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Xenophobia Concert | We All Benefit | Videos

June 1, 2008 – 18:05 by John

Today’s xenophobia benefit concert at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town sure would have been a fantastic place to be a car guard. A full main hall; a list of local acts that varied from stand-up comedy to spoken word to afro-pop; and the whole affair, named We All Benefit, organised and frantically strung together in just one week.

Yoh. The sudden uprising (and resultant media whirlpool) against foreigners may have set off like a powder keg in recent days, but seeing people respond in such magnitude is…well, quite strange. When do we, as the Internet-using middle-to-upper class of South Africa, ever seem to get inspired about anything other than what’s going on in Idols and the latest developments in MP3 file sharing? What we’re calling xenophobia is actually closer to Afro-centrism. But, at the end of the day, the hall was full, and the Red Cross picked up the spoils, so thank you to everyone who arrived for proving that this event worthwhile.

Bring on the acts! Each top-class act at We All Benefit was called up at the last minute and given just three to perform. Back-to-back Comedians Nik Rabinowitz and Corn? cornered two facets of the situation, both playing on those familiar racial stereotypes and

Nik Rabinowitz at We All Benefit
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inviting the ‘fox’ in the front row to warm up her singing voice, bebby. Increasingly glamorous Afro-pop outfit Tucan Tucan did a few moves, and others entertained with solo acoustic guitar numbers, sombre, thought-provoking poetry and anecdotes.

One of the highlights was the Theatresports team, an troupe of of black-clad quick-witted improvisation actors that does regular stuff in Cape Town every Monday and Thursday. “Hi, we’re the Theatresports team, and we don’t know what we’re about to perform. Ok, everyone ready? Let’s go!” Check out their site for more.

My photocopied, scissor-cut media pass disintegrated almost the minute I put it around my neck – just another token of how this last-minute charity event was propped up on rickety stilts, and still managed to attract a heartwarmingly chockablock house. Outside, in the bustling foyer, banned Zimbabwean newspapers were sold (by South African vendors – how’s that for irony). Photographs of makeshift refugee camps were pegged to clotheslines. Soapbox speakers stated their case with an English eloquence that could only dismantle the unwitting prejudices of the rapt crowd of listeners.

South Africa seems to have been thrown into the eye of a political vortex since reports of xenophobia began surfacing. Yes, it’s caused elsewhere, but while having a neighbouring political meltdown in your back garden may not be your fault, it has become your situation.

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