But Blacks June 16 pain don’t count

 

The sketch drawn by white pupil from Selborne College

 Text: Mbuya Nehanda

Image: White Artist

#ButBlacks; Let me remind you: kaloku sana you live in a racist society. And in such a society racism is the NORM, a norm that can only reproduce itself. Meaning: fuck your pain!

 

Check (e.g.): The facts behind the theft of The Apartheid Museum by Gold Reef City Casino original-owners – which you all find yourselves loving as a reputable historical monument of the trauma we experienced under Apartheid. The damned structure was built by the same racist who sold our mothers skin whitening products during apartheid- ‘beauty-creams’ laced with poisonous chemicals. Let’s just pause and think about what that contradiction means, for a second.

 

Let’s take the Nazi and Jews case, for example. Nobody in the world would dare allow a Hitler to erect a Holocaust museum for the Jewish people. Nobody but the Jewish people themselves as the victims of the Holocaust have the right to tell the story of their pain and trauma. But you blacks have that Gold Reef City Casino original-owners, people who inflicted pain on an entire generation of black women and men- granted permission by your government to tell the story of your pain and trauma. How can the hunter tell the story of a lion he aimed at, shot, maimed, killed, skinned, and turned (its remains) into a conquest trophy?  Is it imaginable that people who left evidence of those physical scars called amachubaba on our parent’s faces (our people’s otherwise Black and Beautiful faces) – be the ones to tell the story of how we feel, and how we should remember and heal from their unprovoked assault?

 

Welcome to New South Africa: Where you have such violent people entrusted by your forgiving and peaceful Mandela to craft your memory of history. A history of persecution in the hands of colonial domination and Apartheid trauma (a system declared by UN: as a “crime against humanity”. Your humanity). Yet, in democratic South Africa you have such unrepentant racist who profited from the evil system of apartheid invested in helping you heal? For freaking real?

 

Well, if you care to follow the trail of facts leading to the cause for why our South African version of Hitler became entrusted with the task of recounting the memory (of pain) of people he persecuted, killed and made self-serving gains out of ( their pain), you will see the glaring marks of ANC collusion behind the scenes. Here’s one obvious tell-tale: Allowing the story of a people- a people persecuted by their enemies- to be told by the very same culprits or enemies is an unheard of contradiction. It is travesty that owes its brazen vulgarity not only to the fact that the ANC government knew and put a stamp of approval to this unimaginable injustice, but at the heart of it all this travesty speaks to how a Mandela-led ANC’s sellout plan in fact had in mind –from the very beginning- to work with these racist in order to help them sanitize and deodorize their racist stench so that he (Mandela and the ANC) can benefit in the blood encrusted crumbs of Black-pain that these Gold Reef City Casino original-owners were quite happy to throw at Mandela (and his ANC cabal), like a bone to a dog. We see the same travesty in Lonmin massacre- Ramaphosa going around shaking the hands of the voter with hands still dripping with miner’s blood.

 

With all that sellout ethos forming the social fabric of post ’94 mode of reality, do you really expect a white kid educated and raised in this cowntry to give a rat’s ass about your June16 pain, trauma and loss? No dali! It don’t work like that.

 

Black folk, hear me well; the pain, the loss and trauma you suffered when black children were murdered in cold blood in 1976, DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU.

 

Your pain, the loss and trauma was part of what the ANC negotiations traded in in their Kempton Park Faustian Pact wheeling and dealing. Yes, your pain, your loss, your trauma, does not matter. Because you are not human in the face of a racist society. Effectively, you are just a slave, a thing to be despised, flogged and disposed, – no different to ones we see on social media dehumanized in Libya. Racism, like colonialism, is violence in its natural form. It cares for nothing but itself. It says: fuck your loss, fuck your tears, fuck your memory and fuck the valorized minstrelsy or parade of Hector Peterson’s lifeless-body you mindlessly evoke every-“Youth-Day”. That’s racism at its most normal and commonsense state.

 

Lastly and most importantly. You may also want to ask yourself: how come a powerful moment of Black defiance became represented by a lifeless-body of a little boy, instead of the brave Black faces of young-women and young-men who read the times, organized, mobilized, led from the front of the battle line, braved bullets on that day? The Black powered youth who gave a nuclear-powered military Apartheid regime fits, headaches and sleepless nights? How does Black Power defiance end up with an “iconic image” of a dead-child as its global symbol? We know that the helpless child in Mbuyisa Makhubu’s hands was not even the first to be shot, as the media would have us believe. So, the burning question becomes: Why is the image of a lifeless-helpless-body of a child more palatable an organizing global image to represent the self-determination feat of a nation putting its foot down and drawing a line in the sand saying: ‘we shall not be conscious of who we truly are, yet quietly let white-racist-regime walk all over us’? The question to ask really is: how did this broken, powerless, desperate image of a child end up being chosen as the more palatable Black Solidarity rallying imagery over the real Black Powered imagery of Soweto youth standing up to and against racism apartheid?

 

The youth of Soweto were bold. Defiant. Beautiful. And Black! They were Biko’s children whose bravery is comparable to Toussaint L’ouverture, Dutty Boukman and Dessalines of Haitian Slave Revolution. Biko’s Black Power children are comparable only to the Sharpeville-Langa warriors – warriors lead by Prof Sobukwe in 1960. They were products of Tiro’s consciousness-raising project – a project targeted and tailor-made for school-going students. And their historical narrative of the Soweto Uprising is carried by this image? You may want to ask yourself.

 

You may want to ask: Whose interests does it serve, to represent that powerful historic moment of potent black youth with an arbitrary victim’s name and a lifeless body of a child? Who is responsible for erasing the real history of June16 ’76? Who is behind the erasure of Ongkopotse Tiro from the narrative of June16 ’76? Why are we told to commemorate “Youth Day” when white-youth were not victims of the violence on that day?

 

I ask again. Why should your trauma, your loss and pain matter black child? You have no trauma/loss/pain to call your own in a racist society. That’s the lesson of racism that this defaming, defacing and insulting portrait communicates. Dzeal!

 

#EndRacism#ReturnTheLand

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Church-boy Heartbreak

 

Refiloe Lepere 20171107_162101

Text: Ms Doo Wop

Photograph: Supplied

My little sister crept into my room late last night, her hand balled in to a fist I immediately recognized.

A selfish child, she had perfected the curl of fingers around special objects. A bully at heart, I had practiced to an art, the slow effort of massaging her fingers until they unfurled to reveal whatever delicacy our grandmother had gifted to her favourite child.

So, on this night I let her in my bed and went to work, prying gently, loosening joints, stretching fingers, to find in her palm, her heart wrapped in a bible verse. John 4, the perfect psalm for the woman who has come to understand the secret pain of the Samaritan woman.

Church-boy heart break is a special kind.

You are stale water he spits out.

You are shallow well to his holy thirst.

I tell my sister how God’s Chosen Son sat me down 12 months into our loving. In a private place so no one would see me cry, Church-boy told me They would not accept us.

His pastor said I was ungodly.

Ungodly.

