This blind musician doesn’t need to see to know the joy his music brings
The sound of the saxophone wafts through Camps Bay, reaching tourists and locals alike. Kenneth Herman can’t see the joy his music brings – he is completely blind – but he plays on. After dedicating more than 30 years to the instrument, the saxophone is his passion and his means of survival.
The musician from Hanover Park in the Cape Flats learnt to play the saxophone at the age of 10 after he lost his sight from meningitis. His favourite instrument, he mastered it at the Athlone School for the Blind. First, he played for enjoyment, but soon realised that it was a means of earning a living despite his disability. Then his first saxophone, which he owned for almost 10 years, was stolen out of his house. Unable to afford a new one, his journey as a musician was almost halted until a good samaritan heard about him and sponsored a new one.
Herman has been coming to this spot every day for the past seven years. Without fail, strangers assist him from the terminus to the two taxis he has to use to travel to the beachfront. Here, he plays in the hopes of receiving spare change to keep him going. “To play continuously for five hours is not a joke,” he says. “And sometimes I play more hours.” But he does it with all he has, his sounds touching those who hear it. “When you play music, you can’t really see anything but you can feel like music is a spirit,” he says. “It changes your feelings; if you’re sad it will make you happy.”