Occasionally a sound could be heard of something small hitting the ground. Here and there ripe peaches would submit to the force of gravity and fall on the ground. Not far from the peach tree a group of youth sat relaxingly in a small, private circle as if hammering away at matters that concerned the community of a village earlier in the 20th century. But this was the 21st century and the young men were not discussing matters remotely concerned with the wellbeing of villagers. Enjoying the shadow of trees that surrounded the house, the six young men were accompanied by the ‘holy water’ as the youth often called their favourite alcoholic beverages. It was between 10 and 11 in the morning of an undeniably exquisite Saturday; the summer weather in Mother City was in a mood to show off. Continuing from what was a very rough night, the boys woke up and immediately immersed themselves in large waters of beer. Heads were pounding so to nurse their massive hangover the boys could hardly wait for 9 o’clock for the stores to open so they could buy drinks and food, the former being a priority.
From a distance twirls of smoke could be seen going up into the atmosphere merging with the air of the serene capital of Western Cape. The self-appointed chef among the young men shouted: ‘Hee banna, this pap is not enough. We need more mealie meal.’ Pule, an Electrical Engineering student from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology or CPUT, was the one sharing this gastronomic nugget with his buddies. All his friends seated outside were studying Electrical Engineering, except Mohau whose major was Civil Engineering. These were Engineering students, the youth entrusted with the future of South Africa and the brilliant minds who will one day be tapped to provide the nation with innovative ideas and sophisticated technical skills. For now, they were not concerned with the future. At this moment, critical to their immediate needs was finding enough pap, braaing meat and drinking until the wheels fall off.
The subject of the conversation was Tshepo or Mtshepana as friends and acquaintances called him. The girls affectionately called him Tee. His friends demanded to know what had transpired between him and the girl he was flirting with last night at Zevolis, a popular student hangout in Rondebosch. In the group Tshepo was accepted as the Mack Daddy – the pretty boy. His handsome looks, tall frame and booming baritone always had women gasping for air whenever they laid eyes on his caramel face. A few years ago when they were in their second year of university, Tshepo broke up with one his many girlfriends. Asked by his friends why he broke up with her – they liked the girlfriend – and he said that she was always nagging him. ‘She wanted more than I could deliver so I let her go’, he replied with a hope to discourage the topic. The young lady did not take kindly to the break-up. She wrote him a two-page letter, amongst other things thanking him for the time they spent together. ‘I love you and will always do. I realise that this is selfish of me to put this on your shoulders but I cannot pretend that I do not miss having you in my life. I know you made it clear that you no longer cared for me but I cannot stop thinking about you. Tshepo my eternal love, I cannot stand the idea that you and I are no longer together. Anyhow, before I permanently exit this world, I wanted to say farewell to you and wish you all the best my dear love. Your eternal love, Mpho.’ Tshepo found the letter under his door but he did not bother to read it. The following day he received a call. Mpho was found unconscious by her flat mate the previous night. She had overdosed on sleeping pills. Fortunately for Mpho, her flat mate found her in time and the good doctors at Groote Schuur managed to avoid an unnecessary casualty. After the incident with Mpho, Tshepo eschewed female company for a long time, pouring his energy into his studies, consuming large amounts of beer in addition to being a resident DJ at Reload, a wretched student spot in Observatory.
‘Chief, what happened to that woman? Did you moer?’ The question came from Yonda, uncouth as ever. Short – in fact the shortest member of the group – but smart as a whip. Notwithstanding their notorious penchant for drinking and partying, Yonda, Tshepo, Mohau and Tumelo were now master’s students at CPUT. In less than eighteen months they would be finished. ‘Yes chief, did you win? You are a snake, we know you left with her’, added Tumelo with his soprano voice while the rest of the boys burst out with laughter. ‘Banna, lo rata tshele’, Tshepo retorted. He refused to shed light on his female companion from last night, and indulged them in laughter.
The trusted chef Pule disappeared into his room leaving the pots to cook. Holding a cold can of Castle Lager in his left hand, occasionally tilting it up to wet his throat, Olwethu held in his right hand a fork to turn the meat on the braai stand. The other four slouching on camp chairs, looking lazy continued to rave about the events of the night before. ‘Last night was really epic’, mused Tshepo in a smile that suggested mischief. ‘Hee wena, stop saying last night was epic and tell us about that beautiful chick you were with last night.’ Again, everyone burst out laughing. Tshepo’s secrecy was irking Yonda. ‘This guy! He is busy telling us about how last night was epic like we were not there. Chief, we want to hear about that chick.’ He could not stop gushing. ‘Moer! She is beautiful tlheng banna. Bafana, where did you find her?’ For strangers Yonda was the most well-behaved of the boys, until they sat with him in a setting he found comfortable and discovered his naughty humour. His funny, naughty way endeared him to his friends, and because of his character and diminutive structure, the boys were always protective of him.
Just as Yonda was ready to grill Tshepo about his relationship with the ‘beautiful chick from last night’, another sound permeated the air and lightly interrupted the quiet serenity of Mowbray – although the intermittent noise of taxis and trains hooting could be heard from the main road and the station – and jolted the boys outside into a loud celebration. The melodic voice of Busi was accompanied by the African laced beats produced by Black Coffee. But this was a new remix from the revered international house music producer Raw Artistic Soul. The music producer put his personal touch on the song that accentuated his reputation as a world class producer and cemented Black Coffee as a musical genius. The captivating voice of Busi fused unforcefully with the beats, teasing the ear of an attentive listener and haunted the memory of a music connoisseur. She sang smoothly over the pacey yet mellow beats, seducing anyone who cared to listen: ‘Your turn me on.’
Mohau, showcasing his dancing skills, lost his mind. ‘Pule, I don’t care for who remixed this song, I want it.’ The remix was new. ‘You can download it from Traxsource.’ Smiling, Pule who appeared through the window of his room was in a way telling Mohau to get lost. ‘Whatever. Okusalayo I will get it’, Mohau returned the favour and continued to dance. ‘I heard this song yesterday.’ Mohau looked at Yonda with accusing eyes. ‘Wena? Unamanga. You were so drunk izolo how could you have heard this song?’ Yonda was not one to easily to give in, especially when he knows he was right. ‘Hee wena, that was before. This clown played it.’ He pointed to Tshepo who looked not ready to say anything, rather enjoying the banter between Yonda and Mohau. It was well known that the two always ended up in this sort of sparring of words. ‘Bafana, you mean that is how Tshepo ended up winning that beautiful chick?’ Olwethu asked with a naughty smile to poke the fire. ‘I am beginning to suspect so. Bua monna.’ He was again looking at Tshepo. The laughter erupted. Pule, the chef was back from his room. He opened the fridge to get a drink and walked outside. ‘Shaq is right. Mtshepana played it last before stepping down. It was his departure song…And oh my did the crowd go crazy.’ He patted Tshepo on his shoulder as if to congratulate him. Tshepo remained seated while the rest of his crew lost their minds, instead bobbing his head to appreciate the music. ‘The original song by Black Coffee is really nice but this Raw Artistic Soul remix is something else. The response from the crowd is a testament that this going to be a club banger.’ He continued to bury his mates in a white smile that added to a list of attributes girls could not stop gushing about. ‘Are you playing tonight bafana? I want to stand next you so pretty women can see me as well.’ Yonda, refusing to let go of the matter, he was mocking Tshepo. ‘No Shaq, I am not playing. Tonight, I am drinking like an unemployed person with no shame. By the way, is this beer enough? We should maybe add some more.’ His comrades agreed that they should add more stock. Tumelo and Olwethu agreed to walk with him to the liquor store which was not far from the house – The Lodge.