In the theme encapsulating opening lines to a certain Lesego Rampolokeng poem, “Welcome to the new Consciousness… We utilize… everyone.” Indeed, to balance the testosterone levels of your already acquired consciousness, my second article may be seen as a eulogy to the feminine gene in the eternal union between God and His Thoughts expressed in word form. I’m talking ‘The S(he)poken Word.’ This article, in NO way, delivers the pure; unadulterated justice to the ‘Everestic’ talent contained within our featured Spoken Minds. Unlike our previous Minds, these two magnificent women are not a duo, though their respect for each others work and personas was transparent during their individually conducted interviews.
The written and feminine face of spoken word has many a time carried in its opulence the beauty, charm and skill of its possessors. Also, the soul of a tormented spirit, who glorifies the unity between her pen (samurai sword) and sacrificial page (lamb), at odds with external spaces displaced, discovers peace in the eternal voice sent to whisper ‘uni-verse-al’ truth to the internal being.
It is women whose life giving breasts we suckle from, women who nurture even the bastard children of the long escaped ‘Michael Scofields’ (to bring it closer to home) Anannias Mathe’s of our society. More often than not, we are fed certain ‘truths’ on gender based roles in society. Are there any gender based roles in literature, more specifically the Spoken Word? My role in Spoken Minds is merely mediatory, a vessel of question, your role is to find the answers; either in our guests or do like the rest… Google it. My advice, question each Spoken Mind that hits this page, hit the comment tab and here just how conscious these minds are. To a man in a coma, being awake is as conscious as it gets. To a woman with a pen, page, tertiary education, a stage and a Constitution written to match?
Ladies and gents of Consciousness Land, a present to thee, two of Spoken Words’ and Pretoria’s most prolific daughters…
|Real name||Mthunzikazi A. Mbungwana|
|Born||17 February 1981|
|Hometown||Rural town of Cala (Former Transkei) in the Eastern Cape|
|Member||Mo Faya Spoken collective and I am friends with Travellin Blak and TUT Street Poets movements|
|Inspirations||Inspired by love, light, pain, and all that life challenges us with as human beings and the power of a human spirit to triumph over and manage to emerge victorious no matter what the situation.|
|Relationship||I am in love with love that loves back, I am in quest for that element of love, it’s only when I have felt it I can say I am in a relationship.|
|Poets||All those poets who narrate their stories with humor, dignity and in explicit detail. You will find those souls in some of these poetry sessions in different corners of this country; they are few but a lot to mention. They are natural, respectful, honest and in touch with themselves and aware of the energies around them.|
|MC||If it sound good and carries a positive message and has been packed and arranged in a dignified manner I will listen to it .I am very eclectic.|
|Musician||Madosini,Sibongile Khumalo, Nina Simone, Simphiwe Dana,Cesaria Evora,Zim Ngqawana ,Abdul Ibrahim, Gloria Bosman and the list goes on|
|Crew||Travellin Blak,Izithunywa zohlanga and Rebelution|
|Verse||“It is not about us but the people we represent” from a wise, strong woman who gave me one of my first breaks’|
Ten hours away
Away from home
I hope that eventually
I will taste eternal peace
In the still of the night,
While the city is fast asleep
Fooling me of it’s non existing serenity
I’m floating lazily within my sleep
I remain half asleep,
The uncertainty of tomorrow
fuelled by the flaws of untraceable yesterdays,
result to this breathing yet paralysed and lifeless corpse,
an ejaculation sourced from a dangerous mind
The consistent chants of Jacaranda trees, dominates, demands my full attention and suddenly blows away the ghostly silence that has been decorating my room with nothing but empty hot vapours of insecurities
I could hear the buzz of a fly passing by
Flickering in the dark, I forced my eyes to open up, to see, to engage.
My brains to selectively analyse, my ears to listen and my soul to be still
In the middle of the dense darkness
I could touch your smile
I could smell your sensitivity
Your commitment to our sacred relationship
My heart was fully pumped with assurance that in this,
We are together
You might not be with me physically now, always ,at most, all times
You are within me
You are my comfort
You are my cushion,
My delicacy and with you living in me,
I know I will find peace within me, through you.
– end –
Interview with Mthunzikazi
I share with you some of the thoughts that this amazing “psychopath” (self titled”, the name spawned from the experience of being “raised by a Wesleyan Pastor and a mother who was at some stage training to be a sangoma. At one point you are in church, a quite, peaceful environment, and the next you are surrounded by dance, ululations and other such sounds…”) of the spoken word was willing to share, based on the following questions:
Matt: Is there a difference between male & female poets and what is/should be the role played by the genders in poetry/literature?
Mthunzi: In terms of poetry, I don’t believe there are any gender differences, I do not listen to the gender, I listen to the message, the voice of that message, because the message has no gender/face… just energy.
In defining her role in poetry, Mthunzi took me down the dusty, yet relevant passages of a life lived in and out of fear. The Isizulu speaking people refer to it as “Uhlanga” (origins), Mthu drew me in to her rural upbringing, her relocation to Cape Town for educational purposes, her expectations of a ‘better life in Cape Town’ (the same syndrome suffered by people who hear stories of joburg, city of gold), only to be great by an aunt in a shack which was one in thousands illegally built along the roadside. She went on to share how as a kid, she never looked at these experiences as poor, even though society constantly reminded her otherwise. During her years there, tourists passed by in a bus, they took pic’s and gave them loaves of bread.
Mthunzi:I’m from an environment where people weren’t talking about their struggles, especially women, so I tell their stories and those before our time which where never told. Like the assegais’ connection to Shaka (Zulu). “I represent those who cannot represent themselves. Our survival depends on our dreams, without dreams… you have died, like a flower without its roots.”
Matt: Mthu, tell us more about your relationship status, have you found someone?
Mthunzi: Not yet (and I swear I saw the corners of her lips turn up)”I don’t know what I want, but I know what it is that I don’t want, and these guys come with all that I don’t want. I may seem hardcore, but I do want to be loved, I would like to be called on just to be checked on, but I’m complete, hence I need someone who is complete as well.”
She went on to define the qualities of the brother she’s most likely to end up with. Someone who has a dream, who can stand up for what they want (backbone) and be respectful and un-intimidated by her.
Matt: When did you start writing and performing?
Mthunzi:It was 1996, I was 15yrs old moving to Cape Town to do my Std 8 (Grade 10). The area I lived at was reeling with violence between two Taxi Associations. It was a hard environment that forced me to grow up before my time. That’s when I started writing. I wrote about missing home, about the CPT environment, love and then I grew from there and started writing to make sense of things.
I started performing in 2003 at Uhuru wa maisha at the Eskia Mphahlele Library (God Bless his soul)
Matt: Highlights of your Artistic Career?
Mthunzi:Performed in the Lillian Ngoyi lecture presented by Dr Frennie Ginwala (former Speaker of Parliament) commemorating 50th anniversary of 1956 women’s march to the union buildings.
- Winner of the SA FM express yourself competition
- Performed in the AU conference of African leaders on roads, transport and economic development held in Durban
- She performs in poetry session and in corporate gigs in and around Gauteng .She has shared the stage with artists and poets like Abdul Milazi, Sizakele Nkosi Heather Robertson and Kojo Baffoe
She has been published by various literature websites like Litnet and Writers Lounge
|Real name||Nothukela Xabisokazi Mahambehlala|
|Member||None (that’s what she says, but she rolls with the University of Pretoria Poetry group and affiliates with the TUT Street Poets amongst others)|
|Inspirations||“The relationships I have formed with other poets”|
|Relationship||In a relationship with Mpho Ngakane (I’ll give you a R1000… on second thoughts, I’ll write you a poem if you know who this artist is)**,|
|Poets||Skhomo (from P.E), Linton Kwesi Johnson (Born in Jamaica and stays in London), CanJah (U.P Poetry Group), Maya Angelou (“her work just hits hard… even when it is read”)|
|Book||The Only Black at a Dinner Party. (Eric Miyeni)|
|MC||Last Emperor, Knaan, Common, Hymphatic Thabs, Ben Sharpa|
|Musician||Ella Fitzgerald, Etta Jones, Billie Holiday, Amel Larrieux, Erykah Badu, Simphiwe Dana, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Michael Franks, Abdulah Ibrahim, Moses Taiwa Molelekwa|
|Quote||“If someone shows you who they are, believe them.”|
|Verse||“I’d call a place pure paradise/ where families are loyal and strangers are nice,/ where the music is jazz…”- Maya Angelou’s “Preacher, Don’t Send Me”|
It Ends With Me
Never had I imagined that in my path through Life
I’d come to meet what my eyes cannot see.
Never had I imagined that from a decision to love and trust so blindly,
You would leak and swim in my streams,
Never in my life, had I imagined you would happen to me
Now I am faced with this life-long raging war
That will have me stripped of my power
But before you see me to my end drawn,
Knocking on Death’s door,
I will fight you with a strength I never knew I possessed before.
Though I know in time you will gain complete rule over me,
I will fight you, to my bitter end, to keep you from my progeny
By openly speaking to my seed about the Birds and The Bees
And the ABC’s that will prevent and see and end to your dis-ease
I will arm my child with the unedited truth of your origins
How you have, parasitically, come to dwell in me
With the purpose of seeing my last breath breathed,
And my life, painfully ceased.
Decked with all knowledge of your destructive ways,
My child will choose Life wisely
Though I know, in time, my end shall arrive
I will live with a smile and die with my spirit at ease
For you spread of dis-ease end here with me.
To choose Life, to preserve Life, shall be
The lesson taught to every generation after me.
Your spread of dis-ease ends here with me,
Not my progeny.
– end –
Interview with Nothukela
I arrive at the University of Pretoria with 10mins to spare, it is registration period and the Hatfield campus is abuzz with 1st year activity. I reminisce to those youthful, sporadic brainwashing days, thank the Lord before I take my position at a table by the Student Centre, whip out my 1st copy of Baobab magazine and gluttonously gulp chunks of Rampolokeng’s brainwash”,
Right before I consider taking up arms and burning down the bridges of Academia, the queen arrives, ready to deliver me to new ideologies of revolution. Maybe I am just a sucker for brainwash camps, but this one, I attend as a calling, a duty endowed upon me from the deity’s above and beyond. Amen… I am led away from the noise to a serene part of campus (this is where the noise should have been, I guess the student centre is the commercial spot) and before the passion of minds begins, I briefly relay the similarities and respect expressed, between both interviewees, for one another.
With that said it is safe to convey, that asked the same questions about their art, their responses might as well have been Siamese. So here, I seek to underline this Poetess’ differences and unique views.
Asked about her views on gender roles in poetry/literature, she calmly responds, “Poetry is a platform where gender roles are unclassified, where we are free from ‘what’ we are.” She went on to express how people are boxed/confined by gender, how men won’t show emotion and women won’t rebel, because when and if they do, they face the full fury of the ‘boxed’, the named and defined. “When you put yourself on paper, gender is put aside…”
Of her contribution to Spoken Word, she shifts slightly, not out of nervousness; but as of to draw the answer from within. “I speak to challenge people not to separate themselves from the suffering of others. We should stop ‘just’ living and start doing self introspection, I mean, if I can see what is happening within me, around me, why can’t the next person.?” Why indeed.
Relationship status??? Okay, this is no tabloid, so no hype should be rendered in writing about others’ relationship matters. What is interesting to me when it comes to matters of unions is that; everyone desires to be loved. That to most, truth, trust and openness are synonyms that have fallen somewhat of the Godly, moral status of time past. She put the ‘God’ back in love.
Nothukela began writing short stories in primary school from assignments. Her grandmother encouraged her to keep writing until she was introduced to poetry in high school. She began performing in 2006 at the University of Pretoria.”I’d been coming to sessions as part of the audience, one day Canjah wrote my name on the list and after that performance, Vangz was like, ‘we doing this.’”
The highlight of her performances was one at a women’s prison (North End prison in P.E) where she went with a collective of artists as a community service, she relates of the experience, “ it is scary to see so many women dressed (down) in uniform. I thought, ‘thank God I’m free’, but at the same time, you couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for these women. Their response makes you appreciate the gift that God has given us.”
Unlike in those TV award speech lines you expect to hear from the winning nominees, when she said she was inspired by her mom and dad, I could feel the genuineness of her words as if she had recited them in prose. “They said to me,’ do what it is that you love’, and for me, poetry and education are in my heart, this is what I love.”
I leave you with a quote from her that struck the ego out of my art. Asked to define what art was to her she said, “I don’t know how to define art, coz I don’t know how to define life.”
Now tell me, how do you do justice in an interview when you speak with the young and immensely gifted (A Huge__Impakt), when you indulge in promiscuous mental unions with feminine queens (Mthunzi and Nothukela). How do you become a good king when you have lost the “common touch” as a certain Rudyard Kipling articulately puts it? I for one need lots of running around these mental tracks, I have stepped out of my island, please, ban (burn) me not in your countries, broaden not your borders, let me help in watering your poetrees. Allow me to labor with you, to teach with you, to bear my soul and walk nude in front of the mirrors of your artistically governed mental states.