The man my mother wanted me to wed: Kyle Sheperd

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It was the start of high school and at 14 , scrawny and anonymous I felt disconnected. I found myself in a class without my “closest friends”. My fellow classmates seemed to have formed cliques and groups and there was a real sense of camaraderie about them. I did not share in these feelings.

A week into school, our teacher Mr Fransman announced that a new boy would be joining our class and his name was Kyle Sheperd. As if out of an American chick-flick, Kyle Sheperd casually walked into our class and perhaps it was my imagination, but I swear, there was an orchestra, and wind, yes, definitely wind.

This boy was good-looking, but his attractiveness fell not mainly on the eyes, for he had an air about himself and yet remained completely accessible.

Kyle Sheperd had come from Boston Primary school, I can’t retain exactly why he missed those first few days of school, perhaps it was to make an entrance? Back then I was an aspiring musician. I played the piano, not as miserably as you would think, but I was way too lazy to practice and fared much better in the theoretical part of music than the practical part. The benefit of being a music student at The Settlers High School was that we has the luxury of having free periods whilst students took turns for their practical lessons. It was during this time that I got to know the boy behind the orchestra and the wind-in-hair visuals.

I was that girl who had two male best friends, both named Kyle. One a Sheperd , the other a Fortuin. They were both Casanova’s and I had it in my mind that if I was attentive enough I would never fall so blindly for men with charm and good looks as the other girls did. So yes, we were friends. We chatted, we joked, we partied together ( and yes, we did party), and more so, we had an intimate bond that could only be defined as love. Whenever I greeted Kyle goodbye after a school function outside the school gates, my mother would always marvel and say ” Sjoe maar hy’s ‘n mooi klong, so ‘n seun moet jy trou” (Translation: Gosh, his a beautiful boy, you should marry a boy like him).

When we reached Grade 10, sixteen and sweet, something changed. Sheppie, as we affectionately called him, started to lose his mind, or so we thought. Instead of our usual banter during breaks times and our weekend escapades and our Monday morning recollections about the weekend’s escapades, Kyle had found a new love and she was called Piano and he spent all his time with her and her trebles and clefs

I for one was mortified. What had happened to Kyle? Why was he acting so old, practicing and practising? He had already mastered the violin why this new girl Piano? Of all the females vying for his affection, she just blatantly pissed me off. Kyle became somewhat  of a recluse, mumbling about Abdulla Ibrahim, choosing to spend his breaks in the music room under the wing of the eccentric, only now I realise brilliant , music teacher Mr Hugo Smuts. Why Kyle? Is all I ever asked, and conspired with his then girlfriend and Fortuin to unravel this mystery.

Eventually, we just let him be and do his thing. It was worth having percentage of him , than losing him in his entirety. High school progressed and thereafter we lost touch. Kyle attended UCT, to pursue a music degree and subsequently left University prior to attaining his degree. Thereafter I have physically spoken/seen Kyle a total of three times.

1) 2008: I chatted to him over Mxit (Yes Mxit was trendy then, and yes this did constitute real contact). He was living with my then boyfriend in Johannesburg trying to make it as a young artist .It was a fruitful conversation about everything and it reminded me of the good old days
2)2008: At the 21st birthday of an mutual friend, where we danced and chatted and became aware that Kyle was a fantastic saxophonist, since he played masterfully at that evening.
3)2009: At the Baxter Theatre where I performed in a show and ran into Kyle at the entrance, only to find that he was in fact coming to my very show.

The rest, well goes a little something like this:

Kyle Sheperd bursts onto the Jazz scene. Kyle Sheperd tours with Afrikaaps. Kyle Sheperd’s debut album Fine Art nominated for a SAMA (South African Music Award) for Best New comer and Best traditional Jazz (2011). Kyle Sheperd’s A Portrait of Home nominated for a SAMA award in the Best traditional Jazz category (2012). Kyle Sheperd’s South African History!X nominated for a SAMA award for the Best traditional Jazz category (2013). Kyle Sheperd on kykNet, Kyle Sheperd touring the world, Kyle Sheperd winner of the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz.

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And finally this evening: Kyle Sheperd on Top Billing. I almost missed it, but my best friend sent me a message and reminded me in time. We both marvelled at how handsome he still is and how grown up he looks.

She ( the best friend) then went on to say, “he made it”, and she’s right. He did. He believed in his dream and pursued it relentlessly and it only seems to be taking him to greater heights. Additionally, Kyle tunes into a history ignored, the legacy of the traditional and I’m always in awe as to how his journey of unearthing this history coincides with his art. He fuses the history of South Africa into his music and traditional sounds such as Ghoema music is very present on Kyle’s albums. He currently performs worldwide and will also be featured early July next year at the Grahamstown National Arts festival.

Needless to say, I doubt I’ll ever marry Kyle to my mother’s disappointment , but I am so glad  that Sheppie found that girl called piano and so immensely proud of all that he is to Jazz and art in South Africa.

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Lingua Franca: Sold out

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Saturday passed,saw the first anniversary of the spoken word movement Lingua Franca, the brainchild of Delft artist’s Mawande Manez Sobethwa, Ncedisa Jargon Mpemnyama, Lwanda Sindaphi and Mbongeni Nomkonwana.

The term Lingua Franca can be defined as: a medium of communication between people’s of different languages. That said, I’m of the opinion that this spoken word movement has done just that, it has managed to create a community where poetry and music became the Lingua Franca of everyone involved.

The Lingua Franca shows usually take place at the Masambe theatre, a quaint annexure of the  Baxter theatre. When it just started out, Mbongeni Nomkomwana, 2012 regional winner and 2013 coordinator of the DFL Lover+Another competition, asked if I would come share a poem on the open mic, in retrospect, I’m so glad I went.

My first impression of the event was that the soul’s that inhibited that theatre were sincere. The audience was attentive, engaged and appreciative of every poet and artist who graced the stage.

