SNATHING Reflecting over a journey with the Kholwa Brothers
Memory Lane ‘Snathing’ or Isn’t It My trip to KZN, in July, with Darren Stewart was truly a memorable one. We wound up in a car in the little community of Newlands West. Experience was about to unfold and mark us in a distinctive way. Darren and I embarked on a weekend of distributing flyers and chatting to the individual members of the KHOLWA group. We laughed together, were serious and at times even experienced fear. The Saturday morning commenced with a rehearsal where the boys practised their acappella tunes combined with traditional dances. What a joy to listen to their music in a confined space, for the classrooms had zinc roofs and the beautiful cadences bounced back to ears off of galvanized surfaces.
With two thousand flyers in our possession, we engaged in our assignment. Distribution started on the streets of the community. What an encounter. People were very pleasant and much more relational than you would find in the city. Our vehicle stopped at different points, bumping along over the speed humps. This was a navigational ride for me as the community streets were peppered with these speed-stoppers.
The distribution at the malls turned out not to be what we expected as we needed permission to hand out our advertisements. But outside of these shopping malls, we engaged with people as the boys donned their red T-shirts with KHOLWA on the back of them. Some people were skittish when they saw eleven boys in what they thought were EFF colours. That evening saw KHOLWA on the stage of an event at the Princess Magogo stadium in KwaMashu. Dancing and singing punctuated the air as various groups performed.
The next day the boys did their dances at the community bus stop in Snathing, that sheltered them from the sun and provided good acoustics for the sound they produced when singing. Windows were flung open as heads appeared to see what was happening on the street. Doors opened and then a congregation of residence formed on the street to listen to the sounds of KHOLWA’S acappella. Our engagement with the community - people were talking about the good old days as the harmonic voices of the boys pierced the air.
At about midday, when the sun scorched, we were privileged to have the creator of the Isicatamiya group, Derrick Mlambo, take us to the place of his birth accompanied by his brother Francis. On the trip, Derrick’s nostalgia was almost palpable. We watched him with great admiration as he would recount memories of running through the hills of Snathing, playing there as a child. The name Snathing was chosen after the idea of “It’s nothing,” since little to nothing ever happens in Snathing. Then we went to the street on which the house of his birth once stood. This piece of real estate had now been taken over by another family. He had left there about forty years ago - this was his first time return to the area. Discussion with inhabitants of the home ensued. Our appreciation for his allowing us to share this very special moment with him was a highlight of the day.
After this we went to Isipingo where the atmosphere was quite different for us coming from outside of the community. We were quite intimidated by the sombre attitudes of people. Both Darren and I stayed in our vehicles for fear of being accosted. The boys distributed many flyers and had discussions with street vendors.
The drive to Pietermaritzburg was tiring but a good cross-country experience. The distribution was short and as darkness fell we made our way back with the boys to meet an ex-teacher, Mr Kooblal at a Hindu temple in Verulam. He was keen to provide them with computer skills literacy training if they could get themselves to his venue. The day ended with the song, Amazing Grace that echoed in the basement of the temple where the boys performed for Mr Kooblal. What a memorable time was etched on the tables of our mind on this, the third trip to KZN. Snathing turned out to be a place of significance, not nothing.