11 APR 2016 EDITION 8
Hello dear reader! How are you? Ja we’re doing pretty well ourselves, thanks. Welcome to Edition 8 of Ja. magazine. For those of you who are reading us for the first time, this page is usually where we tell you what we’ve got in store on the upcoming pages. We’re getting a little bored of that though, so instead of telling you what you can look forward to in this edition, we’ll tell you what you won’t be finding in the pages of our April edition.
- White boys writing about intersectional feminism. - White girls simultaneously misappropriating yoga and screaming ‘Yaaaaas kweeeeen!’ - The answer to where that one shirt you really love has gone. Although investigations are currently pending. - ‘High art’. Or any inaccessible art that exists in exclusionary and elitist spaces for that matter. - Free shit (we’re so broke hey). - Details of Frank Ocean’s next album release (we only listen to local music anyways, you should know that by now). - Lofty thinkpieces penned by writers who aren’t even remotely involved in the topic, event, or lives of the people they write about (Daily Maverick, we’re watching you). - Anything Afrikaans. Contrary to popular belief, Ja. magazine actually has nothing to do with being Afrikaans. In fact, all our co- editors really know about being Afrikaans is the wide range of incisive and rather handy swearwords. If you’re looking for Afrikaans stuff, Klyntji is pretty kief though. - That one friend who gets really cool music via you and then pretends they found it all by themselves (why are you even like that, friend??) - Negative shit. Absolutely none. Well, maybe a little. Within reason of course. Want to know what we do have in store? Just look at the contents page! It’s right next door. Until next time. Ja. team In memory of Delon Moody. Rest in Power!
THE CULT OF
WORDS BY DAVE MANN AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY MKOSI
It’s 6:30pm on a dry Johannesburg evening off the back of a busy week and I’m sitting poolside with a beer in hand at the Protea Hotel Wanderers. It’s work related, but I don’t mind. I’ve wanted this interview for years now and after a few back and forth emails, we’ve finally found a time and place. She tends to her social media and sweetens a flat white, as I frame the interview, equal parts fan and journalist. I’ve managed to get a whole hour and a half with the DJ, club manager, and creative agency founder. Fresh off a flight from Cape Town after helping host a show for none other than Skrillex, she still has a set to play in a few hours. It’s a wonder she’s found the time. Formerly known as DJ Sideshow, currently known as ANG, and commonly known as one of South Africa’s most plugged in individuals on the local music scene, Angela Weickl is a busy woman. Current duties involve managing Cape Town’s Fiction nightclub as both the events promoter and in house line-up curator, and owner and founder of creative agency The Cult of Maybe. She also frequently pens reviews on local music and events, hosts the odd gig, puts out EPs with professionally mastered remix tracks by up and coming producers, anchors a weekly show on Assembly Radio, and of course, she DJs. Again, Angela Weickl is a busy woman, and this much we know, but where did it all start? “I went from not really knowing what I wanted to do, to suddenly having a lot of responsibility at a very young age,” she begins. An undecided career path and a missed tertiary education application, saw Weickl doing odd jobs fresh out of high school before a fortuitous Cape Audio College advert caught her attention by way of her father. “My father pushed me a lot as a youngster and he still kinda does,” she explains. “I’ll always be grateful to him for that, because he was the one who saw my passion for music and pushed me in that direction.” A year at Cape Audio College then saw Weickl come out as a fully qualified sound engineer, but in a sparse job market. She kept busy through waitressing jobs and slowly made a name for herself in the sound industry by filling in for sound engineers on occasion and subsequently making such an impression, that she’d be personally booked for future events. This would become a trend in Weickl’s career. “After a while I became quite disillusioned with the whole sound engineer-
ing thing. I mean I still enjo the limit of what I could lea After a friend’s spontaneou herself filling in as co- man dependent Armchair Theat 2000’s and Obs was still th the city. It was a tightly pac dotted with backpackers, lo few well frequented restaur
Weickl stayed in close prox whom managed their own r a youthful monopoly. A con managing the nightlife scen most of the night, partying the next day. It was a dream “A close friend of ours pass hands. “For some of us it w ing this shit without conseq even more.” Weickl chose to respond to ents, decided to pack up an nal hours and a more mana career that would impact h
“I got a gig at Mercury in to job at an events hiring com “I was still partying all night day and things were far mo important time in my life, e got payed way less, becaus know the value of what I wa During her managing days curate the playlists to be pl overwhelming response to DJing career. It was a golde realm of electronic music.
oyed it, but I got to a point where I had reached arn from the industry” she says. us trip overseas, a 21 year old Weickl found nager at Obviously Armchair (then called the Intre) in Cape Town’s Observatory. It was the early he lovable and loathable Bohemian paradise of cked suburb housing mostly student types and ow-lit pubs and gritty clubs, interspersed with a rants and incense infused trinket shops
ximity to a few friends of the same age, all of restaurants and venues too. It was, in essence, nsortium run by 20-somethings heading up and ne of the small suburb, sleeping all day, working until morning and then doing it all over again m, and one that was soon shattered. sed away,” says Weickl holding her drink in both was a wakeup call saying ‘you can’t carry on doquence’ and for others, it was an excuse to do it
o the call, and along with the urges of her parnd leave Obs in search of a job with less nocturageable lifestyle. This too came in the form of a her tremendously.
