After weeks of planning and meticulous attention to detail, 20 August 2011 was upon us, the event that has been on everyone’s lips had arrived.
People filtered in, intermittent at first, as if signalling everyone’s trepidation of what was about to unfold. Eventually, droves of patrons entered the doors of Momo gallery just in time for the artistic performance. The gallery setting was the perfect backdrop to an esoteric yet uplifting performance by Thokozani Mhlambi, Nobuntu Mqulwana and Samora Ntsebenza.
One could be held aback by the shrieks and screams by Nobuntu, but even a non-artistic person could not deny her incredible control over her voice, her operatic training came to full use. And once you’ve found your own space and allowed yourself to be lost within the voice, the shrieks morphed into melodic hollering that poked and probed at your soul. Thokozani’s loving embrace of his cello, as if in the arms of a virgin maiden, was contrast to the somewhat violent strums and haunting renditions from his string instrument, he played with the fervour of a man in an adulterous union. Samora’s rhythmic poundings on the cow hide were the heart of the performance, giving life to a musical monstrosity of the best kind.
The performance broke the norms of musical expression, lacking the usual, clearly defined build-up and climax, it was a journey filled with ups, downs and crafty plateaus, forcing you to discover unchartered territory within your own space and ideals, truly inspiring.
After a short break for drinks and momentary reflection on the performance, the crowd went back into the venue for a forum discussion led by esteemed panellists. Panellists included Andile Mngxitama (writer, activist), Pumla Gqola (feminist, scholar), and Chats Devroop (Head of Performing Arts, TUT). The question put forward by the entertaining facilitator, Thokozani Mhlambi, was: “What does it mean to be African and yet globally relevant“.
The discussion was heated. Attendees probed with questions and the panel’s responses either fuelled another debate or gave a moment of reflection and clarity. Everyone who was part of the discussion left with more questions than answers, but also with a sense of relief knowing that someone is addressing the issues that have plagued the creative industry and community at large. Finally, the people had a voice, that voice is Afropolitan Explosiv.