There’s nothing worse than planning an outfit in your head and realizing that the key component of your outfit looks like you just came from digging graves.
Call them what you will, whether it’s iBathu, Kicks, iSpova or whether it’s the classic Takkies. We all love our shoes and let’s admit it, keeping them clean isn’t the easiest thing to do.
It’s a matter of how time consuming the effort of washing them is. But with the new age aesthetic that come with shoes there’s techniques and products that comes with keeping your kicks fresh.
Enter Drop Shoe, the future of premium footwear hygiene. Founded in 2017 by Lethabo Komane in Tembisa, after having washed his older brother’s sneakers over the years and developing a clientele with his brother’s friends Komane saw a gap in an already existing market. Thus Drop Shoes was born and has since grown from strength to strength with only under 2 years in existence.
With limited resources, his passion for business and together with his homies Smash, Banele and Tebza footwear hygiene in Tembisa found a home in Drop Shoe. The guys have really changed the narrative of self employment in the township by not only employing guys from their community but also having young interns during school holidays to teach entrepreneurship to teens.
Drop Shoe has since grown from just a sneaker cleaning outlet to a premium clientele service provider at an affordable price. With the most beautiful and friendly service that makes you feel at home and at ease with leaving your kicks. They also offer shoe repair, backpack and cap washing. With their impeccable work ethic and professionalism Drop Shoe‘s growth potential is exponential. So show your support to the homies and enter them at parties with fresh clean kicks.
KASI lama kasi can never be a hood’s nickname. Everyone rightfully punts their neighbourhood as the coolest black area. But each township in South Africa has a nickname, approved by its people, which sometimes ties to the history of the place.
I was chilling with a fella this past weekend who told me he was from Vutha. You know when you’ve heard something before, but don’t know exactly know what it is. I went blank and asked where that is. “It’s Daveyton,” he said.
“Because it was the first township in Gauteng to get electricity,” he said. I thought he was bullshitting me, really. I’ve met many people who’ll talk-up their hoods, to a point of which they get frustratingly economical with the truth. But after doing some research, I found that, what he said is true.
Established in 1952, after about 151,656 people were moved from Benoni, to what we know today as Vutha or Etwatwa. It was indeed, the first black area to access ugesi.
The president of the Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce (Galxcoc), Mpho Motsumi last year bemoaned to the media, while taking them around the construction site of the R500-million Alex Mall in Tsutsumani Village. What got the business man cranky, was that people still call Alex, Gomorrah- ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ a biblical reference of place linked to hell because of the prevalence of debauchery in the area. Rappers like Flabba popularised the name in recent times, but it’s been a name associated with the township for decades now. There was a time when Alex had a high crime rate, a coupled with the lawless gangsterism that was in the area-despite political movements happening there.
Some nicknames aren’t linked to the township’s past, but are just tweaked so to make the place a tad bit cooler. I’m not certain whether it was a collective agreement but, shortening hood names seems to be the winning formula in most parts of Pretoria. For Mamelodi there’s Mams, Soshanguve which is situated on the north is commonly known as Sosha, even to us who don’t call it home. While the ‘Ga’ in Ga-Rankuwa seems a waste of two precious seconds, so Rankuwa is the more efficient one for residents.
Sowetans have also opted for something similar. Calling the south western townships Sotra. While the number of townships within that area, have nicknames of their own. Guguletu in Cape Town also just switched the swag and just called it, Gugs.
In KwaZulu-Natal, KwaMashu is nicknamed Es’nqawunqawini while Clermont is known as Es’komplazi. Ekurhuleni Township Tsakane, which is a Tsonga word for happiness and joy, is nicknamed Mashona.
If Tembisa was a gang, those thugs would tattoo 1632 on their bodies. What is it? Tembisa’s postal code my friend. Insipid as a postal code is, the youth in Tembisa, particularly those in the Hip Hop community, popularised it in the mid-90s. Tembisa’s older generation and also those who aren’t in the Hip Hop community,still prefer to call it Mambisa. Other hoods that have gone with the number are Kagiso with 1754, Thokoza 1421 or Vosloorus’s 1425. I’ve found that this is a trend, also adopted by Hip Hop heads in other hoods. A random person doesn’t say they are from 1563, they simply say they are from KwaThema, or just Thema.
