IT’s a Play and you can Play in it Too!

IT's a Play and you can Play in it Too!

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BLACK POWER MIXTAPE (1967-1975)

Angela Davis in The Black Power Mix Tape

A friend asked me over the week-end where my car is. I almost cried. I had been thinking about Black-Panther (my car) in the last few weeks because I miss her.   I even got to thinking that maybe I lost her because my mother changed her name to Faith. We were talking about her – when she asked who is Black-Panther, when I told her she decided t re-name her Faith – because Black Panther had been faithful. Sometimes I think my mother through the christian lens  equates black with evil or the Devil.

But Faith has always been Black-Panther to me, from the moment I laid eyes on her.
We went through a lot together, Black Panther and I, we both loved music, she was my home when I didn’t have a place to lay my head, we were always together, there were times that we were separated and re-united again, thanks to friends, but this year, I knew that unless a miracle would happen I would have to let her go.  She was my cushion through some of the bumpiest rides of my life, always there in the middle of the night, during day, always there waiting for me to come.
Our last trip together to the  Eastern Cape province of  South Africa, we both survived yet again  a near death or serious injury experience together.  It was dusk and we’d just left Grahamstown in June. The biggest Bull I had ever seen appear as if out of no  where, I was on the front left passenger side and the bull was on my side too.  There was a split second moment where the bull and I looked each other in the eye and I thought it had beautiful eyes, as I raised my hands to my face waiting for it to land on top of me. That was it.  I really don’t know what happened.  But all I know is I opened my eyes, and I was surprised – no incredulous  that I was still in the car, and it was still standing, and I looked back and the Bull had already crossed the road, languidly, elegantly. Luckily I was not on my own so I could not have dreamt that one up. The driver was shaking with disbelief, we stopped for a moment,  and she broke down and cried in tears, I was too happy to be alive and well the Black Panther, the Bull the driver and I survived.    Black Panther had lost an ear (the left side mirror), My mirror, as if to say don’t look back.
On the day I had to let her go, I thank her for having been my friend for the past   6 years. I could not afford to keep her, even though I wanted to with all my heart.  I could do nothing about the situation, I couldn’t save her.  I had to have faith – that I we would both be ok. The only person that made me feel better that day, was peace – my brother.
I don’t think I ever mourned her loss,  never allowed myself to because  I have to keep moving, survive, live, stay alive in every possible way.
So I feel nostalgic a little bit today. For Black Panther and the Black Power movement after which I named my  car.  And Perhaps you will understand my grief better by watching THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE documentary directed by  Swedish film maker  Göran Hugo Olsson..  The docu-film has been on circuit for the past few weeks and will be screened for the last time on Thursday the  29th of November.  A very special day for me. My play Lindiwe Premiers.  I don’t know if it is ironic or not and  I’ve decided not to over-think anything.
It it a collection of never seen before interviews with some of the prominent leaders of the Black Power movement in the United States of America,  though it has at its core a universal message everyone to stand up for their rights.
So  Please go and see the BLACK POWER MIXTAPE,  if you haven’t already seen it already  the Bioscope in Downtown Johannesburg. My good friend and scribe, Katarina Hedren   writes elegantly about it on her blog  InthewordsofKatarina.
I guess it would take a lot of faith and something close to a miracle for Black-Panther and I to be re-united again. And then again, black panther is a state of mind.
love
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THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967 – 1975
LAST SCREENING 29TH NOV.
The Black Power Mixtape examines the evolution of the Black Power Movement in the black community and Diaspora from 1967 to 1975. The film combines music, startling 16mm footage (lying undiscovered in the cellar of Swedish Television for 30 years), and contemporary audio interviews from leading African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars.
Writen and Directed by: Göran Hugo Olsson Music by Ahmir Questlove Thompson & Om’Mas Keith. Including appearances by: Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Emile de Antonio, Angela Davis Including commentary voice by: Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis, Robin Kelley, Abiodun Oyewole, Sonia Sanchez, Bobby Seale, Questlove.

Lights, Camera, Action! Assume your Role

Are You Ready For Action?

I told a good friend of mine that I will write a book  about  dating myself one day.

She laughed.

I laughed too.

Because it’s ridiculous right  and we all do feel very  sorry for people who are alone in that sense. Ag shame she’s alone, we comment especially at  public and populated gatherings such as concerts, restaurants, big events, parties you can add more here. I wonder what is her story?. We whisper to each other, maybe she doesn’t have friends is the first obvious one, no maybe she’s going through something, or maybe there’s something  wrong with her, her life, she  must be unhappy. There are times when one  person in a group would say maybe they just want to be alone.  Then after that comment everyone breathes a sigh of relief because  – everyone is off the hook, if she chooses this alone woman person  to be alone, we can’t force her to be part of the group, us.  She  can go be all unhappy by herself it’s better that way, nothing is obviously wrong with her, we reason and anyway we don’t know her so we’re off the hook.

If life is a stage who is  the production-coordinator

Everyone goes out in groups, they call their friends and it is much like a  film production.  Everyone within the film industry knows that a  production coordinator is key, very key, to the success or failure of any given project.  They are the one who should be on top of the who, what, when, where, where, how, why and the in between question of a production things like ke back up for each and every element required for a successful film production, from catering to casting, to cameras, set design, extras , to the street security, to the rigging crew. The production coordinator  has to know everything about each department and also be able to trouble shoot problems as and when they occur, before, during and after the final cut. You have to have nerves of steel and be as gentle as a dove, you can’t be anyone’s enemy  – you have to be everyone’s friend  (know how to make them happy for best results) while maintaining a keen perspective on the bigger picture , able to  know and understand each stage of the productions cycle, what and who is needed when and how.

Production coordinators have to be able to make hard, decisive choices while being flexible and open enough to work with what they have and or hear other people’s suggestions. You have to be able to decide on the spot about what will work and what won’t work, for the production  in the  short  to long-term.  They also have to understand budgets – financial management – how to  use of what’s allocated optimally, know how much to spend and where to get the best available services for the production.  Production coordinators are always very busy people, always on the first ones to arrive the last ones to leave. They Never have time. I know I was “married” to one.  Respect.

So the co-ordinator is a very important person, more important than the big chief – the director of the said gig, because  directors  only focus on the details of the picture being as in the “actors ” not the entire production.  The production coordinator makes the director’s job easy, and even possible.

They  ultimately are the people who decide  who’s in or who is out in whatever gig  they are co-ordination be it  a huge  film production or a party gathering of friends.  You call up people, agencies and friends for a reason, this one is good for jokes and atmosphere, this is a good  mediator – a tutu of the gathering, this one is a shit-stirrer, this one always has stories to tell,  this one is a great cook, this one is good cleaner,  and this one will do whatever I want.  So if a production coordinator asks you what are you doing,  you better know your story, if you scratch your head, they move on really quickly  because they have no time to waste, time is precious as we speak they are on deadline  and they need to pull a number of people together so that you can watch a great picture or enjoy a good party at the end of the day.

So I imagine myself as the huge production ( a film a movie, the person I know I am is under construction )  and I play the role of the  production coordinator-assistant.  The production-coordinator being the Creator of us all. So how else will I know what I want, what I need, when and how, what makes me happy, what works, what doesn’t  which stage of the production cycle I am at, who do I need to speak to for support, for Ideas, to rest, to laugh, to cry to advise and be advised, to be nourished, pampered loved, pep-talked to?. How will I know what is going on with me, if I don’t spend time with myself?  I cannot ask to be included in any production ( with another(s)  ) if I don’t know what my role in the production is.