own as one of their resident DJs as well as a day mpany that did sound and lighting,” she explains. t after my set, but I’d make it to work the next ore routine. Those sets at Mercury were a very even though back then I played way more and se I was a nobody in comparison. I also didn’t as doing then.” at Armchair, Weickl took it upon herself to layed out between the live music events. The these playlists was what eventually led to her en age in South African music, particularly in the
Trailblazers were gaining serious traction while more were emerging from bedroom setups to play live analogue sets, pushing the genre out and across the scene in all of its forms. It was the time of Sibot and Markus Wormstorm in the form of Real Estate Agents, Max Normal were bending genres before the dawn of Die Antwoord, and experimentation was abundant and ever so good. Weickl, for want of a hobby more than a career, was curating and platforming all of these acts through her playlists and later her sets. “Those years in Obs and later Mercury were such a formative time for me,” Weickl says with a smile. “A whole bunch of my friends were these amazing musicians and I got opened up to a whole other world. It was bands and acts that I had been listening to through old SL magazine CDs and now I was seeing all of them live. It was the prime of groups like Max Normal and Closet Snare and it was just such a good time in local music.” The Mercury gig soon grew tired though, and a more confident Weickl looked at playing larger stages. A pulled favour landed her an opening set for Fokofpolisiekar (now Van Coke Kartel) at The Assembly, and once again, Weickl’s
immediate talent turned a once off gig into a permanent position. The Assembly gigs led to a spot on Assembly Radio where Weickl made more connections and further cemented her name in South Africa’s electronic music industry, all the while writing for publications such as YourLMG, as well as running her YoungBloodz competitions for up and coming DJs in the form of mixes to be aired on radio and later showcased live on the stage of The Assembly. “After all these connections I had made and gigs I had played, I thought to myself ‘Well I had to work so hard to get to where I am and there are all these youngsters who just don’t know how to do it and no one’s helping them’,” says Weickl. “Especially behind the scenes and in the sound engineering side of it, the older dudes, because they had to learn everything on hand, don’t wanna share their knowledge and that’s such a negative thing. I always told myself I’d never be one of those people who’s gonna sit on top of their throne of knowledge and sneer at all the plebs who don’t know how the industry works. That’s not why you learn things. You don’t nurture the next generation by not telling anyone anything. And also, you’ll just die one day knowing all this shit not having told anyone and then you’re just an asshole.”
PROFILE There’s an immediate passion in Weickl’s voice now and I remember what first drew me to her work – her sheer love for boosting and cultivating the South African electronic music scene. It’s important to note that throughout all of Weickl’s jobs, hobbies and side projects, she’s almost permanently had full time jobs in the form of restaurant and venue management outside of the music world. So how the hell does she keep up the passion and dedication she puts into the local music scene? “Ah I’m just always online so I trawl Soundcloud a lot for new musicians. It’s kind of a hobby,” she says nonchalantly. Clearly it’s more than just a hobby however, and The Cult of Maybe is proof of that. Founded in March of 2015, The Cult of Maybe was Weickl’s way of tacking herself down to one musical management project that allowed her to platform, promote, and sign both old and new local DJs and producers. Weickl now has 13 artists signed to the label, some full time, others only on a release and consultation basis, and has already put out a few EPs and shows for a number of these artists. “It’s stressful managing 13 lives at once,” she says. “Basically, you have to be a psychologist, a policeman, a party animal, a mother, and everything else wrapped into one and sometimes all at once, but it’s what I live for.” And with that, Weickl sheds her interviewee hat and dons her party animal hat. After all, she does have a show to play in about an hour.
This is part of an ongoing series of written, longform journalism in Ja. magazine. You can read the full version of Thabile Vilakaziâ€™s piece in PDF format here and in web format on our Medium account.
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER This year’s Splashy Fen Music Festival saw The Rainbow Restaurant send three of Durban Centre for Photography’s jazz lovers into the Underberg festival to document their artist’s line up: Shabalala Rhythm, Ildo Nanja, Louis Mhlanga and Oliver Mtukudzi. DCP is an organisation that teaches about the learning and collaborative effort in photo making. Their teaching methods include discussions on how to make (not take) unconventional and well conceptualised bodies of work that will contribute to larger conversations outside of the photographic medium. At Splashy, myself and the two other photographers set out on our own artistic mission to make a small body of work that reflected, to our eyes, some essence of jazz. As I worked, I began to see things in three’s: three photographers, three musicians on a stage, triangular compositions, whatever other illuminati-esque messages found themselves in my viewfinder, I would photograph. Here are a few of those images.
As far as Jazz studies go, Berkley College has always been the Everest that most musicians want to conquer. So when you hear of an American saxophonist who left the lap of luxury to come settle in South Africa, a country still defining itself and with not nearly enough reverence for art and artists, you wonder what brings a citizen from the Global North to the southern-most tip of Africa. We sat down with Salim Washington to talk about music as advocacy and resistance, music education and finding love in South Africa. You grew up in Detroit, can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and experiences as a young man?
At which point did music become a fixture in your life and subsequently your career?
Detroit in many ways was a great place to grow up, especially for a musician. It’s the cultural capital of the United States and it’s one of the leading places for Jazz, R&B and Gospel music. I grew up in what they called “Black Bottom Detroit”. It was called the murder capital of the world at the time and we were living in the most crime-ridden part. I think overall though the kind of cultural resonance of the place is really important. There are things about Detroit I didn’t appreciate until I had left, one of which is that my humanity wasn’t taken for granted. When I moved to go to school in Boston, that wasn’t always the case. The white supremacy is more readily evident in Boston [and] it’s one of the most racially segregated cities in the county. I experienced certain type of things that are stereotypically thought to belong to the south, the first time a white person called me a “nigger” was in Boston.
