Ode To Black

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.
The colour black presents itself ambiguously in meaning, like the abstract forms in

my practice. Ode to Black explores the multitude of meanings that the colour black invites in my work thus far, in paintings, sculptures and installations.

– Serge Nitegeka

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.

 

 

 

Flo the Poet invites you to take a glimpse into his soul through a series of compelling images that will leave you astounded. The evening will feature Nicky B from Kaya FM, the poet, Quatz Roodt, Linda Nzunzo and Sayitsheni Mdaki.

Exhibition takes place on June 15,Ezenkeni, 5021 Sophangisa Street, Motloung Street, Katlehong.

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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.

So from now on, as a general rule, whenever you read anything political analysis-like from me, just know that it is nothing but a lot of horse-shit that managed to, somehow, pull out of my ass. Now, with all that being said, what did Commander Juju say last week Thursday?

But, before we go any further with this, can I please be allowed the opportunity to confess my undying fan-ness, fan-ship and just all round love for Commander Juju and his no-fuck-giving ways. I just love that guy and, as a result of his general no-fucks-given persona, he has become one of my favourite political figures of all time. I can never get enough of listening to him blab on about State-Captures, Gupta-gates, and Nkandlas, and I have become so addicted to listening to him speak that I believe that he has become my gateway drug to understanding SA politics a little better. Plus, if we put aside the fact that his overall demeanor edges uncomfortably close to that of a disgruntled son hell-bent on taking revenge on the evils done to him by his sinister father (in this case Jacob “General No-Fucks-Given” Zuma), CJ is a rather interesting political figure to follow.

Back to his Thursday speech – well, it’s more the EFF’s speech than it is his, but I’ll keep calling it his speech because … well, because I can.

Last Thursday he came out – because he is a noble and just public citizen – to give his party’s press briefing on the country’s new favourite hashtag fever: The #GuptaEmails. Again, being the lover of spice that I am, I decided to take some time off my not so busy life and watch the whole thing live on TV. My decision to watch it was taken more with the hope of seeing him go on another one of those famous blab-rant-things of his, than it was with the aim of listening to what he had to say about a bunch of emails that have gotten the country so busy that people have now forgotten that fees still haven’t fallen, and the real people who captured the state are a group of pale-faced fuck-tarts sitting comfortably in their air-conditioned offices, counting all the billions they’ve made over the years on the back of the natives of this country. So, once again, I had zero interest in the politics of the whole event, and one hundred percent interest in the spice that would come out of it.

I watched it and, all in all, I was disappointed: more so by the delivery of the speech than by the speech itself. As a matter of fact, the speech touched on some important things (the dangers of living in a country swimming in a pool of patriarchy being one of them) and was as much of a political speech as any political speech can be a political speech. Throughout it all, though, CJ just sat there, constantly fiddling with his hat, reading from a pre-written paper – which, itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and I wasn’t about that life. Like I said in the beginning, I didn’t sit down to listen to him read; I sat down to listen to him blab. I know I know, that makes me sound like an ignorant and disconnected dimwit, but I can’t help it when it comes to CJ. And, to be honest, his past speeches were so much of Zuma-this and ANC-that rants that I had stopped seriously listening to him a long time ago.

Anyway, my affection for his animated speeches hasn’t made me ignorant to CJ’s political prowess, though. I mean, the man and his friends – because that’s exactly what they are – have managed to build from scratch a strong political party that has managed to change the entire political landscape of the country, and that’s not a small feat to achieve. All I’m saying is that I like him more when he’s ranting. Can he rant some more, please?

Side note: Can we all please pray for Madam Hoarse-Voice because I honestly believe that there’s something wrong, mentally, with that White woman. But, even as you pray for her, please don’t forget that she is nothing but a racist twat who is hell bent on keeping her wrinkly fingers tightly wrapped around her ill-gotten privileges. But pray for her nonetheless.

*This piece was initially published on https://thatorossouwblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/julius-malema-gave-a-speech-today-and-for-once-he-wasnt-perfoming/

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.

