The average upwardly mobile young black male in this decade can live a social life that, to the unsuspecting, can seem quite contradictory and marked by stark contrasts of influences, circumstances, means and social structure. Let’s look at a weekend in the life of Skhumba.
It’s nearly 4pm on Friday, and he has spent the draining day in the midst of coffee flavoured cigarette breath whispering rumours in small cubicles on the 7th floor of glass building. All day, it has been a symphony of clicking mouses crawling over presentations of strategic pocket raping at discount prices avoiding the inconvenient truth by proposing to the put everything in bio-degradable plastic. The boss likes it and SK, as he’s known to his colleagues, cracks an invite to tonights company gala dinner.
He heads home but before that he hits up his fav sushi restaurant. The waitress, Sun Li, greets him by name and the chef Jo, knows just how Skhumba likes he’s Red Dragon rolls; the salmon thick and the soya low on sodium. He makes light work of the meal before he jets out because he’s chopstick game is on that catch a fly midair level. Domo arigato to the chef and extra tip to the waitress.
He get’s home, puts the TGIF playlist on blast. He scans his Whatsapp group messages to see which crew has the master plan for a good after party. A quick shower, fresh razor and a few slaps of aftershave. He slides into his just pressed threads, clinks his last bottle of beer in the bin and leaves his crib.
He arrives at the gala dinner in an Uber, black, to match his outfit. He’s looking dapper, his scent eloquent, his mannerism measured and his suit tailored. He grabs a flute glass from one of the waitresses; a fat strawberry floating in Rose Veuve. The drummer of the live band got the rimshot rhythm on lock and the base gives the whole room a nuanced sense of opulence. Tedious speeches, a tantalising attire and a main course that made up for all the contrived niceties; leg of lamb decked out in mint sauce. He gets a dm from the crew with a location of the spot and a pic of the situation. He pockets his phone and heads out before his melanin deprived colleagues get liquored up enough to start asking him stupid questions about the ANC.
Skhumba lands at the spot, the muffled thumps of club base exploding into vexed Yeezy verse as he walks into the joint. Fist bump to the dj, two finger salute to the bartender and a Jesus on the cross pose to greet the posse. The night is young but the malt is in its teens. The vibe is mellow with sparkled glances from across the room from her in the black number with lips tinted like melot. Her stance bodies the competition but Skhumba is not about to bae her in the club. A flaming lambo ends the night and sends him crashing out the club just in time to catch the sun cracking open the night sky.
An hour after he lands on his bed he gets a message, “cousin V’s funerals comes out at 9am”. He does a quick dip in the water and heads to the hood cemetery. Sunglasses and Advil. Sombre moods and a few shovels to help put cousin in his last resting place. Back at cousin V’s home he joins the line to get funeral grub and catches up on the latest hood news from the gossip mongers.
“Did you hear? Mpho is pregnant.”
“Yup. Bozza is doing 15yrs in jail for robbery. Mpho snitched.”
“Eisan. Which Mpho?”
“Mpho, Mpho… the voice”
“Denja is in hospital. Mpho took an oukapi to his neck”
“Mpho, Mpho… the eye”
“She don’t play”
With the food down, Skhumba and his friends head to the bottle store for after tears supplies. But before that they go past Rasta’s places because he’s got a fresh harvest. The next stop is Mam’ Nomakasa’s house to get those extra salty pig feet with the chilli spice that tastes like Satan’s vengeance. They find Mam’ Nomakasa sitting by her kitchen door sniffing that African cocaine – Ntsu. Skhumba settles his ‘book’ with her as she’s cussing him out for owing her for 2 months. After that they got to Boot’s back room to chill. Ngudu’s are opened with teeth, someone takes out a pair of scissors and starts chopping trees and rolls a thin one, soon the room is misted up and everyone is faded. Just then, in walks Mpho The Eye, dressed in her skhothane gear; purple Carvella looking like a licked Stumbo, DMD shirt with flowers like summer puked on it and fake Versace jeans that look like fake Versace jeans. She looks at Skhumba flashing her gold tooth sparkling a shine like Brasso, her 3star oukapi in her toki and Skhumba knew it was time to bounce. They head into the night driving in MaCurve’s citi golf, gripping a bottle between his thighs, Mdu’s Chom’ Yabana on the subs, Skhumba and the crew cruse around looking for a place to plant the cooler box which turns out to be some dj’s birthday party at the local park and the night eventually ends with too many boxes of 4th Str, Four Cousins and cans of gwarana all over the street.
Sunday morning sees Skhumba in his Ray Bans, white Nike Air’s, a Thesis bucket dome and clean white Sergeant Pepper round-neck shirt at the Sunday Market. An iced mojito chills next to him as he digs into an organic burger, patty hand-made fresh on site by some Italian dude with a fake accent. The vibe is rustic, the ladies exotic and the mood alternative with a mild Kenzero touch to it. If you can look past the pretence it is a good place to hang one’s hangover and exchange some nasal English banter.
Soon after that, the ride needs a good clean to prepare for the coming week and the only place to get it done in the car wash back in the hood. He rolls in and the ‘waiting room’ looks like a dealership showroom. Nothing new but the cars. Nothing old but the friends. The smoke of chisa nyama carrying the delicate synths of deep house into the evening. Skhumba drives back to his apartment the moon looking on. He receives an sms, “rooftop party jumping, pull through”. He smiles slyly at the message, floors the pedal, take a sip of his beer, looks up and sees a traffic cop flagging him down.
Photographer: Jeff Rikhotso