There’s no English diction to articulate blackness


Izityilelo Zobuze, directed by Mbongeni Nomkonwana and Lwanda Sindaphi, 4 October 2014, Artscape, Cape Town.


The journey for each person is different. iShow ithetha ngathi, izitory abantu bano’relater kuzo, zibaakhumbuze izinto zabo abazaziyo, itsho neShow Izityilelo zobuze, ayityileli thina qha”

- Mbongeni Nomkonwana

I know, but there, I said it… the English vocation is limited to capture the complexities and nuances of being black – freely, for its requirements lay squarely on blackness being seen through whiteness. It has no space to pronounce the poetics of space without making black bodies exotic or romantic.

I am reluctant to write about what I witness on a coldish Saturday afternoon at Artscape, because I fear to misrepresent the individuals who were part of Izityilelo Zobuze (Nakedness in Revelation). Written text has a way to linger longer than intended, because words never ail – and I fear that… maybe it’s because I come from a lineage of oral tradition…I truly don’t know.

I was excited to be seated and witness a POETRY-cum-MUSIC-cum-PLAY directed by Mbongeni Nomkonwana and Lwanda Sindaphi with a cast of young performative creatives like themselves. How refreshing!‘Izityilelo Zobuze’ is contextualised as an exploration of the concept of circumstantial inheritance committed to a personal and intimate poetic memory and interrogation – a journey with Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement, a narrative that fuses the complexities of opposing realities and the inevitability of newness that is and is yet to be.

There we were, taken into a trance-like state between time and space – signed, sealed and delivered to ourselves. We had become transient beings, hustled through the musical combustion of the drum, keyboard, guitar and voices. My God! The voices, the singing voices were haunting. Igubu, igubu, igubu awakening and yes! We have been listening!

Ripped into shreds and delicately sewn back by poetic negotiations of the Self and ‘Other’, the private and political, and yes of course, the spectacle. And they echoed these words:

smoking pipe dreams with umbilical cords
because these nightmares are still embroided in us
everything that resembles the past agitates us
a table was prepared in anticipation of a big celebration
holding spoons forks and knives waiting to feast in unison
blood as gravy
hustle an occupation
black sons
sihlaba kubuhlungu
thina bantu bantsundu sizizixhwitha ntamo ezisoloko zikhogozele
jonga izindlu zeApartheid ziqelelene – ubuye ujonge eziDemocracy zixinene
young lions who never turned vegetarian unlike these cats we have in parliament
who eat carrots and dip their hands in gravy
give this country a proper name because it is fumbling in the wrong direction

Acquisitioned to call upon our forgotten selves, to awaken from our national amnesia, to love… who said black bodies have no romance? They were wrong! In the midst of socio-political explosion, rites of passage and religious rituals – there it was, the transference of love and romance, the inevitable desire to connect… and yes! They praised woman – from mother to lover, they searched and praised HER!

Nomkonwana and Sindaphi… I wanted to scream their names and ask – how did you weave this amount of blackness without it smelling of violent manure or poverty porn? How were you able to position yourselves without sacrifice? There is no spectacle here – go on home if you were hoping to watch black bodies waiting for somebody to save them. There is no spectacle here – there is no one to save here, no missionaries allowed. These black bodies are not for sale!

Igubu, igubu, igubu – liyandigulisa igubu. Igubu, igubu, igugu – ndiyaloyika igubu. I will never forget this chant!

I walked out having changed my ideas about HOPE, thinking of Dathini Mzayiya’s painting Peace is Dead – I disagree now my old friend, these kids might have something here and for now I will call it HOPE and IMAGINATION (Imagine A Nation).


Lingua6 Lingua5 Lingua2 Lingua1

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