“She doesn’t do interviews and prefers a life away from the invasive attention of cameras”, he describes his mother to us, towering over our baldheads and dreadlocks. Head craned from the roof-end of the threshold limit, he leads us out of a colonial contraption. The Drostdy Hotel looking architecture we exit, reminiscent of Cape Dutch magistrate building, doubles up as living and working space for the Sobukwe Trust bra Dini heads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With these words he anticipates and guides our youthful-suspect conduct possessed of a characteristically Sobukwe voice. We nod approvingly to his advice. Leash our outlandish Kodak desires, grab our humble gifts and be on our way to see Mama.

We come bearing gestures of appreciation for this almost 90 year old living miracle (26th July 2017, Mama Zondeni Sobukwe will be turning ninety). Like the Three Wise Men (sic) From The East, we have improvised a semblance of gifts: colourful Afrikan-print headwraps – for incense (Boswellia sacra tree resin from which the gift of incense to baby Jesus was made), Senamarena blanket – for gold, and Ikhukho– for myrrh.

Unlike the legend of Wise Kings from the east, we hold no royal brief to anoint mama with rare oils and ancient Ethiopian spices that bring good health to her tired bones. On the contrary, we’re from the north-end side of South Africa’s cartography, the South-West peripheries of the Crown Mine pillaging, dormitories of the Witwatersrand golden age- Soweto. But we are here, where most of our gallant warriors fought courageously, where they ultimately succumbed to the West’s barbarism exports. We are here fresh from the realization that ’94 changed fokol; we are here, newborn infants, initiates, Blackhouse Kollective members,entering a new phase of our spiritual and revolutionary journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the morning of 26th May 2017, the Saturday that welcomed us with showers of blessings driving into Graff-Reinet. But Graff Reinet’s sky-high yellowish torch is not in the mood, not for us.  It gives us a cold shoulder pat-down treatment as if to say: can I trust your motives. It frisks our genuine intents: are you some story-to-story hopping journalists? The dependable, unfailing sun in the sky seems to run us through an Inquisition gauntlet.

Still on that reluctant handshake mode, the sun’s mood continues to interrogate us: What rhetoric have you been mouthing that qualifies you to think you can carry the baton from the tried and tested Sobukwe-types? What para-biographers gave your ethical backbone the resolve to step through that door, nestle in the embrace of these four walls – where Prof shuttled in and out, cast the taint and taunt of your lush city-life shadows, make them fall where his incorruptible one fell, where his cardinals, his fundamentals expanded, and refracted – like the golden strips on the black and green Pan Afrikanist Congress logo. Where me and him orbited, danced and tangoed. Where me and him clutched hand-in-hand (yes me, the sun, the rock of ages). What do you think you know, from what you read, about the life of ideas that throbbed the passion of freedom Sobukwe’s life embodied? Is it Pogrundprose on him, Stubbs and Woods poetic-memory on Steve, Jeff Oplandoeuvres on Mgqwetho and Peirestruth-claims on Nongqawuse? Don’t answer. The cold-shoulder surveillance of the sun weighs and measures our presence there.

That was the ideological security-check pat-down. That reception mood, is what we got from Graff Reinet cold weather. Into the chilly breeze of winding down month of May, the lukewarm sun tossed our stubborn kaffir-hare wool. The windbreaker-clad skins we came costumed in, shook. Like the dead-weight of dry leaves seasonally shakes off tree branches. Unsettled by earlier cautions, and anxious not to find Mama asleep, we now step through Sobukwe’s door prepared for the worst, yet hoping for the best.

Mama Zondeni Sobukwe then appears, don in a smile that eclipses the reluctant reception of an overly protective sun. Brushing off its apprehensive gaze at our weighed-and-measured-gravitas, she totters on a staff shaped like a sceptre. Her shuffling, hobbling feet, towards her guests bear testimony to a life seasoned in ‘Serve’, ‘Suffer’, ‘Sacrifice’ motto: ‘Mother of Azania’ history appraises her.

“Oh, abazukulwana… thyini namhlanje ndizo bonwanga bazukulwana” (my grandchildren have come to see me, how wonderful). She says.

