The Ultimate Slam

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Ziphozakhe Hlobo writes,

Today, I wake up to the buzz still alive on Facebook;

“Thank you for a wonderful gathering for the Word. Word up to Siphokazi Jonas for taking the Title and Kyle Louw for taking 3rd place. Shout to Dejavu Tafari, Lindokuhle Mngoma, Percy and Adumile for sharing and blessing us with your work. Thank you all who came to show love. Thank you Home of Poetry.”

Mbongeni Nomkonwana writes on his Facebook wall; he does not shout out to the fact that he took second place. Modesty? Or a case of “Ay’secace!”

Mbongeni, are you one of the men of the social media generation? Here’s a question for you from Percy; “when last did you speak to your girlfriend on the phone for hours?”

I am glad I did not miss the Ultimate Slam, which took place on 31 May at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, coordinated by Home of Poetry, a company that is beginning to flourishingly make strides in the Cape poetry scene.

The event was late.

What’s new?

The organisers had made a point on Facebook to say that they would start at 3pm. Sharp. Okay sharp.

Nonetheless, when Dejavu Tafari, Mbongeni Nomkonwana, Xolile Percy Hobongwana, Adumile Ntlombe, Kyle Louw, Siphokazi Jonas & Lindokuhle Mngoma took the stage, things got real. They looked ready and brave to slam us with words as their audiences.

We waited. Anxiously, for their love-soaking words like;

“You and I fell in love on the moon,”
“you make me happy and sad at the same time,”
and,
“with you, I am willing to risk it all.”

Tshisa!

I heard Adumile say such to his lover. If his delivery was anything to go by, then that girl was definitely among the audiences.

I have grown a huge sense of appreciation for anyone that agrees to such tasks and challenges because going on a stage is equivalent to opening up your virginity to a man and hoping that he will be back the next day.

I get why Sipho Kotoba Ndebele headed the organising of this event, because in his poem, he interrogated me when he said “generations to come will ask why we let machines run the world,” and can I add that this is a man who is dedicated to let words run the world.

He does not deserve all the credit though, he probably learned a thing or two when Percy said to the youth, “Please, generate a different reality.”

I think Percy had a conversation with the old man’s spirit that lives in Mbongeni’s body, who said, “My teenage years were riots and revolutions . . .” and pointed his fingers to Marikana, saying “We stopped singing revolution songs too early.”

Oh dear God, we stopped too early and Lindokuhle added that Marikana was a replica of Sharpville. “Marikana reshot Sharpville,” completely deconstructing the idea of freedom we think we have saying, “Well, poverty is a form of oppression.” What a brilliant comparison between Marikana and Sharpville! Poetry truly records history.

Who would have thought that in the transformation of South Africa, “thirty four mine workers would die for a salary increase?” The old man continued.

Rewind, let’s go back to Marikana. What do you see? Police shooting mine workers. Fast forward to 2015, what do you see? Emmanuelle Sithole being killed. Where are the damn police vans? Where’s the siren? There’s only a journalist filming the death of another black man and reposts on Facebook to further humiliate his dead body.

The black body.

Black lives don’t matter, clearly.

What have we done to our country?

What are these poets smoking? How do they shed such bloody tears, wearing their hearts on their sleeves on a stage? It’s insane, I found it’s insanity covered by Dejavu’s golden head wrap as she composed a letter to Mvelingqangi, questioning him or her why s/he had placed such a great burden upon her to stand before a crowd and motivate when she can barely utter the same words of motivation to the broken girl or woman she has to stare at in the mirror everyday.

“I am a poet,”

She offered her heart and vulnerability to us the way Lindokuhle told us that if we have felt the rhythms created by poetry, then we have met him.

As if saying this is way beyond even their own ability to understand the source of the poetry in the physical world. They were so vulnerable and it’s okay; Kyle said vulnerability is a form of strength.

Perhaps Dejavu could consult Mbongeni on how to meet this giant of a man or woman, because Mbongeni had a conversation with God on stage about love.

Eish, being a poet is being unconventional, It’s not the order of the day; you cannot be a poet and be completely “normal” But guess what, “originality outweighs order, obviously!” said Kyle, calm as can be.

Subjective side note: Kyle is one of the best writers I know, I need to say this and people need to hear it.

Dejavu interplayed the ‘Poets are humans” reality so well for me, and then Siphokazi’s eating problems just furnished it. Who would have thought that she suffered an emotional blockage in her life, crying to her mom and saying “If you want to know how I feel mom, here’s a scale read between the numbers.”

Goddam these motherfucken poets!

Do you need a breather? Okay, a bit about the slam.

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The competition stayed as close as possible to the International slam rules, in that, 5 judges were randomly picked from the audiences. They were given score cards and poets were given 3 rounds of competing against each other; there were no eliminations, but their scores for each round were ultimately calculated to determine the ultimate slam champion. The topics were Identity, Socio-Political Issues & the last round was determined by each poet.

Fair?

I think the stage with all of its adrenaline and anxiety is a metaphor for life itself, because how do you explain the power thereafter that comes from the emotion-filled words of Siphokazi? Is this the same girl that gave a heart-wrenching account of what happened to Emmanuelle Sithole? That’s why Kyle says “Thank tough times,” and I guess it’s true what Percy said as well, that “life is hard but I am harder” and one needs to find the strength to continue.

Look at the sun for instance, it knows that it need to brighten our lives as it determines the start of each day. There are nights that feel like they will never end, hence the sun cannot doubt itself, “libe libuza ndiphume na? ndiphume na?”

No! The sun just comes out and fills the world with light. This is the same sun that had Adumile uttering “I found poetry in the sunrise.”

The sun has no choice but to rise because it gives life to the entire creation of this world.

You, my friend, are the sun. You need to rise whether you like it or not and give life to this entire world. Of course, “you are spectacular in every vernacular, yes, you are spectacular in every vernacular!”
So, rise!

Ultimately, the ULTIMATE SLAMMER was Siphokazi, followed by Mbongeni at second position and Kyle at third.

To Home of Poetry, Nangamso.

To the poets, NIBAHLE!

To the poet who is not sure, kukud’ engqinibeni, ilanga liyakushiya.

FB: Home Of Poetry

Pictures Courtesy of Nyaradzo Dhliwayo

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