Wednesday, October 10, 2012

South Africa, my land?

South Africa, my land?
By Maakomele Manaka

‘South Africa belongs to all those who live in it’, except for her own. The majority of South Africans don’t own anything, from property to our education and to what we eat. Rustenburg is a goldmine for foreign investors because of the platinum and yet her children will grow up blinded by the double big Mac and the quarter pounder with cheese, and own nothing.

A very good friend of mine runs a restaurant in town, and from the looks of it he is doing well, though every time we are together, he gives me an insight as to who is really running the property game in Johannesburg and its not the government. He doesn’t own the piece of land on which his restaurant resides and he doesn’t even own the building, the only thing he owns, is the name of his restaurant.

Almost every city in the world has those side-walk-coffee shop-discussions, and I recently found myself in the middle of those long conversations that turned into a debate at some coffee shop in Melville, the topic was land, and it seemed as though the majority of the table were siding with Malema’s nationalization story. I couldn’t help but think if that’s exactly what this country needs, nationalization of the mines.

How do we nationalize the mines when so many black people have an inferiority complex towards each other, next thing we’ll be having privatized armies and children carrying guns half their size induced with drugs and following orders to capture Rustenburg. The question lies not only in nationalization but rather, how many people are willing to share their wealth, our President himself built a huge mansion in his native soil, Zululand, and yet the majority of the surrounding neighborhoods in that area, don’t even have roads and proper water pumps, could our president share his wealth with those people? Cut a piece of his home and distribute it out to some of his neighbors?

Ownership is a ghost that haunts many of us, because we don’t even own our roads, some agency does, and it dictates how we should move and how much we need for us to move.

As an artist, ownership is everything, I own the rights to both my books, and with the little money we made from art, we have our own place that we can call home, though many people still have not grasped the concept of ownership, because Mandla Mthembu had so much Trasnet money, that he invested it into foreign countries, yet he didn’t even buy a piece of land that he can call his own, now the man is dead broke and about to hit rock bottom.

The Nigerian writer Ben Okri says, “A people are only as healthy as the stories they tell themselves”

Until we own ourselves completely, from foreign imperialism then our country and economy can begin to be healthy, and deal with issues of salaries, because every year, the price of living in South Africa increases and yet our salaries remain the same, and that has been detrimental to our health for some time.

So, South Africa belongs to all those who can afford to own her.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The stage and my nerves

The stage and my nerves
By Maakomele Manaka

Orators have been a part of the human race since a time when man believed in stars. Before telephone lines, people would communicate with each other using only their voices that would travel across mountains. And the village poet would orate so loud that the last person outside the kraal would hear every drop of word he uttered. I just wonder if the poets were nervous before addressing the crowd?

I was recently performing at a poetry festival in Auckland Park, and I had the chance to listen to other poets and singers on stage, I started questioning my self if these guys, the modern orators, so bold on stage if they ever get nervous, because I had ten elephants throwing tantrums in my stomach and before I got on, I was in the bathroom for some time praying that I don’t swallow my words and disappointment my self.

As far back as I can remember, my parents have always been on stage, and so naturally I picked up the burden. I have been performing for almost 11 years and every time I am booked for gig, I get nervous a week before the show, my palms start to sweat, my arms feel weaker than my legs and my crutches cant hold me up.

I wondered if this is normal, so I check with the only person I know who has been performing since before my time, my mother, and she said, “I have been performing for over 25 years and I still get nervous”, and then she also said something that will forever live with me for as long I live, she said, “being nervous all the time before getting on stage, means that you respect your craft”.

Stage can be a beast to some people, the content could be very moving and insightful, and the delivery, if sour, can ruin the entire performance.

So, like many artist or should I say poets who dread stumbling over their words because of nerves, I watch and learn from a lot of old and new performing artists, how they handle themselves on stage, the likes of Hugh Masekela, Don Mattera, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and Sibongile Khumalo.

As a writer one gets inspiration from awkward spaces, and as a performance poet, delivery and presentation is everything, because I don’t want the audience to get lost and bored. So, when looking at some of our ministers giving their speeches, I cant help but think that they need coaching in posture and delivery, the content is strong, the message is there though it gets lost in how they deliver, and people find themselves thinking of what’s for lunch three paragraphs into the speech.

