kingxnova:

I hold you like I held Malcolm before he went away. Before Robben and Mecca laid claim to brilliant, roaring bonfires and hushed them to quiet embers. I remember you as the man who said “it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”, as the man who led Umkhonto weSizwe (mama le papa), as the man who said we must arm ourselves to take back our land and dignity, as the Black Pimpernel, the boxer, the lawyer, the one who survived on Madikizela’s devotion - when you were all fight and fire and flame - this is how I love you. 
Lala kahle, qhawe elihle Rolihlahla Mandela.
Because of you, Luthuli, Tambo, Hani, Sisulu, Biko, Mahlangu, Mashinini, Kathrada, Sobukwe and countless, countless others we are able to rightly walk free in this land of our ancestors. 
I didn’t think I would cry because the deification of your memory had fatigued me. But this morning, a little past midnight, I slowly collapsed into myself as I looked around me: I thought of my address, my parents’ tax brackets, my education, my flight to Cape Town in a few hours, my ability to choose the direction of my life and all the opportunities I have. Without you, without your brave peers, without my parents who fought too, without our people, without the tears and without the lifetimes and lifetimes of blood - I would surely be cleaning the house of some white family or teaching a Bantu Education syllabus to brown-skinned babies who would be forced to internalise the message that they were born to be servants. Without all of you, we would be born and die in the chains of servitude to evil, despicable people; prisoners in the only place we’ve ever known as home.
I cried when I thought of how you wore that Boks jersey and walked onto the rugby pitch in 1995. I cried when I thought of all the shuffling and shmiling you had to do to set them at ease after all they did was murder us, steal from us, rape us and plunder our resources for 300 years. I cried because you had to dance. I cried because you had to be the Magic Negro. I cried because CNN called FW de Klerk first this morning as if he hadn’t upheld the very system which equated us to animals. I cried because you did so much and yet for the majority, South Africa is still what it is. I cried because I have an amazingly privileged life. I cried because I so badly believed in a rainbow that does not exist. I cried because I choose to believe that being president was hard and you tried your best to make the best decisions. I cried because I don’t know how to process a world where you, as a man and an ideal, have to be spoken of in memoriam… 
It’s all so overwhelmingly complex. I should be in Houghton giving flowers to your memory and singing struggle songs with my kin but I’m writing this from a pretty hotel room in Cape Town, overlooking Table Mountain. This city makes me feel like I am the only one in mourning, there are hardly any brown people here. As we drove in this morning, Brenda Fassie’s tribute to you played and all the heaviness rose and fell and settled once more as I turned to my left and saw the terribly named Castle of Good Hope. History hurts.
Everything hurts but you lived and you loved and you tried.
Thank you for your life. Thank you for your spirit. Thank you for showing what it means to truly serve the people. Siyabonga, Dalibhunga. Rest In Power, eternally.
My Black President. 

kingxnova:

I hold you like I held Malcolm before he went away. Before Robben and Mecca laid claim to brilliant, roaring bonfires and hushed them to quiet embers. I remember you as the man who said “it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”, as the man who led Umkhonto weSizwe (mama le papa), as the man who said we must arm ourselves to take back our land and dignity, as the Black Pimpernel, the boxer, the lawyer, the one who survived on Madikizela’s devotion - when you were all fight and fire and flame - this is how I love you. 

Lala kahle, qhawe elihle Rolihlahla Mandela.

Because of you, Luthuli, Tambo, Hani, Sisulu, Biko, Mahlangu, Mashinini, Kathrada, Sobukwe and countless, countless others we are able to rightly walk free in this land of our ancestors. 

I didn’t think I would cry because the deification of your memory had fatigued me. But this morning, a little past midnight, I slowly collapsed into myself as I looked around me: I thought of my address, my parents’ tax brackets, my education, my flight to Cape Town in a few hours, my ability to choose the direction of my life and all the opportunities I have. Without you, without your brave peers, without my parents who fought too, without our people, without the tears and without the lifetimes and lifetimes of blood - I would surely be cleaning the house of some white family or teaching a Bantu Education syllabus to brown-skinned babies who would be forced to internalise the message that they were born to be servants. Without all of you, we would be born and die in the chains of servitude to evil, despicable people; prisoners in the only place we’ve ever known as home.

