This is Dikie. He is a homeless man, and has been living on the streets of Cape Town for 40 years. I’ve grown fond of him. He makes a living by resourcefully collecting cardboard boxes where he can, then exchanging them for cash at the homeless diner on Canterbury Street. He has lost two sons to TB. He is very shy, and as I know him, he usually just quietly greets you, but is mostly on his own.

His behaviour can be confusing. He is a man of few words, yet the moment he opens his mouth all he speaks about is who and how and when he last had sex. Dikie  is honest about his sexuality and tells me that he enjoys being with men. I have even witness him having sex. Since we all sleep outside, we’re all in view of each other’s every move.

He is, or was, involved with a boy named Stiks, who is also on the streets. It’s been two weeks now and Stiks is nowhere to be seen. Dikie last saw him in Seapoint. I am woried because Stiks is an easy target, and is often abused by his peers. He never had his shoes on. If he got a pair of sneakers today, by nightfall he would be walking barefoot and badly bruised.

This portrait was done in the late evening when he surprised me with a gift on my birthday. I sketched him using a stick that I burn to create charcoal. I prefer to use this method when I begin drawings. One of the reasons that I draw people’s faces is because I believe that the truth reveals itself. Even though you may not see their thoughts, their impressions and eyes and energy give a clear insight to the true being.
I love sketching Dikie. His features are evidence to the life that he has chosen to live. Hi plans this year are to get himself an ID and a job at the city counsel, where he worked before.

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