I repeat it three times to break the spell but the words turn to salt in my mouth.  Raised in a family that Christian-worships on Easter weekend and burns impempho with our daily bread, thee God’s love has never been in my lexicon.

Ungodly he had said and as hard as I wanted to be free of it, I knew nobody I told would fully understand the punch to the gut. They had not witnessed the nights God’s Chosen Son, tired as he was from his journey, lay down by my well declaring forever and offering prophesies of a future I could not imagine he would deny.

Three times.

I whisper reassuring things as I rock my sister to sleep. I remind her of the Samaritan woman’s first question to the Chosen Son: “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Talk Is Cheap Until You Talk Black

 

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Text: Rithuli Orleyn

Photograph: Passacol

Nigel Gibson writes on Biko and Fanon. He writes about the value of their thinking tools in the employ of ‘struggles that take their tutelage from below’. Gibson summarizes Marx’s and Hegel dialectics as capable of both progression and regression. He says, giving a kind of pictorial view for his logic, the Hegelian dialectics has a high-point; like an upright triangle – a point where ‘higher unity of two opposed forces’ is reached or forged.

He then continues to say, Marxian dialectics by comparison, resembles an inverted triangle. A triangle with its high-point hanging low. Low, to represent irreconcilable Marxist antagonism that exist between the opposed ‘classes’.

Slavo Zizek, a Slovanian rockstar-like famed philosopher, whose work brings together a reflexive way of reading politics through the windowpane of ideology – cupped in exhaustive Marxian and Lacanian universe of meaning about the socius (or white sociality) – takes a stab at this issue of dialectics. In a book where he interprets Moa’s thought/philosophy (Slavo Zizek – Moa’s Practice and Contradiction), Zizek reads Mao’s dialectics as lacking. Lacking an important aspect of Hegelian tensions of negation. A tension of opposing forces at that high synthesis point (unstable synthesis) – a point Gibson paints for us with a triangle pictorial view. The appreciation Mao lacks, according to this Slovanian philosopher, is the concept called “the negation of the negation”.

According to Zizek, Mao thinks “negation of the negation” is useless sophistry; intellectual farce that has no place in the crucible of praxis. In the material realm, protests Mao, the big fish negates the small fish by swallowing it whole. So do armies when they confront each other in battle; the weaker is negated by the stronger: which is also to say, gets swallowed whole by the stronger. There is no “negation of the negation” in the battle front; the stronger swallows the weaker. Mao protests.

To instantiate Zizek’s point about the value of a Hegelian dialectics in the crucible of praxis, Zizek applies the missing logic – called the “negation of the negation” – in Mao’s reading of true victory.

It is not when ‘big fish subdues small fish’, as Mao is wont to quip, that true victory takes place, argues Zizek. Highlighting Hegelian dialectics and the importance of factoring in the “negation of the negation” Zizek foregrounds the aspect of unstable tension in moments of political loss. Or victory. True political victory, Zizek opines, happens when your enemies are won-over not just by force of arms – for instance – but true victory happens when your enemies adopt your discourse.

Zizek qualifies the explicatory power of his philosophical point by conjuring the example of British politics. The true Thatcherite was not Margaret Thatcher, he says; but Tony Blair, who came on the ticket of labour-centered policies but ended up speaking a pro-capitalist language at its most vulgar form.

Here I cannot help but be reminded of Thabo Mbeki’s own confession; a confession in the face of his cowardice – cowering to neoliberal bullying stick and carrot. He said “call me a Thatcherite”. Those words marked a throw of the towel to GEAR austerity policy measures. Not Zuma. Zuma throws his whole clumsy body of rhetoric.
Recently, after the big brouhaha expose of Jaucques Pauw’s President’s Keepers – a story, among many, of Zuma’s corruption and rot deeply embedded in ANC’s “I didn’t struggle to be poor” culture – Zuma gave a moving and uncharacteristically-Zuma eloquent speech. The non-english-speaking Zuma on the day – a Zuma who spoke in his isiZulu mother tongue – is a rare oratory sight this side of english coloniality denies us the pleasure of seeing. Zuma defied that straightjacket veneer of presidential airs. They (the west) couldn’t countenance communists with nuclear power, when we took power. He said. The snide remarks punted by white-owned media meanandos (meandering-innuendos…Zuma’s brilliant coinage) associating an earmarked nuclear deal between mafias – sitting pretty on government legitimacy tickets (Russian Putin and incumbent president of the republic) – met an airtight family affair :where uBaba took us all (who had ears) to his confidence, in our own tongues. It doesn’t get more cheeky-kaffir (or decolonial proper) than this… the thought lingered much longer on my mind than Mandla Langa’s resurrection of Mandela in his latest Long Walk To Freedom biographical sequel: Dare Not Linger. I suspected that Zuma’s counterpoint view must have grabbed hold on more than just lowly me.

This was the best form of cheeky-kaffir defiance I had seen; since Mandela: admonished De Klerk for training iNkatha undercover – sabotaging the peaceful transition – and then quickly smiling alongside their shared Nobel Peace Prize… before the blood of kids wasted by De Klerk mastermind puppet pulling invisible strings of bullets cooled on their unsuspecting four roomed floor. (Twin brothers Samora and Sadat Mpendulo, 17, cousin Mzwandile Mfeya, 12, and schoolmates Thando Mtembu, 17, and Sandile Yose, 12. Twenty eight times children were shot; at a time the commander in chief of SADF soldiers was De Klerk. Children were massacred in their sleeping in Northcrest, October 1993)

Mbeki’s understanding of both Marx and Fanon, and Afrikanist rhetoric notwithstanding, gave in. He was swallowed in the discourse of a ‘politically conquered’ enemy. The sacrifices of ordinary blacks had earned that political victory moment Thabo squandered. Not only that, two-thirds majority scores of blacks entrusted to Thabo their fears and aspiration for true liberation. To do the historical thing our struggle against colonization has been about. All those gains our people entrusted Thabo with, had been earned by picking the life and limb tab in the battle field. Not Sussex English classroom or lecture halls. But Sussex training got the better of Thabo. It reminds me of Chinweizu when he write about dangers of colonial miseducation: if you socialize a mouse like a cat, say, among well-behaved cats, you kill its survival instinct… when you put it out there in the world, of not-so-well-behaved cats, when it’s supposed to flee from the predator, it walks to it, in over-familiar friendly gait, I imagine (paraphrased).
Taking counsel from the Slavanian philosopher: The buzz word for that phenomenon of finding yourself in power – like Thabo – (perhaps your team having pushed the enemy to cede ground), in power but using the power you gained over your enemies to freely grant them (your down and out enemies) a landslide victory in their already declared defeat, as the ANC did by not exhausting the political victory lifeline, instead ceding more uneven playground by granting the enemy Sunset Clauses to entrench their last kicks of a dying horse corruption culture, that phenomenon, typifies a “negation of the negation”. It signifies a moment where your ‘politically conquered’ enemies flip the script on you. And now you become the face of corruption. Like Zuma is. And Paul Kruger is not. Yet “One of President [Paul] Kruger’s three sons was his private secretary. A son-in-law of his, C.F. Eloff, was a businessman who was granted several (government) concessions, namely business monopolies of one kind or another” (Hennie van Vuuren, 2006: 31) That’s if we can agree that in 1994 we ‘politically’ won in the ballot booth; though ‘economically’ lost, at the negotiation table.