Thereafter word spread, and the numbers grew up to the point that spectators were quite satisfied to sit on the floor just to be part of the magic that is Lingua Franca. In demand, the movement upped the ante and regulated the door by selling tickets which surprisingly still pulled a huge crowd.

The most recent format of the Lingua Franca shows provides a marriage of poets and musicians. The talented Lingua Franca band consists of Babalwa Makwethu and Bongeka Qhanga on vocals, Mcebisi Tshambula , Zama Qambi and Lwando Bam on percussion and the talented Lumanyano “Unity” Mzi on guitar and keyboard. The band feels out the poet and their piece and usually create original accompanying music on the spot during rehearsals.
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To celebrate their first anniversary, a show had to be had in true Lingua Franca style.

The line up was amazing which featured Lingua Franca’s resident poets : Anele Kose, Koleka Putuma, Mfundo Ntobongwana, Lwanda and Mbongeni. Other poets included myself, Kgothatso Motshele, Lerato Mokobe, Kyle Louw, Ingonyama Yamagama , Khanyiso Mabhodla, Javier Perez , Thabiso Nkoana and Naledi Rabi.

Right before the show commenced a friend of mine, and a regular to the show, alerted me that the tickets were sold out. I panicked since I knew that she and her mother had come especially to see me. I tried to pull some strings, but I was told that rules were rules and that my only spectators would have to go without. Also in the foyer, ticket-less, was Michael Rolfe one of the coordinators of the longstanding Off the wall poetry sessions.

As luck and poetry would have it, my friend and Michael did manage to get into the show as the tall, gregarious, Loerie award-winning MC Manez Sobethwa pleaded with the audience to “act as in a Cape Town taxi and scoot up for your neighbour”.His plea worked. Also in the audience was coordinator of the InZync Poetry sessions , Adrian van Wyk. If two of the coordinators of the most sought after poetry platforms in Cape Town attend your show, you must be doing something right.

Overall the show was fantastic with the band and the poets receiving a standing ovation from the audience. My personal favourites of the evening  were the angelic Kgothatso Motshele who delivered a matter of fact poem about the grey area with regard to rape and sexualization of females within society. Koleka Putuma, who delivered an intimate portrayal of an individuals’ struggle with organised religion and the appreciation of a pious mother. Kyle Louw with his beautiful extended metaphor on drugs and love and Naledi Rabi, who has the type of voice that can make even a girl question her sexuality.

It was beautiful and it was indeed a celebration of poetry, art and life. It goes to show that the popularity of poetry in Cape Town has increased immensely and that people are flocking to hear, share and feel in these artistic truths.

A huge congratulations to Lingua France for their persistence, belief and love of this art form. What they have managed to a achieve is more than just a platform, they have built a community in art that manages to elevate the collective conscience of society and that is definitely noteworthy.

As a treat, here is the poem that I performed at the show.


Let the poet speak

Shhhhht! Quiet!
Listen,
and let the poet speak
lend your ears ,
just let the poet speak
and ease your fears
please!

Let the poet speak
and enlighten your mind
let the poet speak
and watch your soul rise
effortlessly
as it was always meant to do.

Armed with nothing but words
the poet navigates this world
with sounds and rhythm
stomping metaphors and similes
unearthing sacred verses
you never dreamed to exist.

Resist if you must
there in the crowd
in that dimmed room
your only wish is entertainment
but if you open yourself instead
an arrangement
of what you already know
prose now becoming poems
replanting seeds already sown
constructed for you
by the poet
to help your spirit grow.

Let the poet speak
and as each beat of your heart
mimics the content,
pulses the history,
merges with your energy,
envelopes your being,
praise the poet
for their work and their meaning
like the ancient soothsayers of yesteryear
where crowds gathered to decipher
uncode and denote
the wisdom imparted from their lips.

Let the poet speak
but not in vain,
as your mind wraps around their words
respect ,reflect and understand their pain
their hope, their dreams
their need to stand nakedly in front of you
reciting to you things
they just have to say
all the paths that came their way
hurts dealt with
that bleed and lay
internally
until they are staged
for you.

Le t the poet speak
let them know you agree or disagree
indicate that you’ve cognized their concept,
their rhyme,
their verse, their time
their art
their belief in a better world
their battle against injustice,
their sweat , their hustle
in solitary crafting
drafting and second guessing
each sentence
to share with you a poem
that’s just too pressing ,
if left inside it would fester
and the poet
would surely die.

Let the poet speak and see nations rise to their feet
an army clad in harmony
interconnectedness the mission
protesters upholding banners that read
“down with hatred and divison”.

Let the poet speak ,
remind you of what it was like to be in love
providing those soft nuances
delicate images,
blissful ideologies,
the belief in
second possibilities.

Hear the poet out
when you’re dealing with loss
that private place that only you, god and the poet knows.

Let the poet reassure you
I will be alright
that when your world plummets and falls
just hold yourself tight to make it right ,
let the poet write that wrong
and perhaps not presently
but as time suspends, your hurt will too
replaying continuously , repetitively
the poets words to you.

Let the poets words dance in your joy ,
lift your spirit
elevate your consciousness,
celebrate your present,
arch the corners of your mouth ,
recounting the preciousness of your life.

Just let the poet speak.
But dear poet
when they let you speak,
and tweak their minds,
pierce their souls,
be weary
that your words can destroy and build
ignite or spite
heal or deride
with every sound your recite.

If you’re a poet and they let you speak
honour the privilege
the platform the hour,
devour
each passing minute they let you speak
eating their time like your last meal,
intend to let them feel
the best way you can
for you are the poet
and though they may not know it
they were always waiting for you to speak.

In peace and poetry: Roché


I am Woman, hear me love.

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Hear me roar is the better known statement, thanks to the opening line of Helen Reddy’s song I am Woman (1971), but after this weekend I thought that love would be more apt.