President Barrak Obama and his political stand point may be questionable to others, though I don’t care who says what, the man delivers a speech and makes a person believe ”yes we can”, the way he holds his posture on stage addressing people, one would think he has a performance poet for a coach, and when comparing him to our president Mr. Jacob Zuma, his speeches sometimes loose their weight because of his delivery, he is not connecting with people, as supposed to when he goes into a song and dance mode, he is probably the only president who commands people’s attention by singing and dancing. Though, on a serious note, we need to believe in what our leaders are saying on podiums, and that happens when there is a connection with us from stage.

To connect on stage is to look at people in their eyes and command your audience, though all they seem to be doing is reading and losing people’s attention spend, I suppose I aught to be a speech coach for some of our ministers, Malema on the other hand needs no help in such matters, because even though he gets out of line when addressing the public, he commands the crowd, one is compelled to listen but after hearing what he has to say, I cant help but think that some people shut off, though nevertheless he commands his audience.

Stage is no joke, she can break or make a person, there is so much that goes into the craft of commanding one’s audience, and for some of us, it begins with nerves.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Indigenous African rituals in the back seat of religion

By Maakomele Manaka

The 31st of October marks a dark chapter in our family’s history, because it is the day I was badly injured in a wall accident that claimed the life of a friend. And it also, marks the day we buried my grandmother two years ago.

So, on this day, we normally have lunch with the family and have a couple of laughs, but this time around, because my grandmother was now an ancestor, we decided to have an indigenous African ceremony of giving thanks to those who passed, more like an African version of thanksgiving.

We bought two chickens and a goat, no Turkey. I live in a relatively suburban area, Sophiatown. So when the animals came home in the afternoon for a sleepover, it became a little tricky. The goat would not stop crying, and so my inquisitive and concern next door neighbor calls me around 10pm wanting to know what’s going on, so, I patiently explain to him the traditional ritual about to take place the next day.

Eventually the goat stopped, and then in the middle of the night while watching a movie, I hear, “M a a a a k,  M a a a k” I freaked out, and for a moment I felt like I was having a close encounter of the third kind, but it was the uncomfortable smiley faced goat trying to find a better sleeping position in the garage.

I went to bed and woke up very early. The traditional healers were already at home to take us through the ritual.

While the sangomas were busy invoking the spirits, I couldn’t help but notice, that they were incorporating Christianity in indigenous African religions, calling out Jesus’ name to safeguard the ceremony of thanks.   

So, I began thinking and recalling, that I have never been to a church that incorporates indigenous African rituals in their religions. Yet traditional healers sometimes conduct their ceremonies in the name of Christ. I was puzzled.

The soil we call home has not only suffered from political power struggles though religious battles that seem to have eroded some of the continents indigenous religions.
Is it estimated that 10 percent of the population in Nigeria now follow their native faiths, while Islam and Christianity dominate the streets of Abuja.

Indigenous African religions have seen a decline since the coming of Islam and Christianity, and these two major religions in the world have somehow influenced their ideologies in many indigenous African religions.

So, it is common for an African Christian to participate in a Christian ritual by going to church on Sunday and then participate in an African religious ritual later on in the same week.

Then why is it hard for the Vatican or Mecca, to incorporate indigenous African religions with their belief system? 

Just like in all religions there are differences, though one thing that’s for sure, every religion educates its followers on systems of morality establishing what is right from wrong, good and appropriate from bad or inappropriate behavior, just as in the African indigenous religions.

Robert Baum in Africana, writes, “indigenous African religions are not limited to beliefs in supernatural beings [God and spirits] or to ritual acts of worship, but effect all aspects of life, from farming to hunting, from travel to courtship”.

So, don’t blame indigenous African religions when Bafana Bafana couldn’t qualify for the Afcon Cup, they just showed an inappropriate behavior.

Why should indigenous African religions take a back seat when they’ve incorporated major religions in their rituals?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Like an Elephant.

 By Maakomele Manaka

They were the best of friends, thick as thieves I tell you, people always thought they were brothers coz they were both light skinned, they were both tall, they both had long faces, they both had dreadlocks and both their names began with J’s, James and Jimmy.

