LAST YEAR’S OPPIKOPPI was a crime scene. And like any other misconduct, the black man is the suspect, but this time it’s him and his music that are to blame for ruining the vibes at long-running festival OppiKoppi. Or at least indirectly.
“Stop trying to cater for everyone. Keep [it] at a targeted audience. Don’t fix what isn’t broken…Oppi was and should stay a Rock festival,” said Marina van der Walt on Facebook.
Despondency came over hippies across South Africa last week when it was announced that this year’s installment of the OppiKoppi music festival has been postponed due to the ridiculous high rate of crime in 2018. The festival has fallen victim to a syndicate of pickpockets that have rampaged South African music events over the last two to three years. From Hip Hop festival Back To The City to the annual youth month celebrations at Basha Uhuru where I was personally a victim of pickpocketing- it’s become a headache for most South African event organisers.
Founded in 1994, OppiKoppi started out as an Afrikaans indie/folk Rock festival attended by a few hundreds of Caucasians from different parts of the country, in a small bar. The line-up would be dominated by alternative Afrikaans Rock artists who were in line with the Voëlvry Movement, which was an Afrikaans movement that sang anti-apartheid songs in that language in the late 80s and early 90s. The kinda boere that would chuck away Die Beeld for Vrye Weekblad.
OppiKoppi has substantially grown over the years attracting alternative African artists, who together came with a bigger and a more diverse audience. The site of Lucky Dube, Vusi Mahlasela and Zim Ngqawana sharing the stage with the likes of Karen Zoid and David Kramer did not make long-standing patrons uncomfortable. It’s the introduction of mainstream African acts such as Afro-Pop trio Malaika, HHP and AKA that left a bitter taste on most people.
“Somehow the Voëlvry Movement that started all of this has been forgotten in the static. OppiKoppi is a living creature born through the wail of the electric guitar man. You can’t change the nature of the beast. You want AKA? You want Cassper? You want all that Hip Hop? Then a new festival must be born that shakes to that rhythm. Why do you want to force the spirit if Rock ‘n Roll to be untrue to itself?” asked Ni-Lou Breytenbach on Facebook, responding to Oppi’s statement of postponement.
Speaking to Tha Bravado, Theresho Selesho who is the CEO of Matchbox Live which organises OppiKoppi, doesn’t think the festival’s growth has also been its Achilles heel. “The Festival has always been about freedom and fostered a safe environment where people can be free to connect, discover new acts, genres and have a great time out in the bushveld, which is a precious experience. We strongly condemn racism, sexism or any other form of discrimination at OppiKoppi. We are very happy with the strides that the festival has made over the years where a diverse audience can all enjoy OppiKoppi.”
But this amalgamation of cultures hasn’t been enjoyed by everyone though. “OppiKoppi has sold out for 20 years running before they took over. Still, the response is ‘genre diversity is something we have always welcomed’ their historical cult-like following is based on a Rock festival, not genre diversity,” said Peet van Wyk.
Over 80 cell phones were reported stolen last year, with items in people’s tents and cars taken, it’s by grace that no sexual assault was reported at the festival. “The crime incidences and stats nearly doubled in the previous year,” Selesho says. “This has in turn taken a lot of freedoms away from our fans and the safety of our audience and their belongings is our main priority.”
Selesho and his team have promised a return of Oppi next year, giving them sufficient time to find ways of guaranteeing people’s safety at the festival. Whether that’ll mean no Hip Hop or even House act, it shall be seen on the 25th chapter of OppiKoppi next year.
FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI is a legit icon. An abrasive visionary, very much deliberate with his truth. His music is sonically enchanting, with the political astuteness to match his swagger. Rightfully celebrated in Africa, and throughout the world, his legacy will stand for a very long time.
But the Kalakuta Queens, or the 27 women that Fela married as they are shabbily known, are not acknowledged for the role they played in the life of Fela Kuti.
In today’s language you could say Fela was woke, but it was a woman that woke him up. Before meeting his American girlfriend Sandra Izsadore, Fela usually laughed at proud black Americans’ insistence on drawing inspiration from the African continent. “She was telling me about Africa, she says ‘don’t I know that Africans taught the Europeans everything they know today’ I say you talking shit. She said ‘there are books’ I say show me a book, she gave me Malcom X to read,” said Fela in an interview talking about how Izsadore put him on knowledge that would give his music meaning.
That is only just one aspect of the impact women have had on Fela. Critically acclaimed Nigerian musical play, Fela and The Kalakuta Queens goes deeper into the life-long bonds Fela had with these women who are unknown to the world, who left their homes to build a life with the off-kilter artist.
