Halloween in South Africa

South Africans have loads of festivals, many of them related to political events but Halloween has usually been taken with a pinch of commercial cynicism. Lots of plastic, no real understanding of what it is, other than the obligatory episode on some tv programme.

Yesterday was the first time I did Halloween with a child in a neighbourhood who organised themselves into arranging enormous bowls of sweets, costumes, posters, candles outside their houses. This is something that would have started with tentative emails about improving security and then evolved into other “normal” neighbourhood activities.

First, it was off to Caryl’s house where she supplied witches brew with eyeballs (red colddrink with berries), then off to Orange Grove to Abbi and Chris, Jazzy’s friend AJ’s house.

Chris did a recce of the area in his car and we set off on foot with 15 children dressed up in costumes ranging from two month old Anthony to teenagers with lots of Tigger-like six-year-olds in between.

The sweet residents of Hope Street had arranged candles in their driveways, and stuck posters on their gates welcoming people. These posters had been emailed out to all on the community block watch with a use it don’t use it attitude and we met some really beautiful generous people who stood at their gates stuffing shrieking children’s bags with sweets. It was really a lovely sight and a warm fuzzy evening – by the time we started meandering home, there must have been about 200 kids plus assorted adults wandering the streets screaming for sweets – it was a wondrous thing.

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