The common thread in all these townships, sadly is that they were formed after black people were forcefully removed from some areas, to be crammed in one place right near their modern day fields of slavery. But black people have taken what was meant to trap and prison them, and found the beauty in it.
We’re in no militant warfare, but people are going through the most. But it’s our individual and yet common struggles, which foster these infinite bonds. Like British journalist Max Hastings once said, the only redemptive feature of war is the brotherhood which it forges.
Meet MK, Musa Mashiane and Bongani Xego. Three brothers connected by their shared fondness of Pan Africanism, art, music and entrepreneurship. But their connection comes to actuality through the Action Painting in Music events. Mashiane the musician, MK the artist and Xego the man behind organic skin care product, RA-ABA.
“For me, what we’re doing now is rather a feeling because we felt each other. For some reason, I feel like MK is me in another body, because all of his dreams and everything else is the same thing as mine. Even with King Musa, it’s the same thing. There’s a brotherhood es’nga yazi nathi, it’s very deep,” says Xego.
“It’s because we have a common bond and not only that, but we have the ability to enhance each other’s characters uyang’thola. Because a one man army, is no movement,” MK says.
They are a trio of light spoken characters, but the spliff going around the four of us, eases us into conversation. We’re at 4ROOM, busking in the sun-basically a bunch of bearded hippies deep in off kilter discussions emva kwendlu ye four room. But the place will be unrecognizable this coming Sunday, because of the Action Painting in Music event. Which will feature Adelle Nqeto, Touchline, Mo’Soul and others. The event includes a kid’s creative station, art exhibition and a tour of Tembisa.
4ROOM has been in existence for about eight years now, situated in Ethafeni section in Tembisa, 4ROOM Creatives Village is the umbrella company to which includes the house itself as a gallery, a magazine, art education and events (Art Lifestyle) among other things. MK runs and operates the place by himself with a small team. “We haven’t marketed ourselves as a traditional gallery to the world, because we know ukuthi our traditional standards are not the standards of what a traditional (Western) gallery looks like.”
“We started last year around May or June, with (artist) Nkateko Balyoi. We had a private show on June 16, but I think we had two or three shows before that. After that show, Nkateko moved out of the group to do other things,” says MK , detailing the history of Action Painting. After Baloyi’s departure, the two went on a few months’ hiatus from the project, until later in the year. “We started pushing again late last year, that’s when Thandazani Ndlovu became part of it.”
Mashiane, a seasoned musician, only started coming to 4ROOM last year, but rapidly grew a connection to the place and to MK. Mashiane suggested to MK the concept of “merging the music and the visual art together. Something which, we could invite people to come and watch. Not just an exhibition, but a space where they can experience an artist painting. Starting on a blank canvass and complete in front of the audience.”
They’ve organised four instalments of Action Painting in Music this year, this coming Sunday will be their fifth. Because of the rareness of such a presentation of visual art and music, their product has been demanded and received with warmth in the various places which they’ve graced. Earlier this year they were in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
They also went to Grahamstown, for the National Arts Festival. “It was like a learning experience. People received us well, professionally even, because we based ourselves in a space where there were a lot of people and we were delivering. People were appreciative-they had never seen it before, getting both experiences as one.”
They say the difference between Nelspruit and the Arts Festival, is that the former was more of a gig because they were expected. “I would say Grahamstown was more of a pop up. They had the Standard Bank showcase stage, of which we did that and everyone was like, shit!” Mashiane says.
Xego says later on that evening, they took a walk to a couple of pubs and restaurants and at one of them, they asked the manager if they could play at the spot. The place is called Major Fraser’s. “That guy gave us a platform and we did about four nights. It became our resident space,” says Mashiane.
They have similar life goals as Pinky and the Bain. “The end goal is very far, but it’s to take the village international. So this is just a rehearsal for that. But maybe in the next five years we can say we have an end goal,” says Xego.
