WE’RE mortal beings whose existence on this planet has an ending, but through a legacy one can live forever. Ask Bob Marley, Steve Biko or Flabba, who today would’ve celebrated his 41st birthday.
Real name Nkululeko Habedi, born in Soweto but raised in Alex, Flabba passed away three years ago after an altercation with his girlfriend Sindisiwe Manqele, who stabbed him. I remember that Monday morning in March when former Skwatta Kamp member Infa, confirmed that Flabba was no more. The whole Hip Hop community was frozen in shock, that ntja ya Gomora was gone.
Flabba left us with music he recorded with his group Skwatta Kamp, but we were fortunate enough to get one solo project from him which was the 2006’s Nkuli vs Flabba. The album won Best Rap album at the South African Music Awards in 2007.
I write this listening to a track from the album which he did with Lira, Gotta Let You Go. In the short song, he talks about the battling pain of losing his father and brother. This was a rare appearance by Nkululeko on record talking about his emotions, something which Flabba wouldn’t do because he was Nkuli’s Black Label drinking out-of-this-world alter ego.
Like the Kea Go Rata skit on the album where he’s in a club with a girl, tryna mack on her over loud music, but changes his story as soon as the music abruptly goes silent. He gave us himself in the album, the ying and the yang.
It wasn’t a traditional Hip Hop album marinated in lyricism and intricate rhyme schemes, like the stuff Proverb and Zubz were doing at the time. But like a proper comedian, he was far observant of what’s happening in society than people gave him credit. Kats like Lil Dicky are being given tags such as a comical rapper, while Flabba exposed us to such years ago. He was ahead of his time.
Zubz’s Heavy 8 is probably South Africa’s best posse cut, but Flabba’s Is’Bhamu Somdoko remix follows close behind. It pinned down the various Mzansi rap styles in one song, with everyone trying to channel their twisted sexual side which Flabba did so seamlessly. On the track Nkuli Habedi, he says he’s not your average rapper, but your favourite porn star. Flabba could rap, but was wise enough to avoid sounding like everyone around him who was chasing that US flow and style. He carved his own lane.
Gifted individuals live with an unfathomable and sometimes careless realness as if they know that their time on this earth won’t match any country’s life expectancy number. His clique, Skwatta Kamp was often juxtaposed to the US’s Wu Tang Clan because of their influence in the culture and also because both groups were bigger than the average Hip Hop collective.
Writing this, I can’t help but think of Flabba as SK’s Ol’Dirty Bastard. Both are deceased, they were both comical, abrasive, genuine and intelligent. Thank goodness he wasn’t part of Club 27, otherwise we wouldn’t have received what he gave us in his last 10 years on earth.
TODAY marks 41 years since the sad passing of Steve Bantu Biko. He was beaten to a point of brain damage, leading to his death in a cell, naked and alone in shackles.
But despite his gruesome death, Biko shines through the history books as the founding father of Black Consciousness.
Black Consciousness stood against black self-hate, the eagerness to please white people, the inferiority of blacks in the presence of Caucasians and the inherent belief that everything white is right and that black is wrong. Among many other things.
In the past few years, there’s been a growing sense of pro-blackness among black people all over the world over.
Whether it’s through the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, the EFF bringing back the conversation around land in Mzansi, South Africans’ growing appreciation for fellow Africans on the continent and in the diaspora or even blacks being conscious of the importance of supporting each other. These goings-on are inspired directly or indirectly, by the words Biko spoke nearly 50 years ago, .
Black people are being fortified by his words. Words he uttered because he liked it, but also because it was and still is important that black people hear them. It’s really mind-bending that he was just 29 when he died.
Here are some of Biko’s finest quotes:
“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior.”
“I would like to remind the black ministry, and indeed all black people, that God is not in the habit of coming down from heaven to solve people’s problems on earth.”
“What Black Consciousness seeks to do is to produce real black people who do not regard themselves as appendages to white society. We do not need to apologise for this because it is true that the white systems have produced through the world a number of people who are not aware that they too are people.”
“Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.”
“Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time.”
“It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realize that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality.”
“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”
“You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can’t care anyway.”
“People must not give in to hardships of life. People must develop hope.”