I was fortunate because when I was a kid the public schools had instruments that you could use and take home for the whole year, you didn’t have to afford an instrument. I began playing in school as a trumpet player. My first exposure to music that really moved me deeply was in church [...] If you can’t play one note but you’re playing it for the glory of God, we go with that! You’re nurtured in a different kind of way. If classical musicians make a mistake, it’s a big deal. I was drafted into a [musical] gang at a very young age and it turned out that the leader of the gang played the trumpet. He loved the trumpet but he wasn’t that good, I was better and he recognised that. We used to practise together and he wanted me to continue with music and go on to school. He appreciated these things. I guess you could say he protected me. The power of this music was intoxicating to me and I was drawn into it - I was in high school when I heard a record of
MUSIC John Coltrane and that just changed everything for me. I had never encountered anything so powerfully, intelligently beautiful. It seemed like he was speaking to my condition and to my aspirations. I didn’t understand it necessarily but I knew that this was for me. I went on to college and then after a couple of years I dropped out so that I could join a band and travel. We were really trying for mastery; we weren’t looking for sex, drugs and rock n roll.
Before settling in South Africa you visited the country on several occasions. Coming from what is considered a first world country into a supposed developing country, what attracted and catapulted you into settling in South Africa?
The public imagination is that everything is better that side. So yes it’s definitely a first world country and I have enjoyed the comforts and I’ve especially enjoyed New York, where I was living before I moved here. It’s still probably my favourite city in the whole world. Pound for pound, yeah. There is something very beautiful about South Africa and about South Africans that I’m very intrigued by. Aside from the fact that I feel like the revolutionary potential of this nation is immense and I want to be able to, in some small way, contribute to that. I first wanted to come to South Africa in 1976 after the Soweto Uprising. These were young people and as a teenager myself I was so impressed. I was a political activist and part of the Disinvestment from South Africa movement that was happening in America at the time.
“I had never encountered anything so powerfully, intelligently beautiful. It seemed like he was speaking to my condition and to my aspirations. I didn’t understand it necessarily but I knew that this was for me.”
I learned more about South Africa and I found out that the music was in dialogue with our music in profound ways. I listened to Dudu Pukwana and all these different South African musicians. I couldn’t come because I would have to have been an honorary white to come at that time and I didn’t want to be an honorary white. I finally got a chance to come much later as a Fulbright ScholarArtist. The talk of Ubuntu for me is real as I come from a country that doesn’t practice it. As much as it may be criticised or [treated with] suspicion here, I’m able to see it from a different perspective and it’s a beautiful thing. The physical beauty of the country is also remarkable [...] This is a place that’s in transition, at the very beginning of it. That’s something that I found attractive as well - a place where the final chapter has not been written.
Choosing to take the “creative” path for one’s career is a daunting step to take - how did you deal with this? Were you supported in this decision? I just dove into it head first. My mother cried like a baby when I left school, she couldn’t believe it. I was not supported [and] I was running on my own steam. Now I’ve had success, I’ve been all over the world, I’ve recorded, I am an
Internationally respected musician and lecturer. I’ve won awards and things like that, but I had to pay a lot of dues.
Trends and movements often originate in the Global North and subsequently influence Global South countries. Have you noticed this flow being reversed? Without black people, the United States would be like Canada or Australia. It is Africa that has made our cultures so compelling around the world. PanAfricanism didn’t start in Africa, it started in Jamaica, in New York. We are very interested in Africa.
MUSIC Artists are very sensitive and knowledgeable about Africa. This music has changed the world; the whole world is affected by this music. You talk about hip hop, there’s nowhere on this earth you can go where young people don’t listen to hip hop. This is music that has encapsulated our highest aspirations and it kind of demonstrated our humanity and gave us equipment for dealing with the onslaught that we face. Some of it is yearning for the past, for something taken from us. I also think that there was a real discovery of something that had real value, human value, universally.
This is a place that’s in transition, at the very beginning of it. That’s something that I found attractive as well - a place where the final chapter has not been written.
One of the works you performed at the Orbit earlier this year was Tears for Marikana. Can you tell us a bit about what prompted you to tackle the issue of Marikana and is there any connection to Max Roach’s Tears for Johannesburg?
There is a direct link. After the Sharpeville Massacre they had written Tears of Johannesburg as a musical response. After the Marikana Massacre I felt that this demanded an artistic response. In fact, this was as important as the Sharpeville massacre was in 1961. For me, the Marikana Massacre encapsulated everything that’s wrong with the new South Africa. It was like one neat picture of the whole problem. This is the clear beckoning from the new South Africa about what will you do for the realistic needs of the majority of your people, and the answer was resounding – “we won’t do a damn thing, in fact we will fight to the bitter end to protect things the way they are”. For me I couldn’t be the same after that. We ignored this at our peril.
You were also present at the cross generational talk that took place as part of Amandla Freedom Ensemble’s Born To Be Black event where musicians across generations discussed their grievances. What do you think South African musicians need more of? We need many things at the macro level. The Minister of Arts and Culture needs to be more sensitive towards local musicians. For instance, there are millions of rands in KZN that are given to the Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestras are nice things to have, but that’s European music at the end of the day. There are no millions for maskandi music; there are no millions for jazz musicians [yet] there are millions to protect European music. I don’t understand that in the United States. I understand it even less in Africa. There’s a kind of blindness to the needs of what art and culture should mean. We need a better network of how to get the music to the people. They spoke about the venues and how we should play more in the townships because the lack of adequate transportation makes it hard for people to come into the city centre to entertain themselves when the taxis stop at 6,7,9 o’clock.
Where do Detroit and Durban collide? Durban reminds me of Detroit. It does. Detroit is a place where Detroiters think they are the coolest people in the world [...] when it comes to unadulterated coolness Detroit’s the one! Other places would beg to differ but that’s how we think of ourselves. There a mixture
of a certain type of stylishness, urbanity and a country-ness at the same time. We’re up South, so compared to New York we’re kind of country, but you can’t tell us that because we think we’re slick. Durban is just like that, people are very much a product of the rural areas, but in an urban setting and they’re urbanised to be sure and there’s a countryness about them at the same time.
Without black people, the United States would be like Canada or Australia.
