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Father’s Day, belated.

June 20, 2011 by Kaitlin

Here’s another Radio Workshop show I helped produce. It presents three very different versions of fatherhood. South Africa has a high rate of absent fathers–the second highest in Africa (after Namibia), so it was nice to be able to share stories of some incredible fathers and father figures in Cape Town.

Radio Workshop: Celebrating fathers by childrensradiofoundation

The first story about Mario and Greater Commission United was the first interview I did for CRF. I first met Mario on a tour with Uthando, and when I called to ask about an interview for radio, he was totally willing and excited. We agreed to meet at a Mugg & Bean (the SA equivalent of Starbucks) at a mall near his home in Heideveld. I figured we would meet up there and then go somewhere else to record. I took a cab to the Cape Flats, found the coffee shop inside the bustling mall, sipped on a mediocre latte and waited.

Mario Van Niekerk, founder of Greater Commission United and star of the documentary "Mario and the Rude Boys"

Mario was late. I checked and double checked my notes–we had definitely agreed on a time, but he was nowhere to be seen and wasn’t answering his phone. About 20 minutes later, he finally showed up. But it wasn’t just him–he brought about 6 other people who were also doing exciting things in his community and whom he thought I should meet. Indeed, these were interesting and inspiring people–some were working to get young boys out of gangs, others were doing music therapy in the townships. Problem was, there were now seven of us sitting in a coffeeshop inside a mall–not exactly the ideal recording environment. The other people clearly weren’t aware that I had planned to do an interview, and Mario had another meeting in a half hour. We agreed that he would come into the city the next day for the interview.

My first assignment for my new job…and I came back completely empty handed. No interviews, no recordings, not even some nat sound.

Fortunately, CRF was understanding. Apparently the showing up with an entourage thing is not unusual in Cape Town.

The next day, Mario was late again. I stood outside our building for a half hour waiting and watching. Again, no luck on the cell phone. I came back into the office as quietly as possible in hopes of avoiding having to announce that I had failed yet another interview attempt. An hour or so later, I went back downstairs almost on a whim, just to check the sign-in book at security one more time–maybe I had just missed him.

Miraculously, he was making his way across the street towards our building just as I stepped out the front door. He apologized profusely and then proceeded to give one of the most heartfelt and emotional interviews I’ve ever done. We talked about many other topics than just what made the final cut for this show, and I hope to be able to use more of the interview for another piece.

And hey, now if I ever want to do a show on music therapy in Heideveld, I’ve got a contact!

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