To everything  there’s a season, a time and a purpose under heaven.

I have found myself  involved in  productions in which I didn’t know what my role is, am I a camera woman, a writer, an extra, an assistant? What am I doing here? Why do I hang out with these people, why do I go this restaurant, why do I wear these clothes, is it what I want or am I the person who will do whatever the production coordinator wants of a film production  I think I want to be in wants?, do I even want to be in this particular  production,  do I want my name on the credits after the movie has ended? I have had  a   lot  of  people tell me, oh I thought you were this or that, simply because I was seen on that show with people who do this or that, I never really had a role, I was just there more of an extra, and entertainer, good to look at, dance with maybe.

I have spent a lot time on my own in between the few productions I have been a part of  and almost always, before I was about to be called on for another production, they’ve been quiet moments – dead silent – as in no movement.  Not even a wink in my direction.  My ability or inability to be  still in that   moment has determined to some extent the  kind of production  I will be going into next.  And with each production  I  never had an idea, never knew what I wanted or what my life was about,  any smile would do  I would be so lonely. In many of the productions I was in, I was just happy to be included, to get a call and be part of a team, any team please.  Even though in almost all of them I  was  as a standby, an under-study, body-double, supporting act, never the main character.

The lead Act

When a production coordinator calls, he or she calls people who know what they are doing what they are about,  what services they provide at what cost under what circumstances, what they can and cannot do.  If they agree they sign an agreement with terms and conditions on both sides, so that both the production and the service provider are protected and know who they are dealing with.  They call the because they often know what you offer, seen your work before, worked with you previously or they were referred to you by someone in the industry they trust.  If you are already a good production your self,  or a very good service provider people will move mountains and break budgets to have you as part of their production team because they know you will add value to the production and not the other way around.

So in order to add value to any production, you must know that you have something of value in you to add. One has to spend time alone, with you “craft” whatever if may be – or to figure out what it is .  What services am I offering and do  still want to continue in this line of business. What do I need to make my business (myself) work, function? Am I happy with myself.

So in this way it makes perfect sense for a business to function properly on its own  and optimally before it can merge with another in any shape or form be it a co-production or a collaboration of any sort.  I feel like I have been dating myself for a very long time, even when I thought I was in “relationships”.    I have found myself in conversations with myself about the different productions I have been a part of, which ones I liked, not like and why. What did I gain  from each and every one of them, what I can use what I can I throw away, forget about, I need to forgive myself for treating myself like a nothing, a nobody, a throw away, bubble gum.

When the production – coordinator is in pre-production they are crazy people, all over the place especially the week before the shoot, and often you can’t even see what they are doing running around like headless chickens.  They are trouble shooting problems as directors and executive  producers change their minds about budgets etc, they need to make sure that everything and everybody is in place and running well, by the time the director walks in to say ACTION! and they are on their toes throughout the filming or production, until the director calls out It’s a WRAP! It’s a moment of relief, and sadness and time for renewal for another productions.

The work is not over but the production co-ordinator can relax a bit, it’s now over to post production – adding the final touches to the shoot and then the moment that we all see, is the Movie , the curtain the raiser the product, that we will like or dislike but it all started back there with the production coordinator who selected, make the calls, and spoke to almost everyone in the production chain to make the production a success.  They are never in the limelight,  there’s no Best Production Coordinator Oscar anywhere, they are there somewhere meshed up with the “crew”. But without them, no production will happen. But everyone in the production line  knows her name.

So I understand the value of spending time with myself… of being alone even though it’s feels crazy sometimes, having no one to share your thoughts with, bounce of ideas. It’s  a difficult thing to maintain, but it is necessary.

I think I’m ready to assume my role in this production called life and be – the best role any actor can be given….

Myself.

Alone or in Company.

I am in suspense myself and its the best feeling ev

On an Artistic Note….

Note This: President Jacob Zuma with the new bank-note.

I have been wondering why it (is) was that I was never caught by the  “feverish” excitement over the introduction of  South African’s new bank notes, featuring the face of  former president Nelson Mandela and the big five. It  didn’t excite me. I managed to escape the new banks notes. Until this morning. I got chills when I received change with the new notes,  they look so familiar, so cheap, so worthless.

Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus who  approved of the changes is quoted by the  South African Press Association (Sapa) saying  “We are proud to be able to honour South Africa’s struggle icon and first democratically elected president in this way,” she said in a statement.

I looked at the  crispy new green R10 rand note and wondered who designed it. It is indeed a work of art when you read the technical security features it has.  Here are its design features also listed in more detail here  on the  South African Reserve Bank Website.

1. Coat of Arms 

The South African Coat of Arms (i.e. the design or shield that is a special symbol of the Republic of South Africa) is used prominently in the top left-hand corner of all denominations. The Coat of Arms is also visible in the security thread, as a holographic (i.e. three-dimensional) image.

2. Colours

The dominant  Colours of the different denominations;

The dominant colours of the new banknotes remain the same as the colours on the current banknotes.
However, the colour of the R200 has changed to a yellow-orange to distinguish it from the R20 because the current two notes are too similar in colour.

  • R10: Green
  • R20: Brown
  • R50: Red
  • R100: Blue
  • R200: Yellow-orange

3.  The main (man) Motif

The image of former President Nelson Mandela is printed on the front of all new banknotes, as the main motif.

4. Languages.

English is used on the front of all denominations. The words “South African Reserve Bank” are translated into two official South African languages on the back of the new banknotes.

5.  Numerals

The banknote denomination numerals on the front, bottom right of the new banknotes are printed in colour-changing ink.

The Big Five animals are printed on the back of the new banknotes

  • R10: Rhinoceros
  • R20: Elephant
  • R50: Lion
  • R100: Buffalo
  • R200: Leopard

I got chills when I received the money in my hands because suddenly a thought occurred to me.  This is how it happens, this is where it starts, this is how you end up with 1, 000,000 CFA  note in Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, etcthat is worthless.    A million franc note that is not worth an actual  million.  Inflation;  we are in debt – in over our heads, we have to pay the debt somehow, someone has to pay for the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup, Rea Vaya, Gautrain, The new roads, the stadiums, the president’s Inkandla Residence. Someone has to pay for electricity, out-dated infrastructure; – public sector companies are all buckling under mal-administration, we are loosing, money, talent, people,hope.  But someone has to pay for all these services that we are not getting and it’s not going to be the Politician who put us in this debt-hole in the first place.  Someone has to pay. You and I .  We are already paying.

The printing and over-circulation of notes; – the more money you print, the more  you devalue its currency…. economics 101.   I mean  it’s a really cool thing to have our First Black Democratically elected presidents’ face on the  bank-notes I guess –  The UK has the Queen, the US has George Washington,  it’s really not a bad thing in and of itself.  It’s just I have seen how Mandela the “icon” has become a money-making machine;  a commercial entity exploited by well-meaning opportunists.