Zizek’s point concerning the unstable victory of being engulfed (or conquered) by the culture of your vanquished enemies is: the kind of capitalism we see in China today is what it is, vulgar exploitative, because of how it subverts Mao’s cultivated but failed cultural revolution.

It rides on that fertile soil of cultivation in order for it to be aggressive and vulgar exploitative, as it is.

Workers there, in China, charges the Marxian-Lacanian Slovenian thinker, are expropriated of their labour power with little to no human right consideration. Because, he says: they are slave-driven to sweatshop-vulnerability by the stick and carrot affect of patriotism.

In Zuma’s eloquent isiZulu speech recently, I heard this nuanced jump-the-gun patriotism. A patriotism to words – ‘Communist China’ rhetoric-like. The west took nuclear power capabilities from us when we came to government because the west couldn’t countenance communist with nuclear. Okay-Malum’-Cool-Cat, the west did clip the kaffir-government its nuclear-wings. But in twenty years you have dug your people deeper into poverty; at least the racists Afrikanner Broedebond had much better outcomes in their socialist corruption: by 1970s – even if through ‘crime against humanity’ brute force and draconian laws – they had achieved their mission of alleviating Afrikaner poverty.

But what Zuma wants us to believe and put our lives in the line of fire for is rhetoric in the employ of capitalists. A rhetoric not steeped in the values of the people. It is a rhetoric that ‘speaks at’ – rather than with – people who have the sovereign title to ownership of this land. The people who must say – as opposed to being ‘spoken-for’ – how they see fit to heal their (our) hundred-years cultural injuries, psychological injuries, loss of personality injuries, amputated self-reliance injuries, knowledge systems diminished injuries, and spiritual injuries …  by taking back our source of healing – the land.

I shuddered at the thought of how close we are too to being cajoled, arm-twisted, by Zuma’s “radical” sounding promises of “transformation” and nuclear power. Nuclear would be great. If there were more than dynastic power signs in Zuma’s line of march; if he broke fundamentally from the insult that is the Constitution (but the ANC prides itself for brokering land heist in a bill of rights paperback).
It seems to me that the adoption of ANC policy, the peddled “radical economic transformation”, by Bikoist rhetoric-prone comrades who root for Zuma with more than a tinge of uncritical pigmentationism and unprincipled blackist-unity, is a slippery slope. Towards being discursively swallowed. Swallowed in a dying ANC. An ANC that should be allowed to die, from its internally raging decay.

In an approach that suspends other contradictions (arguing that there is a Nationalist vs Imperialist main contradiction, at this conjuncture), it seems that our Black Consciousness comrades have turned crass pigmentationist for rice (biryani). It seem they have taken up the cause to champion certain favoured ANC factions; without paying attention to their equivalent of “call me Thatcherite”… “negation of the negation” pitfalls.

In their vulgar Nationalism (represented by Zuma at the helm) against Imperialism (represented by the so called London-gang ANC faction….plus the ANC-lite in red berets), it appears that the dying ANC will take to the grave the credibility, the integrity and ethos that propels true “radical” discourse.

My caution, within the limitations of white philosophers (Gibson’s Hegel, Zizek’s Marx and Lacan and Chinese thinkers and activists), my caution is: perhaps we (the hands-off-Zuma Biko clique) went too deep into the enemy’s terrain. I caution that perhaps in expediently sleeping with this colonial lapdog called the ANC, we should guard against waking up with its flees. Better still I say, there once was a time we wrestled their little “radical” sounding pig, Juju, in the mud with People’s Manifesto and Sankarist Oaths. Perhaps we should be careful not to repeat the same. Careful to craft Zuma’s “radical” rhetoric in the image of our desire, just because he sometimes fires his pro-capitalist aids to hire others.
Careful to project our wet dream (of ‘revolution’) without theorizing or learning from our failures. Careful to project our wishes without learning to fail-forward, fail-safer, fail-closer to the social upheaval and insurrection prize; closer to that handmaiden prerequisite: the fall of South Africa and rise of Azania (from ashes of South African destruction).

(I hold the view that there are progressive failures. Like Mandela’s wrongs of reconciliation without justice. Our failed Black Consciousness experiment with Juju’s EFF is one such naiveté about radical sounding ANC-cultured leaders. We cannot rush to align our Black Consciousness with ‘radical’ sounding ANC-cultured collaborators).
So I would say, the real benefit of a Zuma-moment, is how it unearths the buried – the buried in the silence of things. How it trades-in the tyranny of peace for a necessary chaos – a creative chaos to help us imagine afresh. How it uses the small-fish gangster as a magnifying glass to see the invisible hand of the Bigfish mafia… the land dispossessor. How it presents, or foregrounds, the black-white antagonism in ways more poignant than has been the case in previous post’94 instances of Thabo and Mandela combined.

The ‘Zuma moment’, especially because white arrogance – this time around (#BlackMondayCampaigns) – is greedy to punish Zuma. Punish Zuma so that it can thinly veil its sins of racism behind Zuma’s 789 ‘criminal’ charges (whatever calculus is employed to count sins of a bogeyman like Zuma. Or me and you).

This Zuma-moment reminds me of Tony Yengeni. Long time ago, when SPCA’s totalizing white attitudes concretized against Yengeni for contravention of his parole condition, there was a similar shadow cast by our historical-hanging cloud of white racism.

You see, because: the hundred-years-long injuries of racism makes the slightest provocation capable of bringing the world – as we know it – to its grinding halt … if the contradictions are correctly harnessed and analyzed.

Yengeni’s biggest mistake was to come out of jail on parole and go ayohlabela amadlozi. He went and slaughtered a cow in keeping with his tradition. And of course this – barbaric black cleansing ritual (white people being white people and arrogant, boasting laws more considerate to animals than our kaffir consideration for animals can ever be), this – ‘hlabel’ amadlozi event’, was only seen through the ‘eyes of the law’ by white norm. It was seen as contravention of legal procedures. For someone out on parole, with conditionalities to adhere to, white-or-colonial-law could only see one thing: its own single narrative. Being gatvol of this single-narrative foreclosure, blacks became inspired to cause an uproar that swept across the country.

Media loved to hate Yengeni. And in keeping with rampant attitudes that say ‘well to do blacks’ thieve the public purse, through political favours and connections, the media didn’t know how black people flipped and disregarded the media’s dominant narrative; to embrace Yengeni. Regardless of the corruption flack. The media couldn’t appreciate that: though black people know that the Yengeni brigade in the ANC ba-hustle-isha ngathi, we still share with those hustlers wounds inflicted indiscriminately on us by white racism – because we are Black. And that is not to be used to qualify Zuma’s hustle as “radical” transformation.

(The hustling phenomenon in the ANC is not only undeniable but resembles white network ethos of grand pillaging – eating up the state resources by corrupt means).

