It was Greek philosopher Plato, who said necessity is the mother of invention. And it is Lebogang Motsagi, who finds himself corned to create something out of nothing in order to get what is necessary- an education.
The 23 year-old photographer and fashion designer has been accepted at the University of The Arts London, London College of Fashion as well as by the London College of Communication and another Photography School in Berlin. “I unfortunately had to defer the offer, then I eventually lost my place for the 2018/19 enrolment. However, I got contacted by a guy named Tom, who works for UAL and was also helping me with my application. He stated that me losing my place for 2018/19 does not mean anything bad. All I need to do is reapply for the same course whenever I have my funds sorted out.”
“The process won’t be as complex as the initial one because the panel is already familiar with my application as well as my work. I basically have until January 2019 earliest, or either September 2020 latest to raise the funds,” says the maverick creative.
To raise the money, the designer took matters into his crafty hands and created unconventional chic bags. “I have been making and selling bags to help raise more funds as well as to pay for my food and rent due to the fact that my plans had completely changed. Everything went south. I was not planning to be here this long, so that too is a big problem. I also get booked for shoots every now and then. So that also helps a lot.”
The Kimberly born creative has a clothing brand, Elisa, named after his late mother. The bags compliment the clothes he also makes. “That is just one of the projects I am doing on the side to help get my work out there more. I am not ready to share any details regarding the brand so far. It’s still going through its early stages of development.”
The lanky young man has also opted for modern conventional ways to get out of the finance dilemma. He’s gone the fundraising route, setting up an account on Go Fund Me where he asks 500 000 people across the globe to donate R1 each, to help him reach his target.
“I have managed to raise about R10 000 so far, but I have spent some of the money on fabrics to make more items that would help me more money, as well as on my IELTS test, and other expenses I faced while having to travel to and from Pretoria to write the test,” says Motsagi.
Johnny Clegg just wanted to play music. But South Africa’s white people never understood why he wanted to spend time with black people writes Styles Lucas Ledwaba
He tells a good story just as well as he makes music. He’s an interviewer’s dream. You ask one question and he tells one great story after another.
It’s perhaps a wonderful thing that he’s writing a book on the band Juluka, which took him and his friend Sipho Mchunu from the obscurity of playing music in the migrant hostels of Johannesburg to international fame back in the late 70s and early 80s.
In September 2013 he’s hoping to take his life story, through a musical titled The Johnny Clegg Story, to the stage.
Hopefully this story will portray incidents like the one that happened while he was walking down Rissik street in central Johannesburg back in the early 1970s, strumming his guitar, singing maskanda music, an almost unthinkable sight in a South Africa in which the apartheid laws forbade any sort of inter-racial or cultural flirtation.
“Vuilgoed!” a white firefighter, seemingly disgusted by the sight of a young white man flirting with black culture and language screamed from the top of a building.
“Voetsek!” came Clegg’s defiant response.
Before he knew it, the fireman and an accomplice were chasing him down the street. But when he reached Walmer hostel, where he was well known among the Zulu migrant community, his pursuers backed off and resorted instead to insults.
It was incidents like these, which happened often, that saw him earn the isiZulu praise names, bamzonda eKillarney\bamzonda eHillbrow\ abafuni umlungu odla uphuthu nabantu!
Loosely translated, it means “they hate him in Killarney, they hate him in Hillbrow, they despise a white man who eats uphuthu with black people.”
But he was popularly known in Zulu street music circles as Madlebe, big ears, for reasons best understood by looking at his ears.
“That was my life. I grew up in the hostels,” says Clegg just hours before he is set to receive the Order of Ikhamanga from president Jacob Zuma on Freedom Day.
Clegg was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga for his excellent contribution to and achievement in the field of bridging African traditional music with other music forms, promoting racial understanding among racially divided groups in South Africa under difficult apartheid conditions, working for a non-racial society and being an outstanding spokesperson for the release of political prisoners.
“Hee, mfowethu! People don’t know what we went through,” he says of his constant conflict with the apartheid laws.
His forays into the hostels and befriending Zulu migrant who also doubled up as street musicians, often led to his arrest and police harassment.
As a white man, he had to apply for permission from the authorities to be allowed into in a hostel. But such an application would most probably be turned down or take many months before it was granted. And even then permission would be granted for just a few hours.
“I just wanted to play music. That’s all I wanted to do. But the white people could never understand why I wanted to spend time with black people. To them it was always something criminal, they thought it was about dagga, they never thought these were just normal people. But I went anyway, I wanted to play,” says Clegg.
And he paid a heavy price.
He was often arrested for trespassing, for being in a black area without a permit; at school he was ostracized by some of his peers and on the family front, some relatives accused him of bringing disgrace to the family name, all because he dared to defy apartheid’s racial segregation laws and reached out to the other side.
“I always asked them why they were criminalising my behaviour because I was doing nothing illegal? Even then I was aware that there’s something as an unjust law. I never even thought of giving up,” he says.
