Following police brutality in which a Busker in Cape Town had his guitar smashed and was removed by 10 policemen from his regular busking spot of 6 years, musicians in Cape Town launched a demonstration against draconian bylaws which have been making it harder for musicians to find work in clubs and pubs. Here are is my photographic record of the day.
The Incident was reported in the mainstream media:
The City of Cape Town has begun suspension proceedings in the case of St George’s Mall busker, but South Africans have grown tired of rising police brutality and unaccountability. Given that the victim was blind added a whole new angle. The fact that he is a fellow musician trying to earn a living on a bylaw that restricts him to 1 hour 15 Minutes of work-time per day, coupled with the destruction of his instrument – the sole means of earning his daily bread – touched the hearts of musicians in particular. It turns out that the bylaw by which he was removed, does in fact not even exist.
Lunga Goodman Nono: I got even angrier once I saw this man play and met him. He plays his guitar facing himself and he sings into the soundbox, to give a bit of reverb, but you couldn’t hear him 10 feet away. Seriously. A disturbance to the peace? It is simply unacceptable. I don’t care whose Bylaw it is, or which particular Police Department, it is JUST NOT ON to treat someone like this. One of the newspapers reported that the police said that Mr Nono had been aggressive towards them and insulted them. That he should have followed the legal channels to object, dound his way to “Legal Aid” etc. Apart from the simple fact that he is blind, he also does not speak English. He addressed the crowd, and a Xhosa-speaker stepped in to translate. He struck me as a gentle human being with a good heart. He felt humiliated and hurt, physically and emotionally. He does not really understand the different fines the police gave him. He actually does not know what a Bylaw is. he just has been making a living playing on that same corner since 2008. So, after 6 years, what made his offense on THIS particular day so much more offensive than every other day the past 6 years?
Here is Mr. Lunga Goodman Nono addressing the crowd at the protest.
Watch Ian Bredenkamp’s video Documentary at EYEWITNESS NEWS.
I love the mamas of this country. RESPECT!
Many musicians brought instruments, but to have too many people playing at once was a bit hard to coordinate. So some, like this one, came to lend moral support rather than musical.
People spontaneously played and talked and had fun. The carnival atmosphere did not disguise though, that we are all deeply serious about where we stand on this.
Musicians and speeches: un-amplified.
Some people brought spare posters. Very thoughtful protesting!
Professional musicians lent support, either by attending, reporting, facebooking, offering Goodman a Youtube Video/Recording. Here KFM Radio presenter Ian Bredenkamp gives Gavin Minter a hand with playing the percussion on his Beatbox. It is an amazing instrument that basically functions as a mini-drumkit: cheap and portable and it makes a great variety of sounds. — with Gavin Minter, Television Presenter, Daniel Shout and fellow busker at St George’s Mall, Cape Town.
It was Daniel Shout‘s Facebook Call To Action that alerted me to the Facebook Event Group that garnered support for the event. His comments are thought-provoking. These Bylaws highlight lots of problems. They affect our earnings as musicians, not just the Buskers. They assume things about the population – that we all have similar life-styles etc. — with Gavin Minter and Daniel Shout at St George’s Mall, Cape Town.
Some fun music-making happened: Fellow Busker, Gavin Minter, Daniel Shout
Gavin Minter Interviewed by Ian Bredenkamp.
Informal shops are scattered all over St George’s Mall. While i am not offended by them, you can hardly say this cardboardbox-spasa adds to the embience. Yet there is something that much more offensive about a blind busker going over his allotted hour?
Some took pictures and others just Facepalmed.
While there was no official spokesperson and no formal handing over of any signed requests or documents – as one would expect in a formal protest – the crowd was absolutely united. This busker had been horribly mistreated and we won’t accept this.
Despite the opportunity to score points and let rip at the perpetrators of the brutality against him, Mr. Nono came across as a gentleman, soft-spoken and kind-hearted. He genuinely did not understand what he had done wrong, and he was embarrassed that he was treated like that in front of his wife and child. He briefly described the incident in which up to 10 law enforcement officers were involved, and told how he was hurt emotionally and physically. He was not told where he would be taken and was clearly panick-stricken by the noise and physicality of the incident. He asked the police to consider in future how they deal with people and not to destroy their property in the process. He struck me as a deep and brave man.
Since Mr Nono was clearly shy and not comfortable to address the crowd, people encouraged him shouting out for him to speak in Xhosa. Despite the fact that this is one of our largest official languages, and that it is offered as a school subject to all junior school learners, most South Africans still can not understand this language. This kind man stepped forward to translate. (The Video of the speech as at the top of this post.)
People gave interviews. There were no official spokes-people for the demonstration. A pity, as it was all a bit improvised on the spot. Even a megaphone would have helped.But the message got out. It as reported widely in the media including SABC 3 News.
