How does one begin to commemorate a giant such as the late Veronica Sobukwe?
A woman whose contribution and selfless sacrifices have been erased and hidden from the public eye, so much so that we know her only as a wife rather than the strong, resilient and fighting activist that she truly was.
Born on July 27 in 1972, Zondeni Veronica Mathe was born in Hlobane (now known as Kwa-Zulu natal).
Her contribution to the liberation struggle began in her youth, where she was at the forefront of championing a labour dispute between nurses and hospital management. At the time she was a trainee nurse at the hospital and due to this strike she was expelled from Lovedale College, the (Fort-hare) ANCYL deployed Veronica to go and deliver a letter to Walter Sisulu informing him of the unhappy nurses and their cries. It was at this time that she and Robert Sobukwe, built a close bond, and in June of 1954 Veronica became Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe as she and Robert Sobukwe got married.
From the days of her youth, it is evident that Veronica cared about people more than she cared about herself. She continued to be the backbone and strength of the community, as she selflessly served and gave hope to the hopeless black community. Like many other unsung heroines, she carried the burden of a fatherless community on her back, she was the embodiment of courage to the women whose husbands were in prison or dead somewhere in South Africa.
Whilst being the strength of the community, she was raising her children, alone as her husband was in prison on Robben Island.
She was consistent in fighting a white-racist apartheid regime, and evidently so when she would challenge the government under the leadership of Voster and his collective, demanding the release of her husband and other prisoners. She wrote endless letters to the offices of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice, her letters were not only rejected they were ignored. She fought to keep the name and legacy of Robert Sobukwe alive.
During the TRC in 1997, she again challenged the apartheid regime, questioning the death of her husband. She believed that the government had poisoned his food and as a result caused his untimely passing. She was determined to fight for her husband.
It is heart-breaking that the names of great women such as Veronica, Albertina Sisulu, and Winnie Mandela are erased, that the history books in schools mention them as wives and mothers-that their immense contribution the liberation movement and the liberation of South Africa is downplayed.
Mma Sobukwe never turned a blind eye on the needs of the black people, and selflessly ensured that she did what she could to ensure that they were met.
Today we see her images flooding social media and the media at large, because the society we live in recognizes people when they’ve passed on. If only people could take time to truly get to understand her immense role in the struggle and fall in love with her downplayed legacy. If only young people could take upon the heavy baton she has now left behind.
Mma Sobukwe had to live in the time where she witnessed the freedom she fought for being tainted. Where young people are imprisoned and deprived of an education for fighting for equal and free education, where young girls live in fear of men in their own country and where children still live in fatherless and motherless households.
Mma Sobukwe has been consistently isolated and neglected, from the time her husband was imprisoned, to the time he was announced dead all the way to when she was announced dead, on August 15 2018 at the age of 91.
The Baton passed over (A letter to Veronica Mathe)
Oh Mama Azania, Imbi Lendawo, when you die they flood your images on social media but they failed to celebrate you when you were alive, they let your contribution and existence fade into thin air They ignored your sacrifices They feared the legacy you were to leave behind, the baton you would pass over to another generation of women
Your life teaches us to be women of courage, of fortitude, of resilience and of strength, to fight fire with fire, to fight fearless. uQinisile mbokodo
Mama Lendawo Imbi, you lived in a time where you witnessed the freedom you fought for bought at the price of gender based violence, and wrapped in patriarchy. Mama you witnessed the freedom of your people tainted by corruption and self-seeking leaders Mama you witnessed the black nation dying, the young people imprisoned for fighting for their educational rights, whilst rapists and criminals roam free. They failed to put in words your immense contribution The baton young women carry in their hands is heavy, but we will fight patriarchy, mama we will tackle, and champion gender based violence, we will expropriate the land.
