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8min2120

“I know every man understands what that’s about, when you have the baddest [sic] girl in front of you and it’s all about to happen and you can’t even believe it,” says Maxwell in describing the essence of his track Stop the World, which is on his BLACK Summer’s Night album. The sensual singer was speaking in the short doccie, 5 Days of Black which came with the 2009 project.

 

But that quote and the song itself, talk to the delightful significance of consent right before intercourse. Lovemaking, ukubhebha, thobalano or whatever you call it, has an inconceivable lovely thrill to it. It sometimes finds you cornered by stress and anxiety, especially when your thirst for it has been an elongated one. It then releases your endorphins, oxytocin and you from the bondage of that angst. If done right, with the right person of course.

Maxwell’s quote above zooms-into that moment just before doing the nooky when you can feel and clearly see that she too, wants to share this here intimate moment with you. That’s where the beauty lies, in the agreement.

But speaking to a handful of guys, you notice that this seems to be a grey area for some people. “Sometimes she says ‘no’ but actually means yes,” one fella told me, explaining how a woman would spew the word no, simultaneously smiling and nodding her head to his advances. “I like it when there’s a bit of tension involved,” another guy said to me.

Rape by definition, is the unlawful activity, most involving sexual intercourse against the will if the victim through force or the threat of force or with an individual who is incapable of giving legal consent because of minor status, mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness or deception.  Rape has been part of our fabric as a society since the existence of humanity. But we’re living in a time where it’s slowly being called-out and eradicated, but we still have a long way to go until it’s no longer a part of who we are as a people, especially as men.

There’s clearly a culture created by men around rape. Before the dawn of democracy in South Africa and also even in the new Mzansi jack rolling was a colloquial term in the country’s townships for rape. Prevalent ekasi, it is a crime where men gang-rape their victim in retaliation to a perceived cold shoulder from the female victim who is being asked out. She’s basically being raped because she simply isn’t giving the guy her time.

While Jack rolling is the modus operandi in urban spaces, in our rural areas Ukuthwalwa works well for the men there. Ukuthwalwa is an old age customary marriage practice where a man, by force, takes a girl to his home with the intention of following through with a customary marriage. In his 2018 doctoral thesis, which News24 wrote a piece on last year, Mkhuseli Jokani explains that there are three types of Ukuthwalwa.

Ukuthwalwa ngemvumelwano – abduction by agreement happens when the girl is aware of the abduction that will take place. This could occur for example when there is a conspiracy between the girl and her suitor.

Ukuthwalwa kobolawu – abduction for arranged marriage happens through an agreement between the families of the girl and the groom’s family. In this case, the girl is unaware.

Ukuthwalwa okungenamvumelwano – abduction without agreement is when the girl and her family isn’t aware of the abduction and months go by without the male’s family arriving at the girl’s home to negotiate lobola, or even explain what has happened.

According to customary law, an explanation is that “the girl is not regarded as a minor if she has reached puberty and has acquired a certain level of maturity, where she can start a family.” Although largely shunned upon today, this still does take place.

Maxwell aptly titled the name of his song Stop the World, recognizing that precious moment where both (or a trio of) parties involved agree to coitus. He sings…

Imagine if it was, if this was you, if this was I

So perfectly designed to be here all night

Let the world rage outside, cause when I’m here with you

The world stops for me, the world stops for me

Since there is a culture built on, around and through rape it means we can also build a culture on, around and through the sensibility of consent. But there needs to be commitment from men, in instilling those values on the impressionable young boys growing up today.

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8min12340

The State Theatre in Pretoria was the venue for the inaugural Kulture Blues Festival and one would easily assume this to be an Africa month celebration, looking at the line-up.

“That was pure coincidence,” says the event’s producer Kulani Nkuna. “That was simply the day that was available for us. But we are Pan African in outlook and ideology.”

The unrivalled Thandi Ntuli headlined the two-day festival which began on Friday night with an intimate performance by the pianist. While Saturday saw Makhafula Vilakazi and Iphupho L’ka Biko on stage.

Together with her band, Ntuli serenaded the sizeable  audience inside Malambo Theatre with her gentle voice. She could’ve sang the whole night and we wouldn’t have cared for time. She has the astuteness of a Thelonious Monk on keys, while her voice has the gentleness of a Spha Mdlalose.

LADY WITH KEYS: Thandi Ntuli. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana
LADY WITH KEYS: Thandi Ntuli. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana

It’s a sad truth, but it is a rarity to have such artists playing together in a prominent space such as The State Theatre, unless the country’s commemorating a holiday day like Youth day or Africa month. There’s a paucity of spaces that accommodate the not-so generic artist. “Some of the content is not palatable to white sensibilities, so most veer away from these artists and their content,” Nkuna says. He pitched the idea of the festival to the State Theatre a while back and fortunately they opened their doors.

The festival’s name was inspired by a Putumayo compilation album titled African Blues. “That album was essentially the blues but in an African context and in our African languages. The Kulture part was taken from the name of our platform Culture Review and an attempt to pay homage to our particular type of sound,” Nkuna tells me. This will be an annual festival.

