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.
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.
Writer: Sibusiso Mkwanazi
“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.
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?
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”
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”
Writer: Kholeka Shange
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?
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”
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”
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.
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”
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.
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.