272 Pages
English

Botsotso 17: Fiction, Poetry, Art Work, Essays, Reviews

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The Botsotso literary journal started in 1996 as a monthly 4 page insert in the New Nation, an independent anti-apartheid South African weekly and reached over 80,000 people at a time – largely politisized black workers and youth – with a selection of poems, short stories and short essays that reflected the deep changes taking place in the country at that time. Since the closure of the New Nation in 1999, the journal has evolved into a stand-alone compilation featuring the same mix of genres, and with the addition of photo essays and reviews. The Botsotso editorial policy remains committed to creating a mix of voices which highlight the diverse spectrum of South African identities and languages, particularly those that are dedicated to radical expression and examinations of South Africa's complex society.
Botsotso 17 reflects the depth and creative range of the South African cultural and emotional environment, as well as the broader social currents in which they were spawned; and that the coexisting phenomena of love and violence, alienation and precious comings-together mingle to create a unique, if familiar, panorama as streams of words reveal the inner meanings of so many different lives.

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Published 29 December 2016
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EAN13 9781990922152
Language English
Document size 15 MB

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BOTSOTSO 17
FICTIONWORK ESSAYS REVIEWSPOETRY ART U U U U
BOTSOTSO
U U U U FICTION POETRY ART WORK ESSAYS REVIEWS
17
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Published by Botstotso
Box 30952 Braamfontein 2017 South Africa
Email: botsotso@artslink.co.za Website: www.botsotso.org.za
© in the text: the writers themselves, 2016 © in the visual material: the artists themselves, 2016
ISBN: 9780981420578
We thank the National Arts Council of South Africa for its support in making this edition possible.
Editors: Allan Kolski Horwitz, Siphiwe ka Ngwenya, Ike Mboneni Muila
Photographs: Moshe Sekete
Jazz quotes: Mphutlane wa Bofelo
Cover and all drawings: Ahmed Patel
Design, layout and proofreading: Media Meme
www.mediameme.co.za
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CONTENTS
Jazz by the River; A Love Supreme –Mphutlane wa Bofelo..................................................................4 A Sister’s Chant –Mncedisi Mashigoane..................................................................................................6 A Walk in the City –Wamuwi Mbao............................................................................................................8 The Community Builder –M Soga Mlandu...............................................................................................10 My Father’s Killers; The Question of Mokema; My Sister’s Boy –Rethabile Masilo............................14 Early Fortitude; En route; captive (still captivated) –Natalie Railoun...................................................16 Last; Legacy –Mike Alfred............................................................................................................................20 A Day in August –Palesa Mazamisa..........................................................................................................21 Ceaseîre; The End –Sanet van Rensburg.................................................................................................30 Dasein (extract) –Kyle Thobeka Allan.......................................................................................................31 Shovels Clatter; Ciputra World, Surabaya –Vonani Bila...........................................................................34 Flood –Napo Masheane..............................................................................................................................40 Europa –Martin Jacklin................................................................................................................................42 Whiskey vat Orkaan (5.0 haikus); Lobotomie –Karel Kopbeen..............................................................46 All Is Not Well –Abigail George..................................................................................................................47 Sauvignon Blanc, Sir? –Farouk Asvat..........................................................................................................57 A Township Child –Rahiem Whisgary......................................................................................................58 Untitled; Earlier Steps/Stepping Out –Frank Meintjies.........................................................................60 Untitled (September 2013); Patrice Lumumba –Gabriel Hoosain Khan..............................................62 Mphato wa Botsotso; Dikeledi II –Moses Shimo Seletisha...................................................................64 New Dynamics in South African Poetry –Roy Robins.............................................................................68 Reections –Amy Sibiya...............................................................................................................................77 Last Will –Connie Flick................................................................................................................................78 To Be Read While Listening to ... John Coltrane’s ‘My Favourite Things’ –Mike Weeder.......................80 After This –Heidi Grunebaum...................................................................................................................82 The Anaesthetists Discuss Astronomy; The Kids –Niels Hav................................................................86 Boitshwarelo Gae; Lesedi –Metsi Mogale.................................................................................................87 The Train Home –Shanice Ndlovu............................................................................................................88 Delabuthongo –Emmanuel Khumalo.......................................................................................................92 Jozi Shore –Sihle Ntuli..................................................................................................................................92 