International Man of Mystery

Shannon: What is one of the best experiences you’ve had in your City? As people visiting the UK we’re expected to go and see tourist attractions like Big Ben and the few others. I prefer

indulging in the lifestyle of a city.

Kazim: Uhm.. for me, I mean the UK is like a place where I live. I don’t spend a lot of time there. What makes the UK so important to me it that my family and friends are there, so I tend to spend as much time as possible with friends and family. However, if I wasn’t including friends and family, London is probably the best  place in the world for food. It has the most incredible food spots, man, you can get any cuisine and its 10/10. So I’d say food for sure and I’m, like, obsessed with Indian food so I would probably go for some dishoom (indian dish) with white truffle to eat.

The Thames is free and its like a gift everyday. The Saatchi gallery is free, uhm really good spot. Contemporary art. The level of theatre and film is incredible. Usually I would see family and I’d, just indulge in film, arts and stuff like that. I wouldn’t even go out. To go ‘out-out-out,’ I mean my favourite club is called plastic people. I’m not sure if it closed down last year.

Shannon: As a Muslim/Arab boy, how was it growing up in the UK?

Kazim: Uhm, it’s hard to say because I didn’t know anything different. I can’t really compare it to anything. What I will say is that, uhm, I wouldn’t change anything about the way I grew up. I feel good about it. I grew up in the city so that made sure I was exposed to interesting things, interesting people and interesting ideas. Luckily I had a big family so there were always people around. Some of them much older. I was the youngest in my family, where I was exposed to older people and the older ways of thinking and I think that had a major impact on my learning and exposure to my creativity. My brother was into music and my sister was really into art. Uhm… So you know all of those things made a huge impact. 

Shannon: As you are aware (well I hope) South Africa is a third-world country. We are still very rural in our actions and our general way of life – a lot of it we culturally pride ourselves on. However, new money is a problem. Too many people are concerned about being seen – wearing the best things, “swag” has potentially ruined us. In the UK as well as greater Europe it is as clear as day that being who you are is expected. It’s almost a norm. The Freedom of Expression in the UK/Europe can be seen in fashion, street culture, literature and Art. Is this expression a direct result of how people are raised, or are we as South Africa a new culture/society that will eventually grow into this?

Kazim: I think – I am not sure if I completely agree with that – I think what makes, when we talk about style and fashion in that context, I think what makes Johannesburg more exciting than London is that, like, street style is a phenomena in London, and other European countries are dictated to by leading fashion trends. So, in Europe and in the UK we’re very brand driven and that’s often a case of the hottest brands and whoever is wearing the freshest item, who is wearing whats ‘hot-hot-hot’. New Raf Simons or the new whatever, uhm, if you’ve got that product then you are street style cool right? 

But all of that is economically driven. You either work in the industry or you have lots of money. The thing that’s exciting about here (Johannesburg, South Africa), is that it seems much more democratic. All the coolest kids on the street are wearing vintage clothing or, like gees, there are no brands here. Obviously there are brands and some money to some extent or demographic, its obvious that some people are invested in brands here, but on a mass level – on the street right now, it feels like people don’t have the money necessarily so they use creativity. The most creative and most stylish naturally are the ones that get to the top and stand out. 

You can’t buy style. Its easy to buy stylish items and read it off mags and watch it on tv or whatever and its not easy in Europe to define who is stylish and who isn’t. Whereas here, its like the really stylish kids, whether they have money or not, are just looking their best. They will come out on top. That democracy in Johannesburg is more exciting. 

Shannon: Young people start having sex in the UK at a very young age. Why is this not Taboo? Why is sex such a liberal thing?

Kazim: That’s a really interesting question. uhm – and I don’t think I am the best person to answer this – laughs, but from my perspective there is a very-very different culture in the UK. I think the culture here in South Africa is made up of black African cultures yeah? A melting pot of all cultures that are rooted in the stuff that is all traditional and, uhm, you know, a really old culture right? Uhm, and religion plays a role in that and tribalism plays a role in that as well.