Last year I decided to submit a short story to POWA’s women’s writing project and lo and behold, my story ,Girl Power was published in the 2012 anthology titled Breaking the Silence : Sisterhood. An array of emotions come to the fore upon knowing that you will be published. In my case, it can be explained as the following:

Utter joy and disbelief when you are first informed that your writing will be put in an actual book. This was followed by excitement and pure euphoria. Then the anticipation of waiting for the physical copy ensues. When you finally receive the book and your name is printed in black and white you are kind of shell-shocked and content. After the contentment wanes, you are faced with the “Well what now?”, the excitement passes and you come to terms with the fact that  you are still you, the only actual difference is that you get to add a book to your collection that now contains your name and your writing.

Being published is a lifelong dream for many people. I worked in a bookshop for many years and at the time it seemed so unattainable, but I knew I wanted it. Writing does however take time, and although you should make time to write (everyday they say), I have only submitted a few places and have had the luck (and perhaps the skill) to have been published thrice in my 25 short years on this planet. I have thus endured the crazy process of a complete high to a feeling of wanting thrice, and I will admit that I’ll endure it as many times as necessary.

The beauty of the POWA anthology was that after published the action of submitting my story obtained its own life and story. A year later, having forgotten I was published and all that, just minding my own business the editor of the POWA anthology asked if I was willing to mentor the potential writers in Cape Town for the 2013 anthology. How could I possibly refuse? In a myriad of submissions from Cape Town, they had asked me. Little old me. They actually thought I could teach people how to write. I had to say yes, there would be no adventure if I declined.

About two months ago I was flown to Johannesburg, put up in a guest house and attended a workshop on how to mentor other writers. The other participants in the workshop were all women who had been previously published in POWA’s anthologies and being there was an affirmation that you were indeed some type of writer or that you did something special enough to have utter strangers dig into their pockets to finance what you deemed only to dream. Mind blowing stuff right?

For my readership who may not know about POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse), they are essentially a South African feminist women rights organisation that provides an array of necessary services to survivors of abuse and are also focused on empowerment of women in various sectors of society. It goes without saying that there is a certain pessimism attached to what the acronym POWA stands for ( as well as the existence of services like the Rape Crisis Centre)  considering that women shouldn’t ever be  abused, raped or violated, but the reality of our society dictates that it is necessary and the fact stands that organizations like POWA have the potential to  save people’s lives.

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The Women’s Writing Project is one of the branches in which POWA allows everyday women’s voices to be heard.
Now that I’ve become a somewhat “chosen” voice, it was my responsibility to source females for the writing workshop in Cape Town. I spammed almost every group on Facebook I thought may be interested and also forwarded the information to all of the artist networks I could think of. Then the replies came in. Women answered the call via email and all responded with a resounding yes, “I’ll be there”, “Count me in” and my excitement grew. I knew perhaps three of the women personally but the rest were all brought in by the net I had cast out into the universe, and what a group it was.

In total seventeen women were present at the workshop over the course of this weekend. Women of various ages, cultures and upbringing and what transpired when we gathered together can only be described as magic. I’ve always said this, but now I am a firm believer when I say that there is something sacred about a group of women gathering together.

We deconstructed gender, had talks about everything from hair, to clothes and our relation to men. We celebrated the power of being female; we cried, laughed and shared poetry and stories. We were open, accepting and receptive. Within 48 hours we had developed a bond through our love for writing and the fact that we were women. It was a beautiful, a natural sisterhood, a kinship and an air of reverence and respect lay in all the spaces and avenues we uncovered. We helped each other improve our writing. We ignited the possibility of the dream; we gave each other strength and confidence where it may have lacked before. You could hear us love. We were women and you could hear us love.

After the workshop I realised that I had committed a terrible offence in my last blog post titled Helen Moffett and the rest who say : Fuck Women’s day. With all that I  claim to be, I had judged the actions of another woman so harshly and had become part of the masses that dictate how women should be or how they should act or what they should wear. This is a public apology to the woman I so blatantly judged in my previous post and to all those to who I may have offended by thinking , having had tunnel vision on what it should entail by being  women. We are all different, have different ambitions, beliefs and aspirations and I have to acknowledge that my own prejudices and my then warped sense of morality intervened in my last blog post.

The women I encountered in the workshop managed to remove my blinkers in such a short period of time.

Submissions to the anthology are open to all women across South Africa. To submit electronically you can visit the following website: http://womenswriting.org.za/pages/home.php or alternatively email me at roche.kester@gmail.com to receive the submission form. The deadline has been extended to 30 September.

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The website provides guidelines for submissions for poetry, short stories and personal essays. E-books of previous anthologies are also available on the website. I encourage every aspiring women writer to submit their writing. POWA’s Women’s Writing Project is an open arena for all women’s voices. And who knows you may just be published and your published work may take on a life that adds an additional, meaningful and beautiful story as the one I have to tell by taking that first step of self belief. So, dear women let them hear you love.


Helen Moffett and the rest who say: Fuck Women’s Day

Jam That Session :Roché Kester

Jam That Session :Roché Kester

There have only been two instances in my life where I have had stage fright, or completely could not recall the words to a poem. The first instance occurred when I entered a poetry competition when at University. The prize was monetary, but also offered an opportunity to record some of your poetry which at that time was a very exciting prospect.

I auditioned and got through to the next round. Then there was the performance in the cafeteria, in front of students eating lunch and playing dominoes, granted not the most conducive environment to do poetry. In addition, I was ill prepared, but instead of sensibly taking my page on stage , I chose to humiliate myself by not acknowledging my shortcoming and choking on the lines of my very magnificent poem.

The last time something like that happened to me was, well, Sunday. I got the call from Mbongeni Nomkonwana one evening. He is one of the founding members of Lingua Franca Spoken Word movement. He informed me that Jam That Session we interested in hosting a women’s day performance and since I was such a huge fan of the platform I agreed.

