The Kriel Chapter
We have been saying it for some time and it finally happened. I'm quite certain that you have been wondering why this allegation that we are also doing Bantu Letters going to be realised. Okay, I will start at the beginning.
Bantu Letters is a collection of poetry from the province of Mpumalanga. It is poetry written by the residents. It was almost done with some languages missing. That's until Sixteeen Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse happened in White River and here I was meeting these bunch of ultra-talented individuals from a namesless dorpie called Kriel. Well, I should emphasize that when the sixteen days session ended I knew right there and then that Bantu Letters was not complete.
So, Lois Reeds and Matete Motsoaledi had to make the cut.
The Kriel bunch is made up of rappers, musicians, poets and those I would really dread to box. So, it was almost automatic that I would go for the poets, even though I would have loved to work with the rappers as well - maybe next time. So, Matete and Lois were roped in to strengthen the book. I today confess that the book couldn't have been the same without these two gems. I am forever indebted.
So, come April 2 here we were on our way to Kriel. Leaving at 04h30 and making it to Witbank (oops, we were not even supposed to get there). A few logistical faux paus later we are in Kriel. Nice possie I should say, if I had money I would invest in a safehouse here and stash my ugly ass whenever I felt I wanted to rest.
Kriel is like any other town built by apartheid. You have a town, which is where the business activity takes place. You have a suburb which is where the whities used to live and a few kilometres out of town you have the black area - as always meant to keep the labourers who are servicing the town and the suburbs. But when I got there it seemed the darkies have made inroads. Some of them actually live in the 'burbs.
So, we had our session at the Rugby Club regardless of some muthafucka still caught in a time warp who wanted us to account to him why we can use a few square metres of Azania. The chap was cocky; he was the type I usually tell where to get off, but you know when you have capable comrades you let them handle their own homegrown cocky dudes. So, we got on the a flaming start. Poem after poem, song after song and what after what. We had mad fun. We had the maddest fun when Dineo flipped it.
I should apologise at this point for not getting the names of my comrades right even though I don't forget an ugly face. So, the launch for Bantu Letters finally happened. Autographed, fresh, white in colour with a black Afrikan map containing a poem which you will never get right - deliberately.
We started with Matete explaining the muse behind his poem about love. Then he moved on to my favourite poem, Re batho le mmino Matabane, dedicted to Lebogang Seputule Matabane; who incidentally was there to babysit his muse. Then Lois read a poem about being Coloured (not in over-supply anywhere) and then a poem I love titled Ek Noem Jou Pa. She captures in a poem here love-hate relationship with her father. Then Pitso Mashilane took over and flipped it with Molao o a Tshenyoga. He profiled what had gone wrong with the moral fibre of our society.
And then we had an open mike session with Humanity, Lois, Thuli, Za, Dineo, Matete and many others. And to top it all we had a braai and we had a music festival. I remembered an advertisement I loved, "starting a band baby, starting a band'. And this is my entry for the Kriel Chapter, we had fun and I bet you my last dime we are going back.
Bantu Letters is retailing for R100.00 and is available if you learn to ask the right questions.
(Special thanks to Xpression Sexion and the community of Kriel, we had fun!)
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