clowns to the left of me

There’s an abundance of escaped circus performers flooding the streets of Jozi at the moment. Just what can they teach us about love?

We certainly have the best traffic light entertainment in the country, possibly even the world. I was travelling along William Nicol the other day and at each stop, I was confronted by 1. Mimes, 2. Guys dancing with crates, 3. A juggler, 4. Acrobatic clowns.

Where on earth do they come from? It’s an interesting shift from the usual beggars, or from having your windscreen aggressively washed against your will. I remember a number of years ago when beggars began getting quite clever with their signs – one guy put a fake website address on his sign (something like: and then there was the guy who had a long story about being an out of work ninja who really needed to feed his cat.

Are these traffic light beggars, entertainers and vendors actually far more astute in reading what the world needs than we realise? The vendors all seem to catch on to interesting little trends that fascinate me – one day you’ll see a bunch of cutesy kiddies back-packs on sale, and the next its sports-themed beanies and the like – I’m not sure if they are trend-setters or trend-responders but they all seem to get in line with the latest gear. There’s always the one, however, who is dancing to his very own tune and tries to sell bizarre shiny paintings or a plastic train set that blows bubbles and plays a tune.

It’s always a question – are we buying into stuff because we’ve made a decision to, or are we subliminally being told what to believe, buy and desire? The influence of media (especially fake stuff) has been on everyone’s minds of late and just how much a few fake tweets and news stories can create a specific sentiment in an entire country.

But back to the jokers and the clowns – I know that there aren’t any recently closed-down circuses in town, so it’s not really that. What it may be is that these guys, who are obviously unemployed, are responding to a global need for a lighter way of being. People may have stopped responding to the desperate stares of beggars; people may have started to look away more often in guilt or disgust. The unemployed masses may have realised that society admires people who take initiative, who do what it takes to get the bucks rolling in. they may have realised that the way to a person’s heart is joy, rather than anger or guilt.

Perhaps these traffic light performers are in fact informers – telling us that we all need to lighten up and look at people from a different perspective, to look at people as something more human, more real, more beautiful.

Maybe, just maybe, by seeing the humanness of the ‘beggars’ at traffic lights, we can begin to see the humanness of everyone around us –  see through the things that would normally make us look away or hide away or fear or hate. Maybe, by looking at a clown with his painted face and funny nose, or a mime all covered in silver, we will see less than we have been seeing, but more. We can get past the exterior and look deeper inside, that inside place where we are all in fact the same.

Maybe we are being taught a deep lesson, red light by red light, about how to live within the maxim of Bob Marley’s song One Love. Have a listen, do you agree?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s