I cried when I thought of how you wore that Boks jersey and walked onto the rugby pitch in 1995. I cried when I thought of all the shuffling and shmiling you had to do to set them at ease after all they did was murder us, steal from us, rape us and plunder our resources for 300 years. I cried because you had to dance. I cried because you had to be the Magic Negro. I cried because CNN called FW de Klerk first this morning as if he hadn’t upheld the very system which equated us to animals. I cried because you did so much and yet for the majority, South Africa is still what it is. I cried because I have an amazingly privileged life. I cried because I so badly believed in a rainbow that does not exist. I cried because I choose to believe that being president was hard and you tried your best to make the best decisions. I cried because I don’t know how to process a world where you, as a man and an ideal, have to be spoken of in memoriam… 

It’s all so overwhelmingly complex. I should be in Houghton giving flowers to your memory and singing struggle songs with my kin but I’m writing this from a pretty hotel room in Cape Town, overlooking Table Mountain. This city makes me feel like I am the only one in mourning, there are hardly any brown people here. As we drove in this morning, Brenda Fassie’s tribute to you played and all the heaviness rose and fell and settled once more as I turned to my left and saw the terribly named Castle of Good Hope. History hurts.

Everything hurts but you lived and you loved and you tried.

Thank you for your life. Thank you for your spirit. Thank you for showing what it means to truly serve the people. Siyabonga, Dalibhunga. Rest In Power, eternally.

My Black President. 

Summer time. The heat pushes down on the city with all it’s might. Not even the air can move. The makeshift umbrella wilts, it’s shade more of an insult than a relief. We’ve come to the beach to celebrate or something. It wasn’t fully explained to me. I don’t see how we can celebrate weather like this, even after the brutal winter; this is dictatorial. And we’re in shackles until nightfall. Terri wanted to come out here. I think she’s possessed. I really could do with an ice-cold coke. This woman is my wife. 17 years now. We’ve both had our demons here and there through the years. This one though, it obviously has her good. This could even be the first circle of hell. Did she murder me and then commit suicide last night and take me with her into the night? I fucking hope not. Either way, we’re in Satan’s lair today. Where is that bastard? 

Summer time. The heat pushes down on the city with all it’s might. Not even the air can move. The makeshift umbrella wilts, it’s shade more of an insult than a relief. We’ve come to the beach to celebrate or something. It wasn’t fully explained to me. I don’t see how we can celebrate weather like this, even after the brutal winter; this is dictatorial. And we’re in shackles until nightfall. Terri wanted to come out here. I think she’s possessed. I really could do with an ice-cold coke. This woman is my wife. 17 years now. We’ve both had our demons here and there through the years. This one though, it obviously has her good. This could even be the first circle of hell. Did she murder me and then commit suicide last night and take me with her into the night? I fucking hope not. Either way, we’re in Satan’s lair today. Where is that bastard? 

Oppikoppi: An affair

Oppikoppi 19 2013

2013 was my fifth Oppikoppi in a row. The music festival that happens just outside the mining town of Northam (Rock City) in Limpopo is now 19 years old. The reason I’ve not missed one since my first experience is the same reason the festival is 19. When you arrive and inhale that dust it clings to you somehow, inside. That dust stays there forever. Oppikoppi is a part of you. And each time you return it feels like you’re home. That itch has been soothed, that fix attained.

Sound like a religion? It is kinda. It’s a cult. And sometimes people get hurt. But that’s their own fault; when stage diving, aim for the group of big okes, not the gaggle of girls all staring longingly at the singer.

Being at Oppikoppi, surrounded by 20 000 other people all looking to have the time of their lives, it gets quite close to being spiritual. When the potent mix of great music, gees, dust and alcohol combine you really do get the Coca-cola of gooseflesh-inducing atmosphere; that same combination of ingredients can’t be emulated elsewhere.

The first rule in Oppikoppi’s ‘official rule book’ is ‘Make no little plans’. When you get that bangle clipped to your wrist at the gate it’s like stepping into a bubble and the outside world ceases to exist for three days. I believe this is part of the attraction of most festivals. Alongside the music of course.

In this bubble with your 20 000 unknown brothers the possibilities are infinite. It’s not possible to make little plans. This year I saw a guy hanging onto the back of a Police bakkie (they patrol the campsite) wearing nothing but a g-string cock sock. Not on acid would you imagine that happening. It was beautiful. He wasn’t even arrested.