James loved to talk and most of the time he spoke nonsense but he made us laugh. Jimmy on the other side was the quiet guy, when we were all laughing at James’s jokes, Jimmy would just smile. Sweet guy and very charming, in fact both of them were very charming, Jimmy didn’t speak much and every time he did, people listened, he had presence. James was a musician and a poet, Jimmy on the other hand was a journalist and a good one at that, his girlfriend and I became very good friends since both our boyfriends were close friends.

I first met James at a poetry reading, and from the moment our eyes crossed, it felt right with every muscle in my body that he was the one. I was sitting close to the stage when he molded all my fears and joys in song and poetry, boy he was good, for a moment in my life I was free from the world, his wisdom devoured all of my being and when we sat down and spoke I felt like I needed to live some more. When he introduced me to Jimmy I thought they were brothers, every time he was around Jimmy, there was a glow in his eyes almost as if he saw himself in Jimmy, come to think about it may be he did.
Our relationship became too heavy for words, he was my world and I was his universe we were inseparable.

He was so different to all the other guys I had been with, he was more caring, understanding, loving, he was a Romantic. On the day our child was born, he was more concerned about the type of father he was going to be, he never spoke much about his parents and we named our baby after my surname coz he had this theory that a child is a reflection of our ancestors and having my surname as his name and the baby’s last name as his, that baby was guaranteed a path of righteousness in the spiritual world. Jimmy was our son’s godfather, he was so happy and that made James happier, knowing that he had his best friend’s blessing and loyalty.

In this country building a family as an artist is not peaches and cream coz so many times we would find ourselves stranded with not enough financial power to sustain ourselves, I mean James had to juggle between his performances with two jobs and fathering his child, and at times he would have to look after the baby and still had to produce fresh material while I went to work. I managed to find myself a part time job at Jimmy’s work as a receptionist, Jimmy was always supportive thank god for Jimmy coz without him I don’t know how we would have survived. James trusted Jimmy with his life especially after how he got me a job and sometimes would look after our baby when James and I were off to go search for the sunlight every home needs. We lived at a cottage in Westdene, at the back of some gay guy’s house who used to harass us with rent knowing very how hard we were trying.

Every time James and I had a fight, he would sleep over at Jimmy’s place in Brixton then Jimmy would come and cool off the heat, Jimmy became my brother, he reminded me of my father coz he was extremely sweet, he was like James’s better half.

As time grew wings, James was becoming more and more irresponsible, jobs were not coming his way, he was spending more time at home looking for a job and by then I was a full timer and bought myself a car, we took the baby to my parents in Pietersburg until everything was sorted out but nothing came right, It was sad to see the man I came to love drink himself to the ground. All he seemed to do was go out and have fun with Jimmy and then start fights with who ever was with him, on some nights I would have to call the police on him and Jimmy would bail him out. I would let him use my car when I was at work during the day, and I would sometimes find ladies underwear and open packs of condoms in the car, he was becoming uncontrollable but not to Jimmy coz he was the only person that could handle him. Jimmy’s girlfriend once told me that he was having an affair with some girl that lived up the road from our house, I didn’t want to believe it, and I didn’t leave him after the troubles he caused me coz I saw potential in him.

For months James and I would fight, until finally, I left him, I was enough. I went to live with Jimmy’s girlfriend in Melville and he would come with Jimmy hoping to sort things out but one can only push a person so far, shame, poor Jimmy was so heartbroken when all this happened and he tried bringing us together but it was too late. A couple of months after we broke up, Jimmy helped James get a job at his work as a music compiler, by then I had left and managed to work for a record label as the CEO’s personal assistant, James still stayed in Westdene, apparently Jimmy helped him out with the rent.
James cleaned himself up, his new job made him feel closer to his passion, he later had a slot on one of the shows, James had the personality and the voice, so the radio station started him small, he came to my work with Jimmy and kneeled down begging for my forgiveness, he cried that day, I will never forget that Wednesday. I moved back in with him and when I first arrived I just couldn’t believe it, the house was spotless clean with his guitar and his note pad on the bed, for the first time after the 5 years I have known him, I saw the man I fell in love with, I saw the father of my son in his eyes.