The elation in her unsteady voice is matched only by her ear-to-ear sunbeam enthusiasm. The glow on her beautifully textured skintone, and creased expressions, envelop us whole. In the crevices of a face farrowed by a warm smile we couch, cuddly. Like: this is our house; and we literally came from the deliberate intentions of Mama’s pushing loins. Her push backs, her resistance, her holding down the fort.

We are skulking around in her voorhuis when she enters. The standing among us, feasting on memory-draped walls, are trying to find their seats. The seated, composed, awaiting her entrance, from the garden outside, are up on their feet. She continues to hobble through the kitchen that jettisons her into her voorhuis. Most of us are on our feet, angled in the most courteous postures of reverence the Mother of Azania deserves. She shuffles her thick warm socks inch by inch to her seat – which only by looking at her feet, more than once, can one tell she has thick-knitted brown socks on, not slip-ons.  She shakes our hands. After rocking all seven pairs, in the room, a few cove for more of her blessings on her bosom.

“Khawundipheamanzi” (I would be pleased to have a glass of water) from sis’ Miliswa, her daughter, she requests. With our sitting arrangement we file around, in a feedback loop shape, putting Mama at the centre of our attention. We introduce ourselves; briefly stating our names, where our natal-roots lie (apho iinkaba zethuzilele khona) and where we live, study and work.

With each introduction, from us, she recollects; connecting things that happened in 1944 and 1960, connecting to surnames and places, to her Jabulani days and White City days in Soweto, Johannesburg (where we come from).

We hit it off with Mama and share banter like old friends. We laugh, more than we talk – well, except for a few who couldn’t hold back telling mama the colour of their toothbrush, the tally of its bristles, and how many times they visited the dentist, in their short life (something like that).

We explain what Blackhouse Kollective is. We feel at home. We share plans to celebrate Mama whilst she is still alive. She tells us, “I’m one foot here and the other in the realm of ancestors”. She laughs heartily. Infectiously. And we laugh with her some more. We are Mama Sobukwe’s grandchildren indeed. We can feel it. Offspring of Sobukwe’s cross. Its unbridled bark of blackness forges us in indigenes, natives, kaffirs, non-whites, bantus and born frees. On the hoist of its own petard we are restless, agitating a revolution. Sobukwe’s cross buoys us high like a sign that always points to something other than itself: such as the mission to own our own souls; the vision to break free from shackles of dispossession and coloniality; and the task to restore our true personality.

Banter subsides.

Now we gather around Mama to take pictures with her. Her spirits are soaring high, and with her right hand side, Mama gives a defiant PAC open palm salute: ‘Izwe Lethu’ – the house roars with excitement. Our excitement has kept Mama past her ‘bed time’.

It is time to ask for the road. We summon the courage to put ‘good’ in goodbye, to part with our abundant source of inspiration. Mother of Azania, in her wellspring of unparalleled devotion we quenched our thirst.

The cold-sun, with its tail of disbelief between its legs, hides behind the mountainous landscape. It’s time for Mama to rest.

At the veranda, away from Mama’s purview. Her daughter sis Miliswa asks: “Did you go to the grave site?” She is keen to know if we went to connect with the spirit of her father where his body lays.

“Yes”, we chorus in the affirmative.

“Nizihlambile ke izandla” (have you performed the hand washing ritual).

We look around and at each other. One murmurs a “yes”, probably embarrassed to be caught sleeping on the city-life ignorance wheel. Others concede to having overlooked that important cultural gesture.

Sis’ Miliswa goes into the house and comes out carrying a towel and water in a washing basin. The porch cradles our hand washing ceremony with a signature note of Sobukwe’s generosity.

She thanks us profusely. We exchange hugs and tens (young people’s way of saying mobile number).

The eight-sitter van that delivered us safe in Graff Reinet, early this Saturday morning (led by an Andrew we chanced at the Engine garage for directions to bra Dini Sobukwe’s Trust house) swallows us.

One snapshot bite at a time – stills dusted all over Mama Sobukwe’s living room – we chew the cud reminiscing about a trip well executed. The buzz of Erika Badu’s sound breaks winter clod trammels inside the eight-sitter. A lingering history, calling for the ordinary to do the extra-ordinary, huddles at the threshold of our reflective forehead lines. We are deeply riveted in thought.