May you stir up in us your courage, strength, selfless, compassionate and caring nature, to conquer, to challenge and to shake this world We will not weep for you, we will ensure your feared legacy continues to shake tectonic plates, we will ensure the history books don’t forget your name. Qhawekazi, siyaku bonga.- Boitumelo Thage
PRO KID was only 37. Ben Sharpa just 41. Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a mere 34. Mizcheif was 38. Sean Price was 43 .
All these are names of great rappers who’ve inspired generations of emcees. But the other miserable common thread among these names, is that they all died at a young age because of the lifestyles they lived. The gallons of alcohol drank, unhealthy food consumed, smoke that fills the lungs and countless blunts that are puffed and passed, plus shit sniffed up the nose are huge factors in most rappers’ early deaths.
Pro Kid who died just last week is said to have demised from a serve seizure following a night out with friends. Since his passing, a lot has been said about what actually happened to the genius rapper whose real name was Linda Mkhize. In an interview with Drum magazine, Pro’s cousin said the rapper had no history of seizures. There are suggestions that the rapper had begun taking drugs lately, to help him deal with career and life frustrations.
In my interview with the SABC’s Media Monitor this past Sunday, I mentioned that the only thing we can do now is speculate to what really happened because no one went to Pro to ask how he was. There was a requiring theme on social media in the past week from celebrities, saying they failed Pro. Failed him in what exactly?
This indicates something wrong had been happening in his life recently, but people turned a blind eye.
I last saw the rapper in June at Basha Uhuru where he delivered a good performance. But what was startling was how young he looked- before that, I had seen him around Tembisa where he visited often years ago. Then, he looked his age. But at Basha the kat didn’t necessarily look bad, but he suspiciously looked like a 22 year-old.
As much as people might think, talking about what really happened to him is tarnishing his legacy, I believe the family has a responsibility to share the post-mortem results so that it can also help the next generation of artists. It’s their prerogative I know, but being open about such helps guide artists who are already in the game and those who have ambitions of gracing stages with their talent.
Imagine what a post-mortem would do for a person like Emtee, who a just a few weeks ago fell on stage high on codeine. It would really be a reality check for the young kat and others like him.
Sharpa had been living with diabetes for a long while, but died due to complications with the disease. I can’t help ask myself if ‘the complications’ could’ve been avoided had he lived a better lifestyle.
Till this day, I laud Kwaito artist Zombo who went on live television to tell the nation that he was living with HIV AIDS. He died in 2008 at the age of 27. But that bone-chilling frankness has helped so many young men to think twice about dipping in the forbidden fruit without protection. Yea, he was ridiculed but at least now people know what not to do. If you can flaunt your success, then allow us to be privy to your downfall too. After all, you’re also a human being.
Wu Tang Clan animated rapper ODB died just two days before turning 35. His cause of death was due to an overdose on coke. An autopsy found a lethal mixture of cocaine and the prescription drug tramadol. The overdose was ruled accidental and witnesses say Ol’ Dirty Bastard complained of chest pain on the day he died- watching documentaries about the Wu, you get a perfect sense from those close to him that it wasn’t accidental. It’s this ‘sweeping things under the carpet’ mentality that causes the problem to escalate in the entertainment industry.
In an interview on Metro FM with DJ Fresh on his breakfast show last year, comedian John Vlismas spoke about this epidemic problem in the media and creative space. “We have been hardwired to think that we are working hard in media, we don’t really. Going down a mine is working hard. Being a domestic and working for people who are ungrateful is very hard. We think we work hard, therefore we should play hard and we have been raised in a society where this is permissive.” Vlismas himself, had issues with drug addiction before changing his lifestyle because of near-death experiences.
A member of hip-hop groups Boot Camp Clik and Random Axe, he was half of the duo Heltah Skeltah, performing under the name Ruckus, Sean Price’s death also shocked the world in 2015. A statement from his team, just said he died in his sleep-not giving anything else. He was 43 and still had so much to offer.
