Sunday 7 February 2021

Zakhele Popo of V&A Waterfront

Our regular haunt

One place we always loved visiting when in Cape Town is the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront which is a beehive of activity. From the Foreshore, part of it is linked by a drawbridge and swing bridge that is fun to watch in operation as boats and yachts left or returned to the marina.

Apart from the shopping mall close to the breakwater and the restaurants that line the jetties and wharves, there are luxury hotels and the famous Nobel Square where statues of the 4 South African Nobel Peace Prize laureates stand of Chief Albert Luthuli (1960), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984), President F. W. de Klerk (1993), and Nelson Mandela (1993).

Many afternoons, busker musicians gather in front of the platform of statues to play music and perform dances, there are more troupes than solo performers, though you cannot miss the gospel singer-guitarist belting out old and familiar songs, we are taken to open-air church spirituality.

Ease yourself with ease

One thing I am grateful for around this venue is the conveniences, soon after a few kilometres you cannot ignore the call of nature that you have to dash plotting the shortest route to sought for relief, it is a moment to give thanks for more than the birds and the trees.

As Brian waited for me outside the yellow shed one afternoon, he was close to a performer taking a cigarette break, returning, I was looking around for him when the performer all bronze in a general’s attire with a peaked cap and staff called out to me, ‘We are here.’

There began a conversation, we had observed him over many visits to Cape Town as a living statue, still at most times and startling the unwary at other times. From then, we usually arrive at the V&A Waterfront when he is taking a break before he takes another position garnering the attention of the footfall of patrons that out of interest or curiosity approach him and usually leave a tip in his collection box.

Zakhele, our friend

I had wanted to write about him and realised that we had never taken a picture together, searching the web for Sakhele that we knew him as, and I found out I had spelt it wrong along with discovering his surname, he is Zakhele Popo and has been a performing living statue in the V&A Waterfront area since 2005. He is also studying to be an actor, to which the V&A have been sponsors.

There was one day he approached us outside the V&A mall, he was completely unrecognisable out of costume and makeup, a very friendly and lovely chap, one of us as we learnt before. We look forward to seeing him soon again and not forget to take a picture with him.

You can see a short interview with Zakhele on the V&A Waterfront Facebook page here.

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