Our second artist in a new series showing love for local Instagram accounts is Shalom Nkululeko Mushwana. Born and raised in Grahamstown, Mushwana is an experimental photographer whose strength lies in portraiture, architecture, abstract and minimal work. Having only worked a camera for just over three years now, his work spans various styles, mostly made on analogue and all enhanced by his stringent use of cropping and editing, often resulting in considered and concentrated images of standalone objects or individuals. A creative nightlife photography project between Mushwana and fellow Grahamstown artist and photographer Justin Share also saw him garner much of the style and approach he includes in his work today. “After High school we started this night life photography collective called the 13th,” explains Mushwana. “We managed to really push ourselves photographically, from just messing with a camera, to using the photographic medium to creatively create a social narrative. I didn’t know this at the time but in retrospect what we were doing was really interesting and it made going out an adventure and some of the people we met through what we did were part of a valuable network of intellectuals and individuals who were all pushing some sort of passion in Grahamstown at the time.” Today, the narrative element in Mushwana’s work is ever present, and coupled with his unique use of composition and new found love for colour, forms an adaptable body of work that functions as an altogether arresting and mesmerizing series, while simultaneously allowing for
WORDS BY DAVE MANN individual pieces to shine through without losing any of their context. “I began to take an interest in colour quite recently actually. It came about after shooting black and white film for nearly a year,” says Mushwana. “I never looked at colour images the same, colour is as complicated and as simple as you want It to be. It has connotations and it denotes certain feelings and meanings. So in some of my more recent work I’ve been trying to take advantage of the way colour reads for experiments sake, using colour as a form of narrative. Much like my approach to refining my style, drawing attention to very particular elements of an image to try get the viewer to understand what’s on mind and what I’m trying to say.” With a recent move to Johannesburg, Mushwana now plans to study photography full time while assisting a few commercial photographers and trying his hand at as many collaborations as possible. “I think that’s where I found the most influence in Grahamstown – working with other artists and being part of a concept that isn’t your own. I think that’s where I generally find a lot of influence, just by being in working contexts that I’ve never been in and don’t completely understand,” he says. “It’s like being on a street that you’ve walked down every day of your life and noticing a new splat of paint on the road in conjunction with being on a street you’ve never set foot on and being surrounded by an array of new things to look at. So Jozi is going to be a big but much welcomed change.”
The art of BANELE NJADAYI BANELE NJADAYI BANELE NJADAYI Salvaging moments with oil, charcoal and metal WORDS BY DAVE MANN
Banele Njadayi’s career
began on an interesting note. His first encounters with art came through days spent on the streets of Eastern Cape’s Grahamstown, with salvaged materials and makeshift canvases as his tools.
ART As a youngster, Njadayi would opt out of afternoons spent playing soccer with friends to go in search of charred wood and wanting walls to practice his drawings. “I would go around to the homes in my neighbourhood which burnt wood and I’d pick up charcoal from the burnt out fires and use them to draw on the tarred streets and the walls at the back of our house,” says Njadayi. “Sometimes, I would find an old vandalized or abandoned building and express myself on the half broken walls.” It wasn’t until a family friend happened across a few of his drawings and suggested to Njadayi that he pursue art in school, that the artist seriously considered it as a career. Now of course, after a degree specialising in Graphic Design at Port Elizabeth College, the PE based artist’s work is well known both throughout the Eastern Cape and the rest of South Africa. Working mainly with the mediums of oil paints on zinc, Njadayi creates striking portraits, and engaging vignettes of seemingly ordinary individuals and scenarios, highlighted and brought to life through the choice medium. “What I enjoy about oil on zinc is that it is versatile and the medium gives me freedom to do whatever I want to do, be it knocking, drilling in holes, adding reverts or more materials like pieces of metals, weld bolts and nuts,” he explains.
“Zinc additionally gives me the opportunity to metaphorically bring my subjects closer to ‘home’ as this is one of the predominant materials used when they are constructing or extending their dwelling places.” The characters themselves are part of Njadayi’s process, translated from the photographic medium to that of oil and zinc. “I chose to document this part of our world not only because I am inspired by people, their movement, their day to day life activities, their struggles and challenges but also to capture and hold in context the way they live life,” says Njadayi. “In most of my works, I use photographs as my reference. When time permits, I cycle around with my camera photographing the scenes and unsuspecting persons.” Njadayi’s works also include metal work made from salvaged materials and scrap metal, resulting in 3D, almost otherworldly sculpture works. Selected works are currently on show at PE’s Galerie Noko as part of a group exhibition entitled ‘Ambassador’s Footprint’ which brings together artists from various backgrounds who work in diverse media.
