Text by Lebo Mashifane
Photos by Tumi Nkopane
The practicals of our PhotoXP have been exciting, they got even more exciting when we went to Joburg CBD. On Saturday 14 May 2016, we shot a concert hosted by 1Future. It was also based on the event we had attended the previous day at Constitutional Hill, Not Yet Free. The artists that were at Con Hill had an exhibition at Bassline. The exhibition was then followed by a concert and a live interaction of visual arts by Samson Mnisi. Both exhibition and concert were a collaboration of South African and American artists, Masello Motana, Angelica Vox, Samson Mnisi, Cannon Hersey, Martin Machapa, and many more…
There were amazing local bands such as Brothers of the Movement giving us spiritual mantras in their music. These flamboyant musicians come on stage wearing leggings. Leggings are currently worn by women in general society and here we see a band of 5 men rocking colorful leggings on stage. Despite their vigorous appearance, their vocal and instrumental performance was great. YJOH!!!!
No words can explain the feeling I experienced at that concert. I moved until I became motionless. I watched, listened and felt my body dance with goosebumps. I realized that my body can’t move the way my heart desired.
The programme director was a strong woman, Masello Motana, who believes in rights for women and appreciates music. ”6 decades of music” she says as she introduced mam’ Masuka to the stage. Masello schooled us with History, Geography, Linguistics, etc.
She conducted lessons at a concert, how enlightened is that?!!!
She spoke about Amharic, the oldest spoken language in Africa. She engaged with the crowd, asking questions and sending the mic to the audience for responses. She even had a posing competition, bringing some attendees on stage to pose – like a beauty contest (things that are part of activities in schools).
The line up of performances was breathtaking. Dorothy Masuka takes us to reality from Mzukwana (back in the days) when Black South Africans were faced with racial segregation. As a black woman, her music sends messages of women liberation. The crowd was young but knew mam’ Dorothy’s music and they enjoyed singing along.
There was another powerful sister on the line-up, Thandiswa Mazwai. She was in a collaboration with BLK JKS (how deep can she be??) this time she came with a band and bang of aero-dynamic digits distort sound. She was dressed like an extraterrestrial being only to be performing in collaboration with a band that was also part of the concert’s lineup from the beginning. It wasn’t like the band was there as backing support band for music, no. It’s not like bringing your own mic to the concert, no, it’s deeper than that. Deeper to the sense that it’s like you are wearing an outfit that changes to the same color as the lights of the concert stage management setting. It’s like you are the lecturer that gets to lecture the students and the lecturers. To the point that this lecturer is even the lecturer of lecturers when the university’s curriculum or syllabus changes as a whole. The kind of lecture that invites lecturers to learn about their work. Like being a trainer of trainers as well as trainees of the trainers.
The universal language of music was well received by all through dance – regardless of “lifetime” of being a black lesbian or a white heterosexual. There we were one through art. The sound of guitars and how they were strung was something out of this world!!! Where music was the form of a universal message… Or a calling to a meeting where the message will be delivered.
Boom Shaka was there as well. It was my first time to see them perform live and Lebo is not with them anymore.
My dream was to dance for Lebo Mathosa, I wanted to finish school before I could concentrate on being a dancer for her. She was that woman that completes me. Even to her passing, I was able to receive it with acceptance of nature; I knew to wait for the next lifetime to reconnect with her soul in a new form or both of us in a new lifetime of a new form. Like the love of a mother and a child… the love of a lover with a lover with mutual love for the lover, faithful and willing to let nature be the separator. Like accepting that before you raise a butterfly, you need to raise a cocoon. A cocoon that will bring a worm before it gives you the love of your LIFE-time’s eternity. Like in that sense, I accept to lose her as a lover by being in a “mother-daughter” relationship.
This concert became an embrace of good memories and eventually realising other things. Like being taught by a dead person through spiritual telepathic contact with your soul. like they said things to you when they were still alive. they told you something serious or taught you a lesson but you just laughed and missed the lesson when you thought they are missing the joke. only to find that you missed the intensity of the depth of the actual message in what they said to you. that’s how human end up with “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone” because you realise only after a person is dead that you had to pay attention. Then you start witnessing REGRET…GRUDGE.
But the experience for me didn’t get me there. Instead it got me to the realizing the actual emotion within the actual message… grasping what was above-mentioned as “intensity of the depth of the actual message”. It’s like getting the joke eventually, when it was initially intended to be a joke in that instance of the instant (moment), moment in that lifetime. and the response is laughter. with no regret held. embrace even after the loss in physical existence.
My dream to dance for Lebo was the love I had for her in this lifetime. I love her to that point that I submitted myself to embrace her with my ability. When she died my mother was the first person to inform me but I didn’t believe her. My mother is the person that I listen to the most in my life that I never disobey or disbelieve anything she says. She is that lecturer in my life, but that instant I disbelieved what my mom told me. Like a mother when they inform her that her child had died, she gets in to a trans and starts to jump… jump to say, oh Lebo will be back soon from school, I need to prepare for my child when she gets back home from her next day that leads to the teachers at her school praising her. Certifying her as an ambassador, a black child in a white and coloured surroundings. Like saying that you organize even the most organized people.
Lebo Mathosa was my love. And her passing made me a week person that fell alone. Like cheating on your true lover. Just because I lost her in this lifetime didn’t mean that I was supposed to love another. I knew better but I failed myself. But like the prodigal son, I returned back home and find it still there, waiting for me. Like knowing what you HAVE while it’s still here. Then you appreciate more and love it unconditionally. In this lifetime I slid… I fell in love with Thandiswa. She was like the rebound that I eventually really fell in love with.
The concert gave me an opportunity to confront them both, Lebo and Thandiswa. This is where I got the “intensity of the depth of the actual message” and accepted it well as part of nature of unconditional love or agape love.
Not yet uhuru are words that still hold truth. Like that lesson that contained “intense depth of the message it conveyed.” Boom Shaka opens with the song “Be Free”, this song is more that a decade old however it stands relevant today. This song holds power and answers. I quote a lines from the song “…I’ll find a place where true love lives. I’ll be free from the pain, free from these chains that are binding me…” This song gives us a solution to FREEDOM of Not Yet Free – and the solution is TRUE LOVE.
Then things got very interesting when they sang “Bambanani”, it has a isi Zulu into followed by Lebo singing. The intro is “Ayi hlale phansi ibamb’umthetho” which means sit down and obey. This requires the performers to sit down or kneel. Boom Shaka, which now consists of 3 members – Thembi, Theo and Junior after the passing of Lebo. Theo and Junior knelt at the intro of the song, while Thembi laid down. When Lebo’s part entered, Thembi rose up to sing it. It was a reflection of her raising Lebo from the dead. Even after all these years, Thembi is still flexible, she can raise her leg up high, jump up and down and dance in hills. Did I mention that she is still as hot as ever?
I realized how Boom Shaka invented Nae Nae, twerking and can I be safe in saying Beyonce is a replica of Lebo. Lebo existed as the diva that dresses and dances the way Beyonce has been doing lately. Lebo did it from the 90’s, Beyonce appeared years later. The blond hair, revealing outfits, fit thighs, stockings and hills, etc.
The Boom Shaka song Thobela is danced similarly as ‘Nae Nae’. The Boom Shaka song It’s About Time has a part of the dance where they twerk. These are dances from the 90’s, imagine how creative these people have been.
When Boom Shaka came on stage, I stopped shooting and lived in the moment. I was having fun dancing and observing all the realisations that came to me. We were in the frontline, in da Bassline, reggaefied, jazzified, it was rocking, kuze kuse.
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