Dancing for Cattle

︎ AnotherKind Playlist, Track 6. Letta Mbulu, There's Music in the Air, 1976There's Music in the Air.

VALERIA, the club and the music disappears. The light becomes a soft afternoon glow as we move backwards in time. We hear the sound of birds, wind, cattle.

SILUMKO, now 10, walks in the veld with the cattle, herding them with expertise for a child. He is gentle but firm with them. He counts them under his breath, making sure they are all there.

SILUMKO: Yes, Dyamloti… ok, Nobhayzolo… Brakfesi… Brakfesi? Ah, there you are. You are all here. Please graze nicely now. I want to lie down under my tree for a while.

SILUMKO finds a soft spot underneath a tree and lies down, keeping one eye on the herd. The CHORUS places the radio in his hand.

CHORUS: Mama’s radio. (SILUMKO tunes it, trying to find his station) Umhlobo Wenene… Operated with PM 9 and 10 batteries that baba brings from Joburg every time he comes. / Yes, three o’clock on a Saturday: stories of betrayal, of lost love, murdered babies, of good men corrupted by the big city. / And when the story is finished, it’s time for Saturday afternoon slow classics./ Starting with Mama’s favourite song.

From the radio, Letta Mbulu’s Music in the Air starts to play. SILUMKO begins to dance.

SILUMKO: I am dancing for the best audience in the world, the cattle! They are the only ones except for the teacher who have seen me dance. But I need to practice. Long neck, extension, extension… (demonstrating) I know they like it because some of them look up from eating and some of them even nod. We keep the dancing a secret between us, but I know that’s why they are such calm and happy cattle.

The CHORUS has become the audience of appreciative cattle, chewing and nodding as they watch him perform for them.

︎ Aphiwe reflection, ‘...thinking all over the place’.