And from the hostels he learnt more than strumming the guitar and dancing. Instead he learnt important aspects of Zulu life and culture, isiZulu, stick fighting, traditional dance, ukuphalaza, the use of intelezi and the sacred ways of healing. But what intrigued him the most were the stories of the men, proud warriors in their villages and regions, but reduced to sweeping the streets for a pittance in the city, yet remaining upbeat and continuing to embrace life with a wicked sense of humour.
It was these stories, he says, which influenced his strong lyric writing which produced such hits as Woza Friday, ScattIerlings of Africa, African Sky Blue, The Mainstay Cup Final Song, Zodwa and many others.
His proficiency in isiZulu and his adept dance moves earned him the monicker The White Zulu. But Clegg thinks otherwise.
“I’m more than a Zulu. I’m a South African. The Zulu experience helped me develop an African identity,” he says.
Clegg points to his childhood in Zimbabwe and Zambia as the strong foundation to his non-racial outlook on life.
He went to five different primary schools in five years in three different countries, in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. But it was in Zambia where he went to a multi racial school, that the idea of multi-racialism was entrenched.
When he began touring overseas with Juluka, Clegg used the opportunity to campaign for change in South Africa. Many of his songs were banned by the SA Broadcasting Corporation but this never stopped him from scaling great heights in the international charts. He’s been honoured widely overseas and here at home, but fame, it seems, has not gone to his head.
He still visits the hostels and his friend Mchunu in Kranskop, KwaZulu Natal and has his feet firmly on the ground.
And while many artists from his generation struggle to grapple with our fast changing society, Clegg believes the ground is fertile for a new revolution, which is transformation.
“During apartheid we were always against something. But when apartheid ended we had to be for something, which is what I think many people have struggled to deal with. But these are exciting times, transformation is the new agenda,” he says.
Thanks for the music, Madlebe! – This article first appeared in the City Press in 2012
Mesut Ӧzil is a great player, very few can deliver a pass like the German. But he’s only an asset to the team going forward- trust me, I’m an Arsenal supporter who knows how painfully true that is. The World Cup winner doesn’t toil with the rest of the boys when they need to win the ball back, rendering his services a luxury, at the expense of the Gunners.
This is similar to twanging that one would come across, when in the company of those who former President Jacob Zuma would label “smart blacks.” Hey, I’m not necessarily biased against people who have a nasally manner of articulation, because I have a bit of that too owing to where I went to school and even the Hip Hop culture I grew-up engrossed in. I just get annoyed when we as society begin to equate fluency in English, to intelligence.
I often find myself in spaces where conversations about a plethora of things are abound; from spirituality, sexual orientation, artistry, socio-economics and so forth. With these exchanges, various ideas and opinions come to the fore, which is all well and fine with me. But it’s the gang from multiracial schools who’d often show-off their well-spoken English, but essentially adding naught to the conversation. What makes the whole picture worse, is that more often than not, the other blacks would be so gobsmacked by the speaker’s eloquence, they’d be too intimidated to even rebuff what they just heard.
Go to any Higher Education institution around Gauteng, where you would find students who hail from Township schools and rural parts of the country being ostracised for not being as articulate in the English language. But these are the same students who are passing their courses-while the “good speakers” are stuck repeating classes.
This isn’t to suggest multiracial or Model C schools never produce top students, and that rural and kasi schools don’t flunk in university- but there’s a sense that we as young black people are polarized by how we speak this English.
But this isn’t unique to young black people. The older generation has been institutionalized to be intimidated by Caucasians, hence most black parents would take their kids to larney schools with a rightful hope for a better future for their kids, but these folks also do it to make sure their kids won’t be seen as inadequate for not being able to speak fluent English. I remember my family’s expectation for me to speak isilungu, in my first years at Primary. I didn’t understand that. The same way I don’t comprehend the jubilation of a pre-school kid’s parents, at the sound of a five year old twanging.
It’s not wrong for the child to learn a new language, but it is, to give your child ideas that their comfortability with the English language makes them better black people. I’m pretty sure that most black parents wouldn’t show off their kids’ ease with Tsonga, if their bundle of joy was able to speak the Bantu language.
It is this sort of thinking that creates a sense of Afrophobia among black people- irrational fear towards black people or anything that is of African descent. Afrophobia infiltrates everything around us, be it music, business and even media. Remember the bridge that collapsed on the M1 highway/Grayston drive which led to the deaths of two people in 2015? I bet that had that construction site been overseen by an African company, more heads would’ve rolled, rapidly. But because Murray and Roberts Holdings is white-owned, the inquiry to what happened is only taking place now, three years later.
No one dare questions white supremacy, or simply anything white. Look at what happened with the Steinhoff saga.
Imagine date night with lots of whisky then throw in the competitiveness of a Chopped episode, mix in the little culinary tips of a MasterChef class, and you’ve got the launch of Grant’s Triple Wood Whisky. Held in honour of Grant’s global whisky ambassador Danny Dyer’s first visit to Johannesburg, the event was also styled as a prototype for the “Triple Good Sessions”.