Process of Speech; The Folds of Your Skin –Cara Furniss....................................................................93 Two Heads –Ahmed Patel............................................................................................................................94 The Unînished Conversation –John Carse................................................................................................104 Gull; Silence in the Still Warm Room; A Dream –Dennis Brutus..........................................................106 Die Rewolusie Begin op die Plase; Die Govemint se Ma se ... –Clinton du Plessis...............................108 Wena o Bona Jwang; Lengolo la Lerato –Motlalekgotso Tsoho............................................................110 Blossoms from the Orange Abyss –Nyambura Kiarie............................................................................112 Dust –Dina Segal...........................................................................................................................................117 The Western Sheriff Collins Chinhanho Thole....................................................................................122 Composer at Large (extract) –John Simon.................................................................................................126 [a place like this]; [an actress, after the fact] –Lara Potgieter...................................................................128
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Road Kill; Property Developer –Rosamund Handler............................................................................. Leano on My Mind; The Sky and the City –Mak Manaka....................................................................... Bushveld Beatniks –Karel Kopbeen............................................................................................................ Bitso Lebe ke Seromo –Lungile Lethola................................................................................................... We Are All (hidden in) the 99% –Khadija Sharife..................................................................................... My Mother Speaks –Len Verwey................................................................................................................. Delhi; Mumbai –Mandy Mitchell............................................................................................................... Where Are the Starving Babies? –David Kerr............................................................................................ Everybody’s a Hero (extract) –Deon-Simphiwe Skade......................................................................... Us and Them (extract) –Rosamund Handler........................................................................................... Milky Land & the Dead –Luntu Jonginamba........................................................................................... 18 Banff Road; Pencil Case –Thokozile Madonko.................................................................................. About Perfection; Soliloquy of a Yogi –Josaya Muianga........................................................................ Room 12 –Raaez Jacobs............................................................................................................................... Outside; The Little Yellow House –Phelelani Makhanya....................................................................... The Left Hand of Prophecy (Parts 1 and 2) –Monde Mdodana............................................................ The Place of the Rural Writer in South Africa Today –Vonani Bila........................................................ Wrist –Heinrich Böhmke............................................................................................................................ Goodbye Sokhulu –Andile Cele.................................................................................................................. Heroine –Luap Selim.................................................................................................................................... Out of Bounds –Rajesh Gopie.................................................................................................................... Election Ofîcer; Liberal Verse –Brent Meersman................................................................................... White (Excema)* –Rob Szabo...................................................................................................................... Hallo My Valentyn (Aan Talje); Die Roep van die Digitale Vismot –Sjaka S Septembir......................... Nat Geo; The Hand that Got Away –Jana van Niekerk.......................................................................... Rhymes; Koppie Walk; Path –Lionel Murcott........................................................................................... The Funeral –Colin Jiggs Smuts................................................................................................................. Small Adventure –Abu Bakr Solomon....................................................................................................... Reciprocal Bases of National Culture and the Fight for Freedom* –Frantz Fanon............................... Socialist Realism, Soviet Art and Stalinism: A Marxist Critique –Laurence Humphries....................... Ethics of Poetic Ethnicities –David wa Maahlamela.............................................................................. To Dennis Brutus –Mboneni Ike Muila.................................................................................................... Thani Ngikuthophe –Siphiwe ka Ngwenya.............................................................................................. Madi –Isaac Mosimanegape Molale........................................................................................................ The Art of Writing; First of All –Allan Kolski Horwitz......................................................................... Reviews byRoy Robins.................................................................................................................................. Reviews byAllan Kolski Horwitz................................................................................................................
