By: Adelaide January


Being greeted with a can of Mofaya energy drink as you enter was confirmation that the energy levels of the audience and that of the poets will be at a definite high and the malangabs will indeed be felt as each poet took to the mic.

This was a different kind of slam which I realised as each poet was granted an opportunity to show confidence in their art and their given performance as they had to decide whether they did well or bad in each round regardless of what the judges’ scores said.




Judge shouts score: 3; 0; 5; 3…….


Haaibo, mara what is wrong with this judge (find out name) me and my friends started questioning ourselves. Did she even hear when Katlego said ‘’ I am wounded Braille, do not touch me to read me cause it hurts’’.

Haai if that is not a malangabs line please tell me what is.



We experienced heat, laughter, sadness, anger, brokenness, blackness and fire on stage and thanks to the Mofaya energy drinks that everyone received at the entrance, the theatre was not short of energy on Saturday 02 April 2016 at the CSP slam and the one on one slam which takes place at the Johannesburg theatre which has quickly build quite a reputation for itself ever since its birth.

With more than 5 standing ovations from the audience and loud screams it was evidently clear that the malangabs were vuthad on that stage.



As we saw Ashley and Kano going head to head as they slammed for the top spot of being this month’s queen of the mic… When Kano made me weak when she said ‘’they went from coughing out smoke to spitting out balls of fire’’ and Ashley killed me when she said ‘’I put sand over my daughter so I don’t drown her accidentally- I hate accidents ‘’ and just like that she had won the slam with me and indeed she was crowned queen of the mic with a close score of 30 points and Kano at 29….close call Ashley.


A few minutes into the one on one I was already sitting with a dilemma of having to choose between Africa and Mbongeni, with Africa having been my personal favourite at the beginning mostly cause of his skin and looks and other stuff when Mbongeni decided to sweep me off my seat unexpectedly and made me sing a different tune.

As they reached the 6th round which happens to be Lil Hussil’s( also known as Vusimusi Phakathi ) favourite round the two made me want to scream my lungs out as Africa was leading and aiding Mbongeni into some poetic initiation ceremony, how the two were inhaling and spitting out fire balls of poetry…Neho tshesa (it was burning hot) .


It was evidently clear that Mbongeni came to this slam for one reason and with one reason- to educate the masses and education is what the masses received from him..

‘’RHAAI RHAAI RHAAI RHAAI’’ and this is how I will always remember Mbongeni as he went on to claim victory for the CSP one on one slam not even Africa’s beautiful skin will make me forget Mbongeni.


PS: I need to contact him to discuss this Rhaai Rhaai line




CSP- Current State of Poetry

Malangabas – Fire

Vuthad- made


Photos by: CSP

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Twitter: Csofpoetry


And then there was Silence…

Tshepo Molefe writes,


On this day, the 20th of March, the day before Human Rights Day, was the day team Martyrs relived the Sharpville massacre. This was the day where we, team Martyrs, really lived up to our name. We literally died for our art.

But before such a brutal act was committed at the Cas Cavadioo Studio, Lil Hustle, aka Vuz’muzi Phakathi, had to introduce team Martyr and team Warriors to the stage for some poyemtry. Yeah, I said it! POYEMTRY!!! The first game that was played was called “Statue Garden” (at least that’s what I think it was called… ) where one from each team had to make an improv statue and another one of each had to produce a collaborative poem about the statue. Unfortunately, team Warriors won that game by the vote of the audience. (I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, the audience was bribed. We were cheated in that game!!!). Since we lost in this game, the host invited three members of the audience to try and beat team Warriors. They too failed! Team Warriors were on a roll.


The next game, Alphabets, had us shivering. Only one was good at this game. In this game, each member of the opposite team must recite a line of poetry starting each line with the next character of the alphabet, starting at ‘a’, and if one of them chokes, the choker can tag the member of his team behind him. Here, I have to admit, we got thrashed, hard! We got eliminated one by one. It was a terrible sight. Once again, the host called for three audience members to save the day. They actually did better than us. (*cries softly*). Team Warriors were on a warpath and we were becoming roadkill.


The last game, the Shelington, had one member of each team throwing words at each other until one chokes. As they are throwing these words, another one member of each member is catching these words and must produce an improv poem that is aimed at courting an audience member. Now I must say, team Martyrs’ word throwers were dismantling team Warriors word throwers however they were just great at shelling the audience members, yong! As a result they won. (I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, those audience members were bribed!!!). What a landslide loss. Three – Nil to the Warriors. What a massacre!


And then there was silence…

After a two hour fun-filled improv poetry games, where team Warriors demonstrated the Sharpville massacre, the open mic session began.