BIKO' DREAM:
Biko’s dream in full effect. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana

There’s a palpable inquisitiveness and a longing for African spirituality and a steady growth in Pan Africanism, particularly with this generation. The art scene hasn’t been an exception. Artists are creating works that are inspired by the aforementioned elements.

BLOWIN': Sthembiso performing at The State Theatre with Thandi Ntuli. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana
BLOWIN’: Sthembiso performing at The State Theatre with Thandi Ntuli. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana

Iphupho L’ka Biko is one ensemble that creates music that revives the spirit. The band was on stage Saturday evening after Vilakazi’s performance. While the smell of dank weed ushers you at Hip Hop shows. The aroma of impepho burning filled the auditorium during Iphupho L’ka Biko’s performance.

“The art scene is beaming with artists who make music that speak to the dire conditions of black people in this country live in. Art is a critical mirror that speaks to the brutality meted to black bodies by the state and by whiteness,” Nkuna says.

POLITICALLY CHARGED: KK performing at The State Theatre. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana
POLITICALLY CHARGED: KK performing at The State Theatre. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana

Iphupho L’ka Biko performed their hit Uthixo Ukhona and they also played songs which commemorate lost black lives including that of American Sandra Bland. An ode to Chris Hani titled Thembisile is so moving, it should be heard by all South African school kids to help give them insight about our past.  But IPhupho’s performance felt all over the place at times. They should shelve the afro-beat inspired section of their set; it’s a paradigm shift from the more jazz and protest sound they have. But Iphupho L’ka Biko surprisingly had a bigger audience than Ntuli’s the previous night. This is probably due to the fact that the band had performed at Black Labone on Thursday night.

BIKO' DREAM:
Izingane zikaBiko: IPhupho L’ka Biko Uthixo at the end of their performance. Photo by Khulisile Nkushubana.

“the artists performed at an exceptional level, and the audience were really in tune with the performers on stage,” says Nkuna post the event. Nkuna’s still unsure of the exact number of attendees of the festival as he still awaits for a ticket sales report from webtickets.

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4min12680
This is the other half of the two-part book review of Pen Still Inking by Xitha Makgeta and Philani Nyoni. Palesa-Entle Pulse Makua first shared her thoughts on Xitha’s poems in the chapbook that’s accompanied by Phethego Kgomo’s illustrations. The baton is now with Zimbabwean based poet Takudzwa Goniwa who on this article, reviews Philani’s body of work in Pen Still Inking.

Anyone familiar with Philani Nyonis work will know he enjoys towing the line. His wordplay and choice of content often border on indecent, but never enough to completely alienate you from diving into his work.

THA POET: Philani Nyoni. Photo supplied

Case in point would be the first poem I perused through in the chapbook Sonnet on the crapper. The crude title shocked me. As one does not often see those two words together in the same sentence.

But one should not judge a book by its cover or a poem by its title as it is anything but crude. He then proceeds to lay down his technique that makes one forget  their momentary flare of righteous indignation at the onset.

Illustration by Phethego Kgomo.
EN-COUNTER:Illustration by Phethego Kgomo

I quickly learnt that it was the poems with the seemingly harmless titles Number 1 that pushed my delicate sensibilities to the limit. But the use of punctuation to create the lovely phonetics the poem produces when read aloud make you forget the content for a second. I must admit, this is what makes his work such a joy to read.

While his content may not be everyone’s cup of tea, no one can deny that his grasp of technique and usage of literary devices is stunning.

 

DRUNK ON A ROSE. By Phethego
DRUNK ON A ROSE. By Phethego

The illustrations done by Phethego Kgomo compliment his poetry well. Painting a slightly morbid atmosphere which creates a fitting background to the various poems in the chapbook.

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6min13540
This is a two-part book review of Xitha Makgeta and Philani Nyoni’s Pen Still Inking, illustrated by Phethego Kgomo. I decided to co-write this book review with my friend Takudzwa Goniwa, a poet based in Zimbabwe. I will share my views on Xitha’s poems in the book in this article. While Takudzwa reviews Philani’s contribution in part two.

Xitha’s collaborative work with Philani on this collection of poems is a mind-blowing fusion of poetry and illustrations by Phethego. Xitha’s poetry has evolved so much compared to his previous book Bits and Pieces. I think this chapbook is a necessary collector’s item because he vividly covers the state of the times we live in. On the poem Half Asleep he speaks about how he uses poetry to stay afloat in a country that has no respect for artists.

THA MAN: Xitha Makgeta. Photo supplied.
THA MAN: Xitha Makgeta. Photo supplied.