The night of my 27th birthday, James called earlier that day told me he’s taking me out and he told Jimmy the same thing but his girlfriend was out of town, he called again later in the evening and told me he was running late, Jimmy and I were waiting for him at the house. While we were waiting, Jimmy showed me the ring he bought for his girlfriend, he was ready for marriage? Wow that’s great I thought if only she was here, then James called and said we must meet him at some fancy restaurant in Melville. When we got there, it took us some time to locate parking I had never seen 7th street so busy, eventually we found parking and when we were walking towards the restaurant we see James’s car, by then he had bought himself a citi golf, and as we approach the car, Jimmy and I quickly realize something is happening inside, I swear I could feel my heart beat on my palm and my feet feeling heavier and heavier. We looked inside the car and could only make out a bit but I think we knew what was going on coz all the windows were misty, when we knocked on the doors and on the windows, to my surprise and shock, I just couldn’t believe it, James and Jimmy’s girlfriend.

Jimmy lost it, he broke the window and pulled James out half naked, at that moment I could feel Jimmy’s pain as he tore James’s pride in front of almost all of 7th. Just over ten years of loyalty, and James betrayed him like that, he was planning on marrying her. Jimmy went wild, his girlfriend tried stopping him but he threw her on the side, I was too hurt to interfere and some how I felt like James needed to be taught a lesson, but not to the point he is unconscious coz when the police came Jimmy threw me too, on the side of the road, nearly got hit by the police van.

From sweet to bitter, from man to animal, he was like an Elephant that had lost it’s bond with it’s master and didn’t care what was around it or what was damaged, anger and betrayal fueled Jimmy’s rage.

James passed away when he got to hospital, badly beaten. He once me told about you and about what happened, every father can forgive their sons. It took me some time to track you down, anyway, I wrote this to let you know what type of man he was and that he will be buried on the 20th of this month and I would really appreciate it if you came, so that his son can meet his grandfather. For whatever its worth he never stopped blaming himself for the accident that took his mother’s life, he wrote a beautiful poem and one of the lines said, ‘father, she forgives me, I need you, she loves me father please rescue me’.



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mama’s boy. By Maakomele Manaka

Across the scotching horizon of Joburg, Nthabi, my supposedly pride, silently sits next to a stranger about to dissolve into the seat of this Inter-Cape Bus as we leave for Cape Town. I sit so close yet so far, she changed seats after discovering that her cursed seat had a malfunction, it cant lean back, ok, I understand, 12 hours on the road sitting up can be a pain in the butt, literally, but she doesn’t have to switch from the entire section and leave me companionless, where is the love?.

As the Inter-Cape Bus slowly makes its way out of Joburg, we all sit anxiously anticipating the wet shores of Cape Town, we are all caught up in our little worlds, everybody minds their own business and ignores humanity, like before we parted, there was an irrelevant confusion with guy who forgot his suit case that posed no question mark to the white lady who sat next it, and when the black leathered suitcase screamed out of frustration, we left 15 minutes late. As our surroundings change from the shadow of city buildings to the fading orange sky across the open land, time sings a song of loneliness, Nthabi my disliked step mother, sits next to the stranger brother spilling news of tomorrow on a cell phone, that captures her punctual imagination when we set foot at the Convention Centre and experience the North Sea Jazz.

The night keeps opening its mouth wide and the world outside the bus keeps looking more and more like moving pictures changing characters from scene to scene then fading to black, then suddenly we stop, our first stop after 3 hours on the road.
Nthabi quickly jumps off like a child in ‘Toys-r-us’ during Christmas time, I step out side for a breather, I am still broke, art life is not easy, we were born from patience. As everybody gets in the bus, I take my last drag of my Styvie Blue and take my time up the stairs, sometimes being on crutches can be fun coz time is on my side. Back to my lonely seat where Nthabi now sits on the other end by the window making it extremely difficult for me to keep on loving her the way I did a day ago, the stranger brother now sits next to me offering some of his KFC, don’t get me wrong, but a man has his pride, so I refused even though my stomach was saying something different. The couple in front of me shares their chips so romantic that it reminds me of the reason why I embarked on this journey, to get closer to Nthabi. A group of Afrikaaner people at the back conversate like black people, so loud I can’t even hear my phone ring.
As hungry and irritated as I am, the only thing making sense is my pen and paper, and the light guiding me through this page, Snookie wont stop calling but the reception is so bad not even God can answer the priest’s prayers, and looking at my situation, I need to hear a comforting and loving voice.
As I imprison my self to the page, the world outside keeps getting more and more dark with no possible knowledge of which part of the country we trotting through, finally Snookie gets through, my savior, my Elvis. We talk about everything under the sun, funny how one can connect with people that one has no interest in making out with. After hanging up, I am reminded of the cold reality I placed myself in, coz the entire trip was build on feelings for a woman who is now spiritually separated from me with an innocent face buried in yesterday’s hope to free sensation, where is the love? I mean, I have known her for some time now, we could have switched seats, I don’t mind a rewarding pain, but no, she decided to dance to a different tune.