One door closes, another opens.

An important task is done and dusted. Months and months of disappointments, postponements, grueling planning, and sometimes disheartening eventualities, are behind us. We have pulled this off with our madness and meagre plantation salaries; our commitment and indomitable resolve to do the right thing. That’s the Blackhouse Kollective we tell Mama Sobukwe about.

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.

It is hard to believe this artist with so much history in his own politics of what he came to resemble in post-apartheid South Africa would kill a legacy with the killing of 23-year-old Sex Worker, Nokuphila Khumalo.

Mthethwa’s work, which was said, he makes in the service of his subjects and with an aim to foster a more nuanced understanding of his country, now all sounds like really great PR. As he describes: “I made it my conviction to go out there through my art and try to paint a different picture of the other. […] So I’ve taken it upon me to change or provoke and ask questions that will tell a different story about Africa. About me, because essentially this is about me.” aha.

And that’s where it was, the ego. How the shining ones fall from grace. During his trial, he looked like a villain, as if the shame of Killing the young woman was splattered over his face, like the mark of Cain. Like something had died inside of him. He beat a sex-worker to death and was described as being unremorseful and arrogant. He asked for bail to sort out his estate as he was “arrested without him having sorted out his Artworks and other business”. It seemed rather arrogant that he should consider this a possibility after having robbed a young woman of the ability to choose for her own life, what happens next.

There were many calls to devalue his art as a punishment of sorts. Other voices reasoned that the Art is separate from the artist and can exist as a separate entity especially if the Art is but an investment to the other. After lengthy debate with my moral compass I concluded that all investments are risks. And in this case, he must lose and they, the investors too, at least until he shows some remorse or gives us something. This is Life and justice is beyond us but we may make attempts towards it.

Again the question of the legalisation of Sex work has been making the rounds. Calls to decriminalise sex work have heightened, with different models being explored, largely to protect the woman against the law and harassment from law enforcement as well as access to rights as workers. But they seem destined to fail in protecting the sex workers from the likes of Mthethwa.

On the macro Scale, how do we protect the sex workers from capitalist exploitation which is the first enemy of the Working Class? The complete disregard of the sanctity of parts of ourselves leading to the commodification of everything. You see capitalism dictates that any and everything can and should be sold. There is nothing sacred to capital. And this is what I fear.

They, the sex workers, the divine smiths of the male orgasm will continue to die and their killers will get plea deals from their legal teams. They’ll sort out their Porsches and estate, the Art dealers will exaggerate the PR to bolster his fame to hike the price of the Art. Because It’s business, it’s capitalism. And he’ll get out and write a book about her… Best seller in Europe and the US, he is redeemed, while she remains forever 23 and a sex worker dead on a pavement next to a Porsche.

Hotepism, Violence and Incense

Text: Kholeka Shange

Photograph: Supplied

Hotep. A Black man that advocates for social justice concerning Black men and children. Bhut’Hotep is typified as ‘woke’ because he is a loud (on social media) proponent of Black Lives Matter, Fallism and Black Consciousness while he has no interest in dismantling hetero-patriarchy. His ‘wokeness’ is not an emergent state of being that leaves considerable room for learning from Blackwomen about systems of oppression and how to subvert them; rather his ‘wokeness’ is inextricably linked to exhibitionism wherein his didactic politics are on display for Blackwomen to ‘consume’ and be ‘enlightened’ by. In his mind, he is the carrier of divine knowledge that Black women should labour to excavate. In this case, labour is the equivalent of Blackwomen’s assimilation to a hetero-patriarchal order where respectability is a currency. In his world of dominion, bhut’ Hotep practices sovereignty as ‘King’ while those he deems as deviant or aberrant (i.e. Black women that do not adhere to his respectability politics) are simply ‘hoes’. It is only women he calls ‘Nubian Queens’that deserve to be treated with limited respect- limited because in the event that the ‘Nubian Queen’ steps out of her prescribed role (i.e. a mammified aunt Jemima cum-mother Afrika trope) and begins doing ‘hoe-ish’ things like taking ownership of her sexuality; calling him out on his hetero-patriarchy; reading literature that has nothing to do with pyramids, ancient civilisations, crystals, incense or chakras (not that the aforementioned are inherently bad); being in solidarity with other Black women and having a mind of her own, she is relegated to perpetual ‘hoe-ness’.