I don’t see how a picture of Madiba on a ten rand note that can’t buy you much these days is the best way to honour the man. really.  I think tata Madiba’s legacy  would be best honoured if the ten rand could buy you milk and bread.    But  bread is not even worth R10. In fact,  I think it might even have the opposite effect – it might generate more bitterness and hate from people  who are  desperate and unable to make  the ten rand note with Mandela’s face  on it buy what they need, you have a note but it buys you nothing.  I think Madiba’s legacy is more that what money can buy. But It could help if the money could buy something. Like this what I heard in the taxi recently:

“You know” Says the taxi driver to a passenger ” You see we used to think it was wrong for us to carry the dom -pass,  and be arrested if found without them” But now look at this ” We have too many foreigners, bagcwele, baningi la e South Africa”

The woman nods in agreement. “hmm”

” White people know how to govern abelungu bayakwazi ukuphatha”  he continues “even though we were suffering bekungcono ”  saying he thinks it was better to live under oppression that to live in this New South Africa. I am not embellishing the conversation, I am actually “editing” it to make it  less, intolerant.

“You see” He continues ” If they approve i – e-tolling, petrol will never go down, food will increase I mean, what do you think which one is cheaper travelling by car or in a taxi?”

The woman who takes the mini-bus taxi during the week and uses her private car on week-ends and at night to go to church meetings replies..

” No, I save a lot of money travelling by taxi.”  She says opening her bag to show the taxi driver her car-keys ” here they are, but I cannot afford to drive it anymore, I used to use diesel because diesel used to be cheap, but now  it’s all the same 5o rand doesn’t take you far”

So I shudder when I think of this happening now, when all around you see are people struggling to afford the basics of living, from the farms in the Western Cape to the mines in the North West, to Domestic Workers, Gardeners, free-lance artists, youth’s who have no work, workers who barely manage to survive… (selling amagwinya, vetkoeks at work) why at this point print the face of a  man who was once the only source  hope for a better future on paper that can’t even buy you a slice of bread.  Why stand in parliament demand respect for openly and without shame enriching yourself, saying that it  is was your own money that you are  using. When not so long ago you were on trial because your friend used corrupt practices  to lend you money,  when you were in debt.  When news headlines told of how you couldn’t afford to send your children to school.  In four years you have enough money to build for millions and millions of rands, five or more homes, build a private road to your homestead, marry a few wives have parties upon parties,  with no thought, not single thought to the ever-increasing  plight of people for whom you owe your position, millions upon millions,  still standing in line every day, waiting hoping for homes cheaper and shoddier  than the match boxes  built-in Meadowlands… at least they are still standing.

” See” a woman passenger in a taxi pointed out a  water leak inside  Bree’s taxi rank in Johannesburg ” this is government’s services delivery, our RDP houses are just like this, if not worse” She said shaking her head sadly.

I wonder of the wisdom behind it…. and think it is indeed – A classic case of an African Country gone wrong – Something is done  gone horribly wrong.  This way the white leaders will always look good, they will always be viewed with  sepia tinted glasses because at least as the taxi driver says “during apartheid, petrol was cheap, very cheap, we could afford it ”

NGO’s are waiting around the corner, standing by, for a wave of violent discontent, to assist the desperate and destitute  , left homeless, hungry and diseased…   black against black violence has already started in Marikana, now in Lenasia…. it is no longer the White people who are our enemies – we have become our own enemies.

I still don’t know who designed the new bank notes – but I guess  their legacy might last longer than a 50 rand note with Madiba’s face on it.

It was a chilly morning for me  on a Summers Day and it had nothing to do with the weather …

SOBER UP AND BOYCOTT THE BLOODY WINE…… just for one day! NOW !!!!!!!!

Picture credit: Banksy artwork courtesy oliverlindberg/Flickr

Excuse me, I’m a little drunk today… drunk with ANGER.  I have tried to suppress it, to be reasonable.  There’s not need to be nice about it.  I care. I am not afraid.

I think that perhaps  it is time that we all sobered up – for  REAL.  I have been ‘sober’ now for  close on two years  – but really I am not  counting the days because  it doesn’t matter to me.

But when wine drinking was my daily hobby I would wonder sometimes  why  it is  that the wine I so enjoyed  would sometimes knock me out with just one  glass – as if out of nowhere – like a Mohammed Ali Blow – It would be lights out, I’d wonder what happened.  Other times it would take  two or three or  more bottles of  red wine before the knock-out effect happened. Sometimes the knock-out happened while I was drinking – to those with me I was there – but I know that I was not there because I would not remember any of the things I was told the next day or morning that I had done – and I am not pretending. I would remember events only from the time I began drinking the first glass.  I will listen with interest, and try to probe more and more, as friends and family told me heart-wrenching stories  about the previous night – but it was often a painful exercise as if coming from a coma, from the dead. I would have to ask again and again, Konje? Kana? I did that? really why? and invariably those who were the witnesses  to my out-of-body experiences did not believe and frankly were  annoyed and  had no patience for my very sincere inquires   that  said I could not have been present when I said or did what I did – because they saw me do it, heard the words coming out of my own mouth. I cannot dispute what they say because I have no basis for it, no memory what’s so ever of  the conversation and actions they were  alluding  or  more often than not,  were angered, hurt or saddened by.

I realized that it was  a dangerous state of affairs,  I could not afford it. I  needed to remember, what I said, to whom when and how and why.

Now I understand why wine can be to toxic, why it can knock you out,  make you so angry, so sick, so quickly.

Imagine working everyday,  hard physical labour  everyday,  and getting paid   a +- 50 ZAR a day, which is about +- 8 USDollars.  What kind of wine would you produce. Plotting, tiling , your ancestral land which was stolen from you, on which you have no claim whats so ever, living in a tin home crunched up on top of your hungry starving – children? You Live spend your life bending over, YES Bass, your fingers digging into the soil, your blood, sweat, and emotions mixing up with the soil mixing with the  rain, your tears….  your screams your anguish – no matter how loud, or hard or painfully you scream – on one listens,  no one hears  – they just pour toxic wine down your throat to shut you up,  put you in a coma. What fruit – strange fruit will you produce?

What can you buy for 50 rands a day, for your family? for 70 bucks? Oh no let’s be generous 150 rands ? What can you buy for that amount.  How much does food cost where you live have you checked? Electricity? Transport, clothing,  Toiletries, incidentals,  Doctors, phones, airtime? huh? Can you live and survive on 150 rands a day,  that’s money you spend at a cheap restaurant for a plate of chips and a bun, that you don’t even finish, because you have more at home,  you can buy more tomorrow , it’s no biggie for  you and  its fine A -OKAY that  someone else with children  – a family, like your cute little girl, or boy , as precious and innocent as your lovely angel – all of them should survive on 50 rands a day? be happy with it? No be grateful, thankful? I’d rather starve!

How much wine must we be drinking – how drunk must we be  to think that families should survive on that much – on 50 rands a day?  Not even one person an Individual can survive on that.  There’s  blood in South African WINE and I  won’t drink it – the blood of generations upon generation upon generations of slaves. Aphansi Bayakhala.

 

Someone must have knocked all of  us out of our minds and our bodies to think that it’s okay for mine workers who risk their lives ( as in literally) everyday,  trapped under precarious rocks and caves digging inch by inch, immersed in water, in darkness, lying on their backs or kneeling   for 8- 15 hours underground everyday should be fine with  R300o a month or less.  Without Medical-aid/insurance , UIF, unemployment fund, NOTHING. Many of them leave the mines with no air, literally.  Close to a million former miners in South Africa and from our sister nations  are living with debilitating lung diseases ( silica-silicos- TB-  CANCER etc) as a direct result of working in the mines. Normally they can only work for 3 years after which they are sent home with little to no compensation or medical assistance to die. Because they cannot work any more. The mines literally took their breath Away!

