Tag Archives: Mfundo Ntobongwana

Lingua Franca: Sold out

Lingua

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.
liingu
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

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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.