It is through this vilification of a ‘Blackwoman with a mouth’ (as the collective Black girl plotting states) or the perpetuation of the Madonna/whore dichotomy that violence against Blackwomen is used as a ‘moralising’ tool in Satafrica (this is definitely not the Azania Black women envision). In a country where every six hours, a woman is killed by her current or former partner, poet Vuyelwa Maluleke’s idea that “The world seems to think black woman looks more beautiful screaming” (2015) is hauntingly befitting.Many are the examples of screaming Black women that Satafrica chooses not to hear. Visual activist Zanele Muholi has been utilising photography as a tool of resistance to expose the everyday violence that is perpetrated against queer Blackwomen in this country. Muholi’s body of work titled Faces and Phasesspans for over a decade and yet Satafrica is only coming to grips with gender based violence in 2017! Change ke! There has been an incessant massacre of queer Black women that have been maimed and dumped in open fields for communities to witness and ignore. Furthermore, campaigns such as One in Nine (formed in 2006 to support Fezeka Kuzwayo- commonly known as Khwezi- during President Jacob Zuma’s rape trial) have done extensive work to advocate for “a society where women are the agents of their own lives including their sexual lives” and to promote “the rights of women who speak out against sexual violence”.In other words, why is Satafrica only ‘waking up’ now? Why did it take the horrendous deaths of yet more screaming Black women for this country to see the pandemic that is gender based violence and hetero-patriarchy?

The collective call to “end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression” is defined by bell hooks (in a chapter titled Come Closer to Feminism) as that much stigmatised word called feminism. Many in Satafrica claim to fight for an egalitarian society where women have agency to define themselves for themselves and yet these very same people shun feminist discourses. To stand up against gender based violence is a feminist act. To desire to dismantle a system that normalises the inferiority of women while it upholds hypermasculinity as the ultimate goal is to be feminist.

When radical Black feminists in this country call for intersectional feminism as a tool to obliterate white supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy, they are envisioning a holistic Azania. An Azania that will be ideal for ALL Blacks not just Black men that advocate race and class politics while ignoring the other isms that plague Blackwomen. When radical Black feminists challenge Hotepism in the everyday ¾ be it at a chillas where a Black man says something problematic like “Then they wonder why they get raped”(as he sees a Blackwoman exercising her agency over her body) OR “Uyabona wena sista, at least uyazihlonipha. Ugqoka ngendlela” (Not realising that women are raped regardless of their dress code) OR in the boardroom where he says “Well done on securing that funding. Keep doing whatever you did to convince him (as he winks) to give us money”¾they disrupt misogynistic ideologies that culminate into physical violence against Blackwomen.  Therefore, it is not enough to say land first, when that land will be filled with hemorrhaging and lifeless bodies of Blackwomen. It is not enough to say Black first when it is the very same Black men that perpetrate violence against other Black people that are women. In other words, as Audre Lorde once said “There is no hierarchy of oppressions”.

To be intersectional is to be Black and many other things at the same time. The other things that one is come with their own systems of oppression. It is high time we began advocating for ipolitiki ecabanga kabanzi ngezindlela eziningi abantu besifazane abacindezeleka ngazo. Uma sithi sinenhloso yokuphila ezweni lethu esilibiza nge Azania, kubalulekile ukuthi silwe nazozonke izingcindezelo ezibhekane nesizwe esimnyama jikelele. Makubenjalo.

 

 

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.

James Ngcobo’s adaptation very much catches you off-guard as it starts off pretending to be a light-hearted comedy. Doting husband Philemon delivers clever Tsotsitaal  one-liners with his friend Maphikela about life as black men in South Africa, just before the apartheid regime would forcibly remove them from Sophiatown.