“History has not been fair to the Kalakuta Queens because they were his pillar and backbone during his struggle. They stood for him against all odds and they were never remembered. It becomes important to tell their story because a story about Fela is incomplete with his women. History will never forget the Queens with the musical we have which shows the role they play in the struggles with Fela,” says the play’s director, Bolanle Austen-Peters.
Fela and The Kalakuta Queens has been at the South African State Theatre just over a week now, until this coming Sunday. It premiered in Lagos two years ago and has been a global hit since. It is choreographed by Paolo Sisiano and Justin Ezirim, with renowned composer, Kehinde Oretimehin on the production. The character of Fela is projected by both OLaitan “Heavywind” Adeniji and Patrick Diabuah who lead the thirty-six members cast, backed by a fifteen-piece band in the ensemble.
Auten-Peters is an award winning writer and entrepreneur who has established different businesses, including Terra Kulture, a combination of museum, an art gallery and a restaurant all rolled into one in Nigeria, and the Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions (BAP).
Stories of phenomenal black women who found themselves sharing life with great men, are limited to their roles as wives, with society shunning their individuality and unique contribution.
“Well, overtime I have seen different plays written and stories told about Fela. However, there has been little or no emphasis about his women. I have come to realize that it is time for us to tell our own stories so I decided to tell Fela’s story from a different angle. I took a critical look at the life of Fela and I saw that there is a gap that needs to be filled, an uncharted territory that needs to be covered and an amazing story to tell.”
The musical hasn’t only been appreciated by fans of Fela, but also the real life Kalakuta Queens. “Most of the Queens are alive, in fact some of them came on stage to give testimonials when we first staged the musical. They have been very helpful in the course of this production and I must say without them we would not have been able to put this together accurately,” says Austen-Peters. “They gave us real accounts of what transpired in the house and details of how they lived together with Fela.”
“People leave the arena crying because many never understood the things the Queens went through with Fela. The Musical is not only educative but also very informative as the audience gets to be informed about the ordeal between Fela, the Police and his women.”
Change is the only constant in life, but then again why change it if it ain’t broke? Each year around this time, radio listeners are forced to adapt to new voices on their airwaves because of the alterations that occur on radio.
In what seemed like an April fool’s day prank on Monday morning, people weren’t hearing the voice of radio jock Justice ‘Just-Ice’ Ramohlola on his show Planet Haaibo, but were welcomed to the month of April by former 5FM presenter Nonala Tose on her brand new show. Last night Just-Ice came on at 19:30 until 22:00, following Robert Marawa’s sports show.
Radio 2000 confirmed through their social media accounts that the renowned DJ will be on the night-time slot, a clear demotion from the coveted breakfast slot he and his team enjoyed. In a tweet, one Tiisetso Maloma said “Listening to the amazing Just Ice Ramohlola on Radio 2000, on the evening slot. This man is a champ. But management of the station is a joke.”
Listeners are puzzled by the station’s management, for removing a breakfast team that was liked by throngs of listeners from all over South Africa. “Puleng Thulo, station manager should just listen to the people, that’s wise leadership. Just-Ice is needed in the morning, qha!” said Davison Mohlomi Mudzingwa on Facebook.
While Dion Gabi put it poignantly in a Facebook post saying “This guy makes your troubles disappear in the morning bathong.”
The station has been hyping incumbent breakfast show host Nonala on social media, through images, videos and messages in a bid to encourage listeners to tune in, but some of the station’s audience don’t give a rat’s ass. “You guys got it wrong this time. Not taking anything away from the sister, but she’s more of a weekend presenter. 90% music 10% talk,” said Baks on Twitter, replying to a post by the station about Nonala.
Responding to Baks, Similo Silwana said “I am in agreement with you. In the end, it’s Nonala that some listeners will criticize instead of management. I listened to Ice last night and wasn’t sure if he was standing in for Bambo (Johnson) or it’s his new slot. Maybe it will crush ego of decision makers to bring back Ice? He’s missed.”
The people have spoken have made their voices heard, will the station leaders heed their calls for change?
It’s things such as these that highlight the paucity of leadership in our country, it’s not just in politics but also in sport, entertainment and media in general. It’s similar to last month when President Cyril Ramaphosa took the train, and saw how commuters struggle on a daily and him coming out saying “heads will roll” because of what he witnessed. My immediate response to that was “What the fuck, sir?” Are you telling me you didn’t have a clue of what was happening on the ground all this time? Most leaders in this country are out of touch and seem beyond reproach.
It’s interesting to see what will happen at Radio 2000 in the coming days and weeks, because it’s clear that people just want Ice in the morning.
As society we often label a sexually liberated damsel isifebe, a whore with no sense of moral standing. While men’s carnal desires are acknowledged and wickedly perceived as a prerequisite to proper manhood. But things is changing, albeit gradually.
