South African

Clement Gama02/28/2019

I shit you not, you can Google Mam’Dorothy Masuku and ‘Masuka’ will pop up. Growing up, I’ve asked myself countless times what Mam’Dorothy’s correct surname is.

We live in times where assumptions of how someone’s name is spelt could land you in trouble. Not all Shabalala’s are slept with a ‘T’, in the same way Khoza can also be slept with an ‘S’. So I’ve always been unsure about the legend’s last name until I learnt that she was actually a Masuku.

In the 1950s, when the vocalist with an elegant voice began her career, a record executive misspelt her surname by adding the first letter of the alphabet at the end of her last name. The Caucasian executive butchered her Ndebele surname on one of her first records. Headlines today, carry the weight of the perilous ‘A’ at the rear of her surname. But this is because the young Masuku was told that Masuka will be her stage name. “She said she had kinda accepted it because in the Jewish language, the word Masuka means being happy, happiness or something like that. So she kinda let it slide,” said singer Tribute Birdie Mboweni speaking in an interview on Kaya FM.

Mboweni is one of the very few young singers that celebrated Masuku while she was still alive, by creating her own modern renditions of music originally done by Mam’Dorothy.

Born in 1935, in Bulawayo Zimbabwe but moved to South Africa as a 12 year-old and in less than 10 years in Mzansi, she was already touring the country as a 19 year-old. She passed away on Saturday the age of 83, surrounded by family. She’s expected to be laid to rest this weekend.


When the phenomenal Keorapeste Khositsile started poetry, the best way to get to people was probably through live performances. While the class of Lebo Mashile showed that television could be taken advantage of. Nomonde ‘Sky’ Mlotshwa is a culmination of both, dashed with the overt ingredient that is social media.

“Without social media I’m nothing,” Sky admittedly says.  “It would’ve taken longer to get gigs, interviews or the newly found recognition of Sky as quickly as it has if it weren’t for social media.”

The post ’94 era of hardworking poets such as Napo Masheane and Mashile has inspired this millennial generation to speak their words and not feel weird for wanting to make money off their art, from a young age. Not to suggest that the class of the Sipho Sepamla never worked hard, but they weren’t just working for themselves but were doing so with liberation movements against the draconian apartheid government.

This year marks a decade since poetry has been a catharsis to this East Rander. From jotting mere rhyme schemes to now receiving comments such as

“Nomonde I love your poems!!! Where were you all along…keep up the good work girl,” and “Muhle umsebenzi wakho MaMlotshwa,” from some of her viewers on YouTube.


Shot from her Samsung Galaxy Prime, placed on a window seal at home, the videos which were first only relegated to Facebook Notes until her manager suggested she share them with the rest of the world have now an average of at least 1 200 views on YouTube.

“Especially because it takes a little while for poets who are on the underground scene to get recognised, the world responded and so I kept supplying,” says the 24 year-old.

She posts the videos on a weekly basis, depending on the blockage to her writing.


Sometimes you would hear a train in the background in the videos, but disturbing as it is, it’s equally enjoyable because it’s authentic. She says her inspiration is spread out as her work ranges from how Zodwa Wabantu’s frolics affects us as a society, unprincipled married men or simply her high school crush-you’re captivated by her voice and everything else in and around the verse she’s delivering.  “For me poetry is a feeling, a vibe and a need to be at that time, so that’s why my dialogues are wide spread.”

She let her feelings known to Stogie T when he told a hopeful rapper to ditch the dream and rather focus on getting a decent job where he’ll be guaranteed a decent living.  While others decided to body shame Stogie, Sky was recording a video responding to the acclaimed rapper’s statement. That piece she recorded ended up a verse on Stogie vs Black Twitter.

“It has opened more poetry doors and receiving attention from a wider audience that wouldn’t really listen or vibe to a poet.  It has placed my name in a higher ranking,” she says of the collaboration.

As with other art forms poetry isn’t one dimensional in ways of generating income. A lot of today’s renowned poets are committed to their grind which rewards them with recognition as well as remuneration.  From MC gigs, literary and art festivals or even government gigs are some of the opportunities open for wordsmiths. Trio Magnum Opus has a column in the Saturday Star Newspaper’s poetry column, which they titled #PoeticLicence.

“One thing I am extremely passionate about is being a radio personality which thus far has boiled down to being a voice over artist. I also believe that other callings will emerge after I have grown as much as God wishes me to, to receive the bigger purpose.” Sky says. She recently worked with YFM to create a jingle for the station.

As much as social media has and will continue to connect her with people she never thought would appreciate her work, she still wants to break boundaries like those who came before her.

“I want to make a living off poetry, to wake up in different countries just to deliver my voice. I dream of a day where poetry is placed as a musical genre, where it grows beyond the internet. I plan to make poetry more highlighted in today’s youth so it may stand strong for generations to come.”

Jay Madonson05/31/2018

It is not a bizarre moment when you see street wear on the runway these days. We are probably in the greatest era of fashion, not only locally but globally as well. Gone are the days when the magazines, the internet and the fashion weeks were filled with luxury brands that most people can’t even afford. Not to say big fashion houses are not relevant anymore. However we are seeing street brands rapidly growing, becoming affordable and importantly becoming luxury.

Virgil Abloh is one street influencer most people can think of when talking about street culture. He has been able to interpret what he was influenced by and putting it in one form which is Off-White, his luxury street label.

But what does street culture mean to young people who grew up in the era of highly accessible skate culture and pop culture. Why is it important for them to wear these brands, even stand in long lines to get their hands on capsule collections?

Our experiences are told via clothing

Every designer before creating a fashion line is inspired by something. It may be what they saw on the net, a certain influential figure or may be inspired by a certain object. In the street movement, this is a great opportunity for designers to open new dialogue and interpret how they see street culture. Wanda Lephoto, a South African influencer turned designer has been able to create collections inspired by his township experiences.

According to The Citizen “In the past five years or so, a fashion avalanche led by a global movement of hipsters, has found its way onto South African streets where youngsters began making statements by putting together clothing ensembles in various ways.”

Many creatives are finding new ways to define their own spaces. Queer individuals are creating their own paths and displaying it in the streets. What remains important is that, designers are changing the status quo. What was important then has been intertwined by many to cater for their needs.

Collaborations between street and luxury brands

We are seeing rise of luxury brands that are collaborating with street designers. A great example of this is the collaboration between Supreme and Louis Vuitton. This collaboration had love-hate relationship with many street fashion lovers. But it speaks to the power of influence and that customers are sort of gearing the fashion movement, they are now clued up with what they want to buy, what they want to see and how they want to wear those clothes. According to GQ Style SA Virgil Abloh described the collaboration as “the modern moment in fashion that existed in our current time”.

The Internet is ruling the fashion scenes

Industry leaders such as Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington to name just a few were spearheading the fashion industry. If a certain trend or brand is on Vogue, then it meant it was cool and luxurious enough to be consumed. But in the past few years, the digital space became the “New Vogue“. Youngsters are interested in the DIY style, and they are the ones who decide which brands they want to wear, it is no longer the decision of industry leaders to determine what is trending at the moment. If young people want to wear oversized jackets and ironic slogan tees inspired by Vetements they will wear them. If they want to wear jeans with flowers, bags with butterflies, inspired by Gucci they will wear them.

It may be possible that street culture has been the “norm” all these years. But the industry generation next that is highlighting its existence and it seems street style, fashion and DIY movement is here to stay.  Street wear is what is worn on the street and it’s how real people wear clothes. Whatever is happening on these streets, it is definitely setting a new tone for where fashion is heading.

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