This is the third post in a series exploring my connection to the eight sensates (and maybe even going beyond just the main characters – let’s see how far I’ll get) to bridge the time until June 8, when the special will be available on Netflix. The first one was about Lito, the second one about Kala. Beware of possible spoilers and personal information about me!
(The trailer does not show very much about Capheus‘ character, I couldn’t find another clip that really showed what I remember most.)
Once again, on the surface there doesn’t seem much similarity between Capheus (played by Aml Ameen in season 1 and Toby Onwumere in season 2), the bus driver from the slums of Nairobi, and me, the teacher living a comfortable life in Germany’s most expensive city.
Yet, I guess, first of all, his optimism is something that I can very much relate to:
What if something wonderful happens?
As a teenager I always thought I was rather sensitive and not very stable. It’s true, I cried quickly and had my moods thinking nobody loved me (or ever would). Pessimistic? Turns out that’s pretty much every adolescent, right? When I decided what I wanted to do with my life professionally I decided against trying my luck in any way in the entertainment business. (I already talked about my dreams of becoming an actress or musical performer in the post about Lito.) A friend of mine suggested to me that I become a teacher: „I think you should study to become a teacher for English and French!‟ And so I went to university studying these subjects. I quickly realized that French wasn’t my thing, especially since it was a requirement to get a sort of degree in Latin too – three languages at the same time overwhelmed me. I didn’t give up completely, just dropped French and took up History instead (an unlikely choice as I did not particularly like this subject at school, but I had grown and so had my interest in history and politics.)
Now, studying a subject at university is a whole different story than teaching kids. I was not a natural, being in charge of 30 students (aged 11-19; especially the 13-to 15-year-olds challenged me) really stressed me a lot. There were some classes that just never really respected me and, thus, made feel even more insecure than I already was. I really struggled in these first years and didn’t feel very optimistic at all about actually enjoying this profession one day. Still, the optimistic streak in me must have been working under the surface as I muddled my way through the hard times and came out smiling.
Then came 2004, the year in which my marriage failed and I was not deemed good enough to get a permanent contract at a school I had been teaching at for two years. By the end of the school year, my husband moved out and I was unemployed again. Of course, I was crushed. But somehow, I did not fall into depression or bitterness. My optimism regained the upper hand after a few months of feeling blue and unloved. So when I got the offer to get a permanent position at a school in Munich (about 250 km away from my rural hometown), I took the chance, even if that meant moving to a city all on my own, without family or friends close by. I’ve lived here since September 2005 – and I have never regretted it.
I also share Capheus‘ ability to be in awe of new things and his generally enthusiastic nature. Well, I guess all those Sense8-Fans that are relentlessly fighting for a continuation of the series have that same inherent streak. In my view, my enthusiasm is one of my most endearing character traits (I do have annoying ones too), which manifests in different ways: You can see it in the way I dance, for example, when I hit the dance floor when „Like the way I do‟ by Melissa Etheridge is played (this is one of the few songs I know the lyrics to by heart), it is there for all to see when I sing and close my eyes while doing so and/or have my mouth wide open.
I’ve been told the enthusiasm in my writing (for example about meeting actors or reviews of films/series/plays that are especially close to my heart) is infectious, I love to laugh and cheer when seeing a funny movie or an especially well-executed action sequence – I even get angry looks (or remarks) sometimes from fellow moviegoers. You can see my face glow with enthusiasm (which is only partly due to the skin condition rosacea) after having met actors at the stage door or talking to them at a fan convention. And sometimes I literally burst into tears – in the face of natural wonders, moving songs, scenes that touch my heart (not only limited to Sense8), in general when I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of something. Oh, tears might even well up in my eyes when a student gives a particularly perfect and intriguing talk in class.
Of course, his passion for movies is something I have in common with him. I can even understand his fascination with Jean-Claude Van Damme as he was an astoundingly good martial artist in his prime. I guess that’s mostly my ex-husband’s fault who practiced karate (and still does, he’s a black belt) – so like Capheus, who is not trained in martial arts, I’m always in awe of good fighting. Admittedly, Van Damme’s movies have not been a great inspiration for me, but I like that Capheus draws on movies: Lionheart is about courage, and he likes watching It’s a Wonderful Life every year because it believes in people. He’s a movie-lover after my own heart. There are people who say: „Why are you crying? It’s just a movie?‟ I think the whole point of watching movies (and series for that matter) is to let them touch you. And, yes, I do believe in the power of movies (and series) and that they can give you courage, hope, strength. The Sense8 fans are actually the best example for that! And the whole reason why I’ve felt compelled to write these blog posts is that I want to explore why this series has so much meaning to me. Watching movies and series is not just a pastime – and surely no waste of time – for me. It’s a passion and an inspiration. I think Capheus would agree.
I guess my favorite Capheus scene is when he talks at the rally and says:
Nothing good ever happens when people care more about our differences than the things we share in common.
This simply sums up my world view. It’s not about denying that there are differences, but it’s about rising above the things – the walls – that separate us and focus on what we have in common. If the whole world realized this fundamental truth, we could achieve living like sensates. Yes, it’s still a dream – fundamentalists and extremists in every corner of the world want to eliminate the differences in another way – but it is something that I personally strive for in my personal life and something that I try to convey to my students as well (I will come back to that in more detail when exploring my connection to Nomi). So, I guess, while Capheus tries to make a difference by going into politics I try to make a difference by teaching my students in a way that hopefully they’ll become open-minded adults accepting other ways of living. I may not always succeed – sometimes, quite frankly, I’m shocked about some students‘ conservative ideas of gender roles – but for the most part I feel like I do play my part in raising young people who embrace a globalized world. It’s a tiny part I’m playing, as I only „have them‟ for two to three years (from age 16 to 18/19), but I guess I try to be a bridge, not a wall:
Love is a bridge, and not a wall, if we let it be.
So, ultimately, Capheus is actually one of the sensates that are closest to my heart, one I strive to be like the most. His infectious enthusiasm, his unwavering commitment to his family and his idea of building bridges instead of walls are truly traits to admire – and to follow suit.