Legitimately I only have two poems centering on things female and thought I could write something inspirational/awe inspiring, but with time constraints it was not possible. Additionally I had mixed feelings about women’s day. Helen Moffett posted the following blog post, the day prior to Women’s Day , and every word of it stemmed true. Most of the female poets/musicians and writers I befriended on Facebook reposted her blog. She was right though. What was there to celebrate when in South Africa it has become part of the countries rhetoric that women are assaulted, abused, raped and sexualized on a daily basis and the seriousness of it all is lost on everybody?

I could not write. But would I deny myself the celebration of being a woman, I couldn’t. From my perspective women are royalty and should be treated that way. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book titled Committed, she mentions a time when men stood each time a women entered the room, heaven knows why that social norm is now somehow non-existent. Women are so complex and simple at times, and mostly they are beautiful.

There are so many aspects of women that are just breathtaking and even though it is hard being a women in South Africa, since you always so aware that something terrible may happen to you ( and some really terrible things have happened to me), I do love being a woman. I love chatting, women do this, I love doing my hair, and I love getting dressed up and looking fabulous on a night out on the town with my girlfriends. I love that women nurture, raise nations and teach manners. I love that mothers, sisters, daughters and wives of every colour and creed were brave enough to march to the Union building in 1956 taking a stand for human rights. I’m even a fan of Eve! Good on her for giving Adam the apple ensuring that human beings have to be clothed and that men would have to work a little harder. I will also make no secret of it that I am of the opinion that female protagonists are always more interesting in literature, films and life. Women are phenomenal.

What better poem to recite than Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman? So that was my choice alongside the other poems I had. I was die-hard nervous, as if it was my first performance and perhaps it was because it was a huge task take on, I mean, its Maya Angelou for goodness sakes! Perhaps I was ill-rehearsed, perhaps it was all that, but as the wonderful Lingua Franca band played and I swayed to the music as I started reciting, the words just left me. If you’ve ever met me, you’d know that my poetry and basically my life is visible on my face. I cannot feign comfortably, but somehow I managed to push through, repeating lines and well resigning myself to the fact that I had blundered Phenomenal Woman in front of a huge crowd. Somehow I made it through, and luckily I had the band to save me.

The other two poems went off much better and I was comforted by the fact that the crowd was supportive and of course that I had fantastic friends who helped me to nurse my wounds. The best advice I can give to any performer that this happens too, is just to breathe. I forgot to do that and I could not center myself. Despite what I deemed a disaster, the audience would have been oblivious had I not said “Oh shit” slap bam in the middle of the poem. Keep composure, start again and if all else fails crack a joke about it, the audience always appreciates the fact that you are after all just a human being.

The show proved fantastic, some great poets, fantastic bands and it was indeed a celebration of consciousness, of different perspectives of women and of talent. Dejavu Tafari was set to perform at the gig too, and I would never miss the opportunity to see this ball of wisdom on stage, so I stayed while waiting patiently for her to recite her wisdom. Then something happened that through major zap signs at Women’s Day and used the most vulgar language as an attack on it.

A female rapper/singer, I don’t know her name (I’m not in the business of shaming people either, but this shouldbetold), pranced on stage wearing next to nothing. I get it, stage persona and all that, but what offended me was the fact that stereotypes were being perpetuated in front of my eyes. Miss rapper was on stage bouncing around in her tiny outfit in the most distasteful fashion. Additionally she had a sidekick who came onto stage and started twerking. I’ve heard the term twerk, but honest to God, I was just to lazy to Google this latest dance/internet craze even though the term sparked interest as the two male journalists from FHM got canned when they used the term in their racist/ sexist remarks on Facebook. When I however saw I live, while little miss back up dancer grinded on the floor of the stage for no good reason I just sat there in shock.

I was too sober for all of it. The singer was actually good and the production of her music was really good, but what she brought on stage just offended me. I have a poem titled Premium Poes, about the sanctity of women’s bodies and choices and the need for respect for those things, but those two ladies on stage negated everything I had delivered earlier in the day by sexualizing females in the way they had. At an event under the banner Women in Art, it just put a damper on everything.

I’m not even a prude. I will admit that when I go dancing with my girlfriends a tangible amount of bumping and grinding happens. I am not the virgin Mary either, and sexual guilt has been nullified in my book, but what I witnessed on stage yesterday was too much. I shouldn’t judge women, but some of those dancers in the accompanying sexist rap videos just irk me to the core. It’s hard to draw the line on what should be deemed acceptable, because one might argue that women are in control of their own bodies and what they choose to do with it. But what happened yesterday happened at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

I’m in agreement with Helen though. Fuck Women’s Day if we are unable to learn how to make things better.


Something is not right in the Republic of South Africa.

Reversing the legacy exibition

Reversing the Legacy Exhibition 2013

This is obvious. I’m sure if all South African’s were given free range to complain, there would be no end to the array of what exactly is wrong with our country. Seldom concrete solutions are implemented to remedy our issues. What the Reversing the Legacy exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) tries to illuminate that although progress takes time, it is possible .
Upon arrival at the exhibition, you are issued with a pass, or a dompas as it was referred to during Apartheid. Then you are met with a security guard, who scrutinizes you as if you are a terrorist and after a substantial silence asks you what your name is and where you reside.

Thereafter you are greeted by a man, who looks like he could have run the ABW and who coincidently had the old South African flag looming proudly above his head. Accompanying Mr ABW were his too sidekicks, one dressed in uniform and the other in a suit. The male in uniform, asked for my pass and then sized me up just as suspiciously as the initial security guard. He then asked the same questions: “What is your name”, “Where do you live” and I answered him earnestly. When he asked “Why are you here” and I replied innocently with a “To see the exhibition”, I knew I had crossed some line when he asked “What is an exhibition”. Immediately I had to change my story and said I was visiting a friend (which was in fact true), he seemed quite satisfied with this answer and eventually I encountered Mr AWB.