Against such SPCA white assumptions, about who we are (savages who are inhumane to poor animals) and how we must conduct ourselves, pertaining cultural practices, the blacks told whites where to get off.

Now back to Zuma’s predatory kaffir-cheekiness. It evokes similar solidarity sentiments we saw club blacks around their ontological wound of racism – our “lived for-consciousness experience”.

Perhaps the cabinet and presidency arena, where this black solidarity sentiment against white bullying plays out, marks the difference between the Zuma moment and the erstwhile Yengeni uproar

White people didn’t know what hit them when they tried to bully Yengeni with some logic of their law. A similar solidarity sentiment (with Yengeni against white bullying) seems to have grabbed hold. But our solidarity against whites cannot mean narrativizing Zuma, in this instance, as a nationalist. Zuma is a cheeky matjingilane of white ill-gotten wealth. He has been waiting for his struggle-credential ration. But the ration rules ‘unfairly’ changed when it was him at the front of the line. So he sommer went ahead without authorized white permission to help himself to the buffet. Zuma is not a nationalist by any stretch of imagination. For god sake even by white standards of what a nation is, we blacks don’t make the cut. We don’t have Sovereign Title To Territory. That Sovereign Title To Territory is enshrined in the constitution as the right of white conquest over grabbed property – our land.

Even as we speak, Zuma presides on shooting destitute people of Freedom Park in Johannesburg; mothers who want to erect shelter for their children. The irony of shooting people who want to build a lousy shelter whilst you live at a palace in Nkandla… imagine (the negation – by bullets, of the negated – by Blackness)!

J.Bobs LIVE – A Game Show Double Bill

Text: Xolani Tembu

Photographs: Supplied

Should your Mondays and Tuesdays be marked by associations to repeated turns and bends on rallying gravel roads through foreign owned farms and a series of mountain passes in the Klein Karoo in a Chevrolet Spark, perhaps making your way down to Maboneng’s quaint POPArt Theatre for Kiri Pink Nob’s “J. Bobs Live: A Game Show Double-Bill” might offer you an inebriant-induced kind of tranquility you so need to mellow down.

Having toured around the country over the past while, J. Bobs Live: A Game Show Double-Bill returns to the POPArt Theatre monthly for your entertainment. In true Tshabalala style, the 2 man show, a remake of its original, is in essence two game shows within a show aptly titled “Location-Lekeyshini-Lokasie” and “Off The Record”. As the characters begin to interact outlandishly with the floored audience and launch into wonderful absurdity, one understands why the titles. The two men waltz onto the stage construction worker-style to an unassuming audience and dexterously demand a welcome of legendary proportions. It is here that the audience realizes that it is in for one long showcase and it is a tad too late for a refund. The stunned audience naturally takes a while to get into the scheme of things but hits the ground running nevertheless. J. Bobs Live: A Game Show Double-Bill is a truly fascinating display that parts lovers, friends and unknowns as it divides the audience into two competing teams, making way for new friendships and relations. Each team sees a pre-elected captain join the two characters on stage to represent their respective teams. Talks of ‘After-Show is After-Show if we lose’ as respective captains make their way onto the stage fills the room – all friendly banter really. Team spirit in true South African style skyrockets.

The audience is encouraged to maintain the powered state of its cell phones but isn’t guaranteed if the battery or its data bundles won’t be depleted by the end of the show. Each team regularly holds COSATU-type caucuses for teambuilding and other purposes during the show while trying to accumulate as many points as possible. The show closes with a teeth clenching all or nothing rivalry that sees the teams cling heavily onto new friends, their garments and literally everything around for team and personal pride – bringing to mind the famed Hamba Nathi Mkhululi Wethu war cry.

This showcase is unlike any other in the past decade of the Performing Arts. The brainchild of esteemed and gifted Writer and Director in Jefferson Tshabalala a.k.a J.Bobs, J. Bobs Live: A Game Show Double-Bill is a much needed and subsequently well-deserved laugh as one is encouraged to lose their marbles and just be, all for a good time, new twitter handles and cellphone numbers at the end of the evening – if you’re single that is. One imagines Tshabalala sat in front of a blank telly screen one day as he launched into this beautiful craziness and wondered, “what if this blank television was a responsive audience?”

Bobs Live: A Game Show Double-Bill is on monthly at the POPArt Theatre every first Monday and Tuesday at 8pm and tickets are available at a lowly R80 online and R100 at the door. Ensure you don’t miss this tremendous stress relieving showcase. Anyone can become an actor really.

Review – The Suitcase

starring-siyabonga-thwala-and-masasa-mbangeni-image-taken-by-iris-dawn-parker-02.jpg

Text: Xolani Tembu

Photographs: Iris Parker

It is the 1950s, a docile, recently married young couple from rural Natal, evocative of Gaz’lam’s Khethiwe and Sifiso, has resolved to pack the little they own and leave their agonizingly unbearable families for greener pastures. Timi Ngobese (Siyabonga Thwala) had heard of a place called Umkhumbane that was apparently overrun with mushrooms of rooms to rent. As he and his buoyant young bride Namhla Ngobese (Masasa Mbangeni) journeyed to the big city aboard a South African Railway Services locomotive, they arrive to a flurry of human bodies and mystifying stench that is characteristic of cities. Carrying an antique traveler’s suitcase and roll of sponge mattress remnant of enterprising township-street-pounding Zimbabwean and Mozambican merchants, the Ngobeses rest as they attempt to figure out how they would get to Umkhumbane. While they wait, enters Mlotshwa (Desmond Dube), a former rural Natal cum streetwise Umkhumbane denizen who after a short exchange with the Ngobeses, offers them a room in his yard. What follows is a rollercoaster of a life half lived burdened by the pressures of city life and shattered dreams. A true reminder that life is indeed what happens while we make plans.

Adapted from Es’kia Mphahlele’s 1954 short story, The Suitcase features an all-star cast in Siyabonga Thwala, Masasa Mbangeni, Desmond Dube and John Lata to name a few. Under the incredible direction of veteran actor and director James Ngcobo, the cast moves in mesmerizing fashion as it delivers the narrative. A combination of well-timed transitions and apposite supporting music through the voices of Gugu Shezi, Ndoh Dlamini and Nokukhanya Dlamini backed by well-known left handed guitarist Bheki Khoza, effortlessly transported the agreeable audience back to the 1950s when pinstriped suits, two-toned shoes and a selection of Dobbs and Stetson hats were the order of the day. The Suitcase is an indispensable reminder of the pureness of black love; simple, uncluttered and unadulterated. It is also a reminder of how precarious such love can be when left to its own devices.

While a much welcomed breakage of the fourth wall by the two narrators in Desmond Dube and John Lata takes place every so often, it also took away the momentum of the show, a rather rude reminder of the days when SABC channels would go on ad breaks in the middle of a feature film. Some would liken this feeling to an almost sneeze; truly, nothing could be more frustrating. The show could have certainly done well without the narration. With its talented cast, remarkable direction and well thought out set and lighting, it stands well on its own and carries the story with very little need for elucidation.