We need to remind those of us still in a coma that this is not what we agreed on. this is not what we were fighting for.  Let us READ the FREEDOM CHARTER AGAIN and remember what it’s about! EQUALITY.

Lets wake each other up from this allusion and be real. We are supporting  a  SLAVE SYSTEM.

NO we even think mine workers should be GRATEFUL  that their employers agreed to give them 600 rands  extra a month, that they’re  a lucky….

“how can they expect to earn this much when they didn’t go to school?” I have heard people say…

What CHANCE did they have? because they didn’t go to school they must become your slaves, with no rights or say? They cannot afford to be poor, can not afford anything! you give themn enough money to come and work for you.  NO GUYS. ITS NOT ON Hey… not on! I don’t think workers are expecting  luxuries that our honourable president so enjoys, they don’t need five homes, five wives or however many children, five cars, lifts and private jets,   No that’s not what we are asking for. We are asking for fair and Equal Compensation for work, for honest, hard labour. A LIVING WAGE  With equal access to  education, food, shelter, educations, health.  Clean environment.  Nothing fancy.

haha I laugh because I’m tired of crying! What is going on with us?

Is this really the freedom we are fighting for, is this a place you want your children to grow up in?  Can someone please shake someone up?

What can YOU do with 300o rands, today. Can you buy a house? pay for electricity, furnish it, send your kids to school? go on holiday? eat out?  that’s the cost of your bloody shoe… forget the perks, just to live nje on a daily basis? and you don’t get angry, that someone else with hopes and dreams just like you do, is expected to earn that much no live on that much ? to live and survive on that much HOW did you get where you are? through sheer hard-work? really? Come on guys…

How can we expect to thrive and be happy when so many are not? why is it not our mission to help others have a chance?

Would YOU be happy.

EVERYONE must sober up, think about it and don’t  be distracted by articulate orators….. count for your self.  Do the math. Use sticks and stones if you have to.

Can you and your family survive on 50 rands a day? 3000 rands a month? Be honest

Just think about it…

Think about it…. how will they pay for their kids to go to school  to get an education? What  gives you the right to earn 30 thousand rands a day for writing a few lines?   just because you went to school.  How did you get to school? could you survive living under these conditions, aren’t you complaining about your cushy job now, where you get pension UIF, Medical Aid, all the  perks, it is still not enough for you right, you could use  a little more right?

So why should another live on so little? Why can’t you fight for others to just earn a  little bit more? At least enough to live? How will the children ever be able to  learn if they are hungry when they go to school,  are tired, sick ,  because their drunken parents from their “dope-pay”, not knowing what else to do were fighting with each other last night, or  because yet again there was nothing to eat, or they have no mother or father  oh my GOD… I am ranting – I am being emotional  – maybe it’s not all wine farms, not all wine farmers ,  actually that’s besides the point…. the fact that we are not ANGRY and taking to the streets in Support of worker’s rights across the country…. is a  REAL SHAME. An indictment on all of us… yes we can’t all stop and let the country go the drain….

But maybe  for one day we should all just stop for a moment.  And think about where we are going really,  LETS STOP NOW,   FOR ONE DAY ALL OF US LET’S  STOP FOR A MOMENT AND THINK ABOUT WHERE WE ARE GOING AND IF WE STILL WANT TO GO THERE.

I PROMISE WE WILL SAVE MORE MONEY IN A DAY OF DOING NOTHING THAN IF WE CONTINUE THE WAY WE ARE GOING!

Before it’s too late,  lets just sober up  and realize that this situation CANNOT continue, it is UNACCEPTABLE, to RAZE people’s HOMES to the ground, for which they saved up hard-earned money to build with their OWN resources – What Pray – TELL ME NOW, is the difference between LENASIA and the FORCED REMOVALS of  SOPHIATOWN? Does Democracy make it legal to demolish people homes, who bought land legitimately from your own corrupt officials who were working together with the corrupt banks… in a  corrupt system, to pay for homes you should have built-in the first place? why are those public servants not in jail or arrested is it NECESSARY to make sure that people, overnight just like that have  nowhere to go, no place to sleep at night? No roof over their heads? Who demolished your house when you couldn’t afford to pay the bond? Where is your heart?  Do you know how many people still in this country are still waiting  dreaming of ONE DAY, JUST ONE DAY  owning a house, with four walls and not a tin-roof? HOW INSENSITIVE MUST we BE?

HOW DRUNK are we…?

IT’S TIME! we all SOBERED UP. EVEN FOR ONE DAY, JOIN IN.

and PUT POWER BACK where it BELONGS and then maybe just maybe wine will become enjoyable again…

POWER  to  the  FARM WORKERS In the WESTERN CAPE, LIMPOPO ALL THE  NINE  THE PROVINCES –  MINE WORKERS  -ALL OVER THE COUNTRY!

WE CAN CHANGE THIS. WE HAVE THE POWER. UNITED WE STAND!

AMANDLA!

ASIYI!!!!!!!!

 

Mamma Mia! Here I go again….

The Band That Got My Mother and I Dancing

ABBA is on my mind. I’ve stopped being surprised.  It’s a group both my Mother and I loved with equal passion. I remember those days, sometimes it would be just the two of us, coming from gym or something. Dreaming  together we would sit and listen, dance, sing together.  We had fun.   Now I think I understand a little of what my mother must have been feeling when she would sing to me with a huge smile, eyes closed, as if wanting to capture and hold that moment in time forever while I danced with Abandon….

You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, diggin’ the dancing queen

You’re a teaser, you turn ’em on
Leave them burning and then you’re gone
Looking out for another, anyone will do
You’re in the mood for a dance
And when you get the chance

You are the dancing Queen, young and free only Seventeen….

You can dance, you can fly-high having the time  of your life…

oooh see that girl, what that scene digging the  dancing queen.

There was something in the air that night

The stars were bright, fernando

They were shining there for you and me

For liberty, fernando

Though I never thought that we could lose

There’s no regret

If I had to do the same again

I would, my friend, fernando

And now…..

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line

Honey I’m still free

Take a chance on me

If you need me, let me know, gonna be around

If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down

If you’re all alone, when the pretty birds have flown

Hone y I’m still free

Take a chance on me…

I’m gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie

If you put me to the test, if you let me try….

We can go dancing; we can go walking, as long as we’re together

Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better

Cos you know I’ve got  so much I want to do, When I dream I’m alone with you its magic

You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair

But I think you know…

That I can’t let go…

You’ve heard me say smoking was my only vice

But now it isn’t true

I still don’t know what you’ve done to me

A grown-up woman should not fall so easily

I feel a kind of fear when I don’t have you near

I unsatisfied, I skip my pride

Knowing me knowing you, a-ha

There is nothing we can do,

knowing me knowing you, a-ha

We just have to face it

This time  we’re through

Breaking up is never easy I know but I have to go

Knowing me, knowing you

It’s the best I can do.

Mammia! Here Igo again, My my how can I resist you

Mamma mia, does it show again?