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The same questions followed, my name , place of residence, what I did for a living. I wondered if it would help if I said that I worked for an Afrikaans Publishing company, instead of just a publishing company, to perhaps win some favour with this guy, in retrospect , I’m glad I didn’t. He then asked if I was planning to visit the shebeen. Given the seriousness of the situation, I replied with a cheeky “maybe”. Yes, this was to be reflection of Apartheid, and yes I was supposed to be made to feel that I was doing something wrong by existing, and yes, these actors were REALLY good, but I am a free woman. This is 2013 and I would not dehumanize myself by complying with his every whim and intention of making me feel sub-human. Plus, I really like beer so chances are if there was a shebeen, I would definitely visit it.

All the dramatics aside, after being warned that I would be incarcerated for six months if I was found without my pass, I engaged with the exhibition. There were illuminate fixtures all around the room relating historical information, The first one specifically being about the 1913 Native land act, which was cause for the exhibition as this year herald the centenary since the law was instituted.

To be honest, I had no idea that laws as harsh as these were into place as far back as 1913, so for my fellow ignorant readers ,the 1913 Natives land act ensured that natives, or what we would refer to as people of colour, were only allowed a 7% ownership of designated land in South Africa, and furthermore that they were not allowed to regulate livestock and it also regulated who could live on “white farms” and who could stay on white farms, thereby lessening any “natives” ability to be fully empowered themselves and to be self-sufficient.

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The Natives Land Act , 1913

This happened as far back as 1913? It almost shocked the native out of me! I then snapped a shot with my camera with Mr AWB and his sidekicks and was told that they were watching me. The man in uniform uttered that I looked like a trouble maker.

Turning the corner is what really tore this native’s heart to pieces. There we pillars, almost ceiling high, all displaying the laws that were instated after 1913: The Group Areas Act, The Population registration Act, The Separate Amenities Act. You’d wonder why this moved me to tears. But seeing these laws suspended against that concrete was too much to bear. To me, those laws fixed on those concrete pillars, represented the permanency of its effects on our country.  Imbedded, irreversible and done, now elevated, almost boastfully.

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After I composed myself, I encountered a group of marching protesters holding up signs objecting these unjust laws. The marched in unison, singing songs of freedom, and I was almost trampled as they marched in full force as I approached with my camera.

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Then there was the shebeen ( unfortunately there was no beer), and  people were playing cards , dominoes , empty bottle’s positioned on the table, the occupants all dressed in  attire from the fifties, sixties and seventies.

What caught my attention was a white woman sitting on her stoep and behind her the sign read:

“A resident in Triomf, the white working class suburb, built on the ruins of Sophia Town” .

Positioned directly across her were two black women, who appeared to be impoverished and desolate. At point the two parties argued to and from their respective “areas”.

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Further along the exhibition a casper is seen and various posters heralding historical events in South Africa. There were also television screens which streamed videos of marches, protests, burning townships and Apartheid leaders spewing their well constructed rhetoric of injustice.

Jethro Louw

Jethro Louw

As you turn the corner you approach the poetry corner. I had the pleasure of catching the end of Jethro Louw’s set and I finally got to see the friend I told the security about, Ms Dejavu Tafari. It took me some time to find the section designated for the posts/storytellers to perform and eventually when I was directed to it, Dejavu informed me that she had already performed about three times to be exact. I opted for a picture instead and then she hopped onto stage to get a picture behind the mic and the onlookers were now intrigued an edged her on. She performed a poem I had requested and I was thrilled.

Dejavu Tafari

Dejavu Tafari

Dejavu is a ball of fire, wit and wisdom. She has the type of stage presence that makes it impossible to fix your eyes anywhere else. She is the real deal and if you ever see that she’ll be participating in a show, do yourself a favour and go. You won’t be disappointed.

Being as crazy as she is, she announced to the audience, which was very small, that I had written a poem the previous evening and I was going to grace the stage. I had no choice I had to get up there. After that we spoke a bit about poetry the workings of it in Cape Town. We both were in agreement that poetry in Cape Town seemed rather fragile at this point in time.

A few weeks prior to the exhibition, I saw the call for twenty poets who were to perform for twenty minutes, each day of the exhibition. I considered responding to the call, but I was not in a “stage” space at the time. I was exceptionally happy that poets were invited to the event, but let’s get it right people. Dejavu let me know she had performed at least thrice throughout the day, even though she was only scheduled for twenty-minutes. The whole affair seemed to be rather disorganised.

Additionally a jazz band played through the duration of the exhibition beyond the partition where the poetry was staged. Don’t get me wrong, I love jazz and it was a good idea to place the musician at the space designated for the shebeen, to add to the ambience of that setting, but what about the poets who had to compete with that distraction throughout the day? This injustice was quite fitting with the rest of the exhibition. During our conversation we did manage to psyche ourselves up and came to the conclusion that if things were to change, well as Gandhi put it, we had to be that change.

After parting from Dejavu, a woman asked if I wanted to sign the pledge. I read this pledge carefully before I put my name on it. It read as follows:

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Quite a hefty promise to make, but I do believe in what it said and was glad to sign it. My hope would be that whomever else signed the pledge would understand the responsibly of what it meant.

Overall the exhibition was a rather emotional experience and I was taxed when I left. The aim of the exhibition was to show how since Apartheid, steps have been taken to combat the wrongs of the past. On most of the pillars relaying the horrendous legislation of the past, a sort of disclaimer was posted about how steps had been taken by the current administration to reverse the effects of these laws, which I respect. Progress takes time but the hard truth is, is that in terms of land in this country, it will never be equal. Too much damage was done. The trauma of this land lies in its geography. Perhaps the percentage of black owned land will increase, perhaps more people will receive housing, but the townships and the Capeflats will always exist. People of colour will always be living there, that won’t change.

Was the aim of the exhibition met? I don’t know, but I’m glad that it is on display. It provides a minute view of what it was like and perhaps it will help people realise what kind of trauma this land experienced. Perhaps it will spark patience for the healing process, or perhaps the visitors to the exhibition will realise that there will always be a struggle to combat our past and perhaps they will join that struggle?