Congratulations must however, go out to the team, particularly Ngcobo for his refusal to render this show prosaic and pedestrian since its inception in 2006. Returning to The Market Theatre for a 6 week season, it would truly be unpatriotic to miss it after its critically acclaimed sold out season in the United Kingdom. Tickets are available from The Market Theatre Box Office at R90.00 for Tuesdays- Thursdays, R150.00 for Fridays-Saturdays and R130.00 for Sundays. For this season, the curtain will drop on the 26 November 2017.

Twitter: @skrufu

#Me too? #MeTwo and #ProbablyAllOfUs

 

Text: Athinangamso Esther Nkopo

Photograph: Supplied

If you did not see the many stories shared by women on their experiences of sexual violations under the hashtag ‘Me too’ recently, then you probably aren’t on social media. Sparked by recent disclosures of Hollywood women who experienced sexual violations at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, the ‘Me too’ campaign has impacted women world wide. The crusade was originally started by a black woman and activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago to encourage a conversation and support among women who had been victims of sexual violence, long before the time of hashtags. She was scarcely recognised for it this time round, an issue that resulted in heated conversations about appropriation and solidarity among black and white women, an issue I will later reflect on.

Thinking about this campaign in our own context is perplexing considering that South Africa leads the world in terms of sexual violence. We, of all the countries on earth that are not at war, host among the highest ratio of men who violate, in some form or the other, women.Think about that! If there were, between April 2016 and December 2016, 30 069 cases of rape reported, 3 in 4 of which are not reported, then there are conservatively, 120 276 men raping people in this country every 9 months. This statistic scarcely accounts for the gropers, ‘dirty talkers’, spikers and cat callers.

Over the past week, the many women who shared their stories of sexual violation represent only those on social media and capable of expressing their suffering through these means. But as many as did share demonstrates that not many of us, if any, are untouched by the ugly and routine reality of men to violate us at will and often with impunity. In South Africa then, the revelation of ‘Me too’ does not have the shock value it does for the many who clutched their pearls upon seeing the hashtag. There is no surprise when statistically, out of the 1 in 4 cases of rape that are reported, 1 in 5 of us will be raped in our life time. Add to this the cases of sexual harassment in the work place, on university campuses, at our schools and so very often in our own homes. We are, in Hortons Spillers’ famous formulation, marked women.

Issues of sexual violation are further compounded by the racialised disparities of sexual violation in our country. This may be how my timeline on Facebook was lit with arguments about how my ‘Me too’ and that of a white woman, do not have the same powers of communicability. If that were the case, white liberal feminism in this country would not have ‘chilled out’ once Affirmative Action had helped them exceed their quotas in the work place, for example. Many made the case that there can be no solidarity between black women and white women when considering the ways in which they are violated at the intersections of racism and patriarchy. When white women only recognise the possibilities of violation only at the point where they are able to say “MeToo”. This is reminiscent of James Baldwin’s experience in “The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy”.

In this essay Baldwin takes us through a friendship with a white boy and those moments when his state of blackness inspires, in the white boy, emancipatory dreams. In the end he expresses how it felt for him to suddenly realise the impossibility of these dreams emancipating him. “[T]he really ghastly thing about trying to convey… the reality of the Negro experience has nothing whatever to do with the fact of colour, but has to do with this (the white person) man’s relationship to his own life. He will face in your life (the black person) only what he is willing to face in his” (1961, 175) brackets mine. Baldwin is speaking to relations among men but what is analogous here is the racial factor that mitigates these relations of solidarity. He demonstrates that their solidarity was fruitful only to the extent that the white boy was able to say, “Me too.”. Beyond that was absence and glaring silence.

No silence is more glaring on the part of the South African feminist movement (The feminist movement as it REALLY matters, the white liberal feminist movement) than that on sexual violations enacted, amass and by the hour, on the bodies of black women. When black women, young and old are routinely raped and killed, white liberal feminists are silent, that is if they are not cashing in. When black lesbian women are brutalised, ‘correctively’ raped’ and murdered the white LGBTQ+ movements cannot even spare a moment of silence at their suburban Pride parties. When young black women are raped harassed and violated at, say, Wits Junction, Azania house(UCT), the UCKR (Rhodes), at NMMU or literally every institution of higher learning at disproportionate rates in this country, white feminist academia is mum. No #RapeMustFall marches to shut down cities, no days off work, no ‘Zuma Must Faaaaall’ grannies choreographing lit moves against the sexual violation of black domestic workers in their kitchens or the endemic rape affecting the majority of black women in this country.

Understandably, black women are skeptical of saying ‘Me too’ with white women when the champion of that very healing crusade cannot be acknowledged as Tarana Burke but credit is given to Alyssa Milano. What happens when they are no longer as affected? What happens after their research is concluded? Where is their cause without our bodies to vivify it? What refuge do we have with whiteness? What solidarity as ‘just’ women?

Sadly we have no refuge in the arms of our own self-identifying black movements either. Not only because black men are, in the main, the ones raping black women, or that black men comrades are raping black women comrades. But because black men continue to protect each other at the expense of our bodies. Yes even those black men who are suddenly ‘shook’ because it is happening to women they know on Facebook (sisters, daughters, friends and family) as though sexual violence against women they don’t know matters less. Supposedly good men and cadres laugh at the jokes made at our expense, they defend and play devils advocate when we come out and say we have been violated and they turn a blind eye at violent behaviour from other men, euphemistically calling sexually violent behaviour ‘tendencies’.

There’s nobody but ourselves to ‘Me too’ to. For us it’s not just patriarchy, it is the structural power of both Whiteness and Patriarchy that compound our experiences as denigrated forms of life. For us it is both; #MeTwo.

 

Black Artistry

 

Writer: Rithuli Orleyn

Photograph: Musa N. Nxumalo

 

It’s a known fact that Blacks don’t have land and are therefore without the primary source of wealth. But Blacks are talented as fuck. There is no reason why so many of us, 13 million we are told, must live under the so-called breadline. Blacks are so driven they come to Jo’burg, live on a couch (at a friend’s place who is long gatvol with their black-ass), subsist on insults, survive backstabbing, undiagnosed depression, and miraculously end up producing your favorite TV show or starring on your controversial TV series – all because they were asked to write a few songs and voila a Viola Davis intense-brilliant Vathiswa Ndara actress is born/discovered/recognized ( add ‘self-taught’ when you recognize how amazing Black people are, even against odds…. perhaps because of how odds are stacked against us).

A Viola, in her mid-to-late 40s emerges underneath the contracted musical score. A Dr Malinga from no-where mesmerizes the nation as his years trot to the grave. We, the nation, the audience if you like, are the Jonny-come-late to these amazing godly creatures. Take a black person, anywhere on God’s blue(s) earth, a Black who went as far as standard two -grade 4…. for my born-frees and former Model Cs- (don’t scratch your head, you do know of an exceptionally talented person who hardly completed primary school – the president of the republic, is actually not the exception, but rather the rule when it comes to Blacks who defy the odds of falling through the cracks. And ghetto/blackness cracks are no ordinary cracks, they are great canyons with insatiable appetites for us all).

