IN honour of Black History Month, people in the US will be able to watch African inspired superhero movie Black Panther in cinemas without buying a ticket this February.
The Marvel billion-dollar blockbuster that had Africans in the diaspora and on the continent in a euphoric state of pride a year ago, will be shown for only one week, at 250 AMC theatres in the US. The Oscar-nominated film walked away with a slew of gongs in hand on Sunday night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) which are seen as the curtain-raiser for the more prestigious Oscars.
Also known as African American History month, the observance to celebrate dates back to 1926 in the US when black historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association of Negro Life and History set the second week of February to be Negro History Week. The dates also corresponded with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who are big figures in US black history. But the month-long observations commenced in 1970.
In the following years, other countries that have also joined the US’ 28 day celebration of black history. It was in 1987 when the United Kingdom first commemorated the month as black history, Canada and the Republic of Ireland joined the movement in 1995 and 2014 respectively.
Like anything under the sun, Black History Month has come under criticism from a number of black American who are of the opinion that the month celebrations are defeating the purpose of having a Black History Month. Black people’s history and contribution to the US is still not in the country’s mainstream education-darkies in the US are still limited to narratives of being slaves and colonial subjects. “I don’t want Black History Month. Black history is American history,” Morgan Freeman once said.
GOOGLE an Aries’ traits and you will find that they are; Creative, independent, spontaneous and quite stylish.
Hugh Masekela, who died today a year ago was an Aries, born on April 4th. The jazz legend was an obvious creative, a staunch independent man while his travels showed his spontaneity and had he a penchant for fine apparel.
Maybe it might be hard to think of him as independent, looking at the rate at which he collaborated with other artists throughout his career. But his independence shone brighter under the cloud of collaboration in the slew of bands he was part of. Masekela, together with Dollar Brand (now known as Abdul Ibrahim), Kippie Moeketsi, Makhaya Ntshoko and Jonny Gertze make-up the first African jazz ensemble, Jazz Epistles, to record an LP in 1959.
They sold out shows in different parts of the country, but he understood that he couldn’t stay in South Africa because of dump-ass apartheid system. With lyrics swelling of anti-government chants, he left the country for London but soon moved from the UK after meeting Harry Belafonte and became a student at New York’s Manhattan School of Music. Despite spending a large part of his time in the US and other parts of the world, Masekela never discarded his South African pride, languages and cultures. He was an independent thinker who understood his role.
His style isn’t the culture-defining kinda stuff that a Bob Marley made look seamless in his Adidas tracksuits. But Masekela was savvy enough to dress himself in adequate class and eight times out of 10, you’d see the old man rocking his newsboy cap that he was very fond of with a dashiki to mark his pride and love for Africa. Whatever he wore, he manged to partake in the day’s fashion, remain true to himself and be comfortable on stage.
He always had the juice. Not only was he an astute jazz musician who composed some of the greatest music of our time, Masekela also knew how to use that music into other spheres in the art spaces for education, entertainment and activism. Together with comedian Kagiso Lediga, Maskela created late night talk show The Bantu Hour.
Built around the most famous boxing match in history, the Muhammed Ali vs George Foreman fight, Masekela with close friend Stewart Levine, organised a music festival, Zaire 74 in Kinshasa.
He ingeniously managed to fuse different styles of music to create something new- another reason for his longevity. In 1985 he founded the Botswana International School of Music, which still exists today.
Nelson Mandela wrote him a warm birthday letter while the former statesman was still in prison. In response and out of the blue at a party, Hugh went to the piano and began singing what we know today as Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) which became an instant hit.
He travelled and lived in different parts of the world for numerous reasons. His discography paints a picture of how natural he was at creating music. After spending a lot of time in the US and Europe, he came back to Africa and worked with West African band from Ghana, Hedzoleh Soundz to make some Afro-beat inspired tunes.
But around the mid-80s he was based in Botswana where he made music inspired by Southern sounds such as Mbaqanga. He sporadically changed sounds; it’s as though he knew what sound was right for his audience at the time. Because of his spontaneity, his music organically reflected the times.
IN A move that was expected in at least three years, Riky Rick has heeded the call for a big scale event that will take over from Hip Hop festival Back To The City after Ritual Media announced last year that the international festival would come to an end in 2021.
Social media was flooded with news of Riky Rick’s curated music festival next month which is to celebrate music and fashion, as he released a line-up of South African Hip Hop acts who are established and those who aren’t in the mainstream.
“Mainly set to showcase the diversity while fusing the gaps within various Hip Hop sounds and local movements, the Cotton Fest will not only bring together and unite over 80 unique acts divided over two stages, but will celebrate fashion in its various spheres,” read the statement.
The long list of performers and the space for fashion is very much similar to what BTTC did for over a decade now on every Freedom Day. BTTC was founded by Osmic Menoe and Dominique Soma in 2007 and has been an institution of the Hip Hop culture in its entirety. With B-Boys, Graffiti artists, fashion designers, skaters and ballers-everyone involved in the culture was catered for.