The exhibition has been extended to June 29th. It is free and I is a must see, for many reasons.

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Shut up and drive!

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The title of this blog refers to Rihanna’s song in which she outlines a sexual challenge to her lover/driver to manoeuvre her like the mean machine she is. I’m at liberty to agree with her. The first few times I drove, the experience showed semblances to popping my cherry. For one, there was the ever-present feeling of fear and excitement, I was completely unsure of what I was doing, my legs were immediately lame and useless afterward, I always needed smoke a ciggie after and then there was the relief that I had not died ( or with regarding to my cherry, that I was not a damned woman without my Mary like purity).

As much as this was all enticing, driving proved a rather difficult task for me. When I was 16, I went away on holiday with my then girlfriend and her family to Club Mykonos (in Langebaan, not Greece) where we decided to go go-carting. Oblivious that this required any skill, I crashed into everything that was a tire at a tremendous speed leaving me with whiplash and a few bruises. Since then I “developed” this fear of driving. The line is always blurred for me between believed and imagined.

So, I went on merry way, relying on my popularity to get around (I’m a hot commodity, don’t be fooled). Then I got a job that required me to go places by myself and my co-workers (except for one) are not my friends, so immediately I became a liability , which is hard after you’ve been an asset for all your life ( wink wink).

See my friends would give me bullshit, continuously / always asking that damned question ” When are you going to get your license”, and I would shrug and say “some day”. Work however, did not want to hear some day. It had to be done now: I had to see clients, go here, go there, go frikken everywhere and so began the quest in obtaining my driver’s license.

I began driving last year in October and initially the process was kind to me. I felt capable, being able to navigate and control the machine, but I was too hasty. After a month of driving, I had my first driver’s appointment and …..I failed…on the incline. I did not even manage to pass begin and I did not collect R200. This did not get me down, I persisted and made another appointment and once again, over excited moi , did not pass begin or collect R200.

It became clear I needed more lessons, which I decided to do. This process is very heavy on the pocket and given that my father works in insurance and considered me a risk, all I had to rely on, were these lessons.

The next stop was Worcester, an early appointment meant an easy license right? No! Once again, I rolled at the damn incline. The incline and I developed this relationship where I hated it and similarly it did not want me crossing it. Another appointment at Worcester, and my colleague was to drive me there for my test. The manageress was in Pretoria at the time and called to ask how it went with my test ( she was there at Worcester when I made the appointment) and I assured her that the test day was the next day, until I looked at the appointment sheet and realised I had missed my appointment. Aaaaah!

Forward march and I managed to get an appointment the next week at Parow traffic department. I passed begin, and I completed the parking. Once on the road, all I kept thinking was “I can’t believe that I’m getting my license today”, then we turned the corner. I approached a pedestrian crossing and out of nowhere this jaywalking lady decides to plant herself midway on the crossing before strolling in the road (the rule stipulates that you have to stop for a pedestrian if they are ON the pedestrian crossing). The traffic officer (with his mean scowl and boep pens) just said “Fail”, and I went on to argue with him that she was not on the pedestrian crossing, but he wouldn’t hear it. On the way to the traffic department he made me do a U-turn around an island in the road (something I had never attempted before) and I was flabbergasted. I kept thinking “Really mister? Really, you make me do illegal moves, but when I’m right you failed me?” I cried that day.

Then there was a series of weekends where I was the social butterfly, visiting friends, family obligations and this made it hard to make another appointment. Parow traffic department is only open on a Saturday until 10:00 and making an appointment in the week , while taking public transport there , creates a huge dent in the working day since it took up to three hours just to stand in line for the eye test!

Meanwhile the only other practice I got was driving the manageress’s green Peugeot convertible…until I cashed it. Well not crashed it exactly. We were in Simondium and the roads are really narrow in that vicinity and at driving school the only teaches you to drive 60km/h and driving faster than this ,had me a bit panicky.

We then came to a sharp turn in the road and on my left hand side was a truck and another car in tow. I did not want to fuck into the truck and decided to move a bit to the left, but I moved too much and we went off the road. I then got back onto the road and preformed the ever popular K53 emergency stop. We swapped places but by then it was too late. Her tires on the left hand side were slashed as they were ground against the side of the road (there were no pavements), so we were stranded .

What followed in those two hours of being stranded in Simondium alongside the road can only be described as torture.Not only was I in shock that I had neerly died, but I was made to feel like a failure after having caused this accident and my confidence was a bit shattered. It was awful! I will say one thing though, the view and surrounding area in Simondium is really picturesque.

Forward march, Durbanville – and another fail. Then today, 30 May 2013, a date I’ll tell my children about, I managed to get a quick appointment at Brackenfell and as you can imagine, I had been dealing with immense amount of pressure.

But I decided …

1 ) no drugs: I had been propping myself up on Calmettes and Rescue Remedy at all the tests, which are natural pills which are said to calm the nerves and ease anxiety, but this obviously made me too relaxed ( incline issues considered).

2) I was Beyoncé : If I had managed to perform poetry in front of a crowd of 1500, then I could do this.

3) If taxi drivers could get their license, so could I.

4) I was wonderful, regardless of this damn license

5) I believed in God after all, because I had never prayed this much! ( I am very blasphemous by the way, sometimes I refer to Jesus as J.C, like his my homes, or I like to think of him as Mexican , phonetically referring to him as Hey Zeus) .

6) I was Beyoncé (it rhymes with Roché okay!).

So off I went drug free and praying. When I pulled up to the traffic department after completing the route, I nervously asked the traffic officer if I had passed, granted that she hadn’t said fail up until this point. She then said “we’ll have to count the points”. We then proceeded to go down a long passage (very reminiscent t of the Green Mile) where we entered a small room (very reminiscent of every interrogation room, I’ve ever seen in films).

While she tallied the points I was the image of a Christian statue, praying my little life away to Hey Zeus, until she turned around and said “you passed”. I jumped and asked to hug her and she complied. I then cried, an ugly cry at that, I was just so relieved and happy!