So you get Blacks, talented as fuck, better than Vusi Nova, much better than Ifani, rotting away. Blacks who sing far much better than Lira and J Lo, packing 2kg frozen chicken at Farmer-White Chicken. Filmmakers holding a stint at a local Internet Cafe (owned by someone other than an entrepreneur from the community). You find novelists and essayists at a debt-collection call-centre. Your children’s nanny from Slovo squatter-camp with a bachelor’s matric certificate not studying but cleaning after so-called middleclass spoilt brats, all because no one went before them to inspire and open doors for them, no-one went ahead to make restless their imagination. Because Msobomvu (then), NYDP/DA (now) only sponsors projects that lack imagination. They will give you money if you want to set up a butchery or want branding for a cleaning tender company. And they will send the guy who wants to start a real competitive ghetto-bred relevant-content broadcasting station (with innovative infrastructure to cut costs) from IDC (I don’t care) proverbial pillar to MDDA dumb doff pillar.

Now I speak here of land in terms of wealth or property. Mostly I try to avoid those terms. But let’s indulge this land-property dimension a little. Land is property we don’t have, that’s a given. But our talents, in the arts, at least, produce copious property-equivalents. Take for instance copyright royalties, publishing rights, and registered trademarks (we all know about please-call me intellectual labour invention that’s worth billions, and we also all know about The Apartheid Museum trademark that’s worth billions). Those two billion rand worth Black inventions aren’t the only ones. I know of young people who invented battery devices from studying YouTube videos, others invented television infrastructure that confounded Prime Media bosses. All that imagination by restless young Black goes to waste because people who are supposed to take these young people by the hand look forward to state tenders and political connections for get-rich-quick schemes.

Let’s go back to the easy music examples. If artists owned their publishing rights, by the time the artist’s song features in an advertisement for 15 seconds it collects between R50 000 to R 100 000 depending on whether you are Jonas Ngwangwa (with Grammies and Samas) or Mgarimbe (with dololo nominations). Same with your song featuring in Tsotsi. My point: with little horizontal imagination from our already hard working people and vertical support of that imagination we can get our people above breadline and off the grant-grid into proud thinking innovative successes in their varied pursuits kind of grid. This ability to know that radio and tv are playing your intellectual-labour property and the content you are watching on tv and are reading at school comes from your neighbourhood, Papa Ramps, Mgqolozana, Phakama, Jackie the poet, Mpho, Sbu, Zongi, and Thando, will cultivate not only belief and trust in one another’s ideas, but will concretely sustain our projects, lives, and give birth to more rewarded and rewarding innovations. Land? We will have to kill a fathafuka for land, but we must run to our people for harbour, people who are not so weakened by hunger that they can be bought to derail our historic mission.

Tjovitjo – For Us By Us

 Tjovitjo Warren Masemola

Text: Kulani Nkuna

Photography: Simphiwe Mhlambi

 

For Azanians, our lives, our experiences and existence is the copyrighted sole property of a settler minority who have appointed themselves narrators of black life. In the arts and academia, this proprietorship is the normalised reality that artists of the land have to contend with in order to collect the crumbs meted out by the free market system.

Vincent Moloi’s pantsula chronicle, Tjovitjo, is a vital response to the times – similar to a period when amapantsula of the 70s “emerged not only as opposition to the apartheid system, but also to the social structures and their home culture. The youth of the 1970s were faced with similar socio-economic to those faced today. Becoming amapantsula became one way of challenging authority and oppression…” Idah Makukule, Amapantsula Identities in Duduza from the 1970s to Present Day.

Moloi and executive producer Lodi Matsetela’s response to the contemporary meant that they sought creative autonomy and ownership of their material, something that is a rarity in the nether world of South African television.

Although Tjovitjo is a Puo Pha force, it is a cinematic imposition of the director’s will. An imprint of his soul, an ode to Azania. So when the show’s lead perpetrator, Warren Masemola, hollers “Black Power” at the conclusion of our interview, it becomes kliye what the project on location out at the Crown Mines is all about.

Episode 1 Opening Scene

EXT. MAFRED’S BASE CAMP. DAY

Quick steps and slick foot movement to the beat of diegetic sounds floors to the screen, where a flurry of pantsulas are warming up. An aerial shot of the dancers, then corrugated rooftop and finally a low angle shot of smoke bellowing from underneath a washing line reveals the world of the story.

Perched upon a throne, we meet our troubled hero, Mafred (Masemola), who dons a black waist coast that reveals his bare chest. He wears an immense expression while attending to the contents that ignite his smoking pipe. Gentle musical notes ascend steadily with every considered movement until he gets up as the melody heightens to a dramatic crescendo that culminates in a kung-fu GONG!

Song follows Mafred’s movement switching to traditional musical scoring interspersed with suspense modes typically heard in Westerns as he limbers up to Jairus from Trompies. Before Mafred, is an assembly of finely tuned pantsulas in finely pressed threads awaiting instruction from their finely menacing general.

IMG-20170817-WA0012
Vincent Moloi

What follows next is Mafred, courtesy of Masemola, delivering an ancestral wrenching monologue wrought from the depths. On the screen his address is aimed at his troops, but beyond the screen, it is a cultural lament of the appropriators, the wolves in sheep’s clothing – 1652s who call South Africa’s soul their own.

Mafred cries:

“We, stay together! We fight for what’s ours. They can copy us, and sell the fake to us. But they’ll never get to the depth of our souls. No matter how much they try to make us irrelevant, they can never be us! To be us is hard, you have to lose the privilege the world has allowed you.

Even those who are supposed to be our protectors, our guardian angels against our enemies, we know they too fight us. They know, we know, we are gifted. We know they fear us. We fear them too, but we never gonna give in the fight for our existence. We have our stories to tell, and a history to write!

 TJOVITJO!!! TJOVITJO!!! TJOVITJO!!!”

Sheeed, it is no longer business as usual on the small screen.

Vincent Moloi (Director) on Tjovito

This story matters to me because I can see myself in it. We have experienced hardship in the cruelest way you can imagine. So I wanted to tell a story that black people are familiar with and I wanted to make it a Kung-Fu and Western style story because I remember mapantsula as being extremely organised when they battle with their nice shirts, nice ironed Dickies trousers, and All Stars – but at the same time they were going to war. 

Sometimes on television we don’t get to the depth of our stories because we put gloss over it and end up with unrealistic fantasies. So in this instance we chose to confront and face the truth to better prepare for the future. Tjovitjo is an attempt to bring reality to your face in a way that you can’t avoid it. We are swimming against the tide and trends of South African television. We wanted to represent a part of life that doesn’t exist currently on television. It might work against us but it is part of our responsibility as artists to tell it as it is, although it is highly stylised and dramatized.

I don’t think there is a show on TV that will give is’pantsula the platform to sell itself than Tjovitjo will. We didn’t turn actors into dancers, but we spent over a year turning pantsula dancers into actors. And it’s no coincidence that every member of this production is black. The cast and crew were in tune with the project from the beginning and were often singing the songs and replicating the dance moves in between takes which made for a very jovial set. A black and proud set.

