The iconic South African playwright, Athol Fugard, famous for plays like Master Harold and the Boys, Sizwe Bansi is dead and The island, has very close links to Port Elizabeth. Fugard’s mother ran the St Georges Park Tea Room which sadly stands empty today. It was here in 1950 that a teenage Fugard insulted his friend and father figure, Sam Semela, a waiter at the tearoom. Thirty years later still shamed my the incident he wrote the play Master Harold and the Boys based around that day and his relationship with Sam.
In the play Sam makes Hally (Fugard) a kite from junk and teaches him to fly it as well. Sam also teaches Hally that flying a kite means holding the head high and it was very special advice for Hally who was having a bad day. From that day a special bond was created between Sam and Hally. Later on the in the play Hally, in a moment of anger, mistreats Sam and Willie – another worker at the tea room. But I’m not going to explain the whole play here. All this does work up to the next point I want to make. Outside the old tearoom artist Mark Wilby has created a memorial to Fugard referring to the play. Inspired by the kite Sam crafted for Hally, the memorial is a simple stainless steel kite on top of a lamp pole. I bet not a lot of Port Elizabeth folk knows about the kite.