// Makhafula Vilakazi 's album is available on all streaming platforms fam //
“Concerning Blacks, those who shook the hand that hung them”
Saturday, the 3rd of November 2018 marked his first solo show in five years: "a well curated expression of the quotidian blended with the ideological that concerns blackness in the settler republic." It was a complex mourning and rebellion that places the onus on blacks to do with their condition and lives as they see fit, staged at the Joburg Theater.
Fast-forward to Tuesday the 6th of April 2021 (Formerly known as Founder’s Day, which marks the day Jan Van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape from the Netherlands), the Kasi Poet & Conveyer - Makhafula Vilakazi - synonymous with selling out his shows and being one of the many inspirational pillars within the poetry community, finally released his poetry album but before we dive in, now would be an ideal time for you to engage with with the following video based on the title track. This is not a teaser, but an experience that's worth the 3 minutes and 3 seconds of your life fam.
I told you! The opening line to his title track speaks volumes, while setting the pace for more thought provoking images that most of us can resonate with. The synergy between the contemporary dancer's interpretation of this piece and the poet's words coupled with melodic sound-waves from the piano, is what I would describe as my favorite food for thought. I'm sure you also noticed how Langi Ramashi's meticulous movement in this video, the setting with black statues of kids surrounding her, and the fact that the video is in black and white are some of the significant factors that compliment the different facets of the poem, as Makhafula vividly juxtaposes the lives and perceptions of black people. I still can't get over the opening line fam.
“Gods of Africa begging for breath” is one of the many statements that stood out for me in this piece as well. This is probably because it's a reality that still exists on our continent, and the irony of it all is that the descendants of some of these gods are also begging for breath in foreign lands, where white knees rest on black necks but wait, I think there's already enough attention there so let's bring it back home. Yes, this poem along with the other poems definitely hit home, so why not. The closing line - “Concerning blacks, Who are Venda, Zulu, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa who are everything that divides them” - definitely made me curious with regards to the choice of words used here. If you're like me, I'm sure this ending made you reflect on our frequent struggles that we fail to deal with, ranging from Xenophobia/Afrophobia (not just the incidents that make the headlines or trend on social media), Tribalism and Colourism. This conclusion kind'of serves as reminder of the divisions (not just the physical ones) that exist and add to the complexity of Black lives on this continent, but mostly in South Africa - the so called "Rainbow Nation".
The way Makhafula sees it, our problems as Black people started on the 6th of April 1652. When we speak of this Black, he doesn’t have a notion of what being Black was before colonization or before white people came. He doesn’t have a sense of pre-colonial history so when he speak of Blacks, he refers to post-1652 blacks. On this note, it's quite evident that his work is not just purely creative writing for the sake of painting narratives on different subjects, but also an expression of some of his experiences in life as a Black person.
The other 8 tracks carry their own potency, with "Somdanger Instagram" being not as provocative as some of the others but still highlighting some of the social media habits that have become the norm, as well as the typical dilemmas that some young men find themselves in when it comes to dealing with the complexities of love. The sarcasm and humor used in this piece make it very relatable or at least trigger familiarity. One of my favorite poems in the album has to be "Is'cathulo esibovu ft. Koketso Poho". The emotions, the voices and imagery create a 12 minute (yes, 12 minutes) experience that will definitely make you question some of the realities that we've been conditioned to embrace as normal. This piece could literally be an EP on it's own, and that's what makes it powerful enough to keep you engaged for that long. I won't get into detail on the other pieces because I'm hoping that what I've said and shared so far will inspire you explore the album further.
What really stood out for me in the album as a whole was his diction (not only in English), which speaks directly to the target audience, and his use of imagery , metaphors and allusions just to name a few of the poetic devices. He definitely did justice to the album by ensuring that his voice gave the necessary emotions to each great piece of spoken words, and not just remain dependent on the devices. With this being said, I would like to send a big shout out to everyone who featured in the album & the producer "Side Effex", because everything and everyone blended so well. Shout out to the graphic designer for the conceptual and dope digital artworks as well.
"Concerning blacks" is an invitation to Blacks to further introspect into their being and condition. The complexities of Black Life are weaved into these poems that explore these nuances, and this is one of many reasons why this album is not only a "must listen" for now, but will definitely be an important piece of history in the future for the next generations to consume, learn from and engage with. Make sure you follow Makhafula Vilakazi on social media, check out his site (& purchase some of his cool merchandise) & purchase/listen to the full album here (or click image below).