Flush out all the with
WORDS BY CHARLES MACKENZIE AND ILLUSTRATION BY KARMEN WESSELS
When it comes to the integrity of Friar Tucks nightclub, the absolute favourite among Rhodes University students in Grahamstown, the writing is on the wall, floors, bar counters and patrons- so to speak. “Where are you from?” he asks. “Earth!” I reply. I’m feeling silly. The man I was talking to had introduced himself as the owner of venue we were in. I was under no motivation to get kicked out. So I pull a cheeky face and try to coax one out of him. Instead he turns an orange red - like lava. The meat bags attached to his shoulders start doing that waving about thing, where they get moved in about as many menacing ways and directions as possible - as if to say: now just imagine I used them to disembowel you with the force of my fist. “I’ve seen thirteen years of students come and go, but I have never encountered a prick as big as you!” Obviously I’d had three years of Rhodes University experience that directly indicated to me that that couldn’t possibly be true. But then again, being told by the owner of this asylum for arrogance, that an innocuous joke-gone-awry is the poorest decorum he had ever encountered wasn’t something I could take very seriously. Instead I was more intrigued that such an impatient, hyper-masculine-volcano owned and managed the very venue where impatient hyper-
masculine volcanos congregated, but the feeling very quickly traded off for a cheap irony and native disappointment. Meanwhile Mr. Volcano was rapidly boiling up, and despite my attempts to get a word of apology or clarity in, he was still pissed about my not answering straightforwardly. The cheap irony pumping through my bloodstream was now ready to take over my whole nervous system and turn to me into a Machiavellian joke as it became apparent that the owner of drunken brawls.com was inches away from initiating a drunken brawl with me! His wife quickly intervened and angrily told me to fuck off, as if to say, that of all the pulsating dildos walking around, I’m the one vibrating on too high a level for the otherwise infinitely dormant Mr. Volcano! On the topic of eruptions, I just want to touch very awkwardly on the Friar Tuck’s fluid problem. One evening, whilst walking up the staircase to the corner bar, my girlfriend happily glided her hands on the banister. She regretted the action as soon as she had realized what had happened. So severe was her disbelief however, that she felt
compelled towards her table of friends in order to properly validate the absolutely ludicrous assumption that her hand was covered in semen. She flexed her hands in a star shaped motion to consider if the stickiness was consistent with experience, and by way of collective grief and revulsion at the table, semen was in fact the substance conceded upon. Likewise, and just as unfortunately, my best friend’s girlfriend once eagerly slid into one of the benches with her hands on the underside of the table for maximum glide, and by so doing tracked upon her innocent flesh a foreign fluid! And it was with the same star shaped motion and collective grief and revulsion at her table, that she confirmed the substance was in fact semen. Finding nasty things under tables doesn’t ordinarily seem so strange, and mothers always tell us never to touch foreign
banisters or escalator rubber, but what are the chances of six degrees of separation playing out with ejaculate and weathered pub furniture? I simply cannot look at this building now without imagining some kind of semen chandelier crystallizing and slowly forming on the roof. I can no longer look at the already dirty walls and floors, bar counters or patrons without my imagination becoming a U.V light, identifying semen in all sizes, shapes and splash patterns. Taking pride in drinking is a practice that can very well be ambiguous on the moral spectrum, but there is still something rather erroneous about the way people treat alcohol use at this university, with ‘leaking’ semen in public surely ranking as a top
offence. When somebody is beyond ecstatic about being hung-over, then you can certainly know they are rehearsing for the apocalypse. In a closing example, a digs mate’s sleepover from the night before was proudly carrying a bucket, of which its contents or future use was of interest to me. Imagine my exponential confusion then, when he very proudly told me that it contained his vomit from the night before and then proceeded to take it home with him -without so much as an empty or a wash. My confusion then stemming from the fact that ordinarily, when you are hung-over, a dump and a wash is often the first and only order of the day.
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now. now. now. WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY CARLY NICOLE
PHOTOGRAPHY Going to a public discussion with Fabrice Monteiro without a notebook is like going out to eat without your
mouth. There are too many good things coming out of Monteiro’s mind - no memory is quick enough. As a last resort I quietly began to repurpose the recycled paper box my business cards came in - first note “it has to put a question on the table”. The top of the box now says ‘universality’ with a bunch of little sun rays shooting from the letters. The bottom of the box reads ‘PROFIT’ with a penned lined encircling the CAPSLOCK. The box is no longer just a box - but more of a mini thesis on the potential of art to deconstruct our naturalised conceptions of the world in a quest for alternatives. Luckily, Monteiro was not only in Seattle for one public discussion - but also his opening of Marrons at the Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, and another public discussion on the University of Washington campus. These times I’d have my notebook ready because, just as he intended, I already had so many questions. I wanted to know where he thought his mentioned spirit of creativity in Africa stemmed from and how he thought it functioned independently of, or in tandem with, his equally observed fatalism. Notebook in hand, camera over shoulder, I walked into the Ibrahim Gallery heavy and slow: stark white walls, bold black bodies, piercing eyes, hollow eyes, streams of sweat, beads of it, foreign iron head pieces and neck bars, discomfort, persistence, acceptance, rebellion, breathlessnes. I wanted to sit down. I wanted silence. “Why this work now?” I overheard someone ask. “How have I never seen something like this?” I felt like responding. Now. Now. Now. Forever. Everyone. I felt small and big - they looked huge and caged. What were the specific purposes for their varying entrapments? What were they punished for, and what were they told they were punished for? These photos screamed PROFIT. How often is that CAPSLOCKED, and how often does its amplification compromise people. I looked around at the expensive and DIFFERENT primary coloured eyeglass frames. I looked down at the shiny screaming sneakers, and into the grey floor. ‘See us!’ the mingling whispered, see us here, as it somehow found a way through its empty white noise of dinner plans and travel plans and future-ness to ignore and misunderstand the injustice lining the walls of the present/past.
Monteiro had a moment alone after two hours of smiling and chatting and I took it from him, with his hesitant permission.
“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions for a South African arts and culture magazine?”
“I totally understand if you’re exhausted and not up for the chat.”
“No, just two questions would be alright” he said with his mouth and disagreed with his eyes.
Thanking him, and not wanting to waste any more time I started in – creativity and fatalism on the African content. “Creativity is nourished by your culture and background…You use that baggage that you have, and then you mix it with your own experiences in life, and that creates the creativity.” Creativity in his sense is past/present – an ability to consistently and consciously engage in living in combination with critical reflection. His thoughts on fatalism seemed to set up as a perfect polar opposite. “There is no great expectations…There is acceptance of whatever happens.” A complete
nowness of living allows no time for a past/present combination or even a present/future one. The black, white and grey curation of the Ibrahim gallery space, the combination of the privileged gallery goers and the photo series on purchased subjects, it was an evening of balanced opposites. Monteiro and I ended up wandering way beyond both creativity and fatalism into what his life was like in his early twenties, “uncertain”, and where he has lived and what all of those cultural experiences have taught him about one another. We touched on the vitality in African’s nowness and the death in capitalistic moreness.