The Suit -04-05-17 (112 of 181) (1)

Then the entire mood morphs suddenly when Philemon catches his wife Matilda in bed with a young man, who manages to escape – leaving his suit behind. That is when the audience is absorbed into a tragedy as the world’s most loving husband transforms into the world’s most vicious partner.

As Philemon orders Matilda to treat the suit with the same hospitality that she would show to a guest: share meals with them, share their bedroom, go for walks with them, etc., you start realising that mental abuse is far worse than the physical type. Set in the Fifties, the production still resonates with the nation as South Africa is still shocked by the disappearance of Karabo Mokoena, who was found burned to death. As unfathomable as it seems – the heinous crime of gender-based violence is met in our modern times as it was when Themba first penned the short story. There are those who think that victims must have done something to deserve the treatment they receive. They think that Matilda cheated on Philemon, therefore, she had it coming.

It is a deep understanding of this skewed reality that makes the entire cast simply impeccable on stage as they draw on real life and translate it into what is surely award-winning performances. When Matilda cries for her lost dream of being a singer – which she ironically gave up for her husband’s sake – the audience’s soul cries with her. Yet, when Philemon bottles his anger towards his wife and employs emotional warfare, some are bound to feel he is justified.

By the use of haunting Kofifi-style jazz music, engaging choreography, disturbing images projected on the wall and hurtful dialogue, The Suit ensures you never doubt which side of the mtsetse you are on. It presents you with only two options, and you have to make a stand. Are men trash, or do you believe otherwise, and why?

 

 

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”

Umzi Watsha – The Politics of (im)patience

 

Photography: Ayabonga Cawe

Text: Ciko Story Concepts

We live in compelling times. South Africa’s trajectory is shifting and its custodians are growing in consciousness – and in action. The times call for deep, meaningful and honest reflection and conversation. This is needed in order for us to enjoy a fruitful translation of those convictions in the immediate spaces we occupy. ‘UmziWatsha- The politics of (im) patience’ puts this under the spotlight. Continue reading “Umzi Watsha – The Politics of (im)patience”

J Bobs Live – A Game Show Double Bill

Clean Drawing

Writer: Kholeka Shange

Sketch: KPN

In an African context, ukudlala (i.e. play) has always been an integral part of human social interaction. The IsiZulu aphorism Qhude manikiniki. Mnike isongo lakhe has been popularly used in national sporting games as well as in the everyday to symbolise formalised and informal expressions of play and competitiveness. These articulations of play have often required collaborative participation between opposing sides wherein there is a tacit ‘contract’ regarding the codes and conventions of umdlalo; the outcome is undetermined; preparation, chance and spontaneity are crucial elements; and enjoyment is key.

The idea of umdlalo seems frivolous or even puerile at surface value but when one considers what Erving Goffman aptly terms “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”, one begins to see that every social ritual (i.e. going to school, being a church member, being an active participant in partisan politics, functioning at the workplace or in the home etc.) requires some kind of performance (or play) from the person or people partaking in it. In this text Goffman states

When an individual enters the presence of others, they commonly seek to acquire information about him [her] or to bring into play information about him [her] already possessed. They will be interested in his [her] general socio-economic status, his [her] conception of self, his [her] attitude toward them, his [her] competence, his [her] trustworthiness, etc. Although some of this information seems to be sought almost as an end in itself, there are usually quite practical reasons for acquiring it. Information about the individual helps to define the situation, enabling others to know in advance what he [she] will expect of him [her]. Informed in these ways, the others will know how best to act in order to call forth the desired respnse from him [her].

Jefferson Tshabalala’s (commonly known as J. Bobs) game shows titled Off the Record and Location|Lekeyishini|Lokasie explore the re-presentation of the self through an amalgamation of theatre and sports. In this context, improvisation (as often seen in everyday life) is a motif that runs through both game shows. Tshabalala disrupts the everyday performance of the self in a theatre space. Conventionally, audiences are not only expected to suspend disbelief but it is normalised for them to take on a passive role of a viewer without severing the fourth wall. In this context, what is viewed is understood as a closed narrative or product whose meaning is fixed and ‘unfuckwithable’ by the audience. What Tshabalala does is to create a triadic relationship between text, viewer and the creator of the text. What this means is that the meaning of the text constantly changes depending on the person interacting with it. In other words, the meaning of the text is malleable or fluid. Both game shows require the audience to be spect-ACTORS. In this case, they have to be active participants in the meaning making process.