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130 132 134 137 138 140 142 144 153 160 165 168 170 172 173 174 180 182 188 192 194 195 196 200 202 204 206 225 228 235 238 241 242 243 244 248 255
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editorial
You are in a room. The words are chair and table. We know, in the atomic world, that the chair and table are moving – their atoms are in constant motion. And so we can say that the letters that make up the chair and the table are also in flux. The material of alphabet is letters/images – the material of a letter/image is line and curve, and angle and shape, etc. – an expression of both intuition and mathematics. It’s our way of assigning purposeful drawing to represent some kind of imperative utterance. We remain primitive. We hoodwink ourselves into thinking this sophisticated and controlled filter of herding letters into words is advancement. Our letters remain primitive and we cannot be separated from that beauty. No matter how many words we make to disguise this. Vispo, Nico Vassilakis And so the times roll on ... the not-so-new South Africa continues to experience its not-so-smooth afterbirth pangs and another Botsotso journal breaks into print – that there are enough powerful and well-crafted poems and stories already edited for another edition (which hopefully won’t wait as long to be published) is also good news. Having said this, we believe this edition reects the depth and creative range of our cultural and emotional environment, as well as the broader social currents in which they were spawned; and that the coexisting phenomena of love and violence, alienation and precious comings-together mingle to create a unique, if familiar, panorama as streams of words reveal the inner meanings of so many different lives. Globally, the îrst two decades of this millennium have witnessed the semi- or total implosion of a number of societies. Economic crisis and civil war threaten their foundations. The callous corruption of the ruling classes continues to be the norm as the time between new rounds of mass unemployment, large-scale terrorism and environmental disaster shortens exponentially, even as new technologies astound us. Has our species always lived this way? Is every time equally a time of conict and exploitation as well as “progress”? In history, we speak of quieter and more turbulent epochs, but these distinctions by and large apply to scale (“world war” as opposed to “continental war” as opposed to “local neighbour war” as opposed to “civil war”). So the answer is probably that the “make-up” of our species is still too imbalanced, capricious and subjective to enable a more creative and satisfying living environment. In any event, the life force pulses even as we struggle against defeatism and the sense that we are doomed to this mean and brutish consciousness. For we know that failure to stand up against these “devils” is fatal: cynicism atrophies the spirit long before the physical body decays. Now how do we prevent this? How do we as art makers deal with this complexity? Some, in the midst of inner and exterior hells, create work (out of the lived contradictions they have experienced and observed) that is beautiful; that is real; and that is truthful. Moreover, this activity is pursued, notwithstanding social and practical considerations, primarily for its own sake as a personal exploration. Is this a modern form of religious
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practice? Certainly in sub-Saharan Africa, the griot and storyteller, as in all oral societies, played a key role in recording and expressing not only his/her life but those of the clan and the tribe and their cosmologies, and in this way broke through narrow subjectivity. In the Middle East and Asia, oral traditions informed the civilisations that invented alphabets, and the îrst writers (as opposed to “poet-composers”) of myth began to capture that verbal magic. And as these writers identiîed their work as their own, their individual names exploded out of anonymity and gained personal fame until in Europe, particularly since the 19th century, the individual seer and genius established the right of the artist to call everything to account. As such, the artist as rebel, as trailblazer, and as watchdog for human rights and freedom of expression became celebrated and no tradition or conventional value was considered too sanctiîed to criticise or challenge. This conception of the artist cannot accommodate commercialism or praise singing for political favours; it demands that artists stay true to their visions and refuse the vainglory of celebrity status. And interestingly, this role recalls the sense of vocation that personiîed the mind-set of the earliest shamans of hunter/gatherer societies and their devotion to the accessing of states of sacred consciousness as they entered and moved between different psychic experiences. Now cosmological concerns may sound pedantically “anti-materialist”, but if they