Finally we whittled down to our hearts - surfing and living by the ocean. He’s thinking about moving down to South Africa from Dakar, I’m thinking about moving to Dakar from Seattle. I talked up Durban, he asked me about the waves, and just like that we became two more little present day people in a room full of history’s giants. My head is still turning over the never ending balancing of this bright and brutal world, of creativity and fatalism, of the energy and opportunity in diversity. My business cards are still hugged by the words of Monteiro’s creative process and I, following in his footsteps, am investing great expectations in the universality of our all.
A few notes on #reclaimthebi WORDS BY YOULENDREE APPASAMY AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY NONHLE SKOSANA
In a recent global online initiative, #reclaimthebindi week (8th - 14th March), which is partnered with the #unfairandlovely campaign, aimed to support, celebrate and platform people who collectively said fuck-you to cultural appropriation of bindis. Letâ€™s look at the bindi itself, however. Why is it to be reclaimed? From whom? And who gets to do the work of reclaiming it?
RANTS When I first came across the hashtag #reclaimthebindi on Instagram, I thought it was strange to reclaim something that was all but completely taken by people who don’t culturally or religiously wear a bindi. I was inundated with images of white hippie types donning decorative bindis at Afrikaburn and cute fashion bloggers using it as a prop for their #ootd shoot. People dabbling in my culture has long been the norm and the bindi has been an easy and cheap way to do so. The bindi is not the only cultural facet to be appropriated - the old Indian woman doing henna ‘tattoos’ of a pentagram for a goth white girl at the monthly market is another way in which culture is commodified for white people, as well as the sudden ‘trendiness’ of the salwar kameez (thanks for your contributions to this world, Kylie Jenner). Why fight for the bindi of all things? My culture isn’t reduced to a bindi and all South Asians, Indo-Carribeans, Africans and others who culturally wear bindi, pottu, tilaka or other forehead markings do not all have one singular experience that #reclaimthebindi can (or neccesarily sets out to) encapsulate. It doesn’t help that mainstream media coverage of #reclaimthebindi has focussed on stereotypically desi looking people either.After years of being taught that my culture, when recognised in the mainstream, was good, I didn’t understand why I felt angry seeing these images of women wearing bindis. Cultural exchange was a reason I heard being used for these images. This is something older generations of SA Indians value – their culture in the mainstream, whether it was of a positive or negative valence and regardless
“As a brown child in a white world there is no respite, sometimes not even in your own home. Outside of my home, a mere black dot on my forehead rendered me vulnerable to violations, even as a child.”
of who was wearing the bindi. “We love your culture. You look beautiful when you wear bindis. It’s so edgy, tell me what it means.” It’s a ‘teaching moment’ that’s disguised as a compliment and because I’m not anyone’s Google search bar, I refuse to answer ignorant questions anymore. Besides growing tired after explaining the same things over and over again, it makes me bitter, because after having grown up in a white world,
“The worst came from a red-faced Afrikaans Maths teacher. He saw me sitting in front, the goody-two-shoes I was, and asked whether “we” have those dots on our foreheads to make it easier for laser targets on guns to find our heads.” I realised the limitations of me expressing my culture, and that those largely did not apply to the white women who asked me about bindi-wearing and its significance. As a brown child in a white world there is no respite, sometimes not even in your own home. Outside of my home, a mere black dot on my forehead rendered me vulnerable to violations, even as a child. Children would ask me whether I had a pimple on my head, whether I was a witch and if that was my marking (especially considering I wasn’t Christian and was consistently told that I was a heathen. A whole 7 year old me was going to hell). The worst came from a red-faced Afrikaans Maths teacher. He saw me sitting in front, the goody-twoshoes I was, and asked whether “we” have those dots on our heads to make it easier for laser targets on guns to find our heads. I didn’t make a peep or stand up for myself. In any case my voice would have been drowned out by the collective laughter from the class. I didn’t tell anyone about that either – others thought it was a joke and so should I, right? It was just another way that I experienced going to school as a desi girl, who got coconut oil rubbed in her hair and sometimes had curry and rice, until one day I couldn’t stand the comments about the smell and being a curry-muncher, so I forced my mum to make me cheese sandwiches. My mum really wanted me to wear a black dot to school for protection of my third eye, but after noticing the way
people would look at me and address me with the dot and without the dot, I preferred trying to slink into the normalcy of a white world by not wearing my bindi. We had a few fights about me losing my culture and becoming more western but I didn’t mind as long as I got some rest at school. I still got the curry-muncher and heathen comments but at least without the bindi, I didn’t feel markedly different to the children around me. In an interview with fashion magazine i-D, the anonymous creator of the #reclaimthebindi movement acknowledges that the bindi has multiple meanings to different people. “You shouldn’t take cultural artefacts with immense amounts of significance and reduce them down to a fashion statement. While you are appreciated as ‘trendy’ and ‘hipster’, I am forced to deal with the harassment and racism because of the colour of my skin. I am left with the stigma [of the culture] forever,” she said. Wearing culture as a fashion statement, because it’s trendy and your fav is wearing it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Nor is it any better to ‘celebrate’ my culture and slide through life unharrassed while I’m still stuck at the boarding gate because people think I’m a terrorist. “The campaign is a way for South Asians to show pride in their culture, and relate why cultural appropriation is so harmful and disrespectful to their experiences as a South Asian,” she further explains.
“Classism, casteism (even in the diaspora) and trying to be a model minority in a different country are deep-seated, yet unspoken problems in South Asian and South African Indian communities.”
