3/22/07

REVIEW


Y MAGAZINE IS DEAD - AN EULOGY AND OBITUARY

The worst disadvantage of living longer than others is that you are always the one to mourn, read eulogies, write obituaries and bury them. And it doesn't help if you have fallen deeply in love with them over the years. Often, you feel that South Afrika would be a better place if there was a police unit established especially to deal with people who kill the things other people love. This special unit could be headed by Jacob Zuma due to the love in his heart. Obvioulsy Arno Castens would be charged for 'killing' Springbok Nude Girls, Ernst Middendorp for murdering the winning spirit in Chiefs' players and Nelspruit blogger Kwaki for assassinating Cupid.

However my point today is not about people like former Fidentia boss Mr. J Arthur Brown who is accused of killing the dreams of thousands of orphans, assisted, allegedly by BEE (Black Elite Elevated) honcho Danisa Baloyi. Today I'm writing about Kabomo Vilakazi and Ymagazine. Most of you are going to start asking, 'who is Kabomo?' and I'm very sad to report that the easiest definition I've gathered from people I used to ask before I got to know him was 'Lebo (Mashile)'s boyfriend'. I felt, damn, isn't it so bad when as a man you are defined by the famous woman you date(d)? Reason enough to work towards own identity.

For those who, like me a few years ago started asking questions, when they told me about Brown (his other name), Kabomo has hustled his way to the top job of editing Ymagazine.
Kabomo the hustler is supposed to edit the country's premiere youth magazine but what he's doing is to kill it (Lauryn Hill would have crooned 'killing (it) softly'). I'm not the one to throw wild accusations around unless I can back them with admissible evidence. My facts are two in this case but I'll share with you one and challenge you to dispute it.

# 1. I started writing letters to the 2nd issue of Ymag back in the days under the pseudonym Bill of Rights from Mpumalanga. It was around the time that 99.2 was the in-thing and every youth worth their rounded balls wouldn't wanna be caught dead listening to Metro or Jacaranda FM. Ymag came to fill the void that was created when many magazines started niching and was edited amongst others by Sbusiso 'The General' Nxumalo. The brother had an eye and ear for youth detail (whatever that means) and wrote in a manner that told you Yfm is going to be the benchmark radio station and Ymag the written voice of the youth in the same breath as SL spoke to white college types and wiggas. Well, as a matter of principle and birds of a feather flocking together I subscribed and was given Snoop Dogg,s The Game is to be Sold not to be Told CD, his first after his Death Row release and with Master P's No Limit Records.

It was a whack 21 track delivery but I wasn't complaining since I got it for free.

I continued engaging with S'bu and the bunch and started contributing to its Khuluma Society guest column, receiving rebuke from neo-colonialists and broadening my own scope. Every second issue of Y had something from me, go and verify. It was an issue filled with diverse youth interests without narrowing them down to entertainment. Y was as rounded as Lil Kim's ass.
Then Itumeleng Mahabane came aboard and blessed it with his stay. I'm not the one to chase details of circulation from ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) but I swear circulation increased dramatically to about 15000. And there I was again, introducing 'kaffir' as a valid substitute South Afrikan youth should adopt instead of 'nigger'. There I was protesting that 'nigger' is borrowed from French while 'kaffir' from Arabic and that while they might have different original connotations (check wikipedia) we are closer to Arabia than France. It was in an article called You Can Call Me Kaffir. I was arguing that boers found so much fun in darkies cringing at the mere mention of 'kaffir' and that darkies should use it so often and wear it on their brow like Isithwalandwe to mitigate its venom. And of course Itumeleng gave me the platform and threw it once or twice in his editorial. That's the Y I loved and married.

Itumeleng left for greener pastures at Business Day as we were soon stuck with a team led by Thami Masemola. There I was again arguing that the youth today were dying like flies on a DOOMed day because they had drifted away from culture and tradition. They titled my piece Death Doom Disaster and the African Renaissance. The editorial Trinity was fine because Ymag was still punchy, with shots of clubscenes and interviews with wannabees like Speedy, Ishmael and Nestum. The Yfm element remained strong, which I found to be rather the undoing of the brand given that most of the youth it was claiming to represent were scattered in towns like Nelspruit, Polokwane, Bloemfontein, Durban, East London and needed a voice that took into consideration their aspirations and localities. But Y was (still is) a product of Yired and whatever youth felt aggrieved by under-representation needed to start their own Rolling Stone and distribute to their friends and cousins.