On Representing Pantsula Culture

Black culture is not as recognisable or as acknowledged as other cultures. It has always been seen as inferior and unfortunately due to our history and the elite – the people who control culture in terms of what’s good and what’s not, don’t understand what we are about.  Outsiders often lack the emotional appreciation because they don’t have the lived experiences and no comprehension of its roots.

I hope that our efforts and energy will be reflected on screen. I think Tjovitjo is one of the realest township stories that has ever been told. It’s not based in Soweto, it’s not based in Alex, and it’s not based in any specific township. It’s based in a world where there is hardship, hopes, dreams and problems. It is about us and our lives.

tjovitjo Cuilture review 2017 Tjovitjo Vincemt Moloi

The Location – Nongoloza and the Crown Mines

While the setting of Tjovitjo is not recognised as the Crown Mines where it is shot, it is ironic that the world of the story is located at an area where one notorious Nongoloza Mathebula, (he was born Mzuzephi Mathebula) once reigned supreme.

Nongoloza, like amapantsula, organised his crew to fend off an unjust system. Indeed there was a criminal element to his organisation which was called the Ninevites (way before the 26, 27 & 28 prison gangs) in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The mastery involved in putting out inumber inumber today, is akin to the strict adherence to the agreed upon choreography in pantsula dance. Nongoloza’s band of thugs planned their attacks meticulously and initially had a noble cause, but eventually they didn’t discern between the colonialist and the black labourer.

“I reorganised my gang of robbers,” he (Nongoloza) reported to his white captors in 1912. “I laid them under what has since become known as Nineveh law. I read in the Bible about the great state Nineveh which rebelled against the Lord and I selected that name for my gang as rebels against the Government’s laws.” – Johnny Steinberg; Nongoloza’s Children: Western Cape prison gangs during and after apartheid.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that Nongoloza’s ghost still lurks in these parts. Perhaps it is the migrants and immigrants who tread these paths at dusk after a day of dusty labour at the surrounding warrens that hide precious metals. Walking from the set to base camp requires caution, but after a few trips, one acquires a pantsula motion in his step that may confuse even the most ruthless of Nongoloza’s lieutenants.

And as Idah Makukula in Amapantsula Identities in Duduza From the 1970s to Present Day portends, the pantsula’s errant life outside of dance is often in response to the violence of poverty unleashed upon them by the system.

Crown Mines today is still a scene of poverty and squalor. And so an element of criminality informs a significant layer of Tjovitjo’s storyline that encompasses the narrative of amapantsula over the decades – a compound of charisma, artistry, brotherhood, violence and survival.

*Watch Tjovitjo every Sunday at 8pm on SABC 1.

 

Ankobia – Essential Theatre

Introduction
Blacks should flock en masse to see Ankobia, a labour of black love written by Monageng “Vice” Motshabi and Omphile Molusi. Motshabi also donned the directorial hat on this production that wrestles violently with the psyche of an assimilated, indoctrinated and ultimately, a dominated people. This is honest theatre that conceals nothing, forcing the audience to deal with their continued complicity in their dispossession. The production equally forces the oppressor to see their sustained privilege play out on stage as they continue to hold onto the levers of power through a puppet government. Tis dem forces of evil (“white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy”) that attempts to suppress what seems to be a perpetual state of rebellion for black folks in this play set in 2041. The play will leave you shook, discombobulated and feeling some typa way. – Kulani Nkuna. Continue reading “Ankobia – Essential Theatre”

An Open Letter to Prof Ngidi: The Decolonisation Rhetoric at CUT

 

Dear Prof Ngidi

“The unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.”

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Continue reading “An Open Letter to Prof Ngidi: The Decolonisation Rhetoric at CUT”

Rescuing Black Consciousness from Decenteredness & Irrelevance

Writer: Itumeleng Makale

Photograph: SA History Online

A paradigm of decenteredness and dislocation gets people swimming in the pool of “universalism” which is, in fact, a set of concepts with their branches in whatever number of irrelevant African Consciousness disorientating epistemological twist. Afrikans would do anything in their power to defend Eurocentric paradigms. Seizing the Power to Define, and not being a stooge of AKKKademia/AKKKademons and white logic, is the only entry point into independently forming self-concept as Afrikans and developing an epistemological Framework within which it will find its expression in different forms of disciplines and their related areas of practice. Black Consciousness without Afrocentricity as its paradigmatic foregrounding is nothing but a sterile intellectual conduit of a people with a decentred ideology without a worldview assuming all of the European/Arab/Asian philosophical throw-up, our minds have been raped with in the mentacide camps you call universities, as universal. That’s why you have Indian heroes in your BC tradition!

Continue reading “Rescuing Black Consciousness from Decenteredness & Irrelevance”

Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe 90 Years of Struggle, Suffering & Sacrifice

Text: Thando Sipuye

Photograph: Wits Historical Archives

Today, 27th July 2017, marks the 90th birthday anniversary of Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, the forgotten, ignored and erased ‘Mother of Azania’ who has endured unspeakable suffering, struggle and pain.

She will celebrate her 90th birthday, as usual, in private, at her humble home, with family and close friends. There will be no glamour, no journalists, and no live broadcast. And quite frankly, the saddest part is that most people aren’t even aware that she’s still alive. Continue reading “Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe 90 Years of Struggle, Suffering & Sacrifice”

Imperialists First Capture Your Leaders Then Your Country

Text: Veli Mbele

Photograph: Supplied

Those who know me more intimately, know that one of the revolutionary movements and revolutionary leaders, I admire-is Hamas and its leader, Khaled Meshaal.

One of the things that fascinates me most about Hamas is their emphasis on internal security-as the first and last line of defence of a revolutionary movement. Continue reading “Imperialists First Capture Your Leaders Then Your Country”

Response to Richard Pithouse

Writer: Athi Mongezeleli Joja

Image: Africa Research Institute

In a recent Mail & Guardian Richard Pithouse published another of his dishonest articles titled, The ANC is Misusing the Land Question. Pithouse prefaces his thesis by way of a sequencing of historical events that trace collective resistances against the commodification and dispossession of land. Perhaps his voyage from antiquity to the present isn’t only to refresh our memory of the historical longue duree of the struggle against privatisation of public and conquered land but also to pepper his annotations with a dash of scholarly vigour it deserves. This kaleidoscopic choice of events typically begins with running commentaries on the histories of the mother countries and towards the end somewhat climaxes, as always is the case, with the classical discourse on how in Africa these dreams explode into nocturnal monstrosities. Suppose Pithouse’s earnest inclination is to compose a trace of shared struggles and that it is inconsequential that his departure point is the colonial centre, the West. In fact, through this universalist reach, a systematic mission of elisions and falsifications is under way – a deadly ideology of conquest hiding behind a semi-conscientious objection. Continue reading “Response to Richard Pithouse”

Erasing Black Women From Her-story: June 16 Student Uprising & The Erasure Of Women

Writer: Thando Sipuye

Photographs: SA History Online

Two weeks ago marked 41 years since the Soweto Students’ Uprising that took place on the 16th of June 1976, a day that ushered a decisive turning point in the liberation struggle in Azania (SA).

