Clement Gama

Clement Gama08/23/2019
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6min2340

You’ve heard of it before right, the Pull Her Down Syndrome where women pull each other down, seemingly because of intimidation or gross baseless hatred toward other women. But the exaggerated animosity doesn’t stand at the Vavasati Women’s International Festival. It hasn’t for the seven years of the festival’s existence.

Today marks the fourth Friday since the festival commenced this month. The works at the festival address systemic structures of power that continue to discriminate against women, under the theme Inequality: Seizing the Megaphone! The name Vavasati is a Xitsonga word meaning women, reiterating the power and strength that women possess when they unite.

The internationally acclaimed women’s arts festival annually takes place at the State Theatre in Pretoria throughout the month of August, with over 20 works created solely by powerful creative women from different spheres of the art world- in photography, music, choreography and performance art.

“The fact that the festival is in its 7th year, already that is growth alone. Actually the State Theatre has done an amazing job to cater for women. We are enhancing the festival some more now. The budgets have grown and the number of participants or works put in the programme has increased. Some women debut their works here and others find their voice here in this platform to grow and become the best. There are collaborations that grow from and within the festival. So women can work together!” says co-curator of Vasati International Festival Mamela Nyamza. Kgaogelo Tshabalala is the other co-curator.

 

According to Nyamza, the programme invites (through a call out) artists and companies to submit proposals each year for the month-long fest. “When we receive them, we have readers that are asked to go through the proposals and recommend works. We went through some of the works that they have recommended. I also being new in Pretoria, I met Kgaugelo Tshalabala who knows the artists in Pretoria, and asked her to come join me in curating.  We have a pool for musicians, poets, dancers and actors. Some proposals were taken out and others taken in. I made my selection and so as Kgaugelo,” she said.

Mamela Nyamza. Photo by Esa Alexander/Sunday Times
Mamela Nyamza. Photo by Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

The team has something novel in this year’s programme, with the Open Market and Live Music segment that take place every Sunday. This is a lively setting on an open-air rooftop towered by landmark surrounds overlooking the arts complex.

Created and inspired by women, but the festival is for all- including men and young boys who are often perpetrators of the abuse received by women and girls. So attracting a diverse audience is important for Vasati International Festival’s impact in society. “We are continuously making an awareness of the festival. With the exposure that is out there, we have been loud than ever. The participating artists have been active in the joining the campaigns. The programme is diverse in such a way that it caters across all genres. There is everything for everyone. There are educational works, provocative works and family inclusive works,”says the choreographer Nyamza.

Inclusive and progressive works are synonymous with the State Theatre, which supports young artists and has opened its doors to stimulating uncaptured work. “Including other provinces nationally and other country’s participating, already it puts State Theatre as thee theatre for Africa. This aligns with our overall vision and artistic mandate to be a pan African theatre that is inclusive in its programme offering. Already I have calls from artists abroad asking when is the next festival.”

Clement Gama07/26/2019
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2min2720

YOU hear Bad Boy Records and instantly think New York. The mention of Death Row jogs one’s memory to Los Angeles, California.  But Kalawa Jazmee is synonymous with all townships in all of South Africa. In the 25 years of Nelson Mandela’s democratic South Africa, no record company has been the soundtrack to kasi life as Kalawa Jazmee.

The record company was found through a feud between two stables, Trompies Jazzmee Records and Kalawa Records. The former was co-owned by Spikiri, Mahoota, M’jokes and Bruce while the latter’s owners were Oskido, Don Laka and DJ Christos-who departed in 1995. The dispute was over ownership of Trompies hit song Sigiya Ngengoma.

They’ve gone on to churn out more hit songs as one independent company for more than two decades now, telling stories from the township while making us dance. They’ve introduced and developed a slew of artists like Busiswa, Alaska, Professor, DJ Zinhle, Dr Malinga, Heavy K, Tira, Big Nuz and so many more. It is fitting that this year’s Delicious Festival will honour Kalawa Jazmee’s 25th anniversary.

But if one were to have a Kalawa Jazmee All Stars, many would agree that these five make the starting five.

BONGO MAFFIN

BOOM SHAKA

MAIKIZOLO

B.O.P

TROMPIES

 

 

Clement Gama07/16/2019
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4min1700

“The future for me is already a thing of the past-you were my first love and you will be my last,” said Bob Dylan. These words were echoed by the French government as they honoured Dr. Esther Mahlangu with the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award during the Bastille Day celebrations.