The bus keeps moving despite our feelings about the movie playing from the small screen in front of us, the romantic couple in front cuddle while the Afrikaaner group at the back keep behaving like soccer hooligans in a Pirates and Chiefs match. This is a love movie, dem, and she is into deep for me to enjoy it with her, so I keep my eyes busy and appreciate the glittering stars of Africa, if only they can shine this bright in Joburg.

Scenes from this movie remind me of how I met her, she was taking pictures of me during an interview I had on my book, and she seemed to be more interested than the journalist, later that day she called and the rest is history.

Finally we stop, this time only a few people jump off, people like me who feel neglected and besides, I am craving for a cigarette, the first drag drags me closer to the sky and the second pulls me back to the fact that I am on bus ride to Cape Town with no one to share my love with. Same routine, slowly walk up the stairs to my notepad, Nthabi turns and twists in her seat far from my warmth searching for a comfort zone, if open minded people’s relationships are like this, I rather tie my heart to a pole and let it freeze.

As soon as I reach my destination, I will question the past for today’s experience. The moving movie moves out of the sight of passengers who cant wait for sleep to knock them out. An explosion of laughter erupts from the ‘soccer hooligans’ at the back, in my reality there is nothing to laugh about, coz the Maroon moon is not evident to prove how I feel about this prolonging journey which is a waist of money and a new dimension to my world, a world of a young poet in love with an older lady who just terminated our binding contract, ha ha ha.

I am trying very hard to keep my pen releasing ink at the drop of my thoughts. The persistent presence of silence slowly makes its way in between the spaces of occupied seats, reaching the lower section of this bus. This night is so familiar, yes, I saw it last night before I slept, but the only difference is my feelings. In the dark every face looks the same. Neo and stranger brother telepathically connect as they both get sucked in by the demon of sleep, while the people of the Bus, sleep with dreams open to the naked eye, and orchestrating different sounds of fart.

I can’t stop writing, feels like I am a pregnant woman complaining about attention, well you know what, if I don’t take it all out on the page, who else will listen, even my fingers are feeling the pressure.

In the midst of my projection, we enter a small town that looks dry and demarcated, and as we drive pass the residences, a feeling of segregation and racial separation surfaces, the ghost of apartheid haunts us all. We stop again, but this time for two white people, who look like hikers, my crutches on the floor keep tripping people going to the toilet and making them look like fools in a strong Woodstock wind. And as we drive out of the sad town, the cold and lonely face of reality erupts, and the deafening silence grows.

Back on the road that darkens the path of the righteous common man and woman, but my faith lies in the pen to tell of how Eve tricked me to coming on this prolonging trip, Nthabi is no longer with me. My only love is Poetry, I think I will do her right now.

Somehow the road looks the same, but all roads do when the love is no more. We come by a pick up point and all I can see are pale faces of the “oppressor”, Nthabi loves to say, whom by some force now sits where I can see her, she tries to sleep but cant, and wakes up only to find me imprisoned by the page. The bus hostess announces her anticipation for dreams while I n I tries to stay awake and listen to sounds of the night, the outside world keeps looking more and more like a fading moving picture. I wonder how much these guys made? But anyway, money goes back to money noma kanjani.

No words blue pen? No more words to destroy the silence? and so I join and sing the depressing song of sleep.

