Reflections of Melville Poetry Festival III
12 – 14 October 2012

Sunday is the day that i have to utter my two cents. Actually i don’t have two cents to render but twenty cents worth of stuff. Having closed off Saturday night with an Afrikaans sessions that reminded me of die boere orkes and Johan Stemmet. The performances were music driven and full of Afrikaans linguistic heritage. A patron was so sloshed she nearly stole the show with her Voortrekker dancing antics. The beauty of people who take their kuns en kultuur seriously to the point that every world you have in English they have in Afrikaans is impressive. I had fun and was choked by cigarette smoke.

However on Sunday i start my day as usual with a walk to a book shop to check for old copies of the novels that made me such as Black Beauty, The Color Purple, Shane etc. I find one and they say they will check the other for me. Fine, they don’t have Fanon, Cesaire or Garvey.

I move on to have coffee next door. They spin a good brew that makes me realise that Ricoffy is not coffee but percolated dust masquerading as coffee – fong kong. Later on i meet former New Coin editor Alan Finlay and we have a chat. He comes across as being reserved; almost introvert.

An hour later i am fascinated by the Botsotso Jesters at Sophiatown who are on the same stage with poets such as Frankie Meintjies. The Jesters’ delivery touches on Marikana and what Zuma’s regime has been doing with human sacrifices. Meintjies recited a poem for his brother who died of cancer; that poem could easily have been mine for my mother. But me i just have the October doek wrapped around my neck.

Afternoon comes and viola! I’m the first to land on that stage for our instalment of venom. Well, my people [the ones i invited] are here so i’m not going to shiver nor shake. If i’m about to fall i’ll just stretch my hand so that one of them can hold me. If i am feeling i need elevation i will just climb on one of them’s shoulders so they can fly with me; no spliff.

After introductions from Alan it’s crunch time. To be honest i love performing. And the fact that i have been doing it very little recently has robbed me of my ability to memorise long poems. But today, i have memorised my opener dedicated to my township. That one with a line that kills; ‘last night i humbled myself and dialled mary the virgin’. Soon my set is done and Nova comes to kill the audience. Yeah, she does kill them; me included.

Next up is Charl Pierrie Naude who does not kill but leaves us with food for thought. Actually he feeds us. I’m left wondering if Charl intend to come back and do the dishes. Now, Lesego Rampolokeng comes through to murder. You know poets like Lesego are always expected to have a knife in their back; ready to stab without provocation. Now he never fails. He questions some colonial stereotypes and vents his anger at the slow pace of transformation. But i have a feeling for a man who in 1989 prophecied ‘it’s a new world/ we compromise everyone’ [paraphrasing] what is happening now is expected.

We have fun really and hook up with old friends and comrades; poet Matete Motsoaledi, activist Dipuo Mahlatsi, artist Mavis Taole etc. And as the sun sets at Sophiatown at 7th Street i am certain without fear or contradiction that what i have had was the best week of 2012 by far.

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