Women, especially black women are beginning to be recognised as the diamonds they are, largely because they’ve taken it upon themselves to own their womanhood, in all ways. Photographer Dineo Mnyanga and her partner Shirley Mtombeni are celebrating women this weekend, through an exhibition, Makaziwe, a collaborative project with other lenswomen and female artists.
Hosted at Yes 4Youth, adjacent Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa, the two day exhibition is themed, Her Desires. “It’s work of art, work of expression,” says Mnyanga.
“We feature different women from across the country and we were honoured when women from Black View Finder foundation, women in photography showed interest in our exhibition. We also feature young upcoming photographers locally. ”
The list of exhibitors include Charmain Carrol, Phumzile Nkosi, Matheko Malebana, Lebogang Molota, Mosa Seleke, Sinethemba Mthembu and Cleopatra Matuwane. “Each photographer brings uniqueness, that’s what we loved the most, their work is different yet they all share the same thoughts and feelings.”
Mnyanga and Mtombeni made sure to strike a balance with regards to the age difference of the exhibitors, managing to capture the feelings of various women in their dissimilar phases in life.
Makaziwe is originally a play written by Mtombeni about a woman, who two years into marriage, grows sexual dissatisfaction with her hubby who doesn’t understand her body. The play showed at the Moses Molelekwa Art Centre and was produced by Mnyanga last year.
“Initially when Makaziwe started, it was more than a play, it was a movement! The movement inspired us to create different platforms within the arts and culture industry to express what women feel, think and want through their work. The first platform was Makaziwe the play,” Mnyanga tells me. The play will return to stage later this year.
While the exhibition is scheduled to take place this weekend, there are talks of it moving to other galleries. “So we can safely say the work won’t end here.”
· 30&31 MARCH 2019 TIME:16:00-20:00 AT YES 4YOUTH (MAKHULONG STADIUM, TEMBISA)
“What makes Jim different, is my charisma and charm, made bold by my confidence and self-belief. Lyrically top tier and ready for an international stage. I feel like I’m so different that home feels smaller now,” says Jimmy Wiz.
The artist from Kempton Park comes from a long line of great emcees that have come from the East and he’s very much aware of this, but is certain of what makes him stand-out. “What’s crazy is, the East always breeds the best in the game. I swear there’s something in the water we drink.”
Jimmy Wiz was speaking to Tha Bravado, at the backdrop of releasing the So Into You freestyle music video. The song is a remake 90s R&B classic by Tamia, So Into You.
“The idea actually started off with Ella Mai’s Boo’d up song, which I also recorded on (Available on my Soundcloud titled Butterscotch) and had the ever so beautiful Pharoahfi as the cover of.”
“I then began to realise that people seldom hear this soft side of Jim, and so I decided to start a campaign called the Ladyz Love Cool James the modern day LL Cool J. A more female friendly Jim.”
The ladies and gentlemen that makeup the Hip Hop community were familiar with the lyrical beast and storyteller that is Jimmy Wiz, during his days as a member of rap clique P.STAT and also his time on Vuzu’s The Hustle. The So Into You remix features Carol S, Korusbird and Benzo who all served their purpose on the joint.
“This may not be an original as far as instrumentals go, but we owned the song. And it captured that nostalgic feeling with a new twist. Tamia and Fabolous would be proud,” he says.
The song officially came out on Valentine’s Day, with the video shot this month below dark skies, under the direction of Mgeezy. “I remember getting the call from the director like, ‘what you doing on the first? Matter of fact, postpone everything we shooting’ [lol]. Because of the trust I have in Mgeezy, there was no need for me to step into his creative space. He took the reins and I was ready for any and every idea he had.”
The So Into remix won’t be on Wiz’s debut album, Accordin to Jim. “The Song was made to celebrate love during the month of love, and to emphasise the growth of my artistic value through the Ladyz Love Cool Jim campaign. I went from ashy to classy as B.I.G would say it.”
“My debut album Accordin To Jim is set to take centre stage in 2019. I can safely say the album is complete, all masters have been handed. As far as sound goes, nothing short of great music. Matter of fact, nothing short of classic. If you thought you knew what to expect, then you have another thing coming. Accompanied by the incredible lyricism.”
Jimmy formed lifelong relationships with other emcees during his time on The Hustle, none better than finalist ShabZiMadallion. The two released a collaborative project titled, Look At The Team. But hinted that people shouldn’t expect collabs on Accordin To Jim with some of The Hustle alumni.
“But as far as collaborations go, that’s a question that is extremely hard to answer. Too many factors come into play, and because of that, sometimes things don’t happen the way you’d like them to. It’s all God’s plan.”