The festival attracts all sorts. From 40-year old couples to Matrics. They all cram into this dusty camp that’s really just a piece of farmland; grass, wag ‘n bietjie bushes and acacia trees. Here the streets have names and they are paved by the ghosts of past revellers. Stories can be told on every corner; the excesses, the naughty rendezvous, the chance meeting of old friends and the ignition of brand new friendships.

The one thing that unites every single one of us is the music. Ever since that first show 19 years ago up at the top bar (op die koppie) the musicians that have the privilege are there because they’ve earned it. Traditionally a band’s Oppikoppi performance is their best of the year. Whether they intend it or not, their eyes take on a certain veneer and things get crazy; much to everyone’s delight. You’ll watch bands you’ve never heard of that will melt your face or heart and you’ll have old favourites show you a side you’ve never seen before.

The festival has hosted legends like Koos Kombuis, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, Mango Groove, Fokofpolisiekar, Springbok Nude Girls, David Kramer, Vusi Mahlasela, Albert Frost, 340ml, Piet Botha, the county’s premier DJ’s and international acts like SUM 41, Billy Talent, Enter Shikari, Bullet for my Valentine, Eagles of Death Metal, Deftones and Diplo. The past two years have featured 140 acts each across 3 nights on 5 stages.

The festival also excels in other areas. It developed a cashless card system throughout the festival. Now in it’s third year the system has proven to be reliable, safe and convenient. Carel Hoffman, Misha Loots and the team at Hilltop Live run an extremely efficient ship. The stages are well managed, the sound is good, the bars well serviced and the toilets are generally clean.

But enough of that boring stuff. This is about why Oppikoppi is a haven for music lovers and freaks. The reasons are numerous and ever changing and your reasons will be different to mine but we all feel the same. Whether you’re there out of curiosity or because a friend dragged you along; whether you’re there to see your favourite band, or because that girl you like is going, one thing is for sure: you’ll be back.

Breathe on that dusty Limpopo farm and, while you’re coughing, those particles become part of you. The relentless Oppikoppi rhythm grabs at you and you let it. You are in the cult now. Welcome.

In dust we trust. 

Photo © Murray Walker

Article originally appeared on whatson.co.za

Oppikoppi Bewilderbeast

The sun sinks and sucks away the warmth

Beasts appear in the dusk, they’re just like me

We wonder without aim; what will be will be

This is more than just music

This is more than just dust

This is a perverted form of lust

The stage is our alter

Lights flash and speakers shake

Bewildered by our gods, we make the earth quake

This is a pilot for a new comedy series out of Cape Town, South Africa. It’s quite funny. Take a look.

Dis ‘n Land

This is a country so extra-ordinary and anomalous that understanding it completely would not be possible. The dynamics at play create variables so astounding that predicting what path this country will be treading in 5, 10, 20 years’ time would be a fool’s errand.

It’s true that no one can foretell the direction of America or China but it’s unlikely that much will change in the power structure of the planet in the next two decades. America will try cling greedily to what power it has and China will continue building its influence throughout the developing world.

This however, is no political temperature take. This is but a meek attempt at clarifying my own views of this unpredictable place I call Home.

I realised some years ago already how exciting South Africa is. Every day is full of hypocrisy, double-standards and violence. Every day is full of love, warmth and promise. Those with means live in a first-world bubble, those without can only look in with despair. There is shiny new Hope around this corner and stinky, retched hopelessness around the next. I say this is all very exciting because, well, it is. Which might sound insensitive but really all I mean by it is this: it’s unpredictable.

We’re well known for our unpredictability. One need only look at the fact that we didn’t resort to civil war in the late 80’s/early 90’s when civil war seemed the only sure bet. The proud and stubborn Afrikaners gave up power to those they violently oppressed for decades, we are home to arguably the most loved (or at least most respected) individual on the planet, we’ve hosted the biggest sporting event in the world after being told we couldn’t manage it and after 18 years of democracy, the country is still pretty sound.

No crystal ball could have predicted all that.

There is no clear answer to why we are so unpredictable. It seems that at every turn we manage to surprise the pundits, confuse the experts and give a big middle finger to anyone who says we can’t do something. It seems we have an innate ability to ignore reality, to disregard the conditions on the pitch and put on a performance that leaves people asking ‘did that just happen?’

I’m not trying to paint an image of South Africa as this underdog utopia where everyone lives comfortably and harmoniously. Oh no, for all our unpredictability at the grand scale, we have the crippling predictability of everyday realities like racism, paranoia, violence, poverty and ignorance.

