Three New Stories

Rony is a gay male who is physically disabled and he comes to town to
hustle. He had a stroke years back, and is also a drug addict. He was involved with
dikie last year. He has a mother who comes to town looking for him because she gets worried about him being in town and sleeping in the street but as soon as his mom
takes him home Rony will appear in town again a day later with his cup on his hand asking for small change. We argue a lot when he is sitting with me at the bench in the
gardens, it irritates the hell out if me when he does that with me around. If
the person or people don’t respond back he will pass rude remarks or worse saying ‘he wants to buy drugs with their money’. I myself have grown close to him and even though we argue allot we enjoy each others company. He is HIV positive and takes his ARVs with him where ever he goes.

Andile is a car guard at kloof street opposite the Wellness Centre. We met at the shelter and became friends whilst living on the street. He used to drink a lot but now he is using tik and other stuff. He is god loving man and he gets beaten a lot and has his money gets taken. The last time we were together, two guys and a girl came and started fighting with him. He got kicked in the face. He was arrested this year for possession of drugs and is also a 28 gangster but none of his gang members respect him. They are usually the first to rob him or take his stuff without his permission. Most of the time he is alone and likes to smoke alone. He recently received a phone from a women from the car park. When she came back to her car she handed him the phone, but he only was able to keep it for a week before one of his friends took from him. He is 48 years old grew up in Phillipi, where his family still stays. The reason he left home to live on the streets is because he killed someone in self defence. He couldn’t deal with it, and the family of the victim lives near his house. That was the most difficult part for him – he still today has a hard time forgiving himself.

Mary is 20 years old and I met her at the church we used to attend on Wednesday with Pastor John. She is an addict and she steals. She breaks into cars. She will do anything to feed her habit. She stole my bag during the night when was fast asleep about two years back when we were all staying together as one big family. She and her boyfriend who is now in prison used to rob every day, even in the gardens during the day. She is always high and carries a sharp object with her. She likes being the only girl in the group. She was kidnapped by Timo and he forced her to be his girlfriend, and that’s how she ended up living on the streets. She came to town with her sister and friend for June holidays, and during that time her life got taken away. She has not returned since the accident but wished she could have the courage to go back home. She is sometimes able to talk to her sister who works in town. Timo kept her up in the mountain for almost six months and the only reason he let her free was because she agreed to be his girlfriend. He started selling her to the drug-dealers and thats how she became a sex worker and even though he was prostituting her he still forced her to have unprotected sex. It was during the night after a long time she came to visit me as we sat chatting I decided to sketch her and that was last week and thats the last time I saw her.

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Bridging the Gap between Art and Fashion

To bridge a the gap between fashion and art, Coast and Koi used some of my work as prints on their T-shirts. Some of this was shown at the Decorex expo in Cape town.

“We’ll be showcasing Chuma Somdaka’s street art plus her amazing printed cards and art works, along with some gorgeous T’s handprinted and signed by Chuma”. See a full article here.

 

Rony

Rony had a stroke years back. He is also a drug addict, and he was involved with
Dikie last year. He has mother who comes to town looking for him because she worries about him sleeping on the street. As soon as his mom takes him home, Rony will appear again a day later in town asking for small change.

We argue a lot when he’s sitting with me at the bench in the gardens. It irritates the hell out of me when he begs with me around, and if the person or people don’t respond back he will pass rude remarks, saying he wants to buy drugs with their money. Still, I have grown close to him, and even though we argue we enjoy each others company. He is HIV positive and takes his ARVs with him where ever he goes.

Making Something Out of Nothing

Since living on the streets of Cape Town, I’ve learnt how to stay strong and behave in a manner that is respectful of the next person. Last year I met a women named Michelle, a sex worker. Downtown, on the Parade where Nelson Mandela gave his freedom speech, young women and men sell their bodies for R10 or R20. It pains me when I see and watch what happens to some women.

When we were together I felt relaxed which is something I don’t do easily, letting my guard down. It is not easy for most females to just feel free, and that is because there are more men than women living on the street. We became close and that made the guys angry. Whenever a male or group of men came past us sitting on the bench, comments were made and sometimes they would take out a knife to try and scare me and let me know that I was asking for trouble if Michelle and me were involved. Usually we laughed it off, but it got worse.

We just connected as if we had known each other for years, and so are friendship began. We both loved laughing, and were not as bitter or full of misery as others around us. I decided that she would be my muse, and a portrait that I drew of her was quickly bought. That day I realized that I could make money from drawing.

 

Tumi

I met Tumi a year ago and we became close friends. She often lives here with me on the street. She sometimes go home and stays for few days but is always back. She shoplifts to support her heroin habit. She has been on it for almost 10 years  and has been arrested three times since we became friends.

Tumi is a mother too. She has a teenage son who lives with her mother in Khayelitsha. She is also staying there at the moment because she recently came out of prison after being arrested two months ago. Last week she came to see me and tell me about what happened, and said that she thought it best that after speaking to me she should going straight home. Guess what? She did the opposite and went back to using. She looked so clean and healthy and had gained weight during her time in prison.

She sat with me so that I could do another portrait of her. I’m not happy about her smoking, but she is as stubborn as I am and there’s nothing I nor any one else can do to make her stop. Her words are “I am a heroin addict and that’s my drug of choice and it wont change”. Thats how we left things this morning and I’m worried but at the same time pissed off.

Rasta

Rasta is in his late twenties, and lives with his girlfriend on the street. They have both grown up on the streets and found each other. I met Rasta last year in June at the Youth Resolution, a shelter under the bridge in Woodstock with a group of transgender males (moffies). Rasta has a girlfriend who is HIV positive. I’m not sure how long they’ve been together. She doesn’t take her meds and they are both tik addicts. I last saw him when I sketched him. He sat for me while he was waiting for a friend.

Rasta is part of the 28 gang but recently he was beaten and almost burnt alive by them. If it wasn’t for his girlfriend he would have lost his life. She pleaded with the new street 28 gang leader to let him live and in exchange she gives him the R1000 social grant that she gets every mouth. The gang said that Rasta must remove himself and break down his shack, and he is no longer welcome in the 28 camp ground, near Trafalgar High School. Ever since then he has been on the run and no one knows where he sleeps, but we suspect its someway up near Table Mountain.

He came that day to sell some items he had found. He said that they wanted to kill him because someone had said that he told the cops about a car hijacking that took place at his parking space, where he works as a car guard. He is known to be the car guard working at the time of incident, the police knew where to find him and he admits to having told the cops what happened and identified the two suspects who were arrested. I asked him if the rumours about the 28 gang are true. If it’s true that if one of the 28 gang sees him, that he will get beaten up and peed on, and forced into sexual acts. I’ve heard it being talked about. He didn’t answer me but said that he doesn’t worry about what is said about him, and that he would one day get his revenge.

Dikie

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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Mr Headphones

Who is this man? He’s a city resident, who walks through Government Avenue often. I was inspired to sketch him because of the expressions on his face while he listens to music. The expression on his face is determined by the asymmetrical design of his eyes and his narrow mouth. The well-lit face is framed by badly behaved hair, accentuated with restless brush-strokes and scratches.

I drew this portrait with mixed media – wax, paint, charcoal and pastels.

My friend, Sarah, bought this picture – here it is framed and hanging in her flat.

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