“And not just women are participating, all genders can wear the bindi! I’m so glad that people finally feel that they have a voice and a safe platform to speak on this!” Empowerment and support are two main reasons cited for the campaign by the founder, however, I feel like it’s missing a very important clause. South Asian people, who the movement is mainly geared towards (looking at this response) are quite fucky. We engage in antiblack racism, irrespective of whether we are living on the sub-continent or in a diasporic community elsewhere. Classism, casteism (even in the diaspora) and trying to be a model minority in a different country are deepseated, yet unspoken problems in South Asian and South African Indian communities. In South Africa, the apartheid classification that privileged Indian people above Coloured and Black people, leading to slightly better amenities, education and freedom of movement created an environment where being a ‘good black’ or a respectable minority was easier, due to the proximity to whiteness and the distancing from blackness. I’m not here for a movement that ignores these issues and focusses on a singular aspect of being South Asian, without factoring in the shameful and oppressive ways I’ve seen South Asian people act and erasing the multiple perspectives and life experiences that people who culturally wear bindis have. However, I still believe #reclaimthebindi is important as a public way of celebrating those things that we have created and brought with us to the diaspora. It’s a way of owning our cultural baggage and struggles, in whichever way it has manifested in our lives. It’s a way of remembering our worth despite a world that tells us different every day. It’s a way for South Asian communities in particular to look inward and counter whiteness aspirations and anti-black racism within our communities. It’s a way of shifting the lens onto us as we survive and thrive in this world.
I still believe #reclaimthebindi is important as a public way of celebrating those things that we have created and brought with us to the diaspora. Itâ€™s a way of owning our cultural baggage and struggles, in whichever way it has manifested in our lives.
Time of the Writer: As told by authors r
in N i k h il S
ou ne T
H M is h ka
WORDS BY NIAMH WALSH-VORSTER AND ILLUSTRATION BY KARMEN WESSELS It’s the 19th year of the annual Time of the Writer festival and only now are conversations on Decolonising the Book taking place, but they are taking place nonetheless. Shortly after the festival, we gathered three of this year’s writers in a cyber space room – A singer-slash-writer, a sci-fi-vegancomicbook-activist, and a fierce-mystical-academic-womxnwordsmith – to have a conversation about this year’s theme, the books they would buy, and their thoughts on each other. Nakhane Toure’, Nikhil Singh and Mishka Hoosen- Lewis speak on their experiences and learning at this year’s event. Because after all, who better to traverse the current literary landscape than the writers who are shaping it?
On reflection, what were the things that maybe you learnt or even unlearnt in discussions during that week? Nikhil: I met an array of completely wonderful people and although the whole thing had the flavour of a socialist boot camp, it also felt like being back at high school - the school bus, the sad breakfasts and bitching about the teachers. I had electrifying conversations with Nakhane, and also wonderful moments when we were both thrown amongst children who we proceeded to pied piper with our bags of tricks and treats. I was awed by the strength and charisma of Christa - who is so light-hearted about her physical afflictions and dedicated to spreading awareness simply to prevent the suffering of others. I miss her ordering all the drivers around when they got lost in the various townships! I learned a lot from Mandla, the gold-toothed investigating detective from Estcourt who writes crime novels in IsiZulu and observed the entire fiasco go down with detached amusement. I admired Mishka’s force of character, blowing in like a wild wind, disrupting emotions and calling hearts to battle. What a wonderful tapestry of colours she weaves when she speaks and argues. I couldn’t help but admire her grace and tact, especially when her book launch was handled in such an unforgivable manner by Tracey Rose - who went on and on AND ON about herself instead of focusing on the launch. I also admired the suave and powerful presence of Niq, lurking on the sidelines but somehow also dominating every room. You could tell that he was watching and recording everything, placing it in the complex machinery of his mind in order to extract the many private jokes which fuel his hilarious and intricately constructed narratives - a real farce to be reckoned with. Panashe was also a tireless and elegant whirlwind, constantly stirring, circulating and examining the themes which the festival itself had presumed to inflict upon all of us - this decolonizing sideshow, which carried within it
the seeds and husks of very old and very also deep wounds. I loved the way Tiny and Pam held it all together - it was, after all quite a carnival, spread out over many townships - all of which were magical to revisit.
Mishka: I think one of the most important things to realize that TOW highlighted was the very real hunger on the ground for writing that represents people. Nakhane: For me, what I learnt the most - and this was during school visits - was how talented the kids are. They have dreams (of course they do), and some of them are already starting work towards fulfilling those dreams. At one of the school visits I spoke to the learners about decolonizing the book, but first asked them if they knew what the word ‘colonise’ means. A lot of them didn’t. If I left Time of the Writer with anything, it is that there is an incredible amount of work to be done. It is not good enough talking about things with your friends and people in your circle. You’re already ‘preaching’ to the converted. It ends up being a vanity project.
Of all the books launched and authors at TOW, if you only had one book voucher, which one would you purchase and why? Nikhil: Being vegan, I often went short of supper cos most of the dinners were Zulu style roasts or meat laden and the cafe would be closed by the time we returned. So I would trade my voucher for food probably. In any case, most of the author’s book swapped with one another. Mishka: Probably Nikhil’s because it was the one I couldn’t get a copy of at the time and it sounds amazing. Nakhane: Mishka Hoosen’s Call It A Difficult Night. There’s something so beautifully mysterious about Mishka.