“Cape Town was nice”, says Nthabi, whom was distant at the North Sea Jazz last night. Never the less, I had so much fun I wouldn’t trade it for any companionship on the bus ride back to Joburg, HOME. I was VIP baby, and that means everything on the menu is FREE, from expensive drinks to exotic platters and finally my favorite, all access. I drank myself to a point every woman was beautiful, but because I was alone, I had to slow down and slowing down got me panicking, some how Cape Town looked like Joburg, the weed must have been too good coz when I thought I saw Newtown in Kappa I freaked out, like that was enough, the maxi taxi guy that had dropped me off earlier became shady, coz when I called this guy, he kept on saying I am coming but in the background I could hear people saying, ‘don’t go, tell him a story’, Xhosa punk!!!.

I stayed with a friend of mine from my kasi, Nasi. Nasi has a reality of his own, he lives in Mowbrey, an area that has a silent racial tension, staring you in the face, the place feels like Windsor, not the one in England “the way of the world, England” but the one near Randburg in Joburg.                           

Today I bought a cheap Safe Way walkman, coz I was clear that when the silence shows its face in the bus, I will be far from her womb. We got on the bus later in the afternoon.
We drove through the night, Nasi gave me some music, some of that good Hip-hop ish. I am too young to go out with Nthabi, and so while she sits next to me on the lower deck of this Inter-Cape bus,  she keeps telling me how happy I make her feel but my feelings for her have changed, feels like I was never into her, and so, the walkman is my lover, the hip-hop in my ears is my close friend while the world sleeps, again.  

The night has swallowed all of us and only the unsettling smell of human gas is the no.1 enemy to my nostril. I wonder if I should sleep, do Poetry, or just let ‘Mother Nthabi’ comfort me. Just when darkness thought sleep is the ruler, a woman burning from refreshments she bought on our first stop, stands up camouflaged by the night and heads in the toilet, poor man has to move for her and sacrifice his rest, I guess its manners to do that, coz I went to a boys school so I know what that means.

‘This bus is farting,
  coz the engine is hurting
  we must stop coz must lungs are yearning…..’

“Mak why don’t you go to sleep”, Nthabi questions me, and I respond with a look of authority that mailed her back to P.O. Box sleep coz she disturbed me in a session with Poetry. I think Snookie likes me, and all I want is to taste her fruit but spending time with her on the phone evokes lost feeling of a youthful love, mmmh, interesting. Nthabi keeps moving, her eyes opening, but I think she is not aware of it, coz she looks a bit confused, I think we are stopping, NO, we are not !!!! The crave continues, walking on the philosopher’s dusty shoes.

While trotting through some small town, there’s a gentleman eager to stay alive, sits in vain drinking a Redbull determined not to sing the music of sleep, and that is the fight we nocturnal creatures face in this noisy bus with comfortable seats, which make the fight harder, but then again “ to deny your own impulse’ to deny the very thing that makes you human”.

Up front by the entrance there are steep stairs, and on the second or the third step lies a door, behind this mysterious door sticking out in the middle of a stair way, is where controllers of destiny reside and one them is a Capetonian junkie, every time the door opens this colored addict comes out looking suspicious and edgy, though he perfectly hides his wicked ways with a cunning and charming personality, the way he communicates with people-utla thusa kure ke motho wa batho-but one thing I don’t understand is his attention to the job, he never comes to check on ‘us’-The Clients. Nthabi keeps searching for the ultimate position of comfort, tried to sleep on my broad shoulders, clearly that didn’t work.

In the glittering black face of the night, we move so slow feels like the world hasn’t changed. The bus is tired, so we stop for some juice, while I juice my self too with some fire. When I walked back in the bus, the stench of Mosses burning bush gave birth to a cloud of eyes facing my direction, and the truth gave way to Nthabi’s non-verbal language turning towards the window and closing her eyes hoping to catch a dream floating on past waters of her experience the night before…mmmmh, I doubt it.

After driving for quite a while, out of the heavens, a brave man, one of ‘us’, went to the middle door and spoke for all of us out of desperation for service, then a couple of minutes after Jesus of the Inter-Cape spoke for his people, we ceased movement in the equator no man’s land and for what? Lord knows. This bus sounds unworthy though looks safe, I guess I will have to leave my fate to the hands of this Inter Cape to deliver us safely to the land of backstabbers and gold diggers, even Jesus is not safe in Johannesburg coz a man never walks alone, BUT, its home to many of us.                   