The last time I saw Sharpa perform was the last time I saw Mizchief, they were in Tembisa for the 21Mic Salute Hip Hop event in 2013- although Mizchief never performed. I vividly remember how Mizchief resurfaced from a hiatus, months before his passing. The Fashionable hit-maker was reported to have died of illness in 2014. The more ambiguous the reasons for an artists’ passing from those close to them, the more the legacy is tarnished by rumours.
Fela Kuti’s brother, Professor Olikoye (Ransome) Kuti, a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health in Nigeria, admitted in a press conference that Fela died of AIDS in 1997. Great as the musician was, his lifestyle choices weren’t the best. People ought to know who their heroes really are, because no one is perfect. If anything, people can now relate more to Fela.
Canadian rapper Bender who came to South Africa in 2016 to rip apart Stogie T (Tumi, of The Volume) in a rap battle, also died in March this year from a disease linked to his lifestyle. He died from sleep apnoea- a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during one’s sleep. There are various causes for this, one of them being excessive weight or obesity.
The lifestyles we live will be our downfall. It’s very important for artists to surround themselves with people who genuinely care about their well-being because as much fun and cool excessive drinking and drug intake may be, one has to always think about their health. Added to that, is that most of these artists are survived by young families who are left stranded and in debt. That people have to donate stuff to the Mkhize family is sad and quite condescending for an artist of Pro’s calibre, because we’ve seen too many artists die as paupers. How long will this go on?
*Names not mentioned include: Brenda Fassie, Whitney Houston, TK, Jimi Hendrix, Brown Dash and plenty more!
Characters, the plot, the director and the cast are determents to a play’s presentation. Honesty from all these elements is what grips the audience.
The rectitude manner in which all these elements approached KHWEZI…Say (my) her name, helped introduce the real Fezekile Kuzwayo to the audience.
On Tuesday night I went out to go watch Napo Masheane’s much anticipated and talked about play which she wrote and directed, at the State Theatre in Pretoria. The decision was not regrettable.
You know when you’ve built trust with an artist’s virtuosity and their brand, whenever they present work to the world, you’re often inclined to receive the work well. Masheane has built that strong bond over the years with her audience. Her current work honours that relationship. Roping in Azah as musical director was a genius move, as the protégée of Dr Philip Tabane’s band Molombo, captured the story of Kuzwayo. It was distinctively African sounds, with strong jazz elements that gave the play a solid foundation for the narration to be told in the most gripping manner.
“…So I was called in after I had been exposed to the story through Kim and so forth,” said Azah. The music director ironically lived in the same area as Kuzwayo’s best friend Kim at some point, and knew her personally.
“The first song that was composed was Baba and I called her [Masheane] I sang it for her while she was driving and I was so excited. That for me was one of the amazing processes. There was another song, The Chant of The Burning, it was at rehearsals…I went out to the toilet and just as I was stepping out, then the song came and I had to run to him [Bhekumuzi Malhlangu, the pianist] to tell him to press the keys…”
Luyanda Sidiya’s choreography was gentle to the eye but moving enough to make you ponder on the message that’s being portrayed. The actors served their purpose and their singing was particularly highly emotional and good throughout. Actress Thokozile Ndimande who played various characters, including Leila who was Kuzwayo’s bodyguard, was one of the stand outs. Including Theresa Mojela and Madge Kola. JT Medupe played Jacob Zuma and was decent, but the character would’ve been stronger had his Zulu been steeped in that thick KZN accent. His lacking in speaking the language, kinda killed off that staunch Zulu-man aura and arrogance that Zuma has and showed during his court appearance.
Tuesday saw the whole cast and Masheane sit for a Q and A session with audience members to talk about the play for the first time since the it opened on the 25th of July.
“I judged her, I don’t wana lie, when the whole trial happened. I read the book, with regular pauses just to take-in what’s going on…when she [Masheane] told me I’ll be playing Kim, then Kim for me became the sister that you always cry to,” said Ntambo Rapatla. Rapatla got to meet the real life Kim, who came from the United Kingdom to watch the play.