Clear opened the platform with a piece every poet and poetry lover alike could relate to, a piece on being addicted to this thing called Spoken Word. Then Thobani changed the whole mood of the floor with a man abuse poem. ‘… In this house, we use the Richter Scale to measure time…’. WHAT!!! Next, was Dr Thando with a piece on Rape. The most amazing and brave thing about her is that she wrote from her own experience. Yes, this courageous woman was raped four years ago. The tone of the open mic was carried by Zizipho, aka FLAMES (you did not hear that name from me. Between you and me, she hates it). Her piece, I am also Afraid of the Dark was just breath taking. Sibulelo’s recipe on how to cook a foreigner left an awful taste in one’s mouth and how can I forget our PTA guest reading a piece on the absurdity of religion.


Mara, batho! Kekopha se fila!!! Mr. Rammusi (he deserves to be called that merely for that piece), or better known as Katlego delivered a piece about the injustices of our fathers in this society. God, you should’ve heard that masterpiece!!! Then Dr. Sarah Godsell gave the audience an amazing and insightful piece about the effects rape has on a feminist woman.

The floor was closed by the ever elegant, oh so classy MoAfrika with a Sepedi-English piece about rape.

I might have done an injustice to everyone who stepped up on that stage by not recalling every detail of the day, but each soldier who put their lives and words on that stage moved and shook my soul that day. Never have I felt such a range of emotions as the feelings that were aroused on that day.


I am pretty sure that I speak for everyone in that venue when I say, Thank you for those brave words!

The CSP Slam and in the Age of Meaning


Writes Ashley Makue


As an avid lover of the arts- a reader and a writer, a religious film watcher, gallery walker, amateur photographer- I once found poetry to quench a specific, grave thirst in my soul. I was twelve years old, and I had discovered Sylvia Plath and Chinua Achebe. I did not know I had a thirst, until I had found the cure for it. I started searching out our little library at school, read every single book that I found. And then when I had no more books to read and my heart was still yearning, I took my pencil to a book and willed myself to do it. I wrote a complex sonnet about ice cream.


I returned to South Africa at the end of the year I turned twelve. Here, I found, I was more displaced than I was in Lesotho. I spoke both my English and Sesotho with foreign accents. I had the manner of an English Rose and the esteem of a churchman’s widowed mistress. There was nothing for me here, save a brand new library and books I would run to for cover, whenever I needed it. And I needed it frequently. And then I finished the books but I was still empty, this time needing for more than Mushrooms, Sonnet 116 and scripture. I needed affirmation. I needed to know that my beautiful was beautiful even if it did not look like all the images on the television. I needed to know that my love was love, that I was no freak for sharing my first kiss with another English Rose. I could not find any of those things in my high school’s devastatingly Eurocentric and cis-heteronormative literature.


When I was nineteen, I discovered spoken word poetry. Not the kind I had been doing at church, lying about myself, misrepresenting God. I found quenching. I found preaching that actually healed. In the years that followed, I found WordnSound. I found Modise Sekgothe, I found Mutle Mothibe and I found Gratitude Fisher. And then I found The Strivers Row; Zora Howard, Alyssia Harris, Jasmine Mans. It wasn’t until I found Warsan Shire, Vuyelwa Maluleka and Safia Elhillo that I found poetry.


The trouble, I have found, with spoken word, was that art business could not stand meaning. We always cry that they no longer make music like the blues, but we do not have soul like blues people anymore. We are not made with the sand that can take Nina Simone, take Etta James, take Muddy Walters and not bend. Yes, we can stand Adele, because she reminds us of fickle love. We can take Lana Del Rey because she has that kind of sexy sadness, does not call us to stop romanticizing melancholy. We can stand Kendrick Lamar, take Kanye’s insanity, call it irrefutable art. Take what glorified pop music that South African cool kids sell to us as hip-hop. We can take Thandiswa Mazwai’s faux consciousness masquerading as some depth, because spirit lets her sing meaning. This is what created the wave of poetry monopoly, pop-poetry, them and us, cool-poets family and the rest of us; the visitors, the lesser vessels when held up against punch lines and galaxy poems and half-baked political poetry, third-person rape poems, poverty poems by middle class “struggle artists” who have never slept on a barely half full cup of murky water, the self-proclaiming poetry gods and queens of the mic. The emotionally manipulative rhetoric that is the entire breath of Striver’s Row poetry. The Mandela screwed us narrative. The pun-infused prose. Narcissists incognito playing artists. Playing vessels but owning art. For too long there has been no one to tell the “art scene” people that art is no one’s mother, no one’s bitch, no one’s claim to fame, no one’s claim, no one’s horse, no one’s keep.


You cannot punch line poetry into emptiness. I was no longer looking for emptiness when I stopped attending poetry slams. I was no longer moved by “relatable” bullet point prose. I was not looking for galaxy imagery, or men-are-broken narratives. I was looking for poetry. I was looking for word from spirit. A good friend of mine said to try out CSP. So I did. And it has been refreshing. I cannot say that the slams are immune from rhetorical bullshit, but the judging is. The judging calls for poetry, and performance and consciousness. When Vusi says, “the breath of God is moving through this body, needing release”, “everything is energy”, I hear the old gospel of poetry that is not for fun or fame. I remember art as a spirit calling; I remember the cost of art. I wake up and travel to the workshops because I know how big art is, I know that you cannot master it until you know that you are only a pitcher. I know that poetry is not a toy, or a “vibe”, or a phase to pass through while at University. I know how far Vusi, Dr Thando, Dr Sarah and Thando dig within themselves to pour out the poetry.