BOOKS The three of you became quite a cool crowd on social media. What would you say about the other two individuals, seeing as you all have very authentic ways of storytelling? Nikhil: I really appreciate Nakhane’s ability to cross boundaries, borders and actively join any group or cell whilst at the same time preserving his own, protean and still very self-defined identity. His work reflects this detached poise and sense of observation. Through his lens we are able re-examine familiar places and people. This style and manner of writing works well to mythologize, emotionally, local landscapes an memory- a texture I feel is missing in South African fiction, which tends to err on the dry, unimaginative and academic side. Mishka is also able to illuminate landscapes and dreamscapes with emotion and a sort of inescapable sense of morality. Her self examination takes on a more cosmic resonance and forces a reader to question the same sort of inner truths. Again, it is a spectral quality missing in much of South African literature, in that she is able to look at the minutiae of everyday life, the small real moments and call to attention the mystical behind them. She has no reliance on grand themes and intellectual constructs to bolster her narrative - as many local authors before her have so desperately clung (like fucking drowning sailors!) to. Mishka: They’re fun and interesting and very down to earth. They’re just really refreshing people and have fantastic bullshit detectors which makes it easy to like them and easy to have great conversations with. They’re also just genuinely good, earnest people making art and trying not to let all this artsy shit go to their heads and what’s not to love about that? Nakhane: Did we? [On Mishka] When I was in Durban I was completely captivated by her at her launch. She’s fiercely intelligent. Says what she believes in, and she says it with conviction. Nikhil is also fascinating. We had some very healthy debates about too many things. What I loved most about him was his self-awareness. He is not bothered with what or how people think of him.
To be a bit cliché, when it comes to decolonising the book and even on a grander scale - decolonising our mindsets and how we live our lives, how would you say we do this? Nikhil: Identify your enemy and resist them. I see academic institutions as an enemy because they are more interested in producing wage slaves than educating. In any case there is the internet now. Educate yourself and stay out of debt. I see advertising as the enemy because, however you slice it - its central theme is prostitution.
If anything I have more respect for sex workers than anyone in advertising, because advertisers are paid to exploit and pimp everything they can get their hands on in order to generate as much of a financial return from items/concepts which often fall short of their projected worth. Advertisers in fact are proud when they can extend this gulf between true worth and return. It makes them the worst and also the most worthless of liars. Advertising, in all its forms, has done more to dilute cultural output and human spirituality than any force known to man. In fact I could pretty much attribute most of the world’s ills to this vocation whose sole purpose is to distort the truth in exchange for capital. Of course, I could start with the environmental impact we have on the planet but why bother? Google it - do your own work – it’s your own planet too. Don’t be a total asshole your whole life. I hate to be a bore but becoming vegan no matter how unattractive to your palate; will go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint and enriching quality of life. It’s not a moral judgement – its pure practicality do some research before reflexively opening your mouth to defend your appetites. We are all in a lifeboat. Let’s try spread the rations out instead of just stuffing our faces we have an ocean to cross here. And the boat is getting smaller.
Mishka: I think we need to develop more of an intolerance for grandiose political bullshit that tries to simplify what is complicated and ignores the lived reality of real human beings living their lives in complex and dynamic ways. We need to unlearn this apparent compulsion to label and simplify and demarcate. It’s insulting to the people it supposedly seeks to represent and liberate, is irresponsibly naive, and utterly counterproductive. Focus on human beings, ordinary human beings interacting in human ways and forget this grandiose faffing. Nakhane: We unlearn all the harmful, untrue things that we have been taught to believe about ourselves. We become intersectional about it. It’s not just about one thing. It’s about all of the things, and they all need to be repaired at the same time.
Book cover illustrations are Ja.’s choice. Affluenza by Niq Mhlongo and Getting Dirty by Christa Biyela
Charles Harry Mackenzie
Charles pursues expression to better understand the world. Empathy is his source of knowledge and analogy, his medium. When he’s not so caught up with being poetic - he’s a sad idiot. To the outside world however the distinction doesn’t matter, both are equally annoying.
Carly is a documentary photographer working to expose human connections. Her work focuses on the particularities of often forgotten daily detail in attempts to promote both pause and presence. She is currently working to record individual’s walks with faith, spirituality, and religion to reach a greater understanding of love and its universality.
A young, bla photograp at the un Rhodes. conditio writing, s that are well as exp misconceive
One of Durban’s up and coming street artists, Kev7, has contributed to making one of our greatest covers yet. The spray-can whizzkid is also studying Media Studies and Music at UKZN.
Niamh is a freelance photographer and journalist enjoying her time on the east coast of SA. Tends to spend too much time (ehem, money) in book stores and lives for music festivals.
Writer, journalist, book smart/shy, bell hooks and M.I.A inspired womxnist.
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S AND CONTRIBUTORS
ack female writer and pher, and a journalism graduate niversity currently known as . An avid explorer of the human on through her photographs and she is interested in matters taboo in black communities as posing issues that have been ed by many, including herself.
Biko Black, baconist, aspiring writer, wailer dreamer and jazz enthusiast.
Andy is currently struggling to quit her nine to five, she typed this out at her nine to five. She enjoys curating content and managing her company JTS. Andy believes you can’t jog and eat healthy, you need to balance the two, you eat junk to jog it out.
Karmen writes words for ads and draws things. In her spare time she enjoys long walks with her cat, Drag Queen-based reality TV, and crocheting.
dition of ja. was gned by the creative n-cat Nash. A fourth r design student at the versity currently known Rhodes. Her dress is on point (this is an sed message from the f ja.)
Writes under the name NuBlaccSoUl. Their writing serves as a documentation of life and a vehicle to share stories with the world.
Lumumba is Ja.’s final eye guy, sub editing the wonderful content. He is currently doing his PhD in English at Rhodes University.
to lead a life that ngway would be proud minus the rampant sm, racism, homophobia, ciesism and overwhelming sculinity, but with all the d drink and writing. So really, quite content with a beer, a d a few smokes.
This is Othembele’s second time being published in Ja. Currently studying at NMMU and enjoying inking down her dreams, fantasies and aspirations on paper.
Our second edition of 2016! Read an in depth interview with jazz legend Salim Washington, our profile on South African electronic music af...
Published on Apr 11, 2016
Our second edition of 2016! Read an in depth interview with jazz legend Salim Washington, our profile on South African electronic music af...