The French were the first to show love for Mahlangu’s beautiful works back in 1986, long before her own beloved South Africa saw her as a national treasure. A group of French art lovers were in Dr. Mahlangu’s neighbourhood Kwa Ndebele over 30 years ago, viewing a slew of Ndebele artworks but it was Mahlangu’s work that caught their eye- so much so, that they came back for her to exhibit in France.

“I feel very happy, I thank the French a lot. They found me in Middleburg, at a gallery in Botshabelo and asked that I go to France to show my work. This after they had taken photos of the different works in Kwa Ndebele, not mine but everybody’s there…when they got to France my work was selected as the best among the photographed works,” she said speaking to news channel eNCA.

“Young artists shouldn’t let go of their heritage. I started long time ago and I keep teaching the young ones, some of them have been overseas already because of the artworks,” said the 83 year-old Dr. Sitting adjacent to Dr Mahlangu was Ndebele legendary musician Dr. Nothembi Mkhwebane. “We are very proud of our Ndebele culture, and to be able to even do the kind of work we do at our age. We are very proud of uGogo Esther as the French honour her- we currently have two doctors in the Ndebele culture who’ve been honoured, may this encourage the youngsters too,” the singer said.

The award, Officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters, was given to the Dr Mahlangu artist last Friday at the Bastille Day celebrations at the Residence of France in Pretoria, by French Ambassador to Mzansi Christophe Farnaud.

“This award is all the more deserved for the efforts you have made during your life to share with the world your heritage,” said the outgoing French ambassador Farnaud.

Clement Gama05/17/2019
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7min3561

IN child development, by the time they get to the age of four they sould be able to speak clearly and have a better understanding of their surroundings. In the music industry, four years could have you still rehearsing in a garage or performing in front of multitudes. In their fourth year of existence, PG_13 will reach a milestone by performing at Fête de la Musique next month.

“Since the inception of PG_13, this is the one festival we have always wanted to play, the Fête line up has always consisted of a group of musician that we have always wanted to learn from and interact with, so playing here is the next level of our education for our future musical endeavours,” says vocalist Bongiwe Nkobi.

Originating in France in 1982, the Fête de la Musique is celebrated in 700 cities in 120 countries across the world in June, including South Africa. The free concert which celebrates live music, takes place in the Newtown precinct, Johannesburg on the eight next month.

For lead guitarist Zweli Mthembu, who also is part of The Brother Moves On collective which performed at Fête years ago, seeing PG_13 on the Fête stage shows that they’ve worked very hard in a really short time and these kinds of gigs mean the band is reaching their goals.
The band is made up of poet Angela Mthembu, Harry Thibedi, Wandisile Boyce, Steven Bosman, Zweli Mthembu as well as Zoe Molelekwa and Neo Mabena.

THA VOCALS: Angela Mthembu on the left and Bongiwe Nkobi on the right. Photo by Indoorstreet kid

They’ll share the stage with Msaki, reggae band Tidal Waves, the DRC’s Grace Attalie, Mozambican Afro-soul artist Deltino Guerreiro and Soweto’s Urban Village among others. The head of IFAS’s cultural section Corinne Verdier said in a statement “For us, for the artists, for our partners and sponsors, we all share one common goal: to put on a really fun and free music festival with that unique French flair! We also want to promote this new generation of wonderful artists.”

PG_13 released their EP Hekaya last year and will be performing songs from that project. “…Our set will be mixed up with songs that are both new and old. Songs we haven’t played in a while and songs that are still being written. Because the stories we tell are constantly evolving,” says guitarist, Thibedi.

THA BAND ON STAGE. Photo by VM Photography

That project included vocalist Thando Msiza who is no longer part of the ensemble. “We as PG_13 are not in the business of hiring or firing people. It is a fluid space that allow people to come in and out depending on where they are in their lives. I mean look, our lead guitarist will be going on tour with The Brother Moves On which gives us space to collaborate with people. When Zoe Molelekwa came into the space of PG_13 it was a collaborative project, but now he holds his own space in the music and plays a very important role in the collective. And he himself has a solo project of his own,” poet Angela says. “If we do ever work with another vocalist it would never be to replace Msiza but rather for the development of the sound,” adds drummer, Bosman.

The Fête gig is part of their busy winter schedule which also sees them playing at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in July, but before that they’ll host benefit concerts around Gauteng as a way of raising funds for logistics of that tour. “It’s going to be wonderful to play in my hometown naba ntwana base khaya,” the band’s bassist from the Eastern Cape, Boyce says with excitement.

Clement Gama04/04/2019
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6min9021

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.

Nonala at her new job. Photo by Radio 2000

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.


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