Today the day is a celebrated national holiday re-branded as ‘Youth Day’, a day in which contributions of young people in the liberation project are usually evoked and celebrated. In fact, the whole month of June has become christened as ‘Youth Month’. Continue reading “Erasing Black Women From Her-story: June 16 Student Uprising & The Erasure Of Women”

Ode To Black

ode to black -culture review magazine
Black is the colour of mourning and melancholy. Black epitomises stealth; it is
central to clandestine ventures and cool lonesomeness. Black is the colour of
executive cars, gadgets, accessories and clothing. Eternally beautiful, Black is the
colour of the universe, the infinite deep dark unknown abyss. Black is a wormhole,
mysterious and ever-receding, absorbing everything around it and revealing
nothing. Black is all colours mixed together, perhaps the sum of the visible. Black is
the only colour without light, though full and empty.

Continue reading “Ode To Black”

Embracing The Duality of Darkness & Light-A Beautiful Struggle

Text: Makgotso Nkosi

Photography: Thabo “Flo” Mokale

The township is a construct of racial segregation, its architecture (squashed and small) already sets a tone designed not to inspire. It has been many years since the advent of a democratic government yet the gaps between predominately white suburbs and townships remain all too evident and the spatial inequalities assembled by the apartheid regime endures. The ANC government is yet to heal the wounds that have aggravated frustrations among the marginalized black majority of this country such as the lack of housing, high unemployment and inadequate policing that contributes to a culture of poverty and violence.

Yet regardless of how bad the township was set out to be and relatively still is, the residents of this place have since tailored these homogeneous spaces. The people of Ekasi have pushed to transform these marginalized settlements into hubs of economical freedom and lovely social spaces, and this is the spirit Thabo Mokale commemorates in his debut solo exhibition A Beautiful Struggle. Varieties of businesses have sprung out of the township, whether run out of someone’s house, shacks and containers, perseverance and creativity surely exists here.

As one of South Africa’s most prolific poets, one can already recognize the beauty of language when looking at his collection of images. The multi-talented artist who was born in Sharpeville and later raised in Katlehong, dubs this work a silent celebration of the daily struggles. The oxymoron consigned for the exhibition is a direct reflection of what the township is, a space set out to be terrible and to destroy its residence yet is still inspires hope and creativity.

Mokale’s ability to use the camera as a weapon to translate reality is laudable. The stylistic aspects of the black and white images look unpolished and that gives a clear revelation of the township life. The exhibition includes an image showing illegal electric wire connection that illustrates the creativity that sparks from struggles. The assemblage of the images portrays vivid details of the daily activities of survival eKasi. The juxtaposition makes the township look like a world within a world, a double life framed by frustration and happiness.

“We are broken but we don’t have to break all the time” is Mokale’s rationalization to why black people of the township have the capacity to remain, to transform, adapt and survive.  That is why this duality is worth commemorating, it is proof that only a strong-willed people can co-exist with chaos and still make the chaos beautiful. Mokale believes there is nothing mundane about waking up every day and hustling, selling the same sweets in the same corner and selling to the same people. He thus acknowledges the magic in the routine and insists that is how we grow, by first acknowledging the beauty in where we currently are.

“We hurt

We break

We shatter

We cry

We die”

But Mokale insists that’s not all we are. The result of our struggles is beauty.

This poetic conveyence of the township titled A beautiful struggle opens on the 15th of June 2017 at Ezenkeni, 5021 Sophangisa Street,

Motloung Street,  Katlehong.

 

 

A Beautiful Struggle

Text: Flo Foundation

Photography: Flo Mokale

Thabo “Flo” Mokale, father and founder of the Flo Foundation has always been a lover of images. Whether it’s through his poetry or performances, he always strives to capture the mind with the magic of his visual and spoken imagery. Continue reading “A Beautiful Struggle”

When Malema Doesn’t Perform

Julius Malema politician in red

Writer: Thato Rossouw

Photograph: Siphosihle Mkhwanazi

I practice what any right-minded person would refer to as layman, armchair politics – ya’ know, the type to never get me invited to be part of any ANN7 political panel – and, as a result, my understanding of the current South African political landscape is as shitty as Madam Hoarse-Voice’s claim that she was suspended from the DA because she’s White (I mean really, what the fuck is wrong with this woman?). Anyway, because of how shitty my understanding of South African politics is, whenever something major happens in the country’s politics, I draw my inspiration for the analysis of such events from the grammatically incorrect and sometimes half-baked political analyses that I usually find myself perusing through on my Facebook timeline. Continue reading “When Malema Doesn’t Perform”

Mama Sobukwe: The Mother of Azania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text: BlackHouse Kollective

Photographs: BlackHouse Kollective

“My mother is a very private person”. Dinilesizwe(bra Dini) Sobukwe – Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe’s eldest son – restrains our expectations in a sing-song deep-baritone voice that threatens to break into Barry White’s Acapella every time he opens his mouth. Continue reading “Mama Sobukwe: The Mother of Azania”

Zwelethu Mthethwa’s Dark Fall From Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer: Sfiso Atomza

Photograph: Pregnant woman blue: Inner views by Zwelethu Mthethwa

I never knew about Zwelethu Mthethwa, a South African Artist and now Murderer. He created socially engaged work, large-scale, gorgeous photographs of the marginalized citizens of his native South Africa, they spoke of him. His color-saturated portraits made no mistakes in capturing subjects like migrant workers and Christian missionaries, whose expression speak so much of a familiar story. Continue reading “Zwelethu Mthethwa’s Dark Fall From Grace”

Review – The Suit

Writer: Sibusiso Mkwanazi

Photographs: Supplied

“Umtsetse”. That is one of those words that seems not to exist in the English language. It is the “fold” that is ironed into a pair of pants. This line separates the men from the boys and the girls from the ladies. Can Themba’s The Suit does this with surgical precision as it clearly differentiates right from wrong, no matter the justification. Continue reading “Review – The Suit”

Sabelo Soko – Umkhondo

Poet Sabelo Soko Umkhondo. Culture Review

Writer: Xolani Tembu

Photograph: Musa N Nxumalo

Listening to Sabelo Soko’s second offering, Umkhondo, one can almost hear echoes of Sipho Mabuse’s Thaba Bosiu, those of the iconic Madala Kunene’s Ubombo and even Hugh Masekela’s Stimela. Needless to say, this album sets Soko hills apart from his compeers, certainly earning him the esteemed title ‘Bra’ Sabza. Continue reading “Sabelo Soko – Umkhondo”

The Brutal Murder Of Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu


Text: The Black Power Front Statement
Photograph: The Black Power Front

Reacting to the murder of the 18-year-old Black boy, Michael Brown Jr, by a white police officer, Darren Dean Wilson in August 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Jeffries wrote:

“…anti-blackness more accurately captures the dehumanization and constant physical danger that black people face. The “anti” in “anti-blackness” is denial of black people’s right to life.’ Continue reading “The Brutal Murder Of Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu”