Last night I met a friend to go see a documentary, THE RADICAL. She’d texted me to say meet at Bertha House, and so I plugged it into my GPS and off I went. I didn’t know where I was going, I just wanted to see the doccie and my friend.
Well, what a surprise. I pulled up to Bertha House, Main Road in Mowbray, and a gem awaited me. It’s kind of unassuming from the outside, and then, wow. A beautifully designed space with different open areas, a Bioscope, a modern library, plants tended with great love and care, co-working spaces, couches covered in Sheshwe and an eatery with a fantastic small menu and really good coffee.
There was an interesting and diverse crowd, hello South Africa, milling around, eating popcorn, talking movies and art. The people running the place were friendly, engaging and so welcoming. It is a centre that I immediately felt comfortable in.
The documentary we saw was about a queer Imam, Muhsin Hendricks, who grew up in a small, conservative Muslim community in Cape Town. It follows his life journey and looks at what it is like to be queer and Muslim, not just in South Africa but in the world. Muhsin started the Al-Ghurbaah Foundation a safe space for queer Muslims, like him, struggling with The Quran, faith, sexuality and acceptance.
Al-Ghurbaah means ‘The Strangers.' Muhsin knows what it feels like to be a stranger.
The Radical is a sad, beautiful, hopeful and important piece of film making. There was a Q&A at the end, with Hendricks and the director, Richard Gregory. I did whisper to my friend that I thought the Q&A was a bit long and she replied saying 'Yes, because people are really moved.' It was incredibly moving.
The film blew me away but so did Bertha House. It is a space for collaboration, creation, learning and storytelling, and a space for people like you and me to visit, explore, hang out, unite and even, celebrate. It feels like a celebration of Africa. And the eatery is called the food-justice hub.
Bertha House showcases documentaries once a month, part of DocLove. I'm definitely gonna go. You can sign up for DocLove newsletters here. And follow Bertha House on Instagram.
Let me find you interesting places to visit in South Africa. www.thandekatours.co.za