The evening started with a short cooking class by Master Chef G who explained how to smoke snoek like a pro at home. Did you know you should sprinkle your signature herb or spice on the wood chips rather than the fish? He also explained how to pair whisky with your meals at home, a handy tip considering that majority of Grant’s consumer base often drinks it at home. In the words of the Grant’s team “We are what you drink in the comfort of your home when you want to relax.”
Although the evening is a great date night idea, be warned. It is guaranteed to bring out the rivalry. Armed with aprons and chef hats, couples are split up into opposing teams and then the madness begins. You are presented with two mystery ingredient boxes, one and a half hours and you have to create three dishes! Luckily there are recipes to guide you, which you are also able to take home, but one unlucky group gets no recipes and has to wing it. Local flavours were the star of the menu with favourites like pork trotters, curry and even steamed dumplings making an appearance.
The whisky tasting happens while you are cooking, offering more time to savour the whiskies as you sip and cook. It also allows you to see how each whisky will pair with the dish you are preparing. In the midst of mishaps, laughter and jokes, the competitiveness quickly fades away. Instead, the evening becomes more like a dinner party where your friends chip in with the preparation. After cooking, a long table is set up and you get to taste the fruits of your labours. Overly spiced foods are teased but eaten with relish, and kitchen mishaps are recounted from each group.
Highlights of the evening include a wacky storytelling circle, which began with one mandate; your contribution has to be as insane and goofy as possible. The resulting story would have made an amazing ad for Grant’s or a really insane Netflix movie. Despite Grant’s established customer base however, they have turned their sights towards a new market. Taking the saying “whisky is best shared with people” very seriously, Grant’s is seeking to take the whisky out of home with curated fun date night events and the Triple Good Sessions. If the launch was anything to go by…we can’t wait.
Humanity is a disease to mother Earth thus motherfuckers don’t deserve my love. Why are we so destructive, unprogressive and hopelessly retarded in our pursuit of happiness? As I pen this piece of mind it is the 7th of May 2019. The day before South Africa holds its sixth democratic election to select the political organisation which will get to rule my home country for the next half a decade.
The winner will most certainly be the African National Congress. A well organised collection of liars, thieves and killers. Everybody knows what they are but nobody can prove it and most of us do not care. Admittedly lying, thieving and killing are a necessary component in a social struggle against oppression.
That does not translate well when a liberation movement becomes the governing party. The history of Africa since its independence bares testament to this unfortunate truth. Although that history is not without its heroes and heroines. Thomas Sankara, Steve Bantu Biko, Ruben Um Nyobè, Tambo just to name a few. Their courage in the face of Caucasian tyranny transformed their lives into monuments of beauty in this cold white world.
Beauty is the source of joy in life and for this not so humble writer, the beauty in anything lies in the thought behind it. This is why some of us as pretentious Hip Hop heads do not fuck with Trap music and refuse to acknowledge it as a fundamental part of Hip Hop culture. We simply do not understand the intent and the thought behind it.
I only started to appreciate the beauty of Trap after watching a documentary series called Noisy Atlanta. In the series a nerdy and scrawny white male follows influential Trap artists through the American city of Atlanta. The city is a critical transportation point for that country’s economy. Consequentially illegal drugs coming in from Mexico have to go through the city. This creates an opportunity for the disenfranchised African American population in the city. With a heavy drug and gang culture, Trap houses spring up all over the city like mushrooms.
A Trap house is basically a comprehensively fortified house in which dealers produce and sells narcotics. Those menaces to society live in a constant state of fear. They are always on the lookout for the pigs and snitches who try to put another black man behind bars, but there need for the all mighty dollar drives them to remain in the game. Some of these delinquents are able to express that state of mind through music. That is how Trap music came to be.
Generally Trap beats are filled with sonic textures that create an atmosphere of fear, which is contrasted with cheerful bells or strings. The lyrics are always about drugs, money and sex. With that said, when one takes a deeper listen to the music, you will come to understand that Trap is about the hustle. Trappers take pride in their work ethic and the ability to come out on top with the odds stacked against them. Which is quite effective when one is in the gym or on their way to a stressful meeting and they need to kill it. Trappers do not allow fear to get in the way of what they want and what they need.
Fear is a necessary evolutionary response when one finds themselves in a dangerous situation. It inspires action where a person either has to fight or flee to survive but fear stifles thought. Without thought there is no beauty and a life without beauty is a life filled with misery. This is the reason why the South African Bantu is such a sorry excuse for a human. We are filled with fear.
With 17 million people on social welfare, we have chosen to live on our knees rather than dying on our feet. We afraid of truth, sacrifice and change. The truth is that the consequence of capitalism is inequality. Free markets do not give a fuck about social cohesion and the common good. Its only concern is profits and losses. We as a people have to sacrifice luxury and a bit of comfort. In order to effectively address the issues that we face as a society. We are afraid of change. We need to let go of unprogressive tribal, cultural, and social norms that are no longer relevant in this current space and time.
Thus it is fear that retards our pursuit of happiness. It has turned us into illiterate, binge drinking and brash people. In other words fear has made us ugly.