Burning is one of my favourites as he speaks directly to Gender Base Violence(GBV) and how a woman’s body has become a battlefield. The first part of the poem addresses the rainbow community the LGBTQIA+

He writes…

Maybe God is a Lesbian and her pussy has learned its lesson, to forget how to breathe, to remember the closet

Its no secret how the LGBTQIA+ community is dying at an alarming rate due to homophobic attacks, Xitha continues lamenting GBV…

 …We taught you how to become fire, now the flames are burning our daughters

They are burning

it was their bodies doused in gasoline

 they are burning

Our country is experiencing  two pandemics all at once- COVID19 and GBV. In this piece Xitha shines light on women  like Uyinene, Karabo, Naledi Phangindawo, Motshidisi Pascalina, Noxolo Mabona, Lindo Cele and many others who remain unnamed.

ART AT WORK: Songs of Akiliz. By Phethego
ART AT WORK: Songs of Akiliz. By Phethego

My only disappointment was that I expected more words because two poets collaborated here. But that was my error. I mean, I’m sure chapbooks are usually this size…right?

Every generation has an icon who inspired everyone who had an opportunity to work with them and Xitha pays homage to his icon, Mama Myesha Jenkins.

XITHA'S ODE: A poem for Jenkins, beautifully illustrated by Phetogo
XITHA’S ODE: A poem for Jenkins, beautifully illustrated by Phethego

Born in San Francisco California in 1948, Jenkins was a poet, a cultural activist and a spoken word performer. Jenkins passed away last September. I loved how Xitha chose to honor her the best way he knew her, through poetry.

THA ILLUSTRATOR: Phethego Kgomo. Photo supplied
THA ILLUSTRATOR: Phethego Kgomo. Photo supplied

Phethego Kgomo’s illustrations  complemented the type of poems in the book and I think that was an  amazing choice of artist. Xitha’s love for illustration goes back to Bits and Pieces where he also had artwork complementing his poetry so effortlessly. I would defiantly recommend this book to poetry lovers and MCees (not rappers) because there is that Saul Williams typa vibe in Pen Still Inking.

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7min15910

This COVID pandemic has done wonders for the South African music industry. Obviously Nathi Mthethwa and his ilk have ruthlessly filled their pockets with Madiba notes meant for the arts in this god forsaken country of ours, but that is no surprise. Gangsters will be gangsters.

What I think has improved is the level of creativity in our music. While celebrity musicians have been making all kinds of reality TV shows in order to sustain their seemingly glamourous lifestyles, the ‘up and coming’ are pursing new and game-changing sounds, instead of chasing a big cheque with an easily forgettable club banger. New Joburg based musician Fatheroursons is one artist trying to father new dope sounds.

HIS FATHER'S SON: Artist Fatheroursons. Photo by Tshepo Errol Msimango
HIS FATHER’S SON: Artist Fatheroursons. Photo by Tshepo Errol Msimango

His debut EP titled Child, is a self-aware daddy complex project which swings between remorse, inconsideration and neglect.

In the opening track Bluewaters, the young man affirms his need for absolution as a sinner. “…bluewaters…cleanse my skin, I have sinned…our farther…our farther true forgiveness comes within…bluewaters…how far is it to fall?…but through it all you know yourself “

On the closing track Stupid bitch, Fathoursons chastises some poor soul for not knowing their position in his life. “…drink some water, your blood is thickening, close your eyes and start listening, don’t make me say it more than once, you little stupid bitch…you are a bitch I am a monster….keep pretending you know shit, the truth is you don’t know shit….you little stupid bitch”

ON THAT BEACH: Fatheroursons. Photo by Tshepo Errol Msimango
AN ALL STAR?: Fatheroursons on that beach. Photo by Tshepo Errol Msimango

The tension between these two antonymous perspectives existing within one entity is a condition which haunts the Bantu male to no end. Fatheroursons explores this curious tension in his debut project. He poetically recognizes the monster he sees in the mirror as a product of circumstance who ironically perpetuates a karmic cycle of pain. He is both the villain and the victim in his story. He just can’t help himself.

NATURE BOY: Fatheroursons. Photo supplied
NATURE BOY: Fatheroursons a man in touch with self. Photo supplied

Fatheroursons operates on top of low tempo percussive grooves which are filled with all sorts of delicious pads. He has a minimalistic approach to his music and I am generally not a fan of such an approach to sound but the length of the project negates any such inclinations. While his writing slaps harder than your momma after you lost her change on your way back from the store. A case in point is the fourth track on the five track EP, titled Don’t call me.

NEVER INA HAYWIRE: Fatheroursons. Photo by Zanoxolo Mthiyane
NEVER INA HAYWIRE: Fatheroursons. Photo by Zanoxolo Mthiyane

“…Don’t call my phone, I don’t want to hear it, the thought of you makes me nervous, don’t call my phone, we’ve been here before, that shit used to work on me, it don’t work no more, don’t call my phone…”  The level of relatability I have with the above words is beyond my powers of expression.

The Child EP is a fire introductory project for Fatheroursons. It forced a serious bout of self-examination even though it won’t stop me from smashing the thirsty hun in my DM’s who clearly got daddy issues by the ton. It is what it is.

Fatheroursons Child EP Cover. By Fatheroursons
Fatheroursons Child EP Cover. By Fatheroursons

You can stream the EP Here


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