I have to be honest. I was a bit of a latecomer to the appreciation of art: too busy during my early years learning languages and playing sport to step foot in the art school. Then I met someone, an artist funnily enough, who slowed me down, and showed me the importance of art, both in the world and to me. This was a pivotal time in my life. It led me to peeling off the layers of security that I’d acquired; job, money, home and relationships, and there, within me, I discovered a creative ember waiting to be reignited. I now believe that we’re all creative; we create life, we co-create our own lives, from scratch. I love the simplicity of making something from nothing, taking inspiration from natural surroundings, whether its clay, wood, or putting pen to paper.
Perhaps this is why I’m so excited about the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in Cape Town last month. Having travelled to South Africa to visit my father regularly from a young age, and been at school in Johannesburg during the apartheid era, I’ve witnessed first-hand the changing of a nation once segregated in such an inhumane way. And whilst politically there is still much confusion and corruption, to me, culturally, it’s looking more and more optimistic. The Zeitz MOCAA, the flagship of the cultural canvases bringing art to centre stage in South Africa, is the world’s largest contemporary African art museum. Born of a partnership between the V&A Waterfront and Jochen Zeitz, businessman, conservationist and philanthropist, its seven floors are filled with contemporary African art, for aspiring artists of today and tomorrow, to showcase their work, on their home turf. How amazing is that? The Zeitz MOCAA’s mission is to encourage intercultural understanding, and to raise awareness of cultural diversity. Architecturally, the building is a masterpiece, the genius upcycling of a disused grain silo, to create a hub for people to connect and be inspired on a cultural level.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty in our at times volatile world, I ask myself: what can I do to settle myself today? The answer is usually something creative, like writing, or being connected to nature, a walk in the forest. What can we all do that will take us a step closer to a better future? I would say: slow down, take time to appreciate and share what we have already, be that through creativity, nature or our diverse global community. So, when you’re planning your Southern African adventure, perhaps incorporate a city break in your itinerary, and take the time to visit somewhere bound to make you think, take stock, and enjoy. Life is about balance after all. Soak up the serenity of the bush, the wow factor of wildlife, and then immerse yourself in the buzz of Cape Town and its vibrant culture.
Zeitz MOCAA would be my personal highlight, but there’s plenty, culture-wise, to suit all tastes, from the pop-ups of First Thursdays, to the eclectic creative gems at The Old Biscuit Mill. I’m excited to see what emerges from this cultural revolution in Cape Town. And how lovely that is, to be excited about the future.
Experienced Africa travel consultant and fan of all things well-being, Sally Kirby writes for a number of travel-orientated outlets, and blogs at The Teal Journal.