In The Beginning was a Poet; the Poet was at Museum Africa

Been a long time since I had an interaction with a troupe of people I respect with all my artistic spirit. There are quite a few good and committed artists these days. We do have occasions whereby as poets in Mpumalanga we meet and wax lyrical. The last time was December at Matshilo Motsei's house. Before that it was Expression Sessions [Kriel] and us at White River during the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse.
However when I was one of those chosen (millions will be called but few will be chosen) to be part of the Realmentlak poetry do I was blerry excited. I looked at the Realmentalk
line-up and I felt like a six-years-old child in a chocolate factory - salivating and wetting my jersey. As an artist nothing gets me going like meeting equally-minded souls and trading what makes us tick. We tick like Rolexes and Breittlings I'm telling you.

So, back in Mpumalanga it will usually be me and my small troupe of multi-talented artists who play both instruments and sing and
do poetry and rap. They are fine lyricists and all-round artists. In Johannesburg, which the last time I performed was at Shivava Cafe I know I meet gems. So, when on the 29th I took that long trip to the city of Gold (the city I don't like - and a city which Sipho Sephamla had a way of saluting) I wanted to do my in-and-out like a jewelry store robbery. What I mean is to get in, do my poetry and eject as soon as possible. But when you come from 'the sunshine province' where we cull the things we don't like you somehow feel a breeze immediately you mount Machadodorp and know that bullets can't reach you.

Okay, Realmentalk poetry session was, to borrow from rappers - off the hook. The faces I have never met before and which were equally dying to meet me all showed up and we smiled without the benefit of wine. The pretty female poets I met on P-O-E-T-R-I were there and I must say they looked far wow in real life than the camera ever tried to mess up their beauty. Then came the time for us to meet and network; and talk politics as usual, and network some more; and talk to NAC's Andrew Nkadimeng, who has recently become quite an inspirational mentor and friend, network some more with Prof Peter Horn and my old friend Myesha Jenkins, network some more and talk to various people, including Masoja Msiza and Lesego Rampolokeng.

But before that I went into the Museum Africa photo exhibition where they are curating Sifiso Yalo and some old cartoons from the '50s, '60s and '70s. I spent a sizeable time going through South African history through the artworks. I should declare Yalo is the future, that's immediately Zapiro retires his venomous pencil.

Okay, when the Realmentalk session started; which was billed to be a bomb threat in the Museum Africa auditorium; smithereens could be seen a distance away. And when you see smithereens before the actual explosion you know it's cluster bombs on deployment. [By theway those are banned weapons]. The show was opened by all-rounder Antonio David Lyons. All-rounder because he's many things, an actor, a singer, a poet and performer. He's also such an altruistic soul that left patrons puzzled by his clever use of poetry to paint pictures; that will either give you a pain in the heart or a feeling of warmth.

He delivered a poem so rich in imagery that it took some patrons a whole 12 hours to notice that it was about a woman who killed her abusive husband and left the 'uncle' [Lyons] with babies to raise and lie to daily. 'I forgive her, yes, we pray - and pray some more', he said in a serene tone.

Then the stage opened for none other than the new kid on the block; I like to call him David wa Maahlamela's protege. I like to joke that Maahlamela is our next poet laureate after Ntate Keorapetse Kgositsile, and I have recently felt that when he moves into that august position he will leave Matete Motsoaledi to put on his mantle. Matete was next with poetry that poked fun about the disability of our democratic status quo. A poem titled 'Eintlik' left a lot of patrons in stitches while it probed the nation's conscience. He delved in love as well with 'Lerato'.

The next line-up was made up of explosive folks such as Icebound Makhele [more slam], Lesego Rampolokeng [profane], Mpho Sabata Mokae [nostalgic], Motho-feela [prophetic], Prof Peter Horn [tutorial], Goodenough Mashego, Vonani Bila [activist], Mak Manaka [naughty], Masoja Msiza [communal] and Maahlamela [jovial] who was compering the event.

Icebound was on his pan-Africanist element -calling South Africa by its name; Azania. Lesego was his controversial self - often for the shit of it as he mocked the concept and spitted [spurted] bile. Mokae reminisced a lot about Taung and Kimberely's Big Hole [Gat], his hometown and its people. Motho-feela was the ghetto prophet he has always been - the man from the land of the common people. Horn was being horn - piercing and taking some of the younger poets on a turorial. Mashego [by the way that's me] I'll leave that to the jury. Bila was on a humourous tip until he recited 'The Horrors of Phalaborwa' about Mark Scott-Crossly who fed Nelson Chisale to lions at Hoedspruit. Mak, or blerry Mak, had her ears being tickled by her thights while his soft lips were.... what were his soft lips doing when his ears were tickled? Masoja introduced a protege and was on his community building best and Maahlamela took us back to Musina and we suddenly were bopping from music playing out of a tavern while reading a book.

Realmentalk's first installment was a blast; not because I was a part but because reviews on Facebook and other social platforms concurred. And the women who came to support were not disappointed that not a single one of them was given an opportunity to give a vote of thanks. Real Men is a simple concept about fixing what is wrong with pat
riarchy - one poetry session at a time. And with a 77-years-old Horn on our side; only time will tell. But remember; 2011 is the Year of the Poet!

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