are lived out authentically, they will be intrinsically connected to the deepest parts in us that transcend the grasping of the individual ego. Is the true artist then always a “spirit person”, or at least one who aspires to be? In our present time, the most apt tone is perhaps the satirical – after all, how else can we adequately represent the absurdities of the billionaires and the bureaucrats who rule us? Is any art work then a sermon? Is art making equivalent to creating sacred space in private and public zones despite their having been so comprehensively deîled by commodiîcation? All these questions are raised to counter the throwaway mass culture of advertising and the crudely abbreviated forms of communication that inhabit social media. As such, the pressure on art makers to conform and provide the “market” with easily digestible pieces of entertainment has never been greater and so the need for work that refuses these bland appetites, and the demand for branding and empty slogans, has never been more important. In this regard, it is our belief that the work presented here, by being original and deîant of these shallow fashions, truly connects the individual to the social conditions that underpin and direct our lives. The creative power of South African writers cannot be disputed – what we lack is a wide enough readership to enable this power to make a signiîcant mark on the spirit of our age and to inuence the way we see and conduct ourselves. This process of building a readership is ongoing, and though the current economic/political regime is hostile to this objective, we know we cannot surrender to the crass appetites of a “soapie”/“sound bite”/“social cohesion” culture. To do so will be to commit cultural and social suicide, and our life force is hopefully too strong for that. And so we continue to say: Every child a reader! Every adult a reader! Books for and by Africans! Books for and by all those who create a universal culture!
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Mphutlane wa Bofelo
Jazz by the River
lungs battling iscor ames despite the new leaf arcellor mittal claims i come ridding vaal river waves rowing over emfuleni paddling to the vaal bank i hear vaal dam screaming for peace refengkgotso is not the cry of îshes trapped in a net but of human souls caught in the poverty trap shattered bodies înd mental solace in brash dances, cheap beer and cut-rate spirits acid from car batteries add spunk to homebred brew brothers and sisters drown their sorrows in jazz by the river but don’t tell them about Mackay Davashe, Chris McGregor & Thelma Segone these revellers think Coltrane was a train-driver Nina Simone a madam from the Midvaal still to the rhythm & blues they swing their hips the smart boys the cool cats ululate to the symphony of black bodies with chants of “check daai ding ... hoor net daar!” a mantra that says: this dog is into jazz just don’t ask big buddy the man-about-town what Marsalis said jazz is and is not don’t bother the sharp man with bookish homilies and arguments between proponents of fusion and protagonists of unadulterated jazz or where the hell Miles’ improvisation, versatility & spontaneity ît in in the whole debate mister and madam new rich don’t need restless minds the îddle class cannot afford unrest they just want to relax without stress take a rest at Abrahamsrus any excuse to shake that ass even in the name of jazz play it philanthropic and dedicate the carnival to the lost îght against HIV & AIDS at the end of the day it makes logic to say it really is a massive act of social responsibility just to offer the masses the comic relief of a momentary escape from the ghettos & bundus of Fezile Dabi: Moqhaka, Ngwathe, Metsimaholo, Mafube
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the labour camps; backyards & scrapyards of lily suburbs, white farms and wage slavery plantations sasol, safripol, poliîn, karbochem omnia, lonmin aurora, ashanti, anglo-american corporations the sweatshops & warrens of unbridled accumulation of capital & shameless commodiîcation of life
A Love Supreme (Conversations with Coltrane)
blow your horn on me, mister music man my ears are horny sax me up to the rare experience when the esh and soul are on the same plane & the heart and the mind meet exactly at that place.
play your sax on me, clarinet voice i am your sounding board drown my ears in that sensual melody delivered in spiritual tones trumpet me out of my wits into the realm of experience where love is the only song in the heart & the only music in the ear is from the heart
blow me a storm, mister music hum me the waves of an ocean leaping play me the breathe of the willow tree bowing to the divine sound of love the îrst syllable heal my anguished self with the sense to hear the voice of god in the toot of the bamboo drop rain in my eardrums with your hard bop beats let the rollicking rhythmic feeling pull me with you on the oor among dancing saints
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