I’M of the strong belief that the location in which one choses to consume music at, has an effect on how the songs are received. But specifically listening to an artist’s album, in a place where they were born sorta gives you a high-definition experience of the body of work.
This realisation came as I listened to Mandisi Dyantyis’s album Somandla, while in Port Elizabeth,his place of birth. I’ve had the 12-track album on my playlist for well over a month now; it’s a great body of work. But struu no lie, being eBhayi just for a few days, I would say gave me an unfiltered understanding of Somandla. This could also be a strong placebo effect. But ag, the latter fits well with me story.
The opening track Molweni is poignant in how it not only welcomes you with a warm greeting to this 59 minute journey, but it’s the only joint on the album without instruments. Dyantyis choses to sing this ditty in acapella, as if offering his true self first, to the listener. The acapella jogged my memory to The Soil, pre-Samthing Soweto-exit.
Dyantyis’s experience in music is ever present on the album, managing to genuinely cater for the hard jazz cat and also for the lover of soul, who enjoys sweet melodies and harmonies. Dyantyis works a lot in theatre, as a composer and arranger for plays and movies while he’s also been a church choir conductor and also played in a band.
The vivacity of the way the instruments are played and arranged on Kuse Kude, it can trip you into thinking the song is a jovial one, but a closer listen to the lyrics, you pick-up the irony. He talks about how far we are from getting it right as human beings, if we still live in a world where youth rapes their elderly and kids are sexually assaulted by adults.
I first came across Dyantyis through the title track of the album, Somandla with the well-shot video a few months ago. Made sense why the album has the said title. Most of the songs have an air of melancholy and are like a long conversation with the Creator, a dialogue which at times is without words.
The song Olwethu is a case in point. You need not get the backstory to feel the song’s sadness. Olwethu is Dyantyis’s late younger brother, whose passing hit the musician hardest. “I had lost some people before, but losing him, I could not deal with it because, for me he was a young life full of potential,” Dyantyis said in his EPK.
Kode Kube Nini is the kinda track I can play for most people-be it a struggling artist, a mother praying for their child to get off drugs or a damsel waiting for marriage- because it carries a universal question, ‘how much longer should I wait till things go right?’ The song talks to one’s patience and endurance.
I appreciated the slight change of mood in the latter stages of the album, with songs like Molo Sisi and Ndimthanda. Dyantyis has a beautiful voice, but the latter stands out as his best singing performance on the album. It allowed him to show off some dexterity and it’s also a dope joint of a fella simply macking on an attractive female. Ndimthanda also celebrates love and the beauty of attraction’s simplicity, even for a couple that’s been together for a long time.
This album has been nominated in the South African Music Awards in the Best Jazz category alongside Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane’s Closer to Home, Exile by Thandi Ntuli, Bokani Dyer Trio’s Neo Native and Tune Recreation Committee’s Afrika Grooves with the Tune Recreation Committee. He stands next to some renowned names in that category, but if Dyantyis doesn’t walk away with it, I advise the judges drive down to Port Elizabeth and listen to Somandla. They’ll get it.
“Yes a lot! It has also encouraged other females to go and have themselves checked as endometriosis is often misdiagnosed,” says Merushka Aroonslam.
The 17 year-old was talking about how her fundraising for an operation she has to do this Thursday, has opened the eyes of other women who might be living with the condition.
Endometriosis results from the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the uterus, which causes pelvic pain. Although the Lawson Brown High School pupil was diagnosed last October, she has been lived with the disease for three years now. She has been fundraising for her surgery since January, managing to draw a small crowd of people who are actively helping her raise the funds, under the hashtag #EndoTreatment4Merushka. Her supporters sell food, stickers, t-shirts and wash cars.
The hashtag has built much steam thanks to her fame as a car spinner. Aroonslam was on the verge of selling her pink and black new era Nissan Skyline with a 2.8 (L28) motor, to raise funds for her operation but fortunately she didn’t.
“Spinning, motorsports and cars has been part of my life since a young age and I’ve always had a passion for it as my dad use to do it back in his days when it was still illegal. Spinning is a sport that once the bug bites, there’s no turning back.”
The girl from Port Elizabeth wants the operation done so that she can go back to her life of spinning, which has become a catharsis for her. “A rush of emotions and adrenaline, you feel completely free and it’s a way for me to de-stress and just leave all my problems on the pitch,” she says describing the feeling she gets from spinning.
She regularly does her thing at Wheelz n Smoke events, under the SPINderella female banner. She began spinning in 2017.
The surgery is set to take place at St. George’s Hospital, at the cost of R55 000 for a 2-hour treatment. But could cost more if the procedure takes longer. “We close to our target but we haven’t quite reached it yet.”
Aroonslam is currently in matric and she sometimes misses school due to the severity of the pain. “It’s my second operation but I’m still very scared and nervous. I don’t think you can ever get used to it.”