May the 4th be with you!

This Saturday was the day of the Ganja day Festival of Ganja and anti cannabis-prohibition march, in Brixton, London, UK.

I have tried smoking weed, and even liked it for a few months. But I got tired of it, and it doesn’t go down well in my delicate lungs. However I support the freedom to put what you like into your body, and see marijuana legalisation as a major step against the pointless War on Drugs. It’s the thin end of the wedge, in a good way.

And it was a day’s entertainment, for free.

I found the pre-march gathering in the park near oval tube station around twelve, which I was told was the designated starting time. True to the stoner ethic, a lot of people were chilling but nothing much was happening.

I soon bumped into N- and K-, who I haven’t seen since Cape Town a few months ago. And some of their friends, some new to me, some who I hadn’t seen for a longer while. Though I didn’t expect it, I wasn’t really surprised to see them here.

The march was a happy event. I think back on a few anti-apartheid marches that I attended in 1988, where the police went easy on us because we were intellectual lefty university students, not the angry underclass. These still ended in standoffs, and I recall being ordered to disperse, rubber bullets, teargas and being videoed from a circling helicopter.

This was a nice day out. There was a fine harvest of freaks marching, dub music, the smell of burning vegetation and we waved at the bystanders, who seemed happy to see us. The police seemed unarmed, and limited themselves to making sure we stayed on course. Some people had outrageous costumes. The best must have been the girl on stilts, painted green, with a giant ganga-leaf thing strapped to her back.

It was slow going, in this big crowd. A hour or so later we arrived at the destination park where a large festival was in progress. There were thousands of people there. Many tents and food stalls, mostly catering to people with the munchies.

We wandered. There were several sound systems playing. I thought that the B.A.S.S. (Brighton Alliance of Sound Systems) tent was the most fun, and we danced there for a bit.

Though it was chilly, with big clouds in the sky, there was intermittent sunshine and no rain.

Several times we were offered skunk by young black men. A couple times we were offered Mitsubishis and other chemicals.

Later we met more SA’ians and went back to N- and K-‘s place for a braai. The park was still filling up as we left around 6pm.

I had quorn, guiness and potatoes. I found N- and K- a lot friendlier than the last few times that I saw them in Cape Town, and don’t quite know how to take that. The other people there were all related, of course. Cape Town is quite small socially, perhaps because we have similar professions and interests. We soon worked out what friends, mailing lists, social events and ex-employers we had in common.

A good day in all.