Through the use of kasi vernacular(s), Tshabalala’s rendition of the Azanian game show genre is reminiscent of game shows many Azanians watched in the 90s. As a viewer, one cannot help but be reminded of popular 90s game show phrases such as “Imali noma ibhokisi?” or “iZama Zama izokuseta maan”. These phrases often transcended the confines of the TV screen as they became part and parcel of the Black lived experience(s) and Black vernacular(s) across the country. Tshabalala rightfully refers to himself as an “enfant terrible”, which is a French expression that loosely symbolises a defiant child that spews inappropriate things that burn the pots at the table. Similar to the jester, J. Bobs (the host) continually plays with the unsavoury as social commentary. Hi co-conspirators (the contenders) play along and push the envelope even further.

Both works are demanding. The spect-ACTORS should expect to be jarred out of their seats. The stakes are high as they too are made contenders. Camaraderie is crucial as there is a prize to pay in the form of points. The points in this case become a currency and a signifier of each contender’s ability to engage and dlala ka yona. As Tshabalala states, Off the Record and Location|Lekeyishini|Lokasie is a “game meets talk meets sketch format”. This format is anything but conventional but then again, who wants conventional anyway?

 

We’re Done Talking To White People

fuck white

Writer: Xola Skosana

Photograph: Supplied

We should stop fooling ourselves, bending over backwards trying to explain ourselves to white people. We have done enough talking in this country, we have four Nobel Peace Laureates to prove our stupidity. We have written long winded speeches to impress upon whites that South Africa is an abnormal society.

Continue reading “We’re Done Talking To White People”

16 Shots

Photography: Musa N. Nxumalo

Writer: Percy Mabandu

SMAC Gallery is proud to present 16 Shots, Musa N. Nxumalo’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. This new body of work comprises sixteen photographic prints that continue the themes and focus of Nxumalo’s ongoing project, The Anthology of Youth.

Continue reading “16 Shots”

Economy of Rape

Economy rape by Ayanda Mabulu

Writer: Kholeka Shange
Artwork: Ayanda Mabulu

“Akadeleli uqhuba intwala ngewisa” is an adage used by IsiZulu speakers to describe a person’s unrelenting insolence towards another. In the context of Ayanda Mabulu’s numerous visual depictions of President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma’s phallus, a number of conservative (IsiZulu speaking) traditionalists, ANC loyalists and some sectors of the South African public have utilized respectability as a tool to question Mabulu’s “Africanness” for “failing” to honour the elder-child dynamic wherein the child is expected to show respect for his or her elders at all times. The elder in this case is the head of state while Mabulu is expected to occupy the position of the infantilised,aberrant Black artist who is out of touch with “African” customs. Continue reading “Economy of Rape”

The Contested Legacies And Continued Erasure of Bantu Biko and Mangaliso Sobukwe After 94

Writer: Veli Mbele
Photograph: Supplied

The state ceremony that took place at uMgcina’s grave (Bantu Biko) recently, predictably ignited endless and emotionally-charged conversations, particularly within the Black Consciousness and Pan Afrikanist circles, with some going as far as describing what happened at Biko’s grave as a “disgrace” and “insult”, to both Biko and Mangaliso Sobukwe. For those who don’t know, there is a deeper and more painful context to these emotionally-charged and legitimate reactions. Continue reading “The Contested Legacies And Continued Erasure of Bantu Biko and Mangaliso Sobukwe After 94”

Marat/Sade: A View From The Colony

Writer: Ziyana Lategan
Photographs: Oscar O’ryan

The Baxter Theatre’s 2017 staging of Peter Weiss’ The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of Marquis de Sade or Marat/Sade is without doubt, superbly performed. The stage, made to look like the inside of an asylum, made to look like a stage, was perfectly Brechtian in its effect. The audience, functioning as the actual audience in the asylum, was constantly made complicit in the spectacle of the performance Continue reading “Marat/Sade: A View From The Colony”

Celibacy Blues

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Writer: Ms Doo-Wop
Photograph: Musa N. Nxumalo

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other night. Both of us are new in America, five months into our ‘international degrees’ and already feeling the emptiness of the promise of awayness.