“Playing this role gave me a chance to be exposed to what was going on. It also gave me a glimpse into Fekezile’s turmoil during that time. Ummm…and just thinking about many things that had gone through her head, the many things she felt, the betrayals constantly by people she loved and cared for- people who just didn’t believe her,” said Nompumelelo Mayiyane, who played the leading role of Kuzwayo. She played the character with aplomb, and not once did she switch off.
It was notable and quite refreshing how the play was narrated by her, throughout. From her upbringing in exile, to that eventful night where she was taken advantage of by former President Jacob Zuma. Audience members left the Arena Theatre with full comprehension of what Kuzwayo went through, especially times away from the public eye.
Sitting there, watching the play I was perplexed that I was witnessing a depiction of what really happened. That someone who was violated, was the one in hiding and being persecuted by the whole nation. “…No one has ever heard her voice. With other conversations I’ve had with her [Kuzwayo] spiritually,I thought it will be nice for the world to hear her, not hear me or any of us. All of us are just part of her story,” said Masheane.
Rape is a very sensitive issue and I was anxious to see how that scene between Zuma and Kuzwayo was going to be depicted in the play because with an audience largely made up of females, it’s inevitable that someone had experienced this ordeal. But the actual rape was creatively, wisely and beautifully portrayed using a striking red fabric. Mayiyane’s (Kuzwayo) wail after that scene when Medupe (Zuma) left the bedroom was one of the most heart-wrenching pieces of acting I’ve witnessed. Right there and then, I felt the weep of all those who’ve been raped.
A random count of the gender ratio on the night, was about 65% to 35% with women taking up the large number. I was rather disappointed that not a lot of men were present, as I believe men need to see the effect rape has on its victims- not to suggest that men don’t get raped by females or other men.
“As a young man, this work was quite important for me to support a woman in telling her story and for once keep quiet. It was important to be part of this process and be led by a woman, a strong woman like Ma Napo, so that Fezekile’s story could be told. I don’t know if you noticed, in the beginning the women are the ones carrying her coffin and at the end, the men are carrying it and for me, that’s what I learnt. It means it’s our responsibility because we are the problem. The rapist is the problem, as soon as the rapist stops raping, the problem is gone,” said actor Cassius Davids, who played multiple characters in the play.
AFRO Punk released the line-up for this year instalment of the festival, to a mixed reaction from South Africans who have a couple of names they also would like to add to the bill.
The three day festival returns after it made its debut on the mother land last year in Joburg. This year’s AP will be headlined by The Internet, Flying Lotus, Kaytranada, Thandiswa Mazwai, Thundercat and iconic rap clique Public Enemy. More artists will be announced as we get closer to the festival.
“The Internet, Kaytranada and Thundercat is reason enough for me to go…but my expectations were very high,” said Psykaytic Ròes on Facebook. While Thabang Magodielo said she was expecting singing sensation H.E.R, Solange, SZA and Tom Misch, but was happy with some of the artists on the line-up.
Last year’s AP took a huge knock, when headline act Solange said she wouldn’t make it to South Africa for the festival due to health reasons. AP organisers together with Solange then promised to have the Don’t Touch My Hair singer for this year’s instalment. But dololo Solange.
Moonchild, who has taken the country by storm is also on the line-up. Her name though, brought confusion for some people as they thought it was the international group, not our very own modern Brenda Fassie. There was an air of disappointment from some people that it’s not the Los Angeles trio on the line-up. “Moonchild Sanelly? Andizi Jonga, Andizi,”said Lesia Obiwan-Kenobi Kalane.
The inclusion of Public Enemy left me a tad puzzled. Although the group last released an album in 2017 (Nothing Is Quick in the Desert), I’m a bit sceptical about the old guys pulling a strong performance.
