Filled with so many emotions, I wonder how Aubrey Sekhabi and Kabelo “Bonafide Billi” Togoe managed to actually write the whole script of the musical. Freedom, which was inspired by the efforts of brave young people who took their issues to the streets when university vice-chancellors flatly ignored their pleas of free education.
Students fought hard (with some being arrested and others succumbing to wounds which were inflicted by the police and community members) to get what is now a free education, which others still argue there is nothing free about it as taxpayers will have to forge some cents if not more to pay for billions of fees in the next coming years.
The musical by Sekhabi which has been running at the SA State Theatre summaries the dramatic events which led to the then president of the republic, Jacob Zuma, announcing this free education.
Phindile Ndlovu, who is one of the main characters lived to tell the tale of how she was raped by her musician boyfriend, Bonafide- the music star’s life was taken by a member of the SA Police Service. His story reminds me that of Katlego Monareng from the Tshwane University of Technology whose life, like that of Bonafide’s, was cut short by a trigger-happy policeman. Bonafide’s character was portrayed by rapper PdotO.
There are many stories that will never be told on mainstream media including those of young men who sell their bodies to men and women just to be able to pay for an apartment.
But I must say, I appreciate both Sekhabi and Togoe’s hunger to tell those stories so authentically and so honestly. One has to salute the Freedom team for having chosen to tell the stories of these young people who were failed by the government and the higher education department’s minister Blade Nzimande (who features in the musical in the form of the talented opera singer Otto Maidi).
So many issues are explored in the musical including femicide, which has claimed the lives of many women. Young women like Karabo Mokoena and model Reeva Steenkamp, who like many women whose bodies lay cold in cemeteries and morgues, were killed by their partners.
I pray and hope that this musical, which has now been adapted into a book, will be bought by some TV station and turned into a film or TV series for it to be seen by many, especially our ‘leaders’ who were elected into power to protect and serve the people. We both know that some people don’t do the theatre like me and you.
Freedom is an award winning musical, with brilliant choreography done by award winning choreographer, director and actor Mduduzi Nhlapo;the story was well-researched with a stellar cast.
Remember when Cassper Nyovest told Sway he was South Africa’s Kanye West, or when Nasty C said he had not experienced racism in South Africa- the rappers were speaking their truth, but one can’t help think that they could’ve worded their statements differently and with more astuteness.
On both occasions, the youngins gave skewed representation of what really happens in South Africa. People were divided in opinion about their presence on the radio show. But what’s been evident since Stogie T’s appearance on Sway In The Morning, is the unanimity in which everyone was in praising the OG.
Comedian Kagiso Mokgadi joked that “The Rand strengthened one percent vs the doller today. Thank you Stogie T.”
While Osmic said the verse should be studied in labs, high school and university, to which OG rapper Wikid agreed with, commenting “He murdered it”. The most random adulation came from former Orlando Pirates soccer player Kermit Erasmus. “Our own legend, @TumiMolekane spittin barz, this gave me goosebumps.I had to call him to let him know,” wrote Erasmus on Twitter. While South African sprinter Akani Simbine dubbed Stogie the “Undisputed lyrical king.”
“From the interview to the best freestyle I’ve ever heard on Sway show. Personally…I am thoroughly represented here,” tweeted rapper Solo.
But there was no bigger nod than that of The Roots’ Black Thought, who sent Stogie a message simply saying “You a beat bro.” Which left Stogie speechless.
“The moment you feel like dumming shit down, go play @TumiMolekane freestyle,” said Rougue.
Fellow lyricist of the year nominee at this year’s Hip Hop awards, PdotO tweeted “We were well represented on Sway. Thank you for that king. Mean! Mean mean.”
No has ever doubted Stogie’s pen game, but what made South Africans proud was because most people felt that his skill has long warranted him to be on such platforms.
He articulated himself well in the interview, narrating to Sway South Africa’s Hip Hop history. He did the stuff of globally celebrated South African athletes or pious politicians, in how he gave the country that fuzzy feeling inside.
It was also a win for local OG rappers, after the tough year they’ve had losing three giants who impacted the game on different levels. Wherever HHP, Pro Kid and Ben Sharpa are, they glowed with pride upon hearing Stogie rap.
Sway aptly said “Stogie T, South Africa’s finest,” as he was about to go in. He not only represented South Africa, but the African continent. His bars had more weight than Biggie, Pun and T from the V sitting on a park bench. He brashly started by saying
There ain’t a French bottle we ain’t pop
A fresh article we ain’t copped
Benz top that we ain’t dropped
A dress model we ain’t knocked
A festival we ain’t rocked
Destined to be this hot,
He was basically saying to the American audience listening that ‘hey, I might be from that dark continent but, you ought to show me some respect’
Rapping about how in today’s South Africa, struggle heroes are raising spoilt kids and the opulent only meeting the deprived when the latter come clean after them. Directly talking to the country’s inequality.
He challenged stereotypes that Americans always pin on Africans, whilst also showing appreciation of Hip Hop culture in the US and Malcom X.
I’m a Kool G Rap alumni,
These my handlers, the kufi Nas from NY,
Jesus medallion, reading Langston Hughes,
El-Hajj Malik el Shabazz and them,
Shit in the pocket like the Audubon assassin
I couldn’t help but think of Irish poet, Oscar Wilde’s quote, “with age, comes wisdom,” after watching the whole interview. He showed wisdom, not only in conversation with Sway, but also with his raps which got a lot of people pondering on a lot.
He posted a photo of himself at what looked like the Roc-Nation offices, with a caption implying that someone there wanted to meet him. He said going on Sway was something on his bucket list, but it might just be the first step to next level shit for Stogie,since Tumi from The Volume dun did that and got the T-shirt.