I have been thinking about my new dark friend a lot lately. I miss him and wonder if he is ok.
He was born and has lived in a special township all his life; even his father was born there. There seems to be no way out for him. He has no passport, no identity, cannot vote, cannot get a driver's license.
But he can make art.
He uses the available materials like corrugated iron and barbed wire to make art- inspirational art. Depicting life as he has become accustomed to, but in a beautiful, uplifting way. He celebrates these symbols of oppression and fences with which they try and shut him in; away from a better world. But your spirit flies high above all of this, my friend. Your children skip rope with barbed wire and families hold pop-riveted hands in dance. They fly colourful red balloons and kites from wires as if to show the world: "Look at us! We are people and families, too! You can hold everything from us, but you will never own our spirit!"
My friend is not a Zulu or a Xhosa or a Sotho. My friend is by origin a Palestinian, you see. He lives in a refugee camp in the outskirts of Beirut in Lebanon.
Abdul Katanani, my friend, I know you are going to see this. I want you to know that I am thinking of you and hope that your family and friends are unaffected by what's happening in Gaza. Thank you for opening my eyes to the other side of every story. I long for the day that we can meet in South Africa and talk and talk again- and maybe you can make a lamp out of orange peel again so that it will shine its warm, citrusy peace over everyone present, just like at Cité.