Tag Archives: Dejavu Tafari

New kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town

 

Spoken Word Showdown

Spoken Word Showdown

As far as poetry goes there are a few existing competitions that has gained a good following and reputability. Nationally, the DFL Lover + Another competition sees poets from each province competing for the title. The Word ‘n Sound Poetry and Live Music series runs throughout the year in  Johannesburg and has become a must-see-event with regard to the poetry scene. In Cape Town the InZync poetry competition presented by SLIPnet has drawn huge crowds and fantastic poets, not forgetting the Naked Slam hosted by Lingua Franca that in a short time has also become very popular.

Cue the new kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town, an initiative by the very talented poet Kirsten Mackie and JP Voster, a DJ,and goes by the name of JP Silver. I had first met this dynamic duo when I was actually set to perform at their poetry show called Ms Kiki presents and since then they still manage to amaze me with their professionalism, respect for artists and the love of an array of art forms.

Ms Kiki is a platform for poets of various genres that serves as a means of self-expression and also allows the audience to experience various poets in their element. Ms Kiki has also gained a very good reputation having seen reputable poets gracing the stage.

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Of late the Nomad Artiste Colony has launched added another leg to their repertoire called the Spoken Word Showdown, a competition that consists of heats that take place every Monday  at Players Restaurant & Bar at The River Club Observatory  at 19:00 pm. What however makes this poetry competition distinct is that it is dualistic. Spoken word in this sense  includes both poetry and comedy, which allows a platform for poets as well as comedians.

Last Monday , I attended the second quarter-final of the competition and was immensely impressed by the way these two art forms worked so well together. The showdown sees each  poet/comedian perform , thereafter the audience is asked to shout of a few words which the artists then have to use to compose something original on the spot. There after , the audience is then asked to vote by applauding whom they regard to be their favourite and voila …we have a winner in each craft.

The show was hosted by wordsmith Kyle Louw who did a stellar job and again proving that he was born for the stage. The poets that made it to the second  quarter-final included DejaVu Tafari, Sharnell Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright. Dejavu could unfortunately not compete as she was in Bloemfontein working on the Reversing the Legacy exhibition with which she’s been touring to various provinces. The two remaining poets still managed to carry the show and provided great entrainment and insightful poetry.

Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

 

When you first meet Sharnelle Hill,she may appear somewhat timid, but this petite lady reveals herself as a firecracker if enough time is spent. In some way her unassuming manner provides softness with regard to her poetry which focalizes a female narrative. Having seen Sharnelle perform a few times, I was quite taken aback by how her writing has grown, as well as how she now filled out the stage with her presence. Sharnelle agreed with my sentiment that she had improved since her maiden poetry performance “I feel as if that the competition has pushed me to be more creative and think more seriously of what I produce”, Hill said and also stated that she feels that her level of performance and writing is on the pinnacle of a personal breakthrough.

Sharnelle Hill

Sharnelle Hill

 

As with Sharnelle, Peter also seems coy at first until he hits the stage. This was my first time seeing him perform, and I was quite taken by his poetry. I did however feel that him reading his poetry, did deter from his performance, but he also concurred that he is fostering that side of his performance. Peter does however have an enduring quality about him and his writing ability is not to be questioned as he trumped everyone with his impromptu poem based on the words provided by the audience.

Sharnelle Hill and

Sharnelle Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright

The comedians were very entertaining and I was so appreciative that this component of the competition existed. It opens one’s eyes that with in every art form there exists a community of artists committed to living out their dreams and pursuing their passions. In the quarter-final comedians Eugene Matthews, Westley Cockrell and Lee-Ann Anny Davis were the competitors.

Eugene Mathews is nothing short of fabulous to say the least. He has been performing comedy  for “3yearsand 4months” to be exact. You may recognize him from the CTV television show called TaxiVision, and also features on the radio show called The Taxi. He performs regularly at the Armchair Sundays in Obseveratory and has regularly hosted to The Premium Comedy for Angels event. Eugene has a natural flair and his conversational style of comedy makes one feel quite comfortable even though his jokes are on the racy side. Eugene’s set speaks to culture, but also the realities and nuances of being a gay man and this is rather refreshing considering how he tells his tale and is unapologetic about it. Eugene also said the following with regard to the competition “I’m impressed by how well the event has been organized and advertised”.

Eugene Matthews

Eugene Mathews

Westley Cockrell, a sound engineer originally from George incorporated his small town roots into his comedy. He is Afrikaans speaking and though he does his set in English, he pokes fun at stereotypes of Afrikaners. Wesley suggested that there be specific time allocations, especially for he comedians.

Westley Cockrell

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Lee-Ann Anny Davis

 

Lee-Anne Anny Davis had me in stitches throughout her set. She has a great stage presence and layers her set with topics about her education, motherhood and her heritage. She mentioned that one of the comedians who inspired her was Melanie Shevlane, who’s been in the comedy game for yonks. It was interesting that she mentioned this, as I could see similarities with regard to the content, but Davis does have her own style, distinct, concise and hilarious.

The winners of the evening, by vote of the audience were Shanelle Hill and Lee-Ann Anny Davis. Both well-deserved.

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

The crowd was also entertained by the guest performer Michael-Ashley Jones, who has the most spell bounding voice. I first meat Michael at a series of gigs called MUTE in the Northern Suburbs. He is refreshing and very talented.

Michael-Ashley Jones

Michael-Ashley Jones

The heats for the third quarter-final has already begun. To sign up as either a poet or comedian you can send your bio, a photo aswell as your contact number to nacct@mailbox.co.za.

 

 

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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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