But a lot of dissatisfaction from fans with BTTC was with how Osmic and his team never brought an international act which was current and popular among with the youth, i.e a GoldLink or Mick Jenkins. In an interview in 2014, when they had brought old school rapper Jeru The Damaja to the country, Osmic the founder of Ritual Media said the reason for bringing old school kats was a way of giving the old heads in attendance something to enjoy as well, as the line-up is dominated by new generation of emcees.
It’s to be seen whether the Cotton Fest has observed that plea from the people to not bring has-been artists to South Africa. There will be a surprise act on the day; whether that act is an international performer or not, it will be seen on February second.
The inaugural BTTC was held on the corner of Bree and Henry Nxumalo Streets under the bridge, attracting 3500 people and has grown over the years to numbers above 20 000 and is hosted at Mary Fitzgerald Square.
The Cotton Fest will be hosted at The Station near Nelson Mandela Bridge and the one-priced tickets will be limited to only 5000 attendees. Just like BTTC, one can foresee Cotton Fest growing in numbers and heading to Mary Fitzgerald Square in a few years, which will complete the transition of the guard in Newtown and Hip Hop.
OFTEN purpose is viewed as something that one is divinely assigned, but taking up your baton is something which requires determination. There’s more responsibility on you if you’re a woman, as society remains harsh on the female species.
Former pianist in the music ensemble, Ladies in Jazz Sankie Baraza,has been in the music industry for years now, serving her purpose. But with her concert Women of Purpose has forced her to tap into another layer of herself which in-turn helps other women’s existence serve its purpose.
“Womem Of Purpose is to allow women all around the world, especially from underprivileged backgrounds to know and realise their purpose. Who they are and why they were created. To celebrate women of all ages, all races and all careers,” Baraza says, speaking to Tha Bravado.
Happening for the third year, the WOP concert will take place in the capital city’s Botanical Gardens African Pride Cafe, poignantly themed Women’ thou art loosed. “…[it] was inspired by the challenges I went through in my own personal life and by giving it all to the Lord and fighting the good fight of faith I found myself being loosened from all bondages and realised ‘that hey, why don’t I share this with women’ to help someone who feels like this is the end of the world,” says the renowned Music Director Baraza.
The day’s line-up is made up of musicians and speakers that include 2016 SATMA nominee LES-EGO, Mo Afrika, Vocal Trio, Tshegofatso Vilakazi, Rhoda, Phindile The Soul Provider, Nothando Mkhwanazi,Blessing Sibanyoni, ministers Nomsa Radebe and Apostle Sarah Mokwena. Baraza will be on stage alongside most of the musicians, but will also have her solo.
“It really has not been easy to put together the line-up because at times some of the musicians that I know and would love for them to participate, you find that they have commitments somewhere else or in most cases, I don’t have enough to give them as appreciation for participating.” Baraza has no sponsors and organises the event from her own pocket.
The name of the event might intimidate males to thinking that they are barred from Pretoria’s Botanical Gardens on the 17th this month, but Baraza says the event has no sexist vibes against the male species. “Men can and should attend, to get inside the brain and heart of a woman. My father helped me organise the first ever Women Of Purpose.”
REMEMBER a few years ago when one fan jubilantly tweeted K.O a photo of himself wearing a Cash Time Life cap and the rapper responded with a sober “But bro, that’s a fake cap tho[sic].”
The bootlegging got so bad, that makeshift Cash Time clothing crept up in countries like Angola and Zambia, to the bewilderment of the owners of the brand. This was during the height of the Cash Time Life clique, when it had the likes of Maggz, Moozlie, Kid X and Ma-E on the stable. The aforementioned artists have since left Cash Time after business turned sour.
Last year K.O relaunched the clothing line and changed the name to DustnKompany and yesterday he got on Twitter to share news that the clothes are now also available at Studio 88, an underrated clothing outlet among youth.
“For the longest time me and Tsholo have had distribution limitations with my clothing line and now through blessings that led to other blessings, Studio 88 has just opened its doors for us,” exclaimed the rapper on social media. The clothes have been available at Joburg’s Fashion Kraal for a while now, but they were restricted to that only store, since their online store seems to be down.
Local fashion designers have to contend with international brands, breaking into the highly competitive industry and on top of that still have to raise funds for collections. Last year it was reported that the clothing industry contributes only 3.3% to the country’s GDP, while it deals with the shedding of jobs, cheap imports and closing down of factories.
But unlike the average designer, K.O’s brand is built around his music which is planted in the hearts and minds of South African youth. They don’t necessarily buy it because it’s the best thing on the market, but because it’s a K.O brand. The consumer feels closer to their favourite artist, by supporting their every cause.
The rapper recently released his album SR2, which scored him two nominations at this year’s South African Hip Hop Awards, in the Best Male and Album of the year category.