By Chamu Wilson
A 26 year old man hailing from Sebokeng has found a way of tricking the force of gravity by comfortably sitting in thin air with nothing, well, seemingly nothing, supporting his weight.
The unmistakable look of awe on the face of onlookers as the brain registers that someone is sitting on nothing is enough to tell that this performer has ventured into uncharted terrains that still defy common logic. Predictably, one or two people bent down to be certain that there, indeed, is nothing underneath the performer. Their efforts are met with no success as the man relaxes on nothing, even taking his performance a step further by stretching one leg in front of the other and confidently leaning back into his “invisible chair”.
Such is the awe that Sam Mokate brings everywhere he and his team, Baloonzer Entertainment and Projects performs.
“My performance started with face painting, balloon art, puppetry and stilt walking sometime in 2006. I then formed a group that would perform at different functions and even competed at the SA’s Got Talent in 2012. I then came to know about this ‘floating’ art and I did a lot of research into how to do it until I mastered the art,” revealed Mokate, the leader of the group.
On whether he and his other two crew members, Yamkela Mgandela aged 22 and 26year old Phillip Mokhonazi, would really be sitting on nothing, Mokate said it was all a trick but, for obvious reasons, could not be drawn into revealing his prized secret.
“I can only say it’s all a trick that one has to learn and master well. After becoming good at it, I then decided to expand my team and trained other guys how to do it,” he said.
Mokate admitted that falling down was part of the deal of learning the trade in the early stages.
“It’s true these guys used to fall down while they were learning how to do it but it was nothing serious,” he revealed with a chuckle.
Bloemfontein’s Loch Logan Waterfront Shopping Mall came to a near-standstill as shoppers trampled over each other to catch a glimpse of Mokhonazi and Mgandela sitting in the air while the veteran, Mokate, strut around in his very long stilts making bird and animal sounds that left the crowd in stitches.
So popular has been Mokate’s shows that he has to split his group into two so that one section performs in one part of the country while the other entertains in another area. According to him, although the proceeds from the performance have not reached the levels that he has set out for himself, he is grateful that all the group members are able to sustain their families.
“People appreciate our performances and we hope to keep improving and adding more acts to keep ourselves relevant. Despite the fact that we have never had any support from government or any other sponsor, we seek to provide unique entertainment like you have never seen before,” Mokate said.
Baloonzer Entertainment and Projects performs at malls, corporate functions, carnivals, weddings, children’s parties and other such events.