Tale of Two Cities

by Thulasziwe Somdyala

The latent energy in black music is in its creation of relevance. It creates a truth recognisable to the majority of people. Black music is created not in the goal of consumption but rather of truth. The most truthful aspects of the narrative are painted to feed off the aesthetics of truth to the audience. That common recognition in truth thus creates relevance. Reason you cannot be a fraud in Hip Hop, destabilises those fibres of truth needed for relevance; your connection with the artist. And if it is to be felt by the majority of people the truth has to be current to the environment and time. The greats stand the test of time due to their vivid leaps; grasping on to an endless relation to a common emotion. i was watching Proverb’s Nothing New music video recently. i liked the instrumental; nice vibe. There laid an easy flow topping it with the lyrics conveying the message. i was like, aight cool. The portrayal of his story (video) however was irrelevant to the current time and environment. It did not have the Georgie Zamdela old school feel of a quality you still want to reach; which the song was suggesting. The video was painted with images of a time where some have and many are being pulled out of, to progress into a quality worth reaching for. The video was out of sync with ownership which the youth are currently fighting to live for. This essay serves as an image of this time and environment and a picture of where we could be going…

Motswako

Ownership allows you to keep the original idea in its truest form, create checks and balances of authenticity, market it in its truest light and when sold it illuminates the idea and identity of the owners and benefits its subjects that it underlines.

The first time i could see the relevance of Motswako in a Hip Hop picture outside of Stoan’s engagement with Bongo Muffin was with HHP. Ubupantsula in a Tswana wrapping. Had the mainstream appeal of English to translate to a wider audience without losing the aesthetics of its root.  That was the beauty for me. Fast forward, 2010 Khuli Chana, Tswakstikem. That Ivy League instrumental was ridden like a pony as if murders she wrote. Without understanding much of the Tswana content i could feel the kill. The results of accessibility without losing authenticity- a product of ownership. Cassper Nyovest has recently become a heavy beneficiary of that product. Due to South Afrikan mainstream media being fixated with painting idealism; their ideal vision entrenched in a liberal politically driven perception. The mainstream ideal picture of Hip Hop thus becomes freedom encapsulate in the non struggle for material things. Cassper in his make advanced the image of ipanstula; original stunners in the townships. There are no better to relate materialism to 85% of the South Afrikan population than ospidans. The image portrayed by them in the township is what most kids aspire to.

i remember seeing Cassper perform Doc Shebeleza for the first time. It was 2013 (i think), at the South Point Braam Street Festival. Before performing the track, he spoke on how Doc Shebeleza was the guy he looked up to growing up. How if there is anyone he thinks he is like is Doc Shebeleza; it was on the Rick Ross B.M.F. instrumental at that time. Beat dropped; crowd goes crazy. Cuts it. Coaches the crowd how the hook will go; as the audience we ad lib him on “Doc Doc Shebeleza.” The energy exchanged between audience and artist during those bars- madness; an awkward sense of over euphoria. It took many of us to the truths of our childhoods; a distant memory made vivid. Doc was the realest. Best parties in his videos; him and just women (hyper-masculine but chilled in a chilled way). You see him just living life without struggling. And you think to yourself; “i want to know what this guy does. i want to be just like him. Living.”

HipHopPantsula-OMang

Progressing Blackward

i read a post on Novaherself’s instagram account on Lebone II College of the Royal Bafokeng. “The school assembly area or lekgotla which was traditionally held under a tree so here, it is held under this cool canopy.” This caption accompanies a picture of someone captured still in the middle of the cool canopy. The note that follows the picture blocked ellipses trying to summarise her emotions at all stops.

Spent the past two days performing and engaging, in Phokeng, at what is the most fantastic reimagining of the African private school. The signs are in Setswana, the various school blocks are referred to and built as villages (math village, humanities village etc), the cafeteria is lined with pictures of the Bafokeng Kings from as far back as the 1800s and it was built by Kgosi Leruo, the current king, and all the pupils greet with “dumelang, bagolo” when they pass by elders. Rre Thebe Morake gave us a tour and explained the curriculum which includes a subject called Theory of Knowledge and has theorists such as Michel Foucault and Pumla Gqola. I am deeply impressed by the sheer beauty of the architecture and the spirit of the people and most importantly, the spirit of the intention of having a place such as this exist. I was so worried about what school I’d send my children to one day… like “Jesus, am I gonna have to build a school or home school them or what because I already love them too much to subject them to pedagogical whiteness.” I’m sure that private schools and schools named after European saints are great but those institutions were not established with the African child in mind, which is why so many African children have their very personhoods violated by such institutions but must mould themselves & assimilate in order to progress. I’m excited and deeply grateful that powerful figures such as the Royal Bafokeng are doing the AMAZING work of building institutions and infrastructure particularly for the African child, mindful of who she is and where she comes from, and constructing buildings that honour that. What a time to be alive! Thebe Morake is a gem and I was awed by our conversation on gender and how the pupils learn about Feminism. I’m inspired that such passionate and conscious educators exist. Shoo! I have all kinds of plans for myself and this school and he said that I am welcome anytime. My spirit is glowing. Aren’t we the ones that we’ve been waiting for?

The Royal Bafokeng Holdings overview statement reads:

The beneficiaries of the Trust are the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN) and any voluntary association whose members are Bafokeng or any company controlled by the Trust. Hence, the affairs of the Trust are operated in line with the customs, traditions and values of the RBN. In this regard, decision-making processes have been largely aligned with those of the existing RBN structures such as the RBN Supreme Council, which remains responsible for the identification, prioritisation and delivery of social needs to the community.

From the above testaments believing in, enriching and benefitting from your originality is the root of all wealth. By illustrating the mindset of the approximate background from which Motswako originates, you see how ideology transforms itself into the products of its benefactors. HHP acquired the Status and Vodacom endorsement on strength of relevance. Khuli Chana started Maftown Heights, a calendar event in Joburg showcasing the best of Motswako and friends. Khuli also recently received KFC and Absolut endorsements. Cassper’s hustle best articulates the current hunger of the youth. He owns the masters and rights to a platinum selling album and remains independent from the record labels. Owning the nights and days you live for- wealth. He set his sight on the next big stage; filling The Dome. 19 000 at capacity. If not for anything else but enabling our generation to dream of owning all spaces and prosper should be the mentality we gear towards in support, and learn to put each other on again. A successful event with quality production and audience to compliment would open the market up. A representation of us on stage, bum rushing a space that excludes us at home. i can see the Boom Shaka days of filled stadiums raying with hysteria; feeling the pulse on your couch. The relevance is in us getting excited about us again.

Boom Shaka

Slave Town

Walking during the day in Cape Town, when awake, you can feel the intrusion and squares. At night, standing on top of Signal Hill, marvelled by how the city lights paint the coastline and interior. A thought a friend shared came to mind. “Imagine having access to all this nature, fishing, hunting with a climate suitable to your skin texture. Next thing you find yourself in a semi-desert- harsh climate, in conflict with your own people over scarce resources.”

The arrivals of Europeans at the Cape on their voyages to the East Indies were cautiously met with violence by the Khoekhoe in protection of their existence. Later bartering was welcomed with passing by ships, seen to be visitors, and the exchange of goods mutually beneficial to both parties were exchanged. It was with the permanent settlement of Europeans that the disintegration of the Khoekhoe communities began at the south-west Cape despite their strong resistance to European settlement and expansion in the area between 1652 and 1720. The large number of Dutch settlers placed a strain in trade and land occupation, where historically the Khoekhoe had been at peace with nature by customs developed and practised in maintaining a sustainable life. Without land the Khoekhoe lost their wealth, gaining a suppressed way of life. They were forced to retreat north-east, around present day Northern Cape. Those left behind succumbed to the absorption of their labour in the Dutch economy as their only worth. They were now treated as slaves and commonly paid with food, alcohol and tobacco; still common remuneration in farms today. Their remuneration was consciously steered away from real wealth restricting autonomy outside the marginal occupation of being a labourer.

This is how Cape Town was evaded of its Black voice, losing connection with the rest of Afrika. With the New Era Cape Town Hip-Hop scene rumbling, you feel the hunger. Rhodes has fallen and all across the board there is a struggle for representation. Watching the Nando’s ad made in reaction to the xeno(afro)(colonial)phobia that occurred in 2015, i saw what could be funny but surely misleading. The ad is centred on the common resentment of “You foreigners, you must all go back where you came from.” Those foreign to South Afrika i am guessing, poff, they start disappearing. First Afrikans across the border, Asians, Europeans and then Black South Afrikans disappear except the Khoesan. Awkward. Thought to myself kodwa you cannot speak about Xhosa people without speaking about Bantu speaking people and their relation with the Khoekhoe. There exists a fusion of different cultures in a shared and commonly owned space that birth Xhosas and Southern Sothos. Using deduction we can conclude no Afrikan is foreign in South Afrika but it is the Nando’s foreign attitude that is. Cape Town is maintained by this foreign attitude. Reading Danielle Bowler’s opinion piece on Coloured identity and nationalism on the EWN website, she referred to herself as being Black and Coloured. i was like, “Awe”. Europeans introduced absent fatherism in South Afrika. They neglected their kids because of their non commonality with shared spaces and common ownership. Therefore, a fusion of cultures could not emerge to offspring a new developed culture. There could have been Afrikaans with clicks maybe but nah, worse. The mother’s culture was absorbed to emptiness. Her culture and land slowly suffocated while a distant father enslaved the children to his culture without accepting them. Makes sense Coloureds and Xhosas make up majority of Black people in Cape Town; brothers conceived by the same mother.

Khoekhoe

New Era

There was no sense in which the Cape slaves and their descendants ever came to form a true community. All that united them was their legal status and their subordination to their masters, as farm workers, as unskilled labourers, as craftsmen and workmen and as domestic servants. (Ross 1989; 120)

Ingxaki yaseKapa it is plagued with too many workers and not enough hustlers. Residue effects of the divide and conquer role in the lives of the slaves. Carrying maintained colonial baggage, i see the homies shedding the load to a better trip. i was at the Head Honcho CashTime Life vs BoyznBucks Bash December 2014 in Green Point. Babylon Beats served the first instrumental getting me up out of my seat joining the crowd. Haisho haisho haisho bhwozey channelled through the speakers sparking frenzy. There seemed to be an excess of energy generated with the crowd charging the Amilca & BlaQ-Slim record into an encore. On repeat the crowd elevated the noise. In awe, i had not witnessed an urban crowd in Cape Town pull an encore for their own. Next on stage was Boolz with Ekasi followed by Aphe Kapa. Boolz locked in that Langa flow embedded on a trap sound; all my eyes witnessed were arms flexing in the crowd. Something real was happening; the crowd could identify themselves in the music. i witnessed what was missing in Cape Town music; relevance. Negus are rooting within themselves. A common sentiment amongst the New Era resides in disappointment they fighting not to repeat. This feeling is built from the actions of those who held the torch before and their perceived lack of drive to open doors for those coming for the baton. This can be illustrated by a recent spatter between Boolz and Uno of Ill Skillz. That sentiment of disappointment connects with the attitude of young South Afrikans in general. Negus are just tired; tired of not having their own. Not being able to actualise the best version of themselves at home. No one wants to talk about eating, everybody ready to eat and put work in. The world has been sensitive sleeping on black ideas and Negus are awakening.

Ndithi

You go to the tube and all that you see is Versace Versace.

You go to my school, they can’t tell you shit about Chris Hani Chris Hani.

This ain’t the land of the free. – Kiernan Forbes

 

Biko told us that the “superior” culture bestowed an “inferior‟ status to all cultural aspects of Afrikans in order to maintain domination and legitimise its exploitive nature. There is a continuous war against Black existence manifested in every social aspect. In reclaiming ourselves, the noose will slip off when progressing inwardly. Business involves trading one product for another. Money is used as a fluid product representing a physical one. If you do not use the money in making a physical product to be traded, you lose the power of money. In the same way if we do not use knowledge to affect change and progress, we lose its power. Without knowledge of self and progression of, you have no power. We need to make and maintain our own, partisan ourselves from the system. We currently hustlers on the street working another job to maintain the product they keep using themselves. Backward hustling. 21 years later after democracy, it is traumatising witnessing how wimp political power can be. Real wealth resides in ownership and that needs to be in the hands of the people. We cannot trust political hands; we need to keep reinvesting in and amongst ourselves. Every professional and informal field needs to be one of facilitating Black excellence. This is consciousness, not to be confused with political structure, but an awakening within self that eradicates having to explain your blackness because you live it. The forces that be and its dust do not want us to be Doc Shebeleza- living. We staying underdeveloped because we developing their ideas. Let us turn the vision of what it could be into tangible reels. We need to own.

 

Notes

The “i” small cap is a conscious imagery of not being bigger than the group.. The Cartesian principle is “I think therefore I am.” In Afrika we say,”I am because we are and since we are, therefore I am.”

 

Shout out to Ian Mangenga for the edits, I see you.

The Realest