We have treason trials for idiotic Boere who think killing a powerful black man will grant them access to a volkstaad. We have delusional Zulus who think they’re more important than their fellow men, the men who put them in power in the first place. We have a 1% largely unaware of the strife surrounding them, their only view into how ‘the other half’ live coming through a car window on the way to the airport, their thoughts wandering more towards their holiday than to how humans can allow other humans to live in squalor and hopelessness.

We’re no angels but we sure are conjurers  Out of this stewing, steaming mix, where flavours struggle to mix and things occasionally boil over, we manage to brew something quite staggering. Take a sip of our ‘kool-aid’ and you’ll see what I mean.

*The title ‘Dis ‘n Land’ is taken from a Van Coke Kartel song of the same name. 

The war on drugs is an utter failure and slowly the realisation of this fact is dawning in the minds of influential people the world over. This a video about the changes in mindset.

Here is another highly emotive film created as part of the greater launch of Sigur Rós’ new album ‘Valtari’

Dear Bloemfontein

What the fuck? Seriously. 

I find it incredibly sad that there are men and women who are so absolutely petrified by the unknown that they feel the need to dictate to others what they can and cannot see or hear.

I can say quite confidently that the City of Roses is bursting with these people. I had it first hand living there for 15 years. It’s everywhere. Earlier this year on a visit to my parents, my brother and I were asked twice, by complete strangers, if we were from somewhere out there, beyond the bubble. Two pretty normal looking chaps shopping at Pick n Pay or walking in a mall seems to be too much for these people. The norm must just be such a depressing grey for guys like my brother and I to stand out.

I read today that RAMFest - a South African concert tour originating in the Cape and spreading first to Johannesburg and then on to Durban, Port Elizabeth and Bloem - has cancelled the 2013 Bloem leg of the tour. The result of a lack of venues. 

The reason for this lack of venues is rather sinister in my opinion. Religious groups have put pressure on venues, like the university, to ignore the prospect of a big, professional production. A festival that brings the best in local talent to towns in desperate need of exposure to the bands they see on MK or hear on the radio. 

The reason these bigots want to effectively ban RAMFest from the city is founded on the fact that the ‘RAM’ in RAMFest is offensive. A ram is apparently the devils favourite animal or is the official logo of the Horned One or something equally ridiculous. ‘RAM’ actually stands for ‘Real Alternative Music’. It’s an acronym people,  not a fucking mass murder.

Now, I do respect the fact that the people behind this witch hunt are a small group . They in no way represent the people of Bloemfontein. I doubt most residents are even aware that RAMFest was intending on coming to Bloem - so I don’t want to tar and feather them all.

The thing is though, this group is powerful enough to convince an institution like the University of the Free State to reject RAMFest. This after the university had agreed to host the festival. An email claiming the festival represented the Illuminati and satanism went viral. How can an relatively anonymous email making such 19th century claims gain such momentum in 2012? I don’t know about you but that’s fucking scary.

This was all surrounding the first attempt by RAMFest to put on a festival in the city in March 2012. The festival ended up in Mystic Boer, a renowned sanctuary for Bloem’s ‘alternative’ crowd.  

At least it went ahead though. The 2013 festival has been cancelled due to increased pressure from this group. Because of them no suitable venue will even consider hosting RAMFest. I can only assume they fear being boycotted and seen as Satan sympathisers.

In a city where the hills all have illuminated crucifixes and mega-churches welcome thousands of believers every Sunday I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that a music festival like RAMFest is given a hard time.

What insults me so greatly about all this is the complete stupidity of the argument. The thought goes thusly: a ram is a symbol of the devil, the festival presents bands that play the devil’s music, the festivals symbols/logos symbolise allegiance to the Illuminati and your kids will be taken by Lucifer himself if they are exposed to this filth.

This is their argument.

It is so deeply rooted in ignorance and arrogance that it simply cannot justify respect. And yet it does.

I have no answers on how to fix this problem but I know it needs to be addressed. Part of me wants to let them continue festering in their own self-importance but the rest of me wants to simply smack them upside the head and give them a book that isn’t the bible.

RAMFest

Volksblad

A review of music, books, films, politics and anything else that seems interesting with a dash of fiction and photography for you to laugh at. By Murray Walker

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