ABOUT CHRIS WAIT
The happiest time in my life was the first few years until I was about six: the bliss of innocence did not desert its humble post until then. Laughter was pure and childhood pain was intense and quickly replaced by the ecstasy exclusive to a child’s imagination. The trajectory of the Sun and the Moon in an endless sky, shapes in clouds, whispers from the earth carried by summer winds, warm and heavy with feeling.
I was a dreamy an adventurous boy who liked to roam the Free State veldjies, (mostly on my own), picking up old colourful medicine bottles and Mauser bullets from the Boer war, collecting stones and expecting to find secrets and strange things behind bushes waving in the mysterious breeze and other things inside dark, rocky crevices. Things never found by anyone before, and some of those things I did find, and now I am not sure if they were imaginary or real.
When we moved to the ugly mining city of Welkom I stopped finding magical things. They were still there, but I couldn’t see them any longer. The loss filled me with an unbearable sadness form which I never fully recovered.
I never adapted to the city which I found to be barren, violent and devoid of beauty in all its forms. It was not a place for a sensitive soul and I retreated deep within myself; employing rebellious defence mechanisms to stop the outside world from invading any further. I had to protect that ‘other’ boy who was me no longer, but who was still my best friend.
I went to study at Stellenbosch University for four years and received a degree in Roman Law and Political Science. I still don’t know why I did this. I never felt comfortable in the large, impressive halls of academia.
It was in Stellenbosch where I met the people that fascinated me the most. In that time they were ‘the others’ living in a world I could not imagine penetrating: philosophical misfits and renegade intellectuals who saw the rot of a dogmatic society and who fell through the cracks only to become the most interesting drifters and late night mad worldly poets and philosophers I could ever imagine. (Jaap and Dave, I still miss you man).
Artists and musos whom I often glorified as demigods. (Most of them would ultimately disappoint me when I realised how ungodlike and unkind they were when stripped of their superficial godly robes).
Still I had this unstoppable yearning to try and climb that seemingly unreachable stairway and I was prepared to go through hell in the attempt of my journey home. Many years of shitty jobs and solitary wanderings followed, punctuated by bar fights, superficial sex and all night drinking sessions. (I still gravitate towards the last two on this iniquitous list from time to time).
I developed a well-deserved reputation for being a ‘difficult’ person, but no-one could understand or see that I was in a desperate fight for my life, (soul). That little boy refused to let go and be forgotten and urged me to FIGHT! He wanted to be seen.
At one stage I went homeless for three years, travelling from place to place and calling myself a travel vlogger. It was in this often desperate time that I spent my first night as a truly abandoned and homeless man on the streets of Cape Town, waving away would be predators with a stick I carried for protection. It was also on this night that I learned a very valuable lesson: you are on your own and do not expect anything from anybody, It’s on you to take care of yourself.
In this time I fell in love with Malawi, (I always was, and still am in love with Africa because it’s still wild and cannot so easily be tamed by political dogma, and the fundamentally predictable and boring rules of a ‘civilized’ society. I still find many places in Africa I can feel free and where my soul soars; although it seemed to have been greatly entranced by Western religions).
Only recently have I finally realised that I do not have to chase the art of being a creative, I can simply let go and be that which I always was.
My art is an attempt to coax that shy, loving boy out of hiding still, and it’s a daily process. Bit by bit I am releasing him into this world. He is still a dreamer and always will be. Allow me to share some of those dreams with you.