After Thami came Siphiwe Mpje who did his thing as a Features Editor and departed. One good thing about Siphiwe is that he is a respected editor amongst some quarters, surely quarters where I don't belong. He was in a way aloof as an editor who has to liase with freelance writers (the backbone of every magazine). He would tell me to send ideas and never get back to me. At the end of the month he would bring out a predictable mag that featured a lot of wannabee writers who always found a way of messing up the brand. Siphiwe later left and last we checked he was editing some radar-less junk called Bl!nk (who it was targeting remains a course for first year marketing students) published by clue-less folks. It claimed to speak for black men, well I'm young, black, man and fall into LSM 7-10, but it was not speaking to me. (Watch for the decapitation of this celebration of mediocrity next time)

And then Rudeboy Paul Mnisi was brought in from Kamikaze Heat (or is it Harambe?)to edit Ymag. Now Rudeboy is a known radioman who is famous for his much publicized consiousness. He is a patron of the Politburo Sessions, together with S'bu and Sfiso Ntuli. He came aboard to edit and managed to hold the brand up high. I felt I still related to the mag and true to my style of relativity I wrote a piece for Khuluma Society called A Sermon for the Youth. The Rude one liked it and published it. He had separate inspiring interviews with storyteller Gcina Mhlope and the late Brenda Fassie that provided insight into the lives of the two prolific women.

Then for a reason known to some manager at Yired, Paul's co-presenter on his radio show Lee Kasumba was given the editorship. Lee actually managed to hold the fort together because she didn't try to change a lot of things or be overly-innovative. Her problem, same as Paul's was that they were forever in the pages of the mag. Though it toned down on a lot of good stuff I should admit that I stopped buying Ymag and felt I no longer related to it from where I was sitting, which is the same position I was when I was writing for the best years of the mag. I only saw a mag moving from probing to plastic. I saw the honourable wedded wife becoming a whore. I saw the healthy athlete compromised by a bout of steroids. And I distanced myself from the failure, only occasionally paging through at Exclusive Books to read Kgafela oa Magogodi's column.

All the nice moneywise column by Kwame Moloko and phly car reviews by Thami lost the spunk. I filed for divorce and we split my estate, half my rib, half my heart and I said Au Revior. In the background I could hear Bryan Adams singing Summer of '69 as I turned my back on the marriage, "those were the best days of my life", he sang. Nobody loves you like I do darkchild.

Then a few months down the line word hit the streets that the mag has a new editor. I'm thinking geniuses in the calibre of Itumeleng, The General and Siphiwe, when miracle of miracles it's Kabomo Vilakazi. Don't get it twisted, I've got nothing against the brother apart from not having seen him in the trenches and having had to find out about his existense under the shadow of a celebrated poet. I didn't remember Kabomo writing because this here journalism facade is not like soccer where you can be a successful coach without having played professional soccer (remember Jeff Butler?). In here it's cut-throat, dog-eat-dog and you better not smell of Dogmor otherwise we'll chew you and spit you out since we don't swallow skunks. You are worth your last byline comrade, unless you edit True Love.

I bought the skeletal Feb/Mar 2007 issue, flipped through the pages and like Tupac once sang, "I shed so many tears". First; it's now coming out six times a year - how sad. It's suffering from a terminal disease as it had lost weight and moved to 79 pages without a spine - how pathetic and Kabomo's picture appears three times in the mag - how self indulgent.

Worse, Kgafela's insightful column is no longer there. Khuluma Society is history, Kwame's column was buried without erecting a tombstone, car reviews are John Doe in a government morgue and the brand is on life-support. I felt sad, not because I popped R15,95 for the junk but for the voice that is being silenced with every printed issue. Ymag, like Nas' take on Hip-Hop, - is dead (RIP).

I am brave to allege that the same way Tupac killed Thug Life, Snoop Dogg (Dogg Pound), Mandoza (Chiskop), Dr Dre (NiggazWithAttitude) and Beyonce (Destiny's Child), Kabomo is killing Ymagazine, whether kabomo or not. He is killing it because of his obsession with validation. Having poet Napo Masheane write a piece on a column called SoapBox is not on because she is Lebo's bosom buddy and not a writer.
Having poet Kojo Baffoe interview Nhlanhla Mafu-Nciza is unbecoming because Kojo is part of the same circle of friends with Napo and Lebo which Kabomo completes. Providing the two with slots can only mean nepotism, maybe payback for having the brother's back through stormy romantic seas. It's not on broer, we can see through you.

