Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My gunsteling Kunste ... er ... ding

Ons kan nou 'n lekker ... aw, heck, my Afrikaans is waaaay too crummy for all of this.

So I've just touched down in Cape Town after visiting Oudtshoorn for a few days. My expedition has been filled with art, giant chickens and Afrikaans. Loads of it.

Pic related. Sorta.

Oudtshoorn plays host to an annual arts festival known as the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees. As you may have guessed, it's very, very Afrikaans. And I'm very, very English. In fact, I'm the sort of guy who could walk the streets of London and get accosted by random locals who only want to tell me just how damn English I am. Yeah, it's that bad.

Some may be tempted to suggest that I'm exaggerating. Verily, I deny this with damning evidence: my interaction with just about every local in Oudtshoorn since I got there last Thursday is testament to the fact that I cannot utter a word to – nay, cannot even stand within six feet of – an Afrikaans-speaking individual without them immediately switching to English on my behalf.

Even Egg Hat Guy was on to me.

I tested this over and over while wandering around the festival's main market. Shopkeepers, stall owners and passers by all chatted in a flurry of Afrikaans until approximately 0.034 seconds after I'd entered the immediate vicinity, at which point a little switch would flip in their head and instruct them to address me in English. It didn't matter whether or not I even said anything. They just started talking in English. Was a gigantic “I'm useless with the Afrikaans language” sign taped to my back the whole day? I dunno. I was hanging about with actual British people most of the time (comes with the backpacking territory), and even THEY got greeted in Afrikaans. There is no justice.

Another inappropriate picture placement. Enjoy.

Language barriers aside: the KKNK is absolutely bloody terrific. Oudtshoorn is like the Afrikaans mirror city of Grahamstown: it's small and pretty much situated in the middle of nowhere, but it can throw a damn epic festival. On every street corner you'll find stuff for sale, music halls, art exhibitions and strange people wearing gigantic egg hats (see above). The festival organisers even set up a freaking funfair complete with rides and candyfloss. All of this combines to make Oudtshoorn seemingly spring to life overnight.

Before and after. Those rent-a-crowd guys are pretty damn efficient.

I'll scribble out another post soon to point out just a few personal highlights from the day or so I've been at this fest – to incorporate all of my experiences in this humble blog would be a bit of a mission, I'm afraid.

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