There are one hundred plus hungry mouths surrounding me and they’re all smeared with barbeque sauce, and dripping with beer. We don’t have napkins, or silverware, or even chairs. Our standing, at this point stumbling, bodies pack the entire township block for Mazoli’s barbeque. Booming beats and freestyle rap rhythms sound in the background. Smoke from sizzling meat fills remaining light in the sky just before sunset.
An hour prior to the raging feast, I was cheering bottles with students from the University of Cape Town. I even made drunken, pathetic attempts to spout out rhymes to rap music with some locals clad in shoulder boom boxes.
An hour before that I walked across the street to use the facilities. I had to meander through the masses crowding the street, shoulder bumping dancers and stepping on rappers’ toes.
An hour before that we ordered our protein bucket. My comrades laughed at me when I asked for a menu. The waitress took our order and asked where we might be sitting. “We’ll be around,” says my buddy Ned.
Ned has been in South Africa for half a year now. He’s study abroad at UCT and showing us around while our vessel is docked at the Waterfront. Ned casually suggested that morning that we go to a Sunday barbeque. It sounded low-key.
Ned brought us to the convenience store down the road upon arrival at the township. He pointed out that most of the people filling up the block were coming straight from church. He grabs a six-pack off the shelf, and I suggest we split it at lunch. Through chuckles he responds, “Get your own—you have some time to kill. I’m not sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. We’re going to a brai, for Christ’s sake!”