Tag Archives: Jam that Session

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.


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.

IMG_0032

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.


This is not Hollywood. Or the UK or, or, or.

Jam that session, Ragazzi Live Bar , 2PM, R30

Jam that session, Ragazzi Live Bar , 2PM, R30

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow artist on Monday. He is rather fortunate in the sense that he is able to just do art and use his skills as an DJ to produce and engineer music for other artists and thereby, make a living through his art.

This is not the case for me. My primary love is writing poetry, then only the other forms of literature, so in order to maintain this lavish ( not really) lifestyle of mine, I have a day job. Fortunately my job is a hub of producing literature and art, but to cut to the chase, I can’t leave my job and decide to just be a poet. I am not Shakespeare, there is no one commissioning me to write anything. Truth be told, I’ve only been paid once for a gig relating to poetry, and that was at the Design Indaba 2012, where through the help of Roxanne Blaise, I secured a gig where I typed my poetry on a monitor which was projected on the walls where a concert of various musical acts performed at Cape Town city hall.

I was not the focus,anyone could have done that job by getting a few poems and typing them, the advantage I had is that most of my poetry is committed to memory, so I suppose I was the shoe in, in this capitalist society, I was the one that was able to produce, produce produce.

Point is, when talking to said artist, I asked him, what am I doing wrong? Surely given that I’ve always had positive reception to what I’ve done, how is it that no funds are generated from my art? It’s obvious I suppose..who in heavens name do I think I am?! I am not famous (yet) , I do not have the elaborate curriculum vitae’s of the artists I mentioned in my previous post-

https://shouldbetold.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/a-picture-is-worth-more-than-a-thousand-words/.

But as with anyone there is some self-regard and belief that I am good at what I do. I believe in what I have to say and I keep working at it in the hope of…..well, change, I suppose. Societal change, and perhaps also to play a hand in art appreciation in this city and over all this country ( very ambitious , I know).

As much as I am opposed to certain aspects of capitalism, the truth is ‘everybody’s got to make a living’. In 2009, during the Cape Town Book fair , I had the great luck of meeting and attending a workshop by Zena Edwards,  a poet from the UK. She informed us that she was able to make a living solely off her poetry. Imagine! And although I’m not the biggest fan of American culture, you have to admit, somehow how they have done right by their artists.They have created the biggest industry for people who perform, act and entertain. People in arts are celebrated, and this gives a fresh perspective on the word celebrity, whose etymology stems from celebration.

I would not want us to be Hollywood, but structure, acknowledgement and celebration wouldn’t be the worst thing for South African artists.

Right, so now we are back into this investigation of what I was doing wrong, nothing I suppose, it actually comes down to what need to do right. Said artist, suggested documenting what I’ve done ( I suppose, this is part of what this blog is too), but he said ‘get someone to take pictures at your gigs, compile a list of what you’ve done and when the opportunity arises, bust out that packaging and you already have an advantage”.

Good idea, it’s in the marketing, you basically have to submit to being a commodity. My reaction was “bleh, do I really have to?”. He then he asked me “Roché if nobody ever pays you for a single poem or piece of writing, would you stop writing and performing?” and my answer was “No”. I love writing, I love performing, that’s the truth. Even if I’d only ever be the poet who is asked by family members and friends to write anything ( this has happened, I am the official wedding/21st/ 50th birthday/anniversary poet amoungst my family and friends), I would do it in a heartbeat, and hopefully forever.

When I started writing poetry it was just a means of expression.An outlet.I would have never thought of sharing or turning my poetry into a commodity. I am that girl who had a whole relationship where we communicated solely in poetry , and it was normal,just something we done to share our love.

At present , I know how powerful a tool poetry is and perhaps that is why I’d like to think that I can use it for the betterment of something.

So yes, this is not Hollywood or the UK or, or ,or. Point is if you’re doing art in Cape Town ( more so than Johannesburg), you better know why you’re doing it.What is the point of your art? You better think long and hard about what personal sustenance your art brings you, ‘cos honey child, this ain’t Hollywood. Know your cause , know what you stand for, try to embody it too, be the preacher-teacher you were always meant to be. Know what you’re fighting for. In my experience, Cape Town artists/spoken word poets are driven by love and change, if you want to be in any sort of game, that’s the game to choose-consciousness and change.

Blaq Pearl ( Cape Town, singer song writer , poet and performer)  put’s it aptly in her song A peoples worth. Know it and breathe why you do what you do. That said, this is me being a shameless commodity, ‘cos it’s another gig without a dollar for me, but there is still a dream.

So, this Sunday at Ragazzi Live bar in Loop Street I’ll be performing at Jam that Session. Doors open at 2PM and the entry fee is R30. Show a sister a little love. Dankie!