The bass pumped hard on the speakers. The African drums sent the gathered masses into an exotic spell, some broke into the traditional dance while the females ululated as if a street bash had suddenly become a wedding or a graduation ceremony. On the ones and twos stood the young lion from Limpopo, doing what he does best: serenading the masses with the finest of tribal house – house beats laced with sweet African melodies so potent that even the most stubborn of ears cannot help but accept that everything began in Africa.
‘Listen to that, Vho-Rej holding it down’, Karabo gushed like a teenage boy to his crew. Together with Samantha, Sello and Ziyanda, they were part of the people stomping to the Afro house tunes generously being supplied by Karabo Rej.
‘Yanda, it looks like your Tshepo has a mountain to climb. Are you listening to the tunes this man is dishing?!’ Like a well-paid political puppet Karabo continued to sing his namesake’s praises.
‘By the way, was PH not supposed to play tonight?’ Karabo asked Ziyanda.
‘Yes, he was supposed to play but he had an emergency at home so he had to rush off to attend to it. That’s why Kabila was playing; he replaced PH’, Ziyanda responded matter-of-factly.
In the near distance, not far from where Karabo and his crew were standing, enjoying the music courtesy of Karabo Rej, a man started shouting. Dressed in a fine navy-blue suit, brown leather shoes with a sharp nose that should have come with a warning sticker and a plain white shirt, the man was old enough to be a lecturer at UWC but he was not. He cut more a look of a company executive than that of an academic. His watch put icing on the cake: this man was a man of power in certain circles but here at UWC, he was just another partygoer.
‘Hee wena sane, do you know how much is this shoe?’ The man asked a young man who had accidentally stepped on his expensive and dangerously looking shoes. The young man, a student at UWC, apologised to his elder.
‘Sorry bro. I didn’t mean to’, the young lad said, genuinely apologetic. He bowed slightly with his hands clenched together like a saint to better convey his message to the older man who looked to be in his late thirties if not early forties.
The man was in a company of five pretty, young girls who were students of the University of Western Cape and two male friends who were also dressed like they have just come out of a board meeting. Their table was decked with expensive drinks to signify their status. They were men of style and swagger.
‘The problem with these boys today is that they are spoiled. They have no respect. None whatsoever’, he said with a posh accent that revealed, despite his talk about struggling, he had attended fancy schools. It would be discovered later that he was in fact a former student of UWC and that he graduated with a master’s degree in law some years ago.
He walked to the young man who had committed the cardinal sin of stepping on his pointy, pricey shoe. The student stood his ground and showed no sign of weakness or fear. ‘Thwaaaaa’, the sound suddenly reverberated throughout the crowd. The student was left covering his left chic with his hands while the brain registered the slap. For a moment he imagined the stars were dancing right before his eyes. The older chap had slapped him across his face to teach him respect the boys of today so much lacked.
In his moment of clarity, the stars no longer visible before his eyes, the student immediately retaliated. Instead of responding with a slap, which had sobered him a little, bringing a brief flash of lucidity, the student thought it wise to deliver his elder a lightning fist on his mouth which quickly dispatched the older man with his backside to the ground. His legs hung for a while in the air before taking their natural horizontal position, succumbing to gravity. In his pricey shoes and expensive suit, the older man sat helplessly on the ground like a cheap bag of potatoes as if he had been seating there all along. His shoes pointed to the heavens, his mouth bled in small drops and two of his teeth were gracefully united with the earth. He was sober.
Instead of standing up to continue his lesson of respect, the man dusted himself and wiped the blood off his mouth. He proceeded to pick up his cooler box and said to his friends in a defeated tone, ‘Gents, are vaye.’ The friends packed up their cooler boxes and followed their mate with no protest, leaving the girls right there. Just as the adults were about to leave, a female student from a group that was seating with the young man who lacked respect shouted to the man in a navy-blue suit.
‘Bhuti, ndicela ungalibali amazinyo akho’, she said as those within earshot erupted in laughter.
In less than five minutes the fight was over and everything was back to order. Those who had witnessed the brief show of masculinity were back to dancing as if a man did not just lose his two front teeth. On stage Karabo Rej was winding down when DJ Morena approached the DJ booth. The time was a few minutes before half-past one in the morning. The day was no longer Friday. Saturday with its debauchery and drama had sneaked upon the gathered drunk crowd at The Barn. For them the new day will start when they rise from what they were last doing on Friday. Thus, to them, Saturday for now would remain Friday.
‘Chief, could you please play two more hours. Tshepo is no longer coming. I just received a message that he is in hospital’, DJ Morena whispered to Karabo Rej, his voice initially as unemotional as a court judge.
‘Hayibo! What happened?’ Karabo Rej asked, genuinely surprised.
‘I am not sure what happened. I am going to make few phone calls to try and find out’, DJ Morena said, his mood now different.
‘Don’t worry. I will hold it down here until four’, Karabo Rej said as he stretched his hand to DJ Morena to assure him that all will be fine. The latter was grateful. He stepped away from the DJ booth and took out his mobile phone before disappearing into a room not far away from the VIP section.