Lebo Mashile and Khanyisa Buti (Majola) are going to launch their latest body of work on July 2 and it is set to be an offering that will both slice your heart open and sew it up simultaneously with clean sutures. This is what we have been waiting for.
Social media and the poetry circles have been abuzz ever since Lebo Mashile and Majola held their exclusive listening session a few weeks back with an intimate group of the media, their family and friends. Their 12 track album -- Moya has been the topic almost daily, and it's easy to understand why.
Theirs is a complex and acute account of where we are today as a country and it delves into the spiritual realm, exploring the narrative of why we may need a cleansing of our land (and of ourselves) so that healing can begin. The story of how these two amazing artists came about to working together is an extraordinary one, as they didn't plan this. They had met on the set of Pamela Nomvete's Ngiyadansa an adaptation of her autobiography -- Dancing to the Beat of the Drum. And the track Soweto from their three track EP released in 2016 came to life on this set, the three songs on the EP are included on their album.
Moya -- which happens to also be the name of Mashile's firstborn son, is a politically charged album with songs like Woza Moya, taken from South Africa's original national anthem and this particular track cuts one to the quick, it is a painstakingly honest account of the jarring realities in South Africa with lines like:
sanctified black president,
black Jesus of investment,
black snake charmer for the politics of the present,
mythologised black Saint Nicholas,
de-radicalised neutered black MLK's essence,
a teddy bear or a terrorist,
A visionary vanquisher or a victor
A coca cola communist branded in a marketer's tell-tale prison...Lebo Mashile
All the while Majola's voice echoes -- makubenjalo (may Your will be done) as if in prayer and interceding for the revival of the spirit of Azania.
Many who do not know Majola may assume that his come-up happened after the release of their EP, but he has an album out titled Boet/Sissy, a slighting term in isiXhosa meaning a feminine man, umntu ongumfana kodwa izenzo nohlobo alulo okanye uhlobo athetha ngalo lubonakalisa impawu zobuntombi. Majola is a grounded musician who endeavours to speak the truth that many have been waxing lyrical on but because their voices are drowned out, their message was never heard or gets lost in the chaos.
Majola says he does what he does so that he can "archive these lived experiences" for many to pull as a reference, this is a powerful reason for creating because many of us are quick to forget the work that creatives offer when theirs is the only voice saying the things that society shies away from.
Mashile has been vocal on many socioeconomic and political issues affecting the black community and black womxn in particular since the beginning of her poetry days in the underground whilst studying at Wits, as well as through the Feela Sistah! spoken word collective, on her show L'attitude or her column -- In Her Shoes on True Love magazine and more recently on The Feminist Stokvel. She has been doing the damn things, years before it was cool to be woke, this is someone who had entire op-eds written about her body, long before body positivity became a trending hashtag. Mashile has been speaking her truth, even when it was deemed unpopular to do so, and she's still