“What I know is that s’phusha e black excellence. It’s a legacy for our children’s, children’s children,” says Mashiane. While MK has a more somber, and life enriching end goal. “It is something huge and we don’t know what it looks like. It’s to make sure the black man grows bigger than themselves and their fears and learn about their abilities.”
They are planning a final rehearsal of their world takeover, in December, the last Action Painting in Music of the year, at a secret location. “It’ll include some of the people from our previous events. It’s something to look forward to.”
THERE’S something sacred about being welcomed into the working space of an artist. It’s where they immerse themselves in their creative catharsis. It’s akin to being received in someone’s home.
It’s in the evening of Nelson Mandela day and the faceless Suzie on the GPS of my phone has led me to the suburbs of Waterkloof. This is where PG13 has worked on their debut project, He’kaya. Upon hearing the title of the EP, my Nguni brain, thought it fitting that I come to their abode in Pretoria, to have a listen to the project right where it was recorded.
But He’kaya is Swahili, meaning legend. The four track EP will be launched this Saturday at Tembisa Lifestyle where the band was formed late 2015. “It’s where it started. The reason we chose Swahili, is because it’s the oldest African language,” says poet Angela Mthembu.
“Legends as in folktale and ‘legends’ as in legendary human beings. Our journey has been blessed by those who came before us, that’s why we always do To The Ones Who Came Before Us first[when performing live],”Mthembu says. The track is also known as Dlozi and is on the EP.
Paying homage is a serious thing for them. So much that they open their performances with ToThe Ones Who Came Before Us, and if not sung well, there are irreversible consequences. “It’s really important that, that song goes well. But if it doesn’t, we’ll play a great set but everyone’s mood [in the band] will change,” says drummer Steven Bosman. Mthembu chips in to say “…You guys won’t hear it. But certain weird things happen when that song goes wrong- either Wanda bursts an amp or I forget my lyrics in the next piece. ”
The song is their prayer, to those above and below them. And they have strong belief that if they aren’t earnest about the music and being on that stage, a bad set is guaranteed.
For their launch party they would like to pay homage to the late Phillip Tabane and Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, vicariously through the descendants of these icons. “The idea is to collaborate with the offspring of legends that have shaped our music. So Thabang Tabane and Zoe Molelekwa- we’re hoping Zoe will be in Joburg on the 18th so he can come have a jam with us,” an excited Mthembu tells me.
PG13 includes vocalists Thando Msiza and Bongiwe Nkobi, Harry Thibedi and Zelizwe Mthembu on guitars with Wandisile Boyce on bass. The clique started out as three females- Mthembu, Nkobi and Towela Tembo- and has morphed into what we know today as the band. The PG represents Parental Guidance, but the 13 has a strong significant modest element to it. “13 is the beginning of teenhood and that’s the element where you as a child need the most guidance from your parents. It represents innocence. But it also represents us entering into this world and we’re starting to learn what it means to be a human verses what it means to be a child or an adult,” Mthembu says.
The band has performed on a decent number of stages which include the Smoking Dragon New Year’s Eve music festival, The Dawn, U the Space, Tembisa Street Food Market, Afrikan Freedom Station and Soweto Arts and Craft to mention a few. On He’kaya are songs their ardent followers have heard them perform on these various platforms. “The people who’ve followed us from the beginning, actually most these songs are relatively new to them because they knew us with Jack and Jill. Moving from a band that just had guitar to a full seven piece band, the sound shifts altogether- so even if you say ‘I’ve heard these songs’ you get a different flavour and taste from them,”Mthembu says. The tracks were recorded sporadically over a period of months,close to a year and were mixed and mastered by Bosman and Jamie Van Niekerk.
Speaking as Ndoda serenades our conversation in the background, Bosman says “With this track, the guitars were recorded last year, the drums were recorded this afternoon and six months back was two vocals. So it’s been little steps trying to mould a song.”
The version of Ndoda on the EP that we’re listening to in their studio is a tad different to an older version they recorded a while ago. On the older version Mthembu’s poetry comes off as lambasting all men, but her tone on the He’kaya version is a softer and a more conversational tone with the male species. Her poetry comfortably falls on Nkobi’s warm backing vocals in the backdrop. While in her verse, Nkobi charges boys to heed the call to be the men that are needed. But her vocal dexterity tones down this charge, sounding like it’s your mother singing you into your manhood asking to wake up and be idnoda! Bosman’s drumming is sharp, punctual and in sync with the vocals.