Whomever is standing for (re)election had better take note what the people doing the voting are feeling. Politicising the event is clearly not helpful. But the DA are missing a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to step forward and join the conversation. Now is as good a time as any to clarify their stance on the topic. And yet, they seem to think that we the voters aren’t important enough to talk to. So, in their silence, the ANC is scoring cheap points – while ignoring that ANC-ruled Gauteng is moving to implement the exact same Bylaws.
Read more about the Bylaws – and some claims that they do not even exist – HERE.
Rasing awareness not only of Buskers, but BLIND buskers in particular. It seems that the organisation for blind people managed to organise most of the posters and handed them out to willing protesters who weren’t quite sure what to do. It’s been a long time since some of us Toyi-Toyid. Some never learned the first time around.
Chilling reminders about the Police’s PRIORITIES. Many debates were had about the fact that indeed Goodman DID break the Bylaw. BUT THE BYLAW SUCKS and we do not support it and want it changed
Politicising things doesn’t help. These are no longer “DA BYLAWS” as the ANC is implementing them in other parts of the country. “War on Poor” sounds overly dramatic and can be debated till the cows come home. Prioritising a blind busker over more serious crime in the city is not up for debate. It is simply laughable management of resources.
Musicians were out in their droves. Marina Louw (Violist and Anti-Fracking Activist) caught a lot of attention with this catchy display!
My country’s people have an AWESOME sense of humour. Stevie doesn’t busk though. Some sad people actually PAY FULL PRICE to listen to him!
As a “protest” it could have been more organised, but this was obviously something that came from people’s hearts.
Guitarists and musicians just made it up as they went along.
Strangers debating and discussing, all outraged by the brutality displayed in the incident. The absolutely ridiculous offense the poor man committed somehow made this incident a “Tipping-point” in the public’s disgust with violent law-enforcement
This man didn’t play his guitars, he MADE them and waved them about in solidarity. I was pushed aside by people and couldn’t get a nice pic of him in full smile, but take my word for it, this guy has a set of teeth that would grace ANY toothpaste add!
Organisiations joined in. Many of us were not sure what to DO, so there was quite a bit of milling about waiting for something to happen. But the fact that people were THERE made us all feel that we were united in wanting a better future for ALL this city’s people. The fact that there were some posters and things, shows where the heart of this protest lay.
Behind us, business as usual. Seriously, I can not understand why businesses in the area would have a problem with buskers at times other than 12.45 to 2.00 pm. They make a LOT of money in that area of town, and the vibrant atmosphere will in fact draw more tourists in. Regarding relaxing of the bylaws, I have heard people quoting nightmare-scenarios of “Tin-Pan Bands at 3 am” and similar nonsense. One Blind Man, One Un-amplified Guitar. COME ON!!! In fact, the noise pollution from some was pretty offensive.
Sobering. Somehow, if Goodman were begging at a red robot, he would be less of a “problem.” Yet here he is, trying to do something creative, musical, entrepreneurial, independent… Good Heavens, those sound like scary attributes for the populace to display! — with Pablo Pinedo Boveda
This little munchkin played the Harmonica. Took it carefully out of a little blue box and afterwards packed it away carefully like a precious treasure. RESPECT!
I wonder if this was the little Harmonica-player’s dad? Similar technique!
Yes, the Pro-musicians vs the buskers vs original material vs playing cover-versions… This hornet’s nest dissolves when you realise we are all trying to put bread on the table with the skills we have acquired, and the thing we love: MUSIC.
HEAR HEAR! Students, professionals, business-people, all attended and lent support.
Yes indeed, Buskers are ALSO artists. If you see the “Karoo-Blues”- guitar project of David Kramer you can see that there is a huge untapped well of creativity happening RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES.
What can I say? I am passionate about human rights and musician’s rights? And I hate brutality in any form. And I hate laws and rules that are just applied arbitrarily without having a CONVERSATION with those people who are actually affected by them. Hmmmm. Elections loom, many decisions to make…
This beautiful miming couple were, well, just beautiful. — with Neil Goodwin.
Yes, there was a lot of fun. Drum Duo. It’s all in your head.
This little angel was lifted onto someone’s shoulder and sang a sweet little song which I wish I could have heard, but there was simply too much noise. She was certainly cheered by the listeners around her.
Wow, Mister Lunga Goodman Nono, I respect and salute you. You have faced hardships far worse than I can imagine, but your spirits are high and you are brave. LOVE and RESPECT!
News Report ~~ Mr Nono’s wife Abigail said: “...she received a child support grant and her husband a disability grant, but the money he earned playing guitar was their main income. They commuted by minibus taxi from Delft to the CBD, a 60km return trip, to perform on the corner between 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday, making about R200 from passers-by on a good day.” (Cronje/Kayana: IOL News)