“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea”
W.E.B Du Bois in “Of the Dawn of Freedom” (from the Souls of Black Folk,1903).
In the twenty first century many will argue that W.E.B’s quote is still very much relevant ,others may say it is all in the past and will not happen in the future. Must we let go of bygones already, does the past not affect our present day realities? Is closure the only way we can move forward?
pumflet ‘luxurama’ was commissioned by The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) as part of the Live Art Festival 2018 . ”This interdisciplinary festival is designed to challenge and extend the public’s experience of live art ,in a non-commercial environment and make accessible the work of visual and performing artists who explore new forms, confront audiences and experiment with perceptions”.
To help on the journey of creation/closure we asked ourselves these questions; could one hold a funeral for a building? And if one could, what would it look like? What would it sound like?
We staged a funeral for the Luxurama Theatre, the once-iconic cultural institution in the heart of Wynberg, Cape Town. The building was where international acts such as Percy Sledge, Eartha Kitt, and Dusty Springfield performed and was the home of local giants such as Taliep Pietersen, Zayn Adams, and Winston Mankunku Ngozi. Under apartheid’s weird separate amenities laws, it was the only place that could host shows for ‘mixed’ audiences. Today, the Lux is vacant and in disrepair, just like the many unsung freedom fighters and activists who once ,under the banner of the UDF used the Lux as a safe space for political underground meetings; on ways towards freedom. The mosque across the road from the Lux has bought the building and they are renovating it for use as an Islamic school.
After the tour, we were led down Park Road by a funeral procession band made up of musicians from the Winston Mankunku Jazz Foundation led by Thulisile Ngozi, the brother of Winston Mankuku, who started this foundation in honour of Winston, and since Yakhal’inkomo debuted in 1968 at the Lux, it made sense for Mankunku to be present at the funeral of the theatre building, through his music. The Ngozi family were themselves victims of forced removals, having been moved from Retreat to Gugulethu in the early 70s.
As with all funerals, we convened for tea, chatter and samoosas at Cosy Corner Take Aways at the end of Park Road, where the procession ended with a performance of Yakhal’inkomo, arranged specially by Thulisile.
See more images of the event here.
Visitors on a guided tour/Memorial service of the interior of the Luxurama theatre.
Members of the community and ICA audiences came to witness the procession down Park Road in Wynberg.