I wouldn’t have guessed they recorded in the process in which they did, had I not asked because it sounds as though they were all in studio at the same time. A mark of good sound engineering and says a lot about their chemistry as a clique. “The challenge as well has been, not knowing what someone else is doing, which was also exciting. Because a few members will pitch up and be like ‘what! I didn’t know the song was gonna sound like this’ one day I wasn’t here for the vocals, and I never thought our vocalists would do something like that, that they came up with a completely different concept for the chorus and completely changed the song,” says Bosman. He quips that, Monday nights in a tiny smoky room is chemistry. “It’s like a new perspective, every day with different ears-if you do it all together at one point, everybody hears the same thing. When it’s changing, you start to get some cooler stuff,” adds engineer Van Niekerk.
“The chemistry moves from the physical…like I gel with Steven and I start to like, gel with Steven’s drum. So when I hear Steven’s drum in my ears, that’s the chemistry that’s transferred,” Mthembu says.
If done wrong, the cocktail of music and poetry in a band can go south pretty quickly. A group that mastered this was Kwani Experience, so good was the blend that is wasn’t evident to the ear-the music just captured you.
PG13 also has that busyness. The chemistry, especially between Nkobi, Msiza and Mthembu makes the whole set digestible. On Jack and Jill Nkobi and Msiza beautifully go back and forth on vocals, requiring you to pay close attention. Their music doesn’t only borrow from Jazz and African music elements, but also has unmissable rock sounds.
Jack and Jill came out on Women’s day as their first single and is available on Soundcloud. The band has a tour planned after the He’kaya launch in Tembisa. “We’re doing three provinces-KZN, which is the longest leg of the tour, we’re gonna play about six venues there. A festival in Rustenburg and about two shows in Joburg,”Mthembu says. The tour is named After Skul is Afta Skul: He’Kaya.
ART took centre stage at 4ROOM as Sun Xa Experiment was forced to leave because of an emergency, right before their performance.
Billed as the headline act for this past Sunday’s Action Painting at 4ROOM in Tembisa, band Sun Xa Experiment couldn’t get on stage due to one of the band members’ kids being sick. But regardless of that mishap, those who graced the stage gave the audience its money’s worth with their performances.
Thing about 4ROOM is that it allows artists intimacy with their audience and each artist that went on felt like they were singing for you, right in your living room. The sound was crisp with no glitches while the stage and lights set-up would make a stranger doubt that they’re indeed in someone’s four room backyard.
Momemtos band performed well, but one can’t help but feel cheated when guys do cover tracks throughout their set. I’ve been to countless shows at 4ROOM but this past Sunday stands out. There were kids running around the yard, creatives networking and old friends unwinding over great music.
Armed with his guitar, Musa Mashiane’s highly spirited performances could well be the night’s highlight as it moved people to sit still and absorb the energy he was sharing with his listeners. The artist who hails from Mpumalanga performed twice, his last performance was accompanied by artists Thandazani Ndlovu and MK-their growing collaboration that brings together music and visual art.
With Mashiane belting out Uku khanya, Ndlovu tells me what inspired his painting that he did during Mashiane’s performance. “I was painting uMdu. But it’s quite abstract. The way he’s dressed…and he’s a free person who doesn’t seem concerned by what people might think of him. I like people like that.”
The muse, Mdu Hlangu was pleased with how he was depicted. “It captures the essence of who I am. I love it…I’m sure I’m gonna buy it. If no one beats me to it, this one’s mine.”
“No one told me they were gonna paint me. I hear people say it looks like me…it’s a good thing because I don’t have a mirror in the house,” says Hlangu.
Stationed on a chair, Indlovukazi’s performance added to the night’s intimate mood.Rapper Vortex, who I hadn’t seen on stage in a while, got heads nodding to his Boom Bap sounds. Before and after his performance, Killa Kane was on the decks doing what only Kane does best and that is play great soulful music.