I know that to whom art does not cost mental health, companionship, health, oblivion, unconsciousness, art is not present. I know that art is no one’s monopoly, no one’s close-knit clique, no one’s elitist club, no one’s personal politic. I know that art is god, and those who are not god while reading poems, are posers.


Rethabile Zilila writes,


When the poets cook it is always to the pallet of the audience and March found everyone salivating. The MALANGABS had words roasting on CSP stage, and lil’Hassil could not believe the heaven that found his earth ablaze and overtaken with plenty, manna is an understatement, and I’ll tell you now; hell has a bone to pick with him since he done stole all the fire and ran. Did you see how skinny that boy is? I’m sure he can outrun lightning. Anyways, the taste of truth had us bowing and asking for more, as Katlego said “I know the devil. After all I was raised by my father.” A punch that left us gasping, just as our lungs were recovering the air, Sibulelo came and confessed that “There are things that we do not speak about at grandmother’s house” a hush fell like a cold cloud on as all braced themselves to hear this truth. But fire would not be outdone as it trickled and travelled up our spines offering us something to stand on and for the first time the audiences’ backbone shone when they chose her as a their winner.   Like little children under the spell of fire light and taken to task by the sparkle in the sky while enchanted by nkgono’s tales CSP open slam poets had us eating in the palm of their hands. Who knew that Tanka’s, Haikus and short poems could win a slam? Apparently Rethabile did. And Busisiwe refused to go down without a fight, Gosh! You should have seen the MALANGABS. And for the first time ever, CSP had two winners.   Three I’d say, she put up a good fight. By the way, did you know that CSP OPEN SLAM CHAMPIONS have been only women thus far?


Oh my WORD!! Then there was a battle of the Zulus in a face-off between Durban and Johannesburg. Honestly, I did not know which side to pick, I absolutely love these two QUEENS;


Thando Buthelezi and Thuli Zuma, the God in them bows to the God in me. And child, can these sisters speak?! They had a girl at the edge of her seat! Let’s talk about the DARK GIRL GOSPEL, Thando took us to church and at the altar of our sins had us see our skin without the lightening creams and painted a scene where the only makeup needed is of the mind. And boy; aren’t we sisters blind. Just as we were taking that in, Thuli sang a BLACK GIRL’S SONG sighing “because black is not a shadow you can outrun. And I don’t want to. And I didn’t always know that…” as in an intercession to prayer she lead a tune that whispered hope in these notes as she spoke “…the lilly of the field cannot undress and be some other dream. To be black without apologies is not a metaphor”, she mourned “because granddad was beautiful and proud and black man but always boy” hope rose again as she remembered “…granddad would not tip his head to that so he stopped wearing hats because sometimes you have to lose a part in order for the whole to remain black…” and in deed, how many parts do we keep losing to remain black?


Yet THULI doesn’t not stop singing… “loving what is lost is a kind of joy too and black makes the sweetest music even from the bitterest roots. BECAUSE BLACK DOES NOT LOSE HOPE …because black is the promise …as heaven’s own holy song …because black always finds a way home … BECAUSE I AM THE DREAM JUST NOW BEGUN …because I am black … I must be black. Everything BLACK” talk about black pride!!!!!


Now… who is Khutjo Green? That woman has got curves for days. Wow! *claps hands* My soul! Mmmhmm, Nkosi yam.  Let’s talk about Billy Langa, now; the brother is fine and I don’t think he knows it. Hallelujah, Jesus must just return, le re D-Boy Mahlatsi o ne a hlapile ka lebese lefeng? And that suit he was wearing e ne re PAPA on him. Sho! Poetry will show you flames! MALANGABS ke ya o jwetsa, ka re even off the stage. These people aren’t just pretty faces, you know, e re ke o sebele; Khutjo is a Naledi award winner and Billy is a force to be reckoned with, these theatre practitioners had us bowing at their worship, the chemistry between them was not of this world and to simply write of their impromptu two-hander would be an injustice, Mosotho a re “monate ha o phuthelwe ka kobo” but technology allows that we freeze the moment and I have attached a video link that will do the justice needed. Ngwana ’mme ka re matlakamaleo.


If you are a lover of poetry or just somebody who enjoys new experiences then CSPSlam is for you. Your every sense will be fed. Moya wa hao ona o tlo tswa o le pensvol. Don’t take my word for it. Visit the links below, have a look at the awesomeness displayed in the images, o be o tla he, o tlo inwesa ka nkgo, in English we simply say; come see for yourself.

Check out more malangabs here;