We have both left lovers back home.

It is not that he does not have the opportunity to cheat or that he doesn’t want to. What he is afraid of is the freedom that comes with being anonymous. Continue reading “Celibacy Blues”

Blackness As A Permanent State of Nervousness

race-diversity

Text: Veli Mbele
Photograph: Supplied

Nothing best expresses the totalising-all-consuming-debilitating power of whiteness than the psychosis wherein statements by Blacks such as “we want our land back or “we must build Black power”- makes some Black people so nervous that they sometimes slide into self-induced depression (on behalf of the whites they know or love).

Continue reading “Blackness As A Permanent State of Nervousness”

Ke e rekilemachina-eng

bhk
Writer: Blackhouse Kollective
Photography: Blackhouse Kollective

the blackhouse kollective educational exhibition at bree taxi-rank,during december 2016, publicly defied the rainbow reconciliation farce. displaying work titled sankofa – lest we forget, our exposition was greeted by police bullying. shabbily donned street-vendors poised helplessly at the receiving end of that police violence.

Continue reading “Ke e rekilemachina-eng”

Feta Kgomo O Tshware Motho

Busiswe Seabi Fees Must Fall confronting security force at Wits University

Writer: Mogobe Ramose
Photograph: Makgotso Nkosi

In his De Legibus, book III, part III, sub. VIII Cicero wrote that “saluspopulisupremalexesto”. The various translations of this maxim do not deviate from the basic insight that the health of the people shall be the supreme law. It is significant that Cicero makes this jussive declaration under the important title, “On laws”. Whatever laws there may be in a given human community, they ought to recognise, respect, protect and promote the foundation upon which they are built, namely, the health or well-being of all the individuals constituting the community. Continue reading “Feta Kgomo O Tshware Motho”

Cultural Confusion in Post-Colonial Countries

Kasi Mlungu Cultural Appropriation

Writer: Yannisha Yalla

Photograph: Fizz Designs (Twitter)

So many questions need to be asked about identities and cultures in post-colonial countries. Post-colonial countries are flooded with people who have been uprooted and then forced to adapt to a mainstream culture. This mainstream culture is usually white. The dispossessed are then taught to be grateful that their minds have been colonized.

Continue reading “Cultural Confusion in Post-Colonial Countries”

Gwen Ngwenya & The Limitations of Neo-Liberal Selective Constitutionalism

Jobs-march-PE

Writer: Wanelisa Xaba
Photograph: Supplied

One of the consequences of challenging hegemonic Euro-Western white supremacist patriarchal canons in a colonial society are paternalistic views depicting one as a rogue or an empty vessel unable to engage ideologically. Living in occupied Azania where knowledge is centred on Euro-imperialist colonial hetero cisnormative ideals as the standard, renders white-supremacist defenders like Amanda/Gwen Ngwenya unable to engage with the content of decolonisation. Continue reading “Gwen Ngwenya & The Limitations of Neo-Liberal Selective Constitutionalism”

Yakhal’Inkonjane-When Swallows Cry

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Writer: Kholeka Shange

Photographer: Suzy Bernstein

Within an African context, inkonjane (i.e. swallow) has always represented movement across space and time. According to Credo Mutwa, “Migratory birds are the souls of humans who have reached a high state of perfection”. Mutwa’s reference to birds as carriers of humanness is epitomised through Mike van Graan’s new play titled When Swallows Cry. In this play, the swallow is used as a symbol through which questions of migration and the othering of African migrants in the context of current global migration discourses are explored. This multi-layered narrative which is directed by first-time Director Lesedi Job captures the lived experiences of African migrants through the poignant and yet jocular performances of its cast Warren Masemola, Mpho Osei-Tutu and Christiaan Schoombie.

Continue reading “Yakhal’Inkonjane-When Swallows Cry”