And now we have a Ymag that's all pictures (catalogue) and blurbs (captions), no content. A Ymag with Kabomo on page 2 introducing Sex as a theme. "The begining of a new year customarily fucks with me", he writes - rich language coming from an editor of a youth magazine. Then there's an interview with DJ Euphonik who unashamedly says, "I'm off to Cat's Pyjamas in Melville with friends and whoever we are going to sleep with". This is said in 2007, the age of Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome and need to respect women as human beings and not sex objects. And these comes from a man who is a role model to kids who'll decide, 'well, it's not bad to fuck around'. The truth is, some deejays are today dead because they fucked around with their anacondas. And the editor's job is to remove such gibberish and maintan social responsibility to the reader.

Then on page (not numbered) Yspotting, Kabomo is here again with S'bu of TS Records and Kgomotso. Then again on a column he created called Kabomo on Purpose where he sounds soapier than Dr Phil (Kabomo means deliberate in one of the indigenous languages). Are you a celeb or an editor broer?

The biggest mistake made by most black editors across different magazines is that of thinking that the youth can only relate to themselves through an overdose of celebritica. There's too much Kabelo and S'bu in this issue.

I, with the powers vested on me as the self-appointed coroner of magazines and newspapers today declare Ymagazine dead. It's just a matter of time as Kabomo is changing its diapers while feeding it beetroot and African potato while denying it its supply of AntiRetroViral drugs. Its CD4 count is at a single digit and the next word to say is in Hebrew, 'Kaddish'
PS* I have received inspiring feedback on this piece from Kojo Baffoe and Anonymous which helped me shape it further. It's always welcome when as writers and commentators we see the need to feed off each other and highlight some discrepancies with any picture that might be projected to the public. I once again should emphasize that this is not an attack on any person but a tongue in cheek eulogy of YMag. I'm indeed saddened by its impending demise and before anyone accuses me of aspiring to open my own mag, please a blog is doing it for now because it never gets stuck on the shelves. Like Anonymous said, I would have loved to have a mag but I don't have the resources to do it, that's why I'm publishing 'a free blog' because blogs are free everywhere. However I used to have a website that I was paying for, which I abandoned due to lack of immediacy and my IT disabilities (I can't programme). And it's not about lack of money but information, since we don't have to bring into a review issues of money. There's an organisation called MDDA, which does not fund creation of blogs but mags. I do empathise with the reasons communicated to me for the demise of such a beautiful brand.
And to Bra Kojo, thanks for the feedback. Let's remember that the first thing Paul Wolfowitz did when he got to the World Bank was to transfer his girlfriend to the State Department, to put to rest any suspisions of nepotism in the future. Maybe our editor friends should do the same to protect the reputations of his writer friends. I love Kojo's writings and this is not meant as an attack on his personality. The same way I love Napo's acting and writing.
One luv comrades. Let's grow together

9 comments:

  1. Sorry for disrespecting the grieving. I mourn with you, but I'm up in stiches here, laughing at the way the death of Y Mag is being eulogised. True, everything is indeed true. Sez me who whose ideas were poached by pips like that other Woman who used to work with Simphiwe. Hope they all eating draad now. Fuck you stupid Y editors. Kabomo, I feel yo hip hop, but stay off the Mag. Let someone the blame for the fall of the mighty and dreadful. Fuck Y Mag

    We can't wait to read Weed, see who gonn murder that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous3/23/2007

    i feel you dog, i think y deserves every virus in its system and should die a peaceful death surrounded by friends. Kaddish

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do agree with certain aspects of your article on the quality of Y Mag, though you should perhaps probe as to who truly controls direction and content of a publication. I would like to find out whether you believe my having written for Y Mag stems purely from the fact that I know Kabomo? This would imply that you are aware of my credentials as well as having read through my previous writings and can comfortably say that they were not worthy and, therefore, could only have been included in the publication because I know the editor.

    Overall, as stated earlier, I do agree that the quality of the magazine has dropped over the years and believe it is due to those who control the purse strings and decide on what it must be like.

    easy runnings

    kojo baffoe

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous5/02/2007

    You run a nice blog, well done. A few real facts though:

    1. Siphiwe Mpye never edited Ymag, although for a while he was features editor.
    2. He did edit BL!NK which did well enough for a while. The excellent Offramp column was written by Siphiwe, and not Kgafela.
    3. Under Itumeleng's editorship Ymag never even approached 5000 sales copies.
    4. Ymag started selling over 15 000 copies in June 2000, under Tshepang Gule (RIP), Thami Masemola and Bulelwa Mtsali over 7 months after the departure of Itumeleng.
    5. My former colleague Thami Masemola was in fact, the last editor of Tribute before it closed. In its month of closure Tribute made profit for the first time in its 17 year history.
    6. Rudeboy was not the real editor of Ymag, he was more of a background figure.
    7. Lee did quite well until she ran into the usual politics of publishing. She then decided it was enough and left of her own accord.

