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Art & African news


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Begging for her freedom

She had wide and broad shoulders

That carried us all

During the roaring and ferocious winds

Out in the cold all alone.

That was my mother.

 

She fought and won wars

That were too complex for her.

While all those she trusted

Turned their backs on her

And alone and lonely she conquered.

 

Today in her sleep

Those who never dared to face her

Still torment her name

As they cannot touch her soul

And in her slumber, she still fights back.

 

A woman is a rock indeed

That stands still in the face of challenges.

With her mouth permanently shut

I can still hear her war cry

And it pierces deep inside me.

 

Can you let her rest?

For she has very little energy left

After facing all the wars on her own.

Let her enjoy the eternal peace

And please, afford her time to prepare for our inevitable arrival.

 

 


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You may be gone but…

Every time I go to sleep

I see your round wrinkled face

Covered in a smile,

Though you never had a reason to laugh.

 

Every time I listen

I hear your sweet soothing voice

Telling me to march on

Because the land of honey was near.

 

Every time I think of you

I see all your toiling

Meant to put a plate on our laps

Even if it meant scavenging like a stray dog.

 

Every Time I hear your name

I confirm that you were a brave woman

Who gave all her life

For the love and life of us all.

 

And though you are gone  

I feel you live among your grandchildren

Even though they are yet to meet you

And feel your ever present and endless love.


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The last prayer

Take me back

To my mother’s womb

Where there is warmth,

Happiness and love.

 

What was once my home has been strafed.

Flying bullets have blinded my eyes and blocked my tiny ears.

I hear nothing but wailing children

Yelling for their mothers and father prostrated on the ground.

 

The powerful have spoken

All I can do is duck now and again

To save my only possession –

My innocent soul.

 

Mortars and smoke

Hide the sky from me,

But not me from You

For Your eyes, can see through the thickest darkness.

 

Come for me now

I see no light

It’s midnight darkness,

And hope is what I lack.

 


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Song of the condemned

It’s been years waiting

For the huge brute.

To do his only job

Of demonstrating his prowess

Amid women’s ululation.

 

“On your knees & keep your neck straight,” he would say.

In his hand a razor- sharp sword shall turn and twist.

My heart shall dance against chest.

Though fallible like me he holds my life

Or lack thereof in his hands.

 

A pitch- black cloth shall descend over my head

Preventing me from seeing

His cruelty.

But still I will see my way to Him.

I will see what they cannot see.

 

The man or is he a real man?

Will swing his sword once above my head

And once against my neck.

Yes, the long-awaited moment will have finally come

Turning the ground blood red.

 

Freedom comes in many ways.

I will strut Home and free.

Leaving them guilty

For they know they are no God

But sinners like me.

 

 


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SABC’S 90 percent local content policy is off tune

Imagine yourself stuck in a slow afternoon traffic and you are tuning from one SABC radio station to the next. All you hear is the same old kwaito song being played in all the stations you tune into. This is what the 90 percent local content SABC policy might do to you.

Imposed a few months ago, the policy stipulates that the national broadcaster must ensure 90 percent of the music it plays is local while the foreign content is limited to 10 percent.

The policy is laced with confusion or lack of clarity. It is not clear whether the policy means 90 percent of the programme or 90 percent of the songs played per programme should be local. What does local content mean? Is it music that must be local or the artist? Would a song sung by a Zimbabwean artist based in South Africa be considered local? Perhaps the clarity would come as the policy unfolds.

The view that has been taken by SABC stations suggests that out of ten songs played in any programme nine must be local. How this quota was arrived at remains a mystery.

According to the SABC, the policy will boost the local artists so that they earn a living from their work unlike what was happening before where international artists were prioritised over the local musicians.

Nothing has been said about the quality of the local content. And this does not imply that local music is of inferior quality, but the truth is that it is not the best in the world either. While SA artists are singing praises to those who propagate this policy, such as the former SABC Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, listeners are already being bombarded with one and the same songs played in different radio stations over and over again.

Whether this policy will produce the intended results is still unclear. What is clear though, is that the policy will achieve some short-term benefits. The artists will get more air play and in the process they will earn more royalties for their music. Even the old songs will be recycled in order to meet the quota as the country does not have enough stock to meet the new demand of the local music quota?

In the long run, though the picture does not look good. The possibility is that even the beneficiaries of this arrangement might pay a heavy price.

“You do not become a champion in any area or sport by preventing your opponents from challenging you as SABC is doing,” says one of the local music legends.

To improve and compete, the stage must be open to all those who want to take part, local or international. Besides SA, as one of the countries in Africa and the world, has a responsibility to contribute to the development of the rest of the African continent. In return, this country also benefits from other nations of the world where its music is also played. Closing local borders to the artists of the world is likely to cause more harm than good.

Policies that encourage narrow nationalism are not adding value to the young democracy. This country cannot afford to be an enclave that is part of the world when it suits us and then turn around to be a standalone unit when we are driven by selfishness.

Elimination of competition will not make SA artists more competitive. But it will create a false sense of belief that they are the best. In reality, they will only be competitive among themselves.

One wonders if the local artists who support this policy would, one day, like to hear their music being played in other countries.

This policy comes at the time when SA is encouraging social cohesion and the integration of foreign nationals into the SA society which would benefit both SA and foreign nationals in the country. But this off tune policy flies in the face of integration attempts.

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