I put on a huge show as I went see my instructor in the reception area, I felt like what I imagine those contestants on Idols feel like when they get their golden ticket to the next round. I was fist pumping, leg kicking and full on victory dancing. It was a moment to behold. Persistence, self belief and Hey Zeus got me my license, now all that’s left to do is get a fast car and be my own “ticket to go anywhere” ( Tracy Chapman) or maybe I’ll just shut up and drive? Or write a poem:

Rev my engine

but don’t coast my clutch

a full observation

before you ease in slow

blind spots noted

hand break up

warning lights off

and all door’s closed.

safety belts fixed and seats adjusted

no obstructions,

it’s all clear

lights undamaged,

fuel cap secured

tire pressure precise

front and rear.

Indicate your intentions

lock and steer

slow down honey

when you change that gear.

Mirror me

each five to eight seconds

check all those streets

observe those intersections.

In the K53 of this body

No arm crossing

while handling me

ignore that stop light

dismiss the amber glow

you’ve got permission

so accelerate

just go, go, go.

Disclaimer: The above poem will not secure your driver’s license and is only to be adhered to when naked.


Jam That Session 07 April- Review

Andy Mkosi &Obie Mavuso

Andy Mkosi &Obie Mavuso

Last month DJ Ruth Pearl Molteno played at Jam that session. A few mutual friends and I decided to check her out. When we got there however, the venue had reached its capacity we and couldn’t get in. This sucked.I love seeing Ruth play. I watched one of Ruth’s very first performances at a gig I had a hand in hosting called, Soul School, where  Gary Arsenic played too.

Roché Kester, Gary Arscenic, Ruth Pearl Molteno

Roché Kester, Gary Arscenic, Ruth Pearl Molteno

Being shunned from the gig,  left me with a weird feeling. Like there was an exclusivity to it, and it kind of made me wonder  “what’s all the fuss about and why the hell can’t I get in?”. Now however,  I can totally attest why there should be a fuss about Jam that Session.

While doing Love Psalms at the Baxter I met an array of artists. Mfundo Ntobongwana was one of them. While talking to him backstage found, I found  out that he was involved in the production of Jam that Session. I then said (‘cause I’m forward like that) “put me on the list to perform” ( I might have threatened him too, I can’t recall, it’s such a blur) .   As the universe works, if you ask,  it is given, so I was confirmed to performed at Jam that Session on the 7TH of April

The sound check was scheduled for 11:00 am. It took me a while to find the venue, I had only been to Ragazzi when it was in Long street, but now the venue  has moved to 7 Loop street. It was great though, walking through the city, I felt very poetry Cape Town. I had decided to channel poet/ performer Natasha Tafari that day.  Natasha ran this gig in Cape Town called Words worth saying, which was really a great platform for artists .I was immediately  intrigued by her. Not only was her poetry brilliant, but this was a woman with guts. She was soooo hip hop and managed to be a boss in high heels and a long skirt. I won’t ever forget how cool she looked, so when thinking about what to wear, my ensemble was immediately a throwback to Natasha.

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Bukiwe Zinganto and The Unity Band

The sound check never really happened, but I was there and this gave me time to mingle. I met the owners of the brand Jam that Session, Andy Mkosi and Obie Mavuso. On their production team is Mfundo Ntobongwana , Mawetu Matyila, Sam Lehoko and Ntsika Bradaki.

To start the Jam, The Unity band , consisting of Lumanyano Mzi, Brandon Hendrix  and Gideon Gidz accompanied Nyanga singer Bukiwe Zinganto. They really got the crowd going. Additionally the band invited Mfundo on stage and he recited a poem  ,that I’m totally in love with, called “Dear Future Wife”. Mfundo seduces with his words , and in the most gentlemanly manner too.  I’m sure most of those ladies in the audience were riling to be his future wife with poetry like that.

Up next was Nique-Floe Sithole. Nique also performed with me at Love Psalms. He has the ability to paint the most beautiful images with his words. Nique recited two poems and he was absolutely amazing.

Nique-Floe Sithole

Nique-Floe Sithole

The audience was then blessed by the wonderful Lebogang Nova Masango. Lebogang hails from Jozi and literally just pulled through to do one poem. This woman is powerful. The title of her poem A love Supreme : A lesson to poetry women and Jazz men” which was quite apt considering it was the International Jazz Festival in Cape Town that weekend as well. Lebogang had the audience sipping on her words as if it was a good glass of wine. The purrs and murmurs that resounded from the audience spoke to the depth and insight she conveyed.Lebogang was also part of the renowned Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Festival in Jozi (2011).

Lebogang Nova Masango

Lebogang Nova Masango

Kneo  Mokgopa then stepped to the stage. I find Kneo very interesting. He has the calmest demur before show time, I’m the total opposite-completely hyper. As soon as he steps on the stage though, he completely transforms. He becomes this ball of energy that gets you mesmerized. He performed the extended version of his poem “I dare you to love me”. Kneo will be representing South Africa as part of the Vocal Revolutions team that will that will be touring to Chicago in August.

Kneo Mokgopa

Kneo Mokgopa

Roché Kester

Roché Kester

I then performed two pieces and that  stage immediately felt like home. I was apprehensive about performing at Jam that session, given the array of acts and considering I couldn’t get in last month made me think it was a party vibe, not   conducive to poetry, but my fears were totally irrational. It felt like everyone actually listened and internalized what had been said. I’ll state without an inkling of a doubt that Jam that Session is an amazing platform for poets.I totally endorse it.

Comic Book: 15 April, Little Theatre, 8PM

Comic Book: 15 April, Little Theatre, 8PM

Koleka Putuma

Koleka Putuma

Reeling from stage high, a phenomenon that will be explained in a later blog, I fixed my eyes to the stage where the remarkable Koleka Putuma worked it out. I sometimes make the joke that Koleka is the artist formally known as Coco. When Koleka started doing poetry she was dubbed  Coco, but then one day she plainly stated on Facebook that she would like to be known as Koleka. I don’t blame this sister, she can call herself whatever she wants ‘cause when it comes down to it, she can irrefutably back it up.