    I don't think you appreciate the immense pressures some of these people you mention have to work under, with mostly clueless publishers and extremely tight budgets. On second thought, I think you do. Otherwise you would have opened the type of expensive and great magazine you so long for, instead of a free blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous5/02/2007

    You run a nice blog, well done. A few real facts though:

    1. Siphiwe Mpye never edited Ymag, although for a while he was features editor.
    2. He did edit BL!NK which did well enough for a while. The excellent Offramp column was written by Siphiwe, and not Kgafela.
    3. Under Itumeleng's editorship Ymag never even approached 5000 sales copies.
    4. Ymag started selling over 15 000 copies in June 2000, under Tshepang Gule (RIP), Thami Masemola and Bulelwa Mtsali over 7 months after the departure of Itumeleng.
    5. My former colleague Thami Masemola was in fact, the last editor of Tribute before it closed. In its month of closure Tribute made profit for the first time in its 17 year history.
    6. Rudeboy was not the real editor of Ymag, he was more of a background figure.
    7. Lee did quite well until she ran into the usual politics of publishing. She then decided it was enough and left of her own accord.

    I don't think you appreciate the immense pressures some of these people you mention have to work under, with mostly clueless publishers and extremely tight budgets. On second thought, I think you do. Otherwise you would have opened the type of expensive and great magazine you so long for, instead of a free blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have been a Y Mag reader since the days of Paul but definitely got hooked when lee was editor. A lot of changes happen in the magazine last year and I stopped buying the magazine. This was due to the point that the stories on the magazine where not relevant for me. I looked at their Feb/Mar issue and it was diffrent actually it looked and sounded better than Lee's last issue. I don't know Kabomo personally but he is not anything close to being a celebrity rather a hard worker. He is only trying and I know change takes some getting used as it is not an easy thing to accept. I think people have a right to their opinions but what ever was said about this guy was way too much; actually I felt that it was rude. Another point is that no one knows who Kabomo is, I have an old copy of Y magazine in my house. I am not sure if it was Oct/Nov 2005, he was a contributor and he wrote a piece on the last dead poets. What does his ex girlfriend have to do with his job, are we then judging him by the fact he dated a well known personality...


    Come on! Let's think before we offend other people. In my personal opinion Kabomo has done the best he can and we can only suggest instead of trying to kill him. I am a huge fan of the Magazine and yes! It has changed a lot. I am also in the industry and a lot of overseas mags are taking the country by storm. All I know is "Nothing remains the same" just like the country's currency... Time will tell. Kabomo is good guy and I think he's done his best to make the mag a black magazine. He's also young and for me he has changed Y Mag to an entertainment magazine by South Africans for South Africans....

    Cheers...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Tito-horn6/20/2008

    welll now that bra Kojo is editor of BLINK - oh excuse me - BLAQUE, let's see how well HE does. in fact let's hear his excuses when that piece of plagiarised trash closes its doors next year

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lee did a great job, after she left the content got thinner than the air on Mount Everest. The contents of each issue have become nauseatingly predictable, celebs, parties and wack reviews. WHEN the mag gets back to winning ways, I will be in line to purchase a copy...

    Prima -the Uber Goblin

    ReplyDelete
  9. Interesting comment, Tito-horn, I sense some bitterness. Excuses you say? Excuses for what? I guess you have everything all figured out, unlike the rest of us poor sods trying to get by in this world, do something for our families.

    Want my excuses? I will repeat my comment from earlier - understand the nature of an business, an operation, before you blindly point fingers. This is what it is... a business. While those of us who like to scribble the occasional word on a blank page might have a bit of an idealised view, it still remains business. The creation of a product to satisfy the needs of a particular target market.

    If you have a problem with one's work, raise it, but it would be appreciated if you did so in a manner that was rational without the need for insults.

    Perhaps we should all step from behind pseudonyms and actually speak frankly as who we are. There seems to be such issue with those of us who are employed within the magazine space. I would be curious to know what everyone feels the answer is, the route to take.

    Easy runnings

    ReplyDelete

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