I was expecting to see names of Zoë Modiga, Samthing Soweto and at least Ikati Esengxoweni on this year’s line-up. While The Brother Moves On’s performance last year was one of the stand-outs, having them back wouldn’t have ruined anything.
Other names that excited people were Youngsta CPT, Soweto band BCUC and the younger Mazwai sister, Nomisupasta who was the host at the final of Battle of the Bands final, in Tembisa last year.
People had been eagerly waiting for this line-up to come out, that early bird tickets were sold out instantly after AP made the announcement.
Unlike other brands that come to the country to make a quick buck, AP made a commitment to be in the city for at least five years, so this is just the second episode of AP Joburg and this one promises to be a step-up from last year’s. Hopefully there won’t be any last minute cancellations from the artist’ part, the people would infuriated.
The ubiquity of rap singers over the past few years has changed how people see the Hip Hop genre. The era before this was one that vilified a kat for being in-tune with his emotions. Labelling it gay, soft, weirdo or butt-check music.
Andre 3000 was one of the first male rappers, who was comfortable in his own skin. His courage has influenced a generation of the rappers who can hold a note and spit some bars. Had Three Stacks not did what he did, I doubt we would have the same Chance The Rapper, GoldLink, Smino, Kyle or Aminé. All these boys are undeniably influenced by R&B, Neo Soul and have the make-up of a Hip Hop artist.
Buddy is no exception. The Los Angeles rapper released his debut album, Harlan & Alondra last month. Through the 12 tracks on the album, you get the life-story of the L. A artist. Given that he was singed under Pharrell’s company, i Am OTHER, for the longest of time I expected the album to be on point sonically. And so it was. Buddy’s singing is good on the ear and doesn’t come off as an obligatory effort. You can tell he started out as a singer, and then picked up the rapping along the way, because his singing stronger than his bars on some of the joints.
It’s songs like Speechless, which make me visualize artists in studio recording. The track is sexy, smooth with a punch funk. Trouble On Central takes us to his neighbourhood in Compton, where he paints a picture of his troubled adolescence and hopes of moving out of the hood. While Shine is delightful blend of his raps and singing.
The flow on Shameless is a nod to the Migos. It was a genius idea to get Guapdad 4000 to spit his verse first on the song. Although he’s the featured artist, he sets the tone with his slick verse. Buddy’s verse, juxtaposed the recurring theme on Trouble On Central, highlights the progress he’s made in the last few years as an artist and a person. His EP with virtuoso producer and DJ Kaytranada, Ocean & Montana which came out a year ago, changed the trajectory of his career in a good way. It was through that EP, that I got introduced to Buddy. I don’t think he has particularly grown since the release of that project, as an artist, but Harlan & Alondra is a fuller body of work. You get more of who he is. His other work include 2015 mixtape Idle Time, and EP, Magnolia which came out last year.
Like his former boss Pharrell, Buddy has appreciation of different genres and other artists’ crafts. He’s features were very calculated and the song with Snoop Dogg, The Blue, gives Snoop liberty to be himself and add that to the song, which makes it doper. I never would’ve imaged Buddy working with A$AP Ferg, who spat one of the dopest verses on the whole album. I really hope to see the two performing this joint at one of the big award shows. The lyrics are heavy, but thankfully the beat is so sick, the shit doesn’t sound preachy.
Find Me 2 is a good song and as you might guess, there will be inevitable comparisons to Find Me which was on Ocean & Montana and the more upbeat first version has a special place in my heart. Like a teenage Bonginkosi, I’ll have to wait for the new version to grow on me, like pubic hair.
The album has definite replay value. Songs like Real Life S**t and Trippin’ give it legs to be in people’s faces and ears for a long time. It’s difficult getting an album with bad production and this album has good beats that capture the essence of the song. I’m excited for Buddy’s growth. I genuinely think more dopeness is gonna come from this kid as he grows as a lyricist and an overall artist