The year 2017 began with me having to start school at Ruth Prowse School of Art in Woodstock. I have grown so fond of it, and have learnt so much from attending here as a Fine arts student. It has been a hell of a journey for me personally because I now know that love, humanity, and support that I have received from South Africa and all over the world has deeply touched me and gave me the courage to face my fears. It pushed me to not drop out of school and to keep my faith and to keep on inspiring and giving thanks.
This year my life and outlook on life in general has changed for the good. I have learnt in art history what value art plays in society and why its so important to have artist like myself share and communicate through art whatever that is socially empowering and spiritually uplifting. It was difficult at first having to adopt to everything new and especially having to attend classes, learning different skills and keeping up with the rest of my classmates, but it has been a lovely experience overall and I look forward to next year.
The message written on the lock is indeed truthful. And to top it off, for two years, I slept on the bench that had this chain locked on it.
Every now and then I still come and sit at the bench in the gardens. My life has been a journey that I sometimes feel bitter about, but I’ve come to acknowledge that with my past comes strength and courage to carry on. I need the practical experience of having patience and faith to be true and find peace within myself as well as forgiveness.
Now I’m on the road to recovery and it’s not easy, but it is healthy for me. The art school is teaching me a lot and I love each and every day I’m able to learn and interact in class. I am still struggling with art materials and would appreciate it if any donations come through.
The T-shirt and cards are up for sale still! Thank you for all your support and generosity towards my growth and development. God bless us all as we strive for peace, love, and humanity.
I was interviewed on Expresso, and here is the video –
The process of adjusting to being in school and having a place that I wake up to find myself safe and warm in makes me feel so blessed.
At school, I’m attending art classes and learning more about art as a career and business. The first time in class I was excited and not sure what to expect but eager to learn. The lessons are not too difficult for me, but I have been struggling with print-making, and I was unable to hand in my final work, a landscape collography. I am going to have to learn to ask for help when I don’t know or misunderstand.
I have been concentrating on my school work and researching the history of art and design elements to give me the overall understanding of what I can work on and achieve good marks while having enough time to produce artworks to sell in order to support myself.
Thank you to all of those that support me. Your support, kindness and generosity towards me and my future, and giving me the opportunity to education is amazing. Every night I secretively prayed for school and to have access to accommodation and resources to help me achieve my goals. I’m not going to have the same amount of time as I did before attending school, so now I am going to update the blog two times a month and that’s if I’m not falling behind school project.
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.
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.
“Chuma Somdaka fled prejudice to live on a park bench. Now her art keeps her whole”.
An article written by Alexander Matthews, which was also featured in the Sunday Times.
Source: Portrait of an artist without a home
I have forgiven my past but I will never forget it, and I am still looking forward to healing properly. I am now able to share a part of my life that I was ashamed of, that I was running from, and that made me want to die. I am grateful that I am alive and will continue to use my strength to survive with the need to use substances to numb the pain.
I hate the word ‘lesbian’. Everyone knows that I dress mostly in men’s clothes, but it doesn’t mean that I want to me a man. I love my female body, and I’m also attracted to women. I dated a few boys when I was a teenager, but struggled with intimacy. My close friends and my mother knew this, but nobody said anything. I didn’t do anything until I was dating a guy called Luthando – probably the only guy I’ve ever had feelings for – who was handsome and clever. My mother told me to stop what I was doing because I’ll end up hurting him and he didn’t deserve it.
I have been struggling with guilt and feeling that I’m a fake in relationships, even with friends. So much of this has to do with my rape, and the feelings that I have towards my stepfather. I don’t hate him, but I still need to heal. I believe that I’ve always been gay, even though there have been people who have tried to make me suppress it or destroy my being who I am.
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.