Peter Clarke. It is such sad news to hear of his passing quietly in the middle of the night on Sunday 13 April. His body is gone but his art remains – bearing witness, etched into memory. Peter Clarke holds a special place in my personal history. He was born in my home town, Simonstown in Cape Town. He and my mum grew up in the Kloof (pronounced Kloef)–what was then the poorer part of town. They went to the same school, Arsenal Primary, and my mum always recalls his artist prowess from then; the Clarkes were regular customers in my grandfather’s shop in Waterfall Road, at the foot of what is still one of the resident naval barracks. He is the only South African artist I know of to have captured Simonstown pre-forced removals.
In Cape Town jazz here is not just jazz. It’s a whole lot more. For one, it is a dance style that continues to be the predominant feature of successive generations of Cape Flats families. Almost similar to what is called salsa in the Latino communities, jazzing on the Cape Flats is now somewhat of a tradition. And I use tradition in a deliberate way, to think about inheritances of practices that are shared, dynamic and made and remade anew, but always defined also by what is continued as it is passed down.