by Shaz ‘Sicka Star-ban’ Mthunzi
First I became the 2014 Mr Lesbian Daveyton. Now being abroad for the first time feels more like a prize which is the lifetime opportunity I will never forget.
While most people were busy planning their new year’s resolutions, I was excited about going overseas to Norway.
It is not every homosexual pageant that the winner is taken overseas. I’m honored to receive this as a prize. Being overseas is not only for me, but I am representing the LGBTI youth from Daveyton township and surrounding areas in South Africa.
I sit and take time to thank the Lord and my ancestors, because while I receive something, somewhere out there someone’s virginity is taken, and thinking of a woman or child being violated – raped. Or a teenager high on drugs. So I’m very blessed and grateful for my life.
I waited for all my documents to be emailed by our hosts from Akershus Art Center in Oslo, Norway. As soon as we received the documents which were my flight ticket, invitation letter and travel insurance. I already had my passport and all that was left was to apply for a visa.
Hearing negativity about applying for a visa from different people made me anxious because I didn’t want anything to ruin my opportunity to go overseas. To be honest it was my first time hearing about a country called Norway so it was an intriguing idea to find out what kind of place it was.
Before applying I started with a little ritual to ask my ancestors if they had allowed me to go, because I cannot do anything without consulting with my ancestors, as they are a part of me.
On the 17th of January 2015 I began with the online visa application. It had a long application form which took me about an hour to finish. I must say the internet helped me, and now I know the internet is not only for entertainment.
After I completed the form I was asked to choose which Norwegian Embassy will be closer to me between Pretoria, Durban and Cape town and I chose Pretoria. Then I had to pay online, I was confused because I’ve never paid for anything online, so my mother helped me.
The visa cost us R843 which I found to be very outrageous because my passport cost me R400 and it expires after 10years, but a visa which is only for 16days cost me R843. I thought to myself traveling overseas is expensive. I then booked for an appointment on the 19th, I remember being impatient wanting the days to move faster so that I can do my interview.
On the 19th of January, it was a Monday morning, we woke up at 05:30 and prepared. When we were done preparing for our journey to Pretoria (Tshwane), my mom called ubab’ Andile Gila. He is my mom’s partner and is a very sweet and kind man who respects and understands my mother. I am very happy my mum has found someone who will make her feel special. Its not everybody who has good things to say about their step fathers, I love and respect him so does my little sister and we will always cherish the moments we have with him. Okay, back to the story, at 07:00 he drove us to Pretoria at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, I used my GPS to navigate the area.
We arrived at 08:30 and we were 30min early, the security guard told us he will let us in at 09:00 because that is when they open.
I was nervous when I went inside with my mum by my side. We were greeted by a lady who set in the opposite room with just a glass separating us. She asked for my name and I told her and she checked a piece of paper and called my ID number and I agreed it was mine. Then she rudely asked for my documents without reading anything she asked what am I going to do in Norway and how long will I be staying there, I gave a smile and answered her while inside I was disgusted buy her attitude.
She then gave me a clean blank paper and asked me to write on it what I’m going to do. I wrote and gave her back the paper and she asked me to go to interview room number 2.
I set in front of a computer screen with a camera, place with a glass with a red light and a glass with a green light.
She came in other room and spoke on the microphone and told me to look at the camera. After, I was asked to place my fingers, excluding my thumbs, on the red lighted glass, then my thumbs and lastly put my signature on the green lighted glass.
When we were done she went and checked my documents asked who is going to pay for my spending and I told her everything is written and she insisted I get a paper that says who will be in charge of my expenses. I called Muholi and she called our hosts from Norway to write one, I asked the embassy employee for her email address, then forwarded it to Muholi, before leaving the place.
Waiting for my visa was made me more and more anxious. It was like I was losing my mind, I’m lucky to have my mum because she was the one who calmed me down.
23:45 on the 29th I received an email saying my “visa has been granted.” I screamed and my mum came to my room thinking ngivukwe yidlozi and when I told her the good news she cried tears of joy. We called bab’ Andile and we all rejoiced, Mbali my little sister woke up and we stayed up and she forgot she was going to school.
I went to fetch my passport the following week when I got there, to my surprise, the lady was kind and not rude she gave me my passport and I signed for it.
At 16:30 babu Andile fetched me at home to take me to the airport and I was accompanied my Mbali and my cousin Nontuthuzelo Maduba, my mom was on her way to the airport from work.
On our way I contacted the people I was going with which was Zanele Muholi the person who made this happen, Themba Vilakazi a filmmaker who is capturing our movements, Richard “Msa” Muholi (Z’s brother) and his friend Mbali MsweIi.
We got there and we found them wrapping bags and we greeted everyone while bab’ Andile went to fetch mum. When I was at the airport it was then that I realized it is happening ‘I’m going overseas oh What a dream come true,’ I thought.
At about 17:45 we went to check in, I said my good byes to my family. when we were at the boarding gate
we got an announcement that the flight has been delayed. It was suppose to depart at 20:30 but it was an hour and a half late, which to me was very unacceptable because when you are late the flight will not wait for you and yet we have to understand.
The first flight we took was from Johannesburg to Switzerland which took 10hours but to me the 10hours felt like a few hours because of the time I we slept through the night.
The adrenaline that you experience when the plane lifts off is weakening, I could almost feel gravity pulling me down, as well as the plane’s movements.
On the plane we had supper at 22:15 some chicken with mash potatoes and gravy with some vegetables, then slept. We woke up around 06:20am(RSA time). I had breakfast some bun with cheese and coffee. We then reached our first destination, which was Switzerland.
We met security guards who were very rude and full of attitude. The first one approached us and asked for our passports, then asked, “what are we doing here?
How long are we staying?”
Sadly, it was only us that he asked, Its like because we are black and traveling as a pack. The second incident was at the examining area were there were 6 of them, while our bags were being checked Mbali’s passport went missing and we asked the guard to please scan our bags again, they were so rude, speaking their language, for us to not understand.
They said there is nothing they would do, we should go to immigration, on our way there Muholi searched her bags again and we found the passport, which was placed in the bag just to delay us. After that drama we rushed to our next flight to Germany Frankfort and luckily they were waiting for us. From Frankfurt we boarded a flight to Norway Oslo, on our way I could see snow all over and while we were high up in the clouds I saw the beautiful image of the sun. Pity for the people on the ground couldn’t get the sunlight because it was covered by clouds.
We took a train to Lillestrom a small town where Akershus Art Center is located. We were tired and hungry when we arrived there. Tor took us to the shops to buy food we had lunch before meeting Rikke Kommisar who is the director at the Akershus Kunstsenter.
When we arrived in our apartment we were given rules, one of them stating that, “it is a Scandinavian rule not to wear shoes inside the house, turn off heater, and noise levels must be down after 11pm.
Recycling is very serious here because for every dustbin has 3 plastics, one for plastic, one for food waste and last one for paper. The time frame in Norway and South Africa is the same, the difference is that when its winter in Norway, they change the time and put it an hour later, due to their short days.
The temperature is very low this time of the year in this part of the world. On this day it is -2 degrees. I woke up in the morning, took a bath, had breakfast and started reading a book titled “Black Bull, Ancestors and Me”by Nkunzi Zandile Nkabinde. It is a book I find very interesting since I’m a healer. He talks about the challenges he faced before accepting and going for training to be a healer. Muholi and Themba went to the gallery to instal. I fetched Msa and Mbali from the hotel they where booked at. We went to the Botanical garden\nature historic museum which is not far from where we stay. It has a lot of exotic plant like the “Ocimum basilica, thymus vulgaris, fredrik VLs bank and many more.
We took pictures but couldn’t explore the whole place because the ice was too slippery. We also visited Munch museum but couldn’t enter because we didn’t have Norwegian money. We visited the nearest train station called Toyen and we asked around for directions to where the foreign exchange outlet is.
Mbali was too tired and cold so she decided to go back to their apartment. Msa and I proceeded along asking until we were directed to a place called Forex which is a Norwegian foreign exchange outlet. Msa changed R1000 and received 500 krones which is Norwegian currency. We took a walk around town and went inside a second hand shop were Msa bought a jacket for 100krone.
Then we went to Mac Donald’s and bought 3 big Mac and discovered in Norway it costs 65 krones, while in RSA it costs R45. Things are very expensive this side of the world.
While walking back we met a lot of different people like a very generous post man who asked us were we from, when we told him “South Africa” he shouted ‘Amandla’ and we laughed.
Later that evening we met up with Muholi, Themba and Rikke and we took a train to an art exhibition that Rikke was invited to. Their train moves almost as our very own Grautrain. We got off and walked a few meters and on our way we passed the Nobel Peace Center. Eventually we got to the exhibition and we were the only black people there. it was good to explore different kinds of art pieces from different places.
Most people we have met tell us that we chose a good time to visit Oslo because a few weeks ago the temperature was -20 degrees. I’m imagining South Africa having that kind of temperature and I think of those who are homeless, walking in the streets of Oslo I see old people sitting in the cold begging and this makes me realize how lucky I am.
Themba, Msa and Muholi went to the gallery and I was left with Mbali. We took a stroll down town and took pictures, later we were disturbed by rain and we went indoors and had coffee.
Waking up to the nice cold weather full of love since it is Valentine’s day. I got up and hit the road. I took a very long walk alone just to familiarize myself with the place and to teach myself how to use the Canon 1100D camera. When I returned, Mbali and Msa had arrived at our apartment, we all sat indoors while I help Msa with his social networks and uploading pictures from the previous
days. I also wished my loved ones a very good Valentine’s Day without me.
Rikke and her husband invited us for dinner but before going there we went to central city and the mall to buy the few things we needed. Msa bought flowers for Rikke, while he and Mbali could not join us for dinner. Rikke, Simon her husband, their two lovely children Lucas and Olivia and their trouble some cat which likes going in and out after every 5 minutes welcomed us in their home with warmth and love. We had a great dinner with champagne, red wine, meat, salads,dessert and good Norwegian music, later on while we were sitting and chatting Muholi was not feeling well so she took a nap on the couch while Themba and I continued enjoying Rikke’s family company.
We were there until midnight and missed the last bus but luckily we caught the last train. I must say I’m in love with this place because of its quietness, the weather because I’m
not keen about hot weather.
A great morning indeed. It was snowing and I was skiing day and excited because it was our first time. Rikke was kind enough to take us there with her lovely children. I enjoyed every moment when we went down the slope while Muholi and Themba captured every moment.
Rikke shared a Norwegian drink which helped us keep warm it has black berries with hot water. The ice was all over my face when I went down the slope but eventually, I got the hang of it. I think skiing is my 3rd favorite sport after cricket and swimming. I didn’t even realize it was cold because I had this rush in me full of excitement. It is not everyday that you get an opportunity to go overseas. Therefore, I must enjoy this time to the fullest.
After that long day, Rikke dropped us off at home and we all had a nice hot shower, and I could still feel the rush in me from skiing.
… all by myself
Previous from Oslo visits