The thing about setting off on any kind of journey to an unknown place or experience, writes TSHIDISO MOLETSANE, is that you never really know what you’re going to remember about it afterwards.


When I was in Grade 1, we were taken on a school trip to some farm. We were asked to bring our own lunch, as well as food for the animals. I remember my mother had packed me a sandwich and given me a head of lettuce as an offering to the farm animals we were to encounter. I was excited to see the various animals.

When we arrived, we were first taken to the stables, and given permission to touch and interact with the horses. I offered one of the horses some of my lettuce, but he completely ignored me and chose the carrots handed to him by a young girl beside me instead. I figured maybe he just didn’t like lettuce. Afterwards, we were taken to where the goats were kept. The children threw whatever fruit they had into the enclosure for the goats to enjoy. I tossed some of my lettuce in too – and again, it was completely ignored. I started sniffing the head of lettuce to check if it had gone bad or something.

Finally, we were taken to the pig pen. For most of my life, I’d been told pigs eat anything. You can imagine my embarrassm­ent when even the pigs didn’t want my lettuce. More than a decade has passed, and I haven’t felt that level of rejection since.

When I was 17, my family and I spent a weekend in Cape Town. We stayed in one of those Sun Internatio­nal hotels not too far from the beach. We were out getting groceries one day when a man approached me. He introduced himself as Masa and told me he was from Mozambique. Masa was 28 years old, and I didn’t realise he was making a pass at me until he asked if I was a good lover. You never forget the first time a guy hits on you.

When I was 23, I went to Oppikoppi for the first time. My friends never entertaine­d the idea because they thought Oppi was for “white people and Satanists”, but after years of poking and prodding I convinced four of them to make the pilgrimage with me. We had the time of our lives. I had never been in such a vibrant and generous environmen­t. Everyone was so kind and welcoming; it was like a dream. A couple we met told us they had been to Oppi every year for the past 15 years, and I decided right then that I wanted to do the same.

The next year, about 15 of us went. I took two weeks off work because I knew I would need a long time to recover. We spent five days on that farm and only showered once – and it was amazing. We got to hang out with Sho Madjozi for a while right after she performed, and it was the strangest thing. My cousin began singing to her and she sang back. She offered us hugs and kisses, and she really made the night special.

Afterwards, some rumblings around security concerns at the festival surfaced online. I wanted to defend Oppi, so I wrote a post about how amazing it was, even though some bad things may have happened. Some of my post was picked up by News24 and published online. Not long after that, Oppi 2019 was cancelled. It’s 2021, and we have yet to go back to that sacred ground. My friends think Oppi might never come back, and they blame me because they believe I fed the beast when I wrote a post that was picked up by a news outlet. I sincerely hope they’re wrong.



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