My my just how much I’ve missed you?

Yes I’ve been broken-hearted,

Blue since the day we parted

Why, why did I ever let you go?

Mamma mia, Now I really know

My my I could never  let you go.

…………………………………………………………

Art- ABOUT- Town

If ABBA is not your thing  and you feel like  a local brew of rhythmic beats and some comic relief. If you’re not out toi-toi-ing with  striking farm-workers in the Western Cape, or striking underpaid miners across the country,  of newly homeless folk in Lenasia and everywhere, if the new e-tolling tariffs and  electricity price hikes that will be introduced  in a matter of time – will make no difference to your life… then why not do yourself a favour and go support some artists at the market theater….

Comedy & Music Extravaganza

The Market Theatre and Metro FM present Comedy & Music Extravaganza
The Market Theatre has joined forces with Metro FM for this year’s festive season with a series of unmissable live performances by combining some of South Africa’s music and comedy icons.
The Market Theatre will set the stage alight in Jozi with a super-star line-up of leading performers. Music superstars such as Lira, Thandiswa Mazwai, Zahara, Oliver Mtukudzi, Trompies, Rebecca Malope and many more will entertain Mzansi audiences during a four-week period.
Comedy heavy weights – Mark Banks, Alan Committie, Siv Ngesi, Eugene Khoza, Trevor Gumbi and Tumi Morake are guaranteed to deliver side-splitting humor that will leave you begging for more with their take on the state of the nation. The Festival of Classical Music boasts some of South Africa’s finest classical performers from internationally renowned Opera Africa, Soweto Quadro and Inferno Opera. This will leave the audiences enthralled by some angelic, breakthrough opera, never experienced before at the Market stages.
What makes the Market Theatre performances so exciting is the venue’s intimacy. Get up close and personal with the artists. It promises an experience that Gautengers will enjoy without having to break the bank!
The Market Theatre is the place to be from 13 November to 09 December 2012.

R200 Rands get you in.

The Romance of Struggle…

Wela Wela Mama! Respect.

I took myself out on an artist date to  the International Black Music History Exhibition….

Which is a perfect solo date because it is designed for an “individual” experience, the individual panels and headphones make the journey yours an yours alone. So I went and spent a short time (three hours)  with musical greats such as Mariam Makeba, Nina Simone, Hugh Masekela, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Cesaria Evora, Billie Holliday and many others….

There were some people I missed and looked for in the exhibition that I couldn’t find such as Brenda Fassie and Angelique Kidjo among-st others, but then one would need to sit down with the curators  of the show and interview them on how they decided on the artists profiled in the Black Music History Hall of  fame.  We all have our favourites.  I’m sure  music lovers in the country’s that the exhibition has already traveled to such as   Senegal,  will miss a few of their Musical greats too.   For what they were able to put together – it is a lovely refresher course on  the history of  black struggle through music.  Go see how the black struggle is not separate from music making.  How “struggle” has shaped our African/Black music, a reminder of where we come from and really it’s  not so long ago, it’s really not so long ago that Mariam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbuli  and many others were “persona non gratas ” in this country.  I got chills thinking and reflecting at the current political situation in the country: reality check:  it  could so easily so easily…….

I stared long and hard at Mariam Makeba in her Prime performing, this beautiful African Queen – a tune without words, just fast rhythmic breaths which echoes the – hoes- hoes – of the toi-toi, and the ching-chang of chains  binding slaves together as they were being  thrown one after the other across the Atlantic, a universal chant. We shall overcome!. Transfixed I felt immediately nostalgic for a time and place I was never a part of  – I lamented at how we missed  out on some of our greatest gifts ? Staying in the present I wondered why we haven’t  even bothered to get video footage of the “exiled” musicians, of their  performances at different concerts around the world, learn more about the countries and cultures, traditions and struggles in  the countries they called home for so many years, right here on our own continent. To hear and feel what the world was  “on” about.

I was first  introduced to Mama Africa in the early 90’s  by her  calming Welela lala ma wela wela wela wela mama song.. ohhmmmmmmm– ohmmm,  her small but rhythmic movements, her calls to a power, an invisible sourced of energy, still fills me with glee to this day. She mesmerized even in her old age.

I’m older now. But in my early 20’s I was really angry at older black  folk (returned exiles, and internal  activists)  folk who assumed that we (young people)  should “know” people, information and events that were hidden from us in the 80’s both by the system and by the hands of those entrusted with our care.  Information that was dangerous even to overhear – or glance at, you could be rapidly- eye-balling your way to prison, just for being curious or talking too much.  My parents who were not “active” in politics went out of their way to “protect” us, to hide the reality of  our precarious existence, to give us some kind of a “normal” life,   a “chance” at a life.  Even though  we would get tear-gassed as we  made our way to school in the morning in Meadowlands, or told to get out of class and go home in Orlando West and  given flyers saying   “Sofa-sonke” ( we will  all die) as letters to our parents. Or told to shut  up about it when we got home, when we asked “mama, what do they mean when they say  we’re all going to die?’ – It was no joke, nor childs’ play – it was as real as today’s Marikana. When our childhood dreams would be rudely interrupted by heavily armed white soldiers in uniform, barging in to  “look” for someone, do you know him, he is your  uncle… he was involved in some bad thing or the other, to watch as your mama sat crying and pleading with army soldiers not to take him away, please, rather give him a few lashes here on the kitchen table where we can see him,  and sit through it  and watch as he  winced and cried from the pain….which forced his chocolate-brown skin to make way for velvet blood jumping out of his veins.  Whether he had committed said crime or not it  did not matter…

In the chaos of Mellow-Yellows, and police-raids, and protests, the necklacing of impimpis..” Usthupha” go inside — what do you want to see?”. We  were told  defiantly that we still had a future, that we would grow up to be people, loved and respected as the characters we saw on Television, mostly Brenda Fassie and Some American Actors . But it was mostly a white world…

I used to argue with them and say yes, you’re right I don’t know I have my own reality, which was created in part by you and mostly by the system of oppression… the veil of silence is over now though  let’s talk… you won’t be arrested now or banned if you speak your mind, you won’t  risk death…. tell us those stories, your experience, what have you learnt?

Now I just go on the net. There’s information one can gather on your own. Having come back from a world so far away from my  life here in our  rainbow nation I have had  a small window of understanding, of how hard it must have been to leave, to be  alone,  ” like an outsider”  to search for your identity in another… and then to find that however distant, they know about you, your struggle, they’ve heard of Nelson Mandela, of Mariam Makeba, of Lucky Dube who sang  loud, hard  and passionately about your oppression, who touched their hearts…. solidarity, in Kenya, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Senegal,  Uganda, Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia, ect. Africa knows who I am. So to come back and here, and hear  we (us) South Africans, tell our fellow brothers and sisters to go back home, to their home countries, where they belong… is beyond heart breaking for me… it’s almost an A front to my very existence.

Miriam Makeba – carried our struggles with her wherever she went, our voices of pain, of struggle of hope, echoed in her being wherever she found a mic…. she prepared a way… paved the way, pathways, trails from which we could be accepted, drink from, from, rest for a while,  made to feel at home….

We owe it to them, to treat our fellow Africans, black brothers and sister’s from across the continent (the world)  with respect, with Love. Siyabonga, Asante, Jaarejeff.

I watched the panels and saw a common thread that punctuates the struggles of our Black Musicians, from East, West, North, South, Central and Southern Africa, the American Islands, Latin American the diaspora, where ever black people are:  a common voice, a song, a sound refuses to be silenced, even in the loneliness of  Fame. These people gave – literally gave up  their lives – for that dream – your upliftment – the freedom of black  ( all ) people’s of the world, a message that said you are not alone, you are worthy.

We are one. One Love. We share the Same Struggle. For REAL.

“I could kill Somebody” said Nina Simone standing upright like a soldier from her gleaming grand-piano, which she could play possible better than any other concert pianist of her generation, but was forced to sing – because that’s what Black People do – some said she can’t sing – she did –  the power with which she banged  those black and white keys on the piano, you could swear it was a weapon, and R-five – her life-line, her defence against incessant attacks, because she was black, she was a woman, she was proud, and she would not take NO for answer. ” I’m only happy when I sing” said Mariam Makeba, Nina’s  sister.

Oh can’t you see? what it is to Love, to love so deeply that you lose yourself in service of that ever elusive dream. That one day… your sisters and brothers, will know what it is , really is to be, “Black and Proud” to be “young gifted and black” .   It it is something beyond my understanding.

My mother cried tears when I told her, callously even, that my grand mama’s house which she built had been vandalized destroyed – because the person she chose to give it to – to continue our name – didn’t care. ” Oh no… oh mamani” she said her eyes growing distant ” We used to dream about that house, in those years when had no right or even a vague hope that we could own a home, we built it on train trips to clean, white people’s homes, we would design it, put all our favourite things, that’s what go us through our tough lives, our darkest days … and now she barely lived in that house.. oh and now now someone just comes, and destroys her dream, years and year of saving, of  pushing through,  believing when even everything around us said no..that yes we can”

It’s so universal.

“Do not destroy this country” cried Don Matterra recently. Do not destroy what little freedoms we have been able to gain in the last 18 years…. do not bulldoze people’s castles however small…

Even as we celebrate  the luxuries of our freedom (let’s take time to look back and examine again and again… what  it took,  from individuals known and unknown to us throughout the world….  who were prepared to die , really some  had no choice,  in order  for you and me to one day walk freely  into a  Black Music History Exhibition…..

lest we forget…..

The International Black Music History Museum is on at the Museum Africa in New-own Johannesburg until December 12. Opens Tuesday to Monday. 0900- 17:00. Free on Sundays. R40 on other days.

LOVE

My A-E-I-O-U Struggle Continues…..

Going back to my a.b.c’s

Dear Reader

I really don’t like crying.  It makes me feel a little weak, more than weak in fact. But for someone who doesn’t like crying I do it a lot. I don’t plan to do it, it just happens, like most people’s careers.   I’ve been trying to stop crying over small things like  loosing my favourite pen, saying goodbye, hello,  or crying when I see someone else cry, I really hate crying. I hate it more when I feel it coming, like a wave and I know there’s nothing I can do about it now, these tears are going to come, the only option is to leave the room  if I don’t want whoever I am with to see me.  I have been practicing controlling my tears on my own, when I feel them coming.  I try different methods, laughing, breathing, walking around, squeezing something,  but they still fall these stupid tears, even when I’m sleeping.  When I feel them tears  coming, when the back of my eyes start to burn, my ears get hot, a huge lump floats on my throat, I suddenly need  oxygen, the only way to breathe is to let the tears fall, Then I wish I were stronger, tougher, that I was someone  else  who didn’t cry so easily and that makes me cry even more. It happens so unexpectedly, when I least expect to cry I do. And its annoying.  Sometimes there’s no emotion attached to them, and I laugh, but not before I cry….

My mother  likes telling me the long and short story of my tears. I used to cry a lot as a child, like most children do,  I assume. But  noo my crying was epic she would tell this story with a flourish…” each day I  dropped you off at kindergarten (pre-school)  you would cry and cry and cry  like an animal about to die  at the hands of a ruthless butcher.   Your shrill pained  screams left me  heavy with worry throughout the rest of the day  wondering what in the world they could  be doing to you  those teachers there at the pre-school.   So one day the  teacher noticing my  growing concern and skepticism when they repeatedly assured me that it was all just for show,  told  me to wait and not leave after I dropped you in  class.  She just said, wait and stand by the window and watch her, make sure she doesn’t see you, then you will see what I’m talking about.”  My mother says what she saw was amazing. I would cry and cry and cry and once I was sure she had disappeared I stopped as if I was not the  animal about to get slaughtered a few seconds ago. I stopped crying , wiped my tears,  without anyone consoling me ,  and got ready to take on my daily duties as the teacher’s assistant, helping my fellow kindergartener’s  with whatever it is the pre-schoolers get up to, eating, wearing aprons (  mine was green – I remember)  –  a leader in my class, naturally!  My mother’s jaw must have been on the floor, she could not believe the total transformation that had taken place in a blink of an eye.  I was  calm, pleasant and actually in my element being the class monitor.  Then my mother was like ” Ha! this child! All this time I’m thinking they are treating her badly but meanwhile she’s fine and happy ehh? so then what’s with the crying? ”  I don’t think she ever found out why I cried so much.  But I think I have separation anxiety,  it is very hard for me to  let go, but when I do it is more often than not (8 times out of 10) – for keeps, permanent.

So I’m sitting here crying because I have a problem. A struggle.

I have a few struggles actually,  the list is longer than my ABC’s , but the most hurtful of all my struggles is the fact that for the life of me, I can’t seem to spell or produce grammatically correct – clean copy – as  they say in journalese.  I have to  spell check five or six times and even then I still find  (or others find) bucket loads of errors, missing words, spaces and commas in the wrong places. If there are any here, just know I’m not trying to be ironic.   Maybe  I can not type. But I learnt how to type the old-fashioned way on my mother’s “brothers” typewriter which had an erase button – that would tap-tap-tap erase all the  errors with a back-space key.   Her type-writer had the modern keyboard similar to the ones we use now for desk tops.  She used to say  ” You , you guys have it easy, you know, when I was learning how to type  we had to type  without a single error or  erasing and if I were typing so many errors like you do now  I would fail, and I couldn’t afford to fail” I still failed I could type fast 40 words a minute, but I could not spell. I have done those typing exercises  (sometimes I would try to mimic that guy at the end of the Investigative series ” Murder She Wrote”  with the thick black framed glasses and flying papers) repeatedly over and over again at home after school  and in  afternoons  spent clicking away in typing class with the older iron heavy machines  – I can still hear that sound,  a collective click, click, click  you could hear a mile away – like  synchronized  rain drops  falling  on corrugated tin iron roofs.   You had to remember each letter for each finger top, bottom, side etc.  I did okay  in high-school because I could practice at home ( even though I dreaded it) and did badly in college because  maybe we have moved on to computers and it became difficult for me to remember where all the fingers should be while, clicking the mouse or I did badly because I already had a typing/ spelling phobia.

But today I am crying because this problem is getting to me. I didn’t mean to cry. It just happened.  But  I am  sick and tired of reading my copy with errors. I practice to write the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, I have been writing everyday with  pen and paper  to see if I make errors, sometimes I send in  my copy late not because it’s not done, but because I’m busy correcting a litany of errors, typos like writing  send instead of sent, it’s not a spelling  error per se  but it’s still an error. I did not write all those years ago for any form of  publication because of this.  I’m not a writer, I can’t spell. I practice paying attention to each and every word I type, some days are better than others but it’s a  problem for me. Even with modern technology.

Maybe that’s my talent, tearful-errors. So I need to find solutions to both problems,  the tears – stop crying for long enough to see what I’m typing. Or don’t type at all. Or don’t cry.  I still haven’t managed the latter.

It’s not like I can’t spell really. If you ask me how to spell something – verbally I can say – B e a u t i f u l = Beautiful.  But who will admit they can’t spell? At 31, after 12 years in the “writing” profession.   My mother taught me how to spell and I am not that  bad really – I’m just not good at spelling with my fingers. I’ll tell you – ask me the next time you bump into me.

If I was not in an office typing copy…. I would be a black woman dancing.

For example I used to take dance classes – moving into dance – back in 2008 or 9 I’m not sure. I love dancing guys, I am the Happiest Person ever  when dancing at one with God the Creator  et al. For a moment there’s peace in the world, no spelling errors or tearful mistakes, or being unworthy or not being  good enough. There’s nothing wrong or right, good or bad,  I just disappear into the music and none of my hang-ups  have a say. I am fine, complete,  content when I dance. But  I cried then too  because I could not get the steps right – 1-2 3- 44 -5-1 2 -11 2-3-2-5- 6 – 7-9-1 -2.  I stopped  once after some fish net twists and cried because eish ja ne, how is it possible that everyone gets the steps and I don’t, after weeks of going to dance classes? When I am not being choreographed I flow, but when I have to follow a sequence, choreography I fail, so I quit dance classes not immediately but eventually I found a reason not to continue with dancing classes because of this ( anyway they clashed with my  9-5) . You get where I’m going with this?

That’s why I’m writing to you dear reader,  because I don’t want to quit writing, dancing or to quit again – at least let me see something through you know?

Perhaps my problem is the fact that I have been using my voice more on radio where  spelling mistakes  or typos are not met with the  similar wrath copy editors in newsroom will unleash on you if they have to correct one, two many errors everyday ( I meant to do that). In radio no one else but the reader sees your  copy and if  you see that a word is spelt wrong you can correct it by saying it right, no? I also quit reading the news because I couldn’t find my voice somehow, somewhere deep inside me. When it comes it’s great, even I don’t recognise it,  but to get it out  requires , blood, sweat and you guessed it – tears.

Today at the  work place my team  couldn’t look at me, I cringed because I misspelled a word (s).   I could face myself, tears stained my brown boots.

So now that I am moving into the world of the written word (at least online), I know it is imperative to get each letter right, or risk loosing readers, the context, tone etc of whatever  it is I’m writing about.  Or stop all together.  I don’t want to quit. I have quit on myself too many times. So I’m asking for your help.

I am in my second week of the 12 Week Artists Way Challenge, and according to Julia Cameron  spelling is the most  common reason why people who are gifted story tellers  never even put a single word down on paper because they can’t spell.  I guess the  idea of a page full of red is  daunting.  Can you imagine how many people have given up on their dreams because of red-ink? I hear you, some people (maybe  even I) should just quit while they’re ahead – maybe the best thing to do would be to concede graciously. I also agree. After 12 years working as  a journalist I should have fewer errors in my copy than I do now.

But in the spirit of the Artist Way 12 Week Challenge, I will push through this fear, continue to write despite the errors, do my best to do it right the first time  and hopefully by the end of the three months I will have improved.

If I am feeling so traumatized and even  crying about it ( though my tears  leave room for speculation)  I am sure there are many like me who fear too – to see their mistakes, indiscretions, lack-of attention right there staring back at them in black and white and red.

So in the spirit of letting go of my ego.  I don’t mind the public  shame of being a self-confessed writer/journalist  who can’t spell.

Have  you read 50 Shades of Grey? I hear it is  the  worst written best-seller. The Author is smiling to the bank, and people  are reading it regardless.  Porn.  If I quit writing it’ll be because I have nothing  of interest to say,  and that is something that could happen even to the spelling bee champion of the world (…)

I  have decided ( I’ve stopped crying now  by the way) to rise above my weakness,  spelling phobias real or imagined and do  the best that I can, because not all great writers were perfect and I’m sure there are many who probably couldn’t spell. But that didn’t stop them from publishing books. So perhaps I may not publish a book ever. I might just decide to let my fingers do the talking through my feet but whether I am a ‘writer’ or not – I still have to write  emails…. so it’s still a useful exercise.

Thank you for your time and feedback.

Is it really this serious…. seriously?

EAT MY DUST….

Eat My Dust : Winners – Best ShortFiction Film at the Jozi Film Festival

….under the night sky….

You will be forgiven to assume that films produced by the Eat My Dust project are an answer to,  or a parody to the wide berth -lip- service politicians have paid to the community living in one of Soweto’s oldest township settlements: Kliptown since the  new democratic government took power in 1994.

Kliptown is historically significant for  South Africa’s political trajectory.  In 1955  it drew activist from across the four corners of South Africa onto a gravel football field to pen a document which is now the bed rock of;  the corner-stone of the country’s constitution and the bill of rights – that document is known as the Freedom Charter.   Why? Because across the railway tracks, Kliptown residents still live in conditions very similar, if not worse that those of the 1950s.  Residents still use communal toilets, there’s still no electricity or improved housing.  Despite numerous pleas from communities for roads, water and sanitation services, progress has been slow, bar from the  Multi-million rand Freedom Square with a 3 star hotel across the tracks.

Super Condom.

But Eat My Dust is not-about- that really, it is an idea that lives because a French  Movie Director  Delphine de Blic  met the community back in January 2011 and decided she wanted to do something.  That something turned into a  film school for the  active and eager youth  of Kliptown.   “The project started two year’s ago, when I arrived in South Africa and I met the community of Kliptown. I wanted to do something, so since I am a film director, I decided to teach them how to make movies I wanted to teach them the basics of film making quickly, and make it as fun and interactive as possible” She tells me outside the Bioscope in Johannesburgs’  Maboneng district where they were screening some of the films produced by Eat My Dust as part of the French Season in South Africa 2012/1213 initiative.  “They didn’t know very much about cinema, there’s no electricity and they can’t go to a cinema so they were virgins. My idea was to teach them about movies, starting from the founding fathers of film, including Charlie Chaplin amongst others, so they started to act; they start to handle the camera and booms etc, to direct just like that.”

Since then they have hosted monthly screenings of the films produced from interactive classroom lessons – outside – under  the night sky.

The movie-making project is  quite fitting for Kliptown as  it is the location of  Soweto’s firs ever cinema – the Sans Souci Bioscope – set up  in the 1950’s.  The cinema was an integral part of life in the neighbourhood until the building was destroyed by a fire in 1994.

In the two years since de Blic launched the project,  Eat My Dust has given birth to a popular character named SUPER-CONDOM.  “All these themes began from a very bad thing actually;  you know when you make a project in Africa the only  way to get funding is to talk about HIV and AIDS, which is  terrible I think.  So we looked into that and invited researchers and experts in the field to talk to the children about the disease, how it works, how the virus is transmitted. So very quickly we started a campaign which focused on discrimination,  encouraging people to condomise and get tested, then the character SUPER-CONDOM sprung from that ”.