What I love most about Coco is that she is a real writer.She is a skilled, concise writer , whose words mask so many meanings and metaphors and you are actually left in awe by how layered her work is.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes and a great performer. Coco IS theatre and coincidentally, she is training at UCT in this art form. Please go check out the play she’ll be in soon called Comic Book. I’ll definitely be writing more about Coco in the future, she’s someone to watch.

Flo'Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni

Flo’Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni

Flo’Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni then hit the stage with lots of finesse and a no holds barred kind of style.

Mfundo Ntobongwana, Jacqui ThePoet Dichabe,Kgothatso Motshele

Mfundo Ntobongwana,Kgothatso Motshele Jacqui ThePoet Dichabe.

To conclude the poetry section of the event Jaqui ThePoet Dichabe, Mfundo Ntobongwana  and Kgothasto Motshele graced the stage. As mentioned, Mfundo performed with me at Love Psalms and Kgothatso was also part of that show. Mfundo will be joining the Vocal Revolution team in America, playing  mentoring role for the participating contestants .

Kgothatso  is definitely something  magnificent . She has the softest  nature and she is so in tune with who she is, that it permeates so effortlessly through her work. She has the same ability that Mbali Vilikazi has with regard to storytelling. She states what she has to say plainly , but it touches because it’s so true, it is wonderful to watch her.

The three poets performed a piece simultaneously and props has to be given to them for being innovative.  After their performance Mfundo stated that he was really privileged to share the stage with Jaqui The Poet. Jaqui has been performing in Cape Town for ten years. This was the first time I witnessed her on stage. She also acts as mentor to both Mfundo and Kgothatso and if the work of these poets is testament to her work, she must be a brilliant mentor.

Loyiso Mkize

Loyiso Mkize

As the theme for this month was visual arts , the guest speaker was talented Loyiso Mkize . I have seen his art posted on Facebook and immediately liked it.Actually meeting him and speaking to him  was  rather something.

Loyiso spoke about two of his artworks, and let me tell you, this brother is for real. There is so much detail in his art and the symbolism in it , that I’m left to agree with him when he said  that just as these poets create with their words “I paint poetry”.

Loyiso is brilliant and he is also still in awe of how his art has influenced people. He said the best feeling is when younger artists deem him as inspiration. Loyiso spoke on freedom and how our generation of artists have the ability to redefine who want to be. He also has the utmost respect for women and spoke of them as queens- my kind of brother.

Jam that Session provided some magic- literally. Meet Jason, who managed to swop a card from my mouth to his, it was very crazy.

A performance by Selwalesizwe, a perscussion group, with a lead singer that pierces the soul.

 Jason Lamy.

Jason Lamy.

Sonwabile Mhlonyane, Nthabeleng Nthabie Jafta, Vuyani Lesiea

Selwalesiwe :Sonwabile Mhlonyane, Nthabeleng Nthabie Jafta, Vuyani Lesiea

I met the members of Green Grass Grow. The performed with Mongz Baritone are they are fantastic. This group, who are a  kaleidoscope of cultures,  translates music through a  unique  sound .

I also managed to experience The Fam before they hit the stage. These gents are MC’s of the highest order. I was sitting outside with my friends and they just started spitting rhymes about us sitting there.I have mad respect for MC’s their ability and talent are true manifestations of God, they are insane.

Mc's spitting timeless rhymes.

Mc’s spitting timeless rhymes.

The Fam: Kuthula Magubane, Silo Sithole , Thokozani Khoza, Lungelo Dlamini

The Fam: Kuthula Magubane, Silo Sithole , Thokozani Khoza, Lungelo Dlamini

I have to give a shout out to the Dj’s that held it down. Your jams had the jammers going! Apologies to the acts I never got to see, I had to slip even though the party was still in full force when I left. Apologies to those that are not mentioned.

It was great being able to meet everyone and talk art . My last blog post

https://shouldbetold.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/this-is-not-hollywood-or-the-uk-or-or-or/ I made some  tongue-in-cheek  comments with regard to being paid for one’s art form.

I however, omitted that it is not that easy as I made it out to be. Obie informed me that the entry fee just about covers the venue, the bouncers and the sound engineer for the event.  If you’ve ever organized a gig, you know that this in itself is a pretty penny.

We did discuss that by getting your event to be reputable, then allowing you to  apply for various sponsorships, which would hopefully lighten the load. Sponsorships also you the prospect of then paying your artists. Obie let me know that they are in talks for sponsorship and that paying the artists   performing at Jam that Session,   is something they are working toward.

Given that I was a performer at the gig, I do have a few tips for the organizers.  Clear communication is imperative, so with regard to sound checks, whoever is organizing the event should set the sound check closer to the time of the gig, in that way not having your artists mill around unnecessarily.

This is a tough one,  but my advice to organizers is to start on time, or at least an half-hour after the scheduled time of the event.   I understand the logic in waiting longer to pull a bigger crowd for the performers, but, one can’t  neglect the audience members who were punctual.

Sending  the set list to your performers before the event also helps so that you create a line of communication and  give your artists and idea of what to expect before hand.

If possible, only have the equipment needed on stage  for a specific performance. Too many electronics and instruments on the stage create an eyesore for your audience and may also hinder the artist’s performances.

Further than that, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed the gig. It reminded me of a mixture of  Nicole Biondi’s (nee Moody) monthly  Verses  that took place at the old Zula bar  and it also showed resemblances to Toni Stuart and Kent Lingeveldt’s   Expression Sessions, that occurred at the former   Ragazzi.

Jam that Session is cool, l because it allows for all art forms and contrary to my initial perception, this event is not exclusive, but evidently  inclusive.

Check them out here : Jam that Session to support their monthly show.