Its morning time on this Inter-Cape bus, so the first thing for me do now, is to put my phasers on stun coz the Star Fleet Enterprise is in a different universe altogether.
The controllers of this wrack are Capetonian coloreds for real, they are playing old blues music that one listens to when drunk on Sunday, and then by some celestial spirit we people of the bus managed to push our bored energies to the music players, and they stopped playing that shit, this is not your living room Mr. Bus Driver. Nthabi sleeps again but this time on my shoulders, I really don’t understand this woman, she keeps on reminding me of my space yet visits my personal space and then expect me to be cool, shit, I cant be cool, no matter how angry a man can be with a woman but when she offers her fruit, by all means we shall do what we do, EAT THAT FORBIEDEN APPLE.

The cool calm junkie wants to do business with me, coz he saw me blaze fire earlier on, and the two people on my right, a young girl and an older lady exchange sweet and delicate words of a strong friendship bond as if they have known each other for years, but they only met last night. In front of them is a guy who is reluctant to pass out but one way or another, we all have to sleep, and so the sleep catches up with him, just as he is about to find that perfect pozi of comfort in his early stages of sleep, the colored junkie disrupts him from heaven, and for what? just a light conversation, small talk, I would have told him bricks.

The two lovers behind me indulge themselves in cuddling. Anxiety in the bus is louder than the streets of the home we all anticipate to reach.

We stop again, the scotching sun pierces through the transparent skin of this bus caressed by morning dew, just bought myself a Redbul and some mineral water for Nthabi, who now rests her knowledgeable head on my shoulder, and again my deep jazzy blues love for her expands, I have a weakness for women, eish!

Moalady is concerned of how far am I from her womb……


Finally 2 digits, home is around the corner.

I have been siting for a while now, and feels like my bladder is going to betray me, I am too insecure to stand up and go to the bathroom, coz check it out, when you on crutches or have a disability of some sort, the only thing you have from people not staring with eyes of shame, and end up tripping you, is your personality and dignity.

No more stops, I can almost hear the hearts of people in this bus scream in jubilation. The colored junkie announces our arrival and praises the almighty for a safe and many unnecessary stops in the journey.

The gates of Park Station open its homey arms to our arrival as we slowly drive in, home is home, the blossoming smiles on the faces of people welcoming us reminds me of why I love this beautiful, yet godforsaken place.

We park, get off and then impatiently rush to the back of the bus to conceive our luggage, the two blessed drivers stand in front of us in relief calling out our code numbers for goods. My bag and Nthabi’s are shouted like my Latin teacher back in high-school, Mrs. Nelson, announcing who’s got the highest grade between the borders and the dayboys.

We quickly fly in only to be disappointed by Nthabi’s younger sister, Bridget, whom, was supposed to be here earlier than us but didn’t, and we all know how punctual Nthabi is when it comes to being on time. The fast movement of time gave birth to Nthabi’s panic coz she was running late for wok.

My work is where ever I am at……

Thank god for MOB, my boy. A couple of minutes after Miss Punctual bounces, Mobster comes through, ever so chilled and relaxed, bringing me back to my senses and we drive out.

Got home, my mother’s face had never been so beautiful, her hug reminded me of how much of a boy I still am, and my younger brother, all of a sudden looks taller then me, but I have only been gone for a day, I guess I grew up during the time I spent on the bus ride to Kapa, and on the way back I was a little bit older, and a little bit wiser. The bus ride opened my eyes to another world in me, I love my brother and mother, and even when time has rode on with my years, I will always be a baby, in my mother’s eyes. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