The sexually ambiguous character of SUPER-CONDOM is played by  Sisonke.   In one of the films SUPER-CONDOM is dressed in his white Elvis Preslyesque costume and high heels, offers free hugs to passers-by near the busy road near Kliptown’s railway tracks with the catch phrase “I hug you positive or negative”.   The short film opens a window into the current changing attitudes of communities around the issue HIV and AIDs.

“We decided to make funny movies around the theme, SUPER-CONDOM is very sexy fun character who tackles the subject of AIDS in a fun way and it worked because, because SUPER-CONDOM is popular here ”  She says telling me of an unusual request from the community during last (October) months’ film screening “I think we’ve made more than 40 movies just about SUPER-CONDOM, and last month the community told me they don’t have condoms, they need more”  She says laughing. The Super Condom concept was so effective and popular that the  Film Festival of  Toronto, commissioned  similar films but with an ecological theme.  The request introduced the birth of  “Ecolosh” and the Green  Revolution series.   The name merges  Ecology  with the mythical and well-known South African character  of  Tokolosh, used to scare adults and children alike for generations.

“We worked with a designer, and with the crew picked up all the dirt near the river and surrounds, we washed off the filth and made the costume”

In one of the short films  “A romantic dinner”;  two lovers sit near the filthy banks of the local stream  to a dinner prepared by Ecolosh, they ask for water, and Ecolosh brings them a jug  from the polluted water down stream, and both lovers take a sip and die elegantly at the pristine table.

“Ecolosh is always there, doesn’t tell you what to do” says de Blic “But the message is effective”

Ecolosh

When I ask de Blic about access to  money  or  funding  her response is passionate.  “I have done this  with no budget, and have found ways get money along the way. I have not received any support from local film-makers,  I teach about French films because that is what I know, I would like to teach more about African film, I want to work with local film makers, but I have not found any volunteer or local film makers willing to help.  This is not a charity initiative – to appease my conscience –  I learn from them and they learn from me. I am a happier person because of it”

Boboy says when de Blic arrived in Kliptown they were busy doing drama, music and dance in different artist groups “ I’m glad now that I have a skill! I know how to do something now, we are happy to do something” He beams. “The screening is very popular in Kliptown, some three hundred people come to see the show every month” He says, adding, “Some locals don’t like to come to Kliptown because it’s dirty, or dangerous so we welcome people who come to teach us something”. I ask him how  it feels to be  the star of the show, after the Eat My Dust Crew won an award at the JoziFilm Festival  for best short fiction film,  he smiles politely and replies “I’m not the star the whole team is”

The Crew: Amanda Gashu, Boitumelo Mokhine, Nkhensani Moyana, Sibongile Nglobo, Nyeleti Ngobeni, Senzo Bongwana, Siphe Bongwana, Nkosi Gumede, Tumi Sibhoni, Hope Bvuma, Siphamandla Bongawana, Sisonke Nakami, Pontso Kgopane, Zine Sidelo and Bafana Lubabalo Mwambi.

Eat My Dust will screen its last open air cinema for 2012 on the 1 st of December in KlipTown.

You’re Invited.

Black is Not what White is Not

Bheki Dube. Photographer.

This is  photographer Bheki Dube’s paraphrasing one of South Africa’s’ most respected writer, poet and   playwrights;  Lesego Rampolokeng in a way of explaining his work in progress  called  White Trash.  

He shows me some of his pictures  of some  poor white people  he  knows and photographs around his home town  in Troyville.  “ I want to show that white people are not superior or better, I want to document another side of  whiteness” I ask him if (he thinks) some of his friends still have this idea that white-people are intrinsically superior, he laughs again ” I hope there are not still black people who think that white people are superior and we are inferior, but if there are, I hope to show them that that’s not the case”

Bheki and I met when he (and I) was very young – he was literally a boy running up and down B-courts’ red stairs.  We often saw each, passed each other, exchanging shy greetings (children have a way of making me so shy I feel like they see through me, which is scary)  during my many visits to see my  friend at the time who was reading  film at Wits. Until I myself one day  started living there,  found a flat an moved in without a moment’s pause.  That is where he learnt his craft, where he  got hooked by  images, shooting videos with Mr M.

He grew up amongst some of Johannesburg’s “craziest”artists; some  struggling, trapped, abusive, wild, lost and successful.  A great place to experience art at its best and art at its worst.  Art was always in the making, be it in  movies, music, painting, mosaics, performance art, whatever ideas were thought up in nocturnal post exhibition, maddening  just for fun all night parties. Whether it was a dramatic fight or sweet moment spent with stray cats. He grew up amongst free thinking, creatives, writers, journalists, actors, dancers, painters architects, gallerists, curators, art enthusiasts, fans, lovers and strays and he took the best from all of us.

I look at my work as a calling, you know,  it’s something that just happened,  cuz I never thought I could be a photographer, it’s not something I ever told my mom that I want to be”  He says shrugging his well-built shoulders. We look at each as if understanding the obvious about each other for the first time. “but I guess it was bound to happen, growing up at B-Court and all” We laugh, memories. ” Are you still writing?” he asks me,  this time I’m proud to tell him, yes, yes I am.

“I don’t want to confine my work into a category because that will limit the scope of my creative interests” he tells me. My jaw is on the counter at this point, but he is not fazed by my surprised expressions  and draws me in with his charm as if to say, I’m still the Bheki you knew. “If I were to classify it, I would say my work leans strongly towards social-documentation”.  I still cannot get over how grown he is, mind-body and soul.

“Another subject that I am interested in and that keeps coming up in my work is nuns and religion”.  He tells me that he started being interested in nuns when he found out that there were at least ten living within a block from his house. “But we hardly know anything about them. They are hidden” he says, showing me a picture of  a  sister he befriended sitting austerely in her living room and then another of hers reading a magazine, she is at ease with him. “But I am not religious “he says with that disarming smile again.

“At one point I became so fascinated with nuns when I could not see any around, I found a costume  and played around with this dancing trio and took pictures. He shows me a black and white picture of a female black nun reaching as if to the sky while the  two gangster-pop  looking characters look on closely behind her.

Dube, 20,  studied photography at that famous place in Newtown  Johannesburg, The Market Photo Workshop. And Tonight he will be participating in  his first  major exhibition ( 08 Thursday ) at the Backlight:  Contemporary Photographic Exhibition at the Michael Meyersfields’  Studios in Sandton.  His work will be show-cased alongside some of the country’s  leading photographers such as  Francki Burger, Bob Cnoops, Antoine De Ras, Pieter De Ras, Harry De Zitter, Buntu Fihla, Stephen Hobbs, Greg Marinovich,  Michael Meyersfeld, Santu Mofokeng & Marcus Neustetter.

Backlight was conceived by Michael Meyer, Bob Cnoops, Marcus Neustetter and Stephen Hobbs.

Backlights’ main objectives are to offer South Africa’s emergent and establish collector base access to photographer’s not seen in the main commercial gallery circuits.

“I am pretty excited about this exhibition, because I will be exhibiting with a of photographers I have always looked up to, admired” He says walking me out of the coffee shop…

“It’ll be cool if you can come” he says and I give him a warm congratulatory hug and say goodbye.  Tears burning inside my eyes.

Meet Bheki Dube.

Vintage Cru: Bhekifa Dube