Whereas in the UK, those things don’t really exist in the same way. Of course religion exists but there isn’t that same feeling of social tribalism in the same way and there isn’t that, like, richness in old cultures. I think more than anything that the stories that we are given in the UK through the media, whether that’s advertising or through TV and films whatever, are like, highly sexualised and I think that therefore the society is becoming highly sexualised and, like, to add to all of that, the internet is so readily available. Anyone at anytime can get something that they want 

In a way that doesn’t really happen here, the internet’s still gota bita work to do in Africa whereas in the UK mate, a 5-year-old has a mobile phone and can go get anything they want on that phone. So I think it is a combination of all those things as a result of a highly sexualised nation. 

Shannon: British street culture is very different and unique from any other street cultures I have been exposed to. Is it because people are not following “The American Western Ideal” on what fashion is?

Kazim: Uhm I think the British – London and what makes London unique  and stand out is that it’s multi-cultural.  Its that cocktail of cultures and that cocktail of colours and people from all over the world, but the rest of the UK is not like that.The UK is ,I think, its 12% black the rest is white.  London is the most diverse place in the world for me… 

Comment Khanya; sounds like the benchmark of the UK…

Kazim: Yea it is, or it should be.

Comment Khanya; it feels like a through-line around the world. where I come from, the Western Cape, its not as diverse as Johannesburg is. when I went home to Mossel Bay after my first time coming to Jozi I was like, I now know why Jozi is so ahead of the rest of the country. It’s because everyone came looking for work here and because of that you’d meet different cultures from all corners of the country. People had different perspectives, different ideologies and religions. If you’re in Maboneng, you can run into five different people/cultures in 10mins there. And I think that, for me, if you have a lot of different cultures coming together, is very attractive, original and unique. 

Shannon: The UK is a confusing place for me. Race is nothing there. People aren’t addressed by their race or colour. Inter-racial dating is okay. Yet it seems like no-one really

understands each other’s culture or backgrounds. It almost seems swept under the carpet and no-one must speak of it. “Like he who must not be named” – you’re British, I had to reference Harry Potter in here.

Kazim: laughs – I think that is true, that’s completely true. Uhm,  the reason there is colour and race here is because it is part of people’s conversations, spoken in the vernac and day to day life, it is such a big deal here, and it should be and the history is very recent. Colour and race was a huge factor. And that’s not to say it isn’t in England. But over there, people try harder to assimilate being British instead of being white or black. And that’s because the idea of Britain in some 

quarters is one of multiculturalism, uhm, and you know… colourfull-ness and integration. A Positive image.

Shannon: Rules! Why are there so many RULES? You are a first world country. You are supposed to be free. Why are there so many rules i.e. – you can’t eat mute swan. What the fuck is mute swan anyway?

Kazim: What the hell is mute swan? -laughs

Khanya: bruh I don’t know -laughs

Kazim: Why what rules? The rules are for preservation init?

The rules are to protect – if you don’t abide by the rules its

almost a disrespect yea?

Shannon: Yeah i guess. Gangsters are apparently a real thing in the “underground urban areas.” How bad is East London (I think it is East)? We know struggle, hoodness, gangsterism and all the wonder that goes with it, but how bad is it really?

Kazim: I think, uhm, gangsterism – I don’t really know much about. But, like, you know in the city of London or the suburbs are increasingly not really safe places. I can’t compare it. But you know there is a lot of crime, a lot of naughty kids, a lot of violence. It’s not a really safe place, London, at times. 

Khanya: I don’t think you can go to any place in the world and be like “I’m 100% safe here.”

Kazim: Yeah exactly. You go to a major city like that, there are all kinds of people, good and bad. Uhm, and also London is a really big city. There are deprived communities. That breeds discontent and dissatisfaction which you know breeds crime.  

Shannon: When you come across this poster “Keep Calm and Carry on” Does It upset you?

Kazim: Laughs – Ahhhh it doesn’t upset me but I do think, like, – why? you know…  For me it’s a stylistic thing. It doesn’t look nice.

Shannon: Why do people race pigs and donkeys in the UK? 

Kazim: Fortunately, I don’t know much about that. Laughs – its