PolitBuro Sessions

PolitBuro Sessions: NUFF SAID!
By Mak Manaka

In the name of music
We move to the uncompromising sounds
Of the one-eyed General
Young and old
We soldier on
Jiving free from race politics
Our nightmares are swallowed
By the delicate orders
Of urban rhythms.
On the dance floor we are colourless
Fearless in the eyes of Armageddon
Holding hands
Like lovers in a storm
And lonely hearts
Have the Dj as their companion,
The poet recites our smiles
While eclipsing passion
With tears of joy
And married men move with the night
Despite of time
Everybody is out tonight
Even the shadow boxing junkies
With fingers that have gone yellow around the edges
And also the Newtown rastas
With Jamaican tongues
“Bless mi Lord
            Fire still.....seen?”
Politburo is our own multicultural platter
With more than just music on our plates
We sang the night in colours of unity
Though some tip-toed across the dance floor
Staggering and shouting the lord’s name
Coz they cant handle waters of Babylon           
And so they babbled on,
Stumbling and mumbling sounds of Armageddon
Shikisha was another planet in Newtown
Pieces of Politburo can be traced back
To the first sound a child makes after birth
Its all love baby,
Its the Nuff Said Kollective, my love
So lets a take ride down memory lane
With Tidal Waves jamming in the background
Coz some memories are hard to let go
They exist only in the centre of our souls
Untouched by circumstance.
The Politburo is me and you
That loud music of pure peace
At the end of a Rainbow.

“My pain is deep and my hurt is wide”
Maakomele Manaka

On the 4th of every month, I drive my grand aunt to a community hall in Zone 1 Diepkloof to receive her pensioner’s grant. The first time I went there, we were late and almost didn’t get her money, because after the pensioner’s grant line comes the child support grant, and that’s when I got a shock of my life.

At first I thought these ladies came for a modeling or a Soweto TV audition, because the line was longer than that of a bank at the end of the month, and a long line of young women can only mean one thing, beauty pageants or Pop Idols, but I was so wrong.

So after a couple months doing the same routine with my grand aunt, I met with a young beautiful woman whom I had been seeing there for quiet some time. This girl and I began to chat as she waited in a line that seemed as if it would never end, while I waited for my grand aunt. I would leave before she even reaches half way the pay point. She was smart, articulate and kind, but what I couldn’t understand was why couldn’t she get her self a job, instead of waiting for long hours just to receive R250 from the government.

As I looked around, I saw many young beautiful black women waiting in long queues from as early as 9am joining the pensioners line just so they can get their monthly pay, and so many of them were young.

Is the rate of unemployment in this country perpetuating teenage pregnancy?

The South African Institute of Race Relations found that the rate of unemployment is high among black woman at 63 percent, between the ages of 15 and 24.

What gets to me, is what is a 15 year old doing at work when they should in school?

South Africa statistics show that in the second quarter of this year, 25.7 percent of South Africans were unemployed, which meant that a quarter of the country’s population was out of work, and yet the National Youth Development Agency has time to throw parties that cost more than the amount of unemployed young people in the country.

The more I got to chat with this young lady, who was now my friend, I couldn’t help but ask, “so, what do you do with the money?” then to my surprise, she says that she is saving some of it to go back to school, and then kills my popular belief that, teenage mothers are abusing the states money.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said the right to social security was "entrenched in our Constitution, and we have been very conscious that our social assistance programme does provide a basic safety net for millions of South Africans, especially young, aged and the disabled."

Although, in some parts of the country, teenage mothers have been known to abuse the states money, according to Pretoria’s Heartbeat Center, an organization assisting abused children. The center said that social workers had rescued township children who had been neglected by their young mothers.

The stats also show that unemployment and high increase of teenage mothers varied considerably among race groups, there are more young black mothers who are jobless than colored, Indian and white young South Africans.

57 percent of young black South Africans do not work, while 47 percent of Colored people and 23 percent of Indian people are unemployed, and only 21 percent of young white South Africans do not have jobs. I cant help but think if these rates have something to do with what young people are being taught at school, I mean, are our education institutions providing our youth with the necessary skills that will make them employable? As suppose to dropping out, getting knocked up and expecting the government to pay the bills.

It hurt me to learn that, this young woman from the grant pay point in Diepkloof, was a single teenage unemployed mother, and was doing the best she can, looking for jobs and coming up short, because she dropped out of school during her pregnancy and the father of her child wants nothing to do with them. I cant forget hearing her uttering Bobby McFarrin’s words, saying ”My pain is deep and my hurt is wide” because there was tension at home with her mother and step father, she now lives with her grand mother.

Since South Africa herself is still young, I cant help but notice that many of her children are being raised by children.

Though it comforts me to know that, there are some young people who are concerned about their future regardless of what they may have inherited in the past because we create our own future.