because of Mandoza, that I became all dreamy about my time in said happy place. More specifically, Newtown, Johannesburg where I spent a year working as a communications intern.
You see Mandoza and his club bangers like Nkatkathla and 50/50 represent some of the best times of my 20s. When I lived in Johannesburg, I felt like I knew everything (I was after all a newly free holder of a BACHELOR OF ARTS). My motto went something like this:
“Look out world, I’ll sleep when I die and never ever say ‘No’ to an adventure in Southern Africa.”
I drove to Botswana solo, I frequented racy speakeasies in dodgy neighbourhoods. I also had picnics at free concerts in Mary Fitzgerald Square and reported on HIV/AIDS home care nurses in Mamelodi, one of South Africa’s largest sprawling townships. Life was exciting and fantastic and foreign and meaningful. Mandoza’s toe-tapping, raspy voiced township hip hop reminded me of all the early 20s bravado I felt in 2002/2003 and
what feels like a million years another lifetime ago.
I used to yearn for my happy place like crazy when I first moved back to Canada, but now a few more happy places later, I’ve realized there are a bunch of well defined locations on the globe where I feel maximum contentment in my heart and head. Now, Newtown – Rainbow Nation vibes and all – is but one of them.
So please by all means, watch the video above and let me say ‘welcome to my happy place: walking and dancing across Mary Fitzgerald Square to Mandoza.’
Where is your happy place? Here are a few more of mine: