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Matthew Mokoena

Be servant to all, master to self, like rain... pouring on both the just n the unjust... Change is here, now... WATCH...

The Intervarsity Spokenmind Competition

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Intervarsity Spoken Mind competition

This page, the Spoken Mind, being resident in Consciousness is somewhat symbolic to me. It conjures up visions of home, of belonging, like the stars inhabiting the night skies, familiar. It has imbued the patriot in me. A patriot is one who not only supports with her/his passion, but also with her/his dreams and beliefs and with the very sinew of her/his life. Perhaps I should have written a piece about this passion beforehand, a year or so ago, to introduce our readers to the (at the time) faceless author of the Spoken Mind. The next statement will come across as rather random, this is due to the fact that I have so much to say, so much I have come to understand, but will be unable to fully express this in this particular piece, “To know yourself, you first need to concede to the fact that there are things that you do not know. That the known can, however, not be unknown, but the unknown can be known.”

Now, a conscious mind does not inhabit every thought that it finds. It first chooses, then searches and turns, unravels and then, most importantly… believes. In this belief, it will subject itself to bias ideals. Pledge its allegiance and thus, invest some time in servitude to whatever cause it has set its compasses upon. So rich are our beliefs with carefully, deeply deliberated ideals that when pricked, we bleed. And this is how I feel about Poetry, about God. I am absolutely biased. This bias is similar (not the same) to pro blackness vs whiteness, Christian vs Islam and to a certain extent, poetry vs hip hop. But to single it out and zone in on a particular bias, I will talk of poetry, good poetry vs bad poetry, and I represent both. At a poetry session held in Tembisa, Myesha Jenkins, asked to differentiate good poetry from bad poetry merely said, and I paraphrase, “I might not know how to define good poetry, but I know how bad poetry sounds like.” She went on to find fitting adjectives to describe how the latter type made her feel. Now obviously, no two ears are the same, but because of belief, lately I’ve been hearing and experiencing at sessions, a lot of misrepresentation of self by many ‘young’ poets.

On “What’s your take,” Masechaba Moshoeshoe’s show on Kaya fm, Paul Paunde of “Consciousness.co.za… It’s a lifestyle,” known by his contemporary’s as Paulsaid, recited a poem titled, “My children shall name themselves.” If you have read AWS (African Writers Series) books, this poem might evoke images of “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born,” by Ayi Kwei Armah. However, in making my point, I am afraid this naming of ourselves is often adverse to the things we say and the virtues (or lack thereof) of our work. It’s unlike naming a child Impikayise (war of the father), Matlakala (rubbish), Lefa (inheritance) were the child grows up to fully exemplify their given name. It is more like a child called Bontle who unfortunately falls short of the ‘universal’ standards of beauty usurped by our masters and is crucified for this throughout her life. Or worse, the ‘deep’ people from planet ‘does not exist’ have searched and found there is no beauty inside her either.

So today we have, and I will use a good friend as an example because I do not like hypotheticals, Donald “Neosapien” Mokgale. The pseudonym he gave himself after being born again as a Christian. Maybe this is why I’m using him in particular, because I relate to this. What would it mean to have his poetry not living up to his name? Does this matter? Or are you on that “What’s in a name” tip? And so many of my peers have aka’d themselves into contradiction. In naming yourself, do not lose the essence of who you really are. Calling yourself God will not make you a creator of life.

Use the above as a Preamble, a somewhat relevant yet unrelated introduction and make up your own mind as to the authenticity or validity of a poet’s work  when you come through to the Intervarsity Spoken Mind Competition on the 27th of August. Let’s make it work.

The Spoken Mind lives.


A Spoken Mind is one that is often sound, always sober and never reprobate in its reasoning. It is neither too proud nor too modest. As Sir Richard Kipling alluded, it can walk with kings without losing the common touch. I hope in engaging with this blog, you will be able to draw your own definitions aligned to what you believe in.

So perchance our readers get it twisted, the Intervarsity Spoken Mind Competition is not about the poet’s ego. It is not a slam, neither is it an affirmation contest. What it is though, is a gathering of four movements, rich with heritage, from three tertiary institutions. I am referring to the Tshwane University of Technology’s Street Poets Society, the Unisa Poetry Society and Writers Forum and Penseed Poets, both from the University of Pretoria.

This event marks the first of many similar events, workshops, conferences, outreach initiatives and more to come from the Spoken Mind. The event will be hosted on the 27th of August, powered by “Consciousness.co.za… It’s a lifestyle,” in partnership with Graphic Hub (visit www.visualnetworks.co.za). Prizes include a Writers Write workshop courtesy of Amanda Patterson’s Writers Write Foundation, a Sony Handycam, t-shirts, sweaters, autographed books and a lot more.

The judges for the show are Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, a poet whose name should be familiar to those who have been following the Spoken Mind. Natalia Molebatsi, who like Phillippa, was part of the “A Body of Words” show which has previously been featured in the Spoken Mind. Raphael d’Abdon, Percy Mabandu and David wa Maahlamela.

Check out the poster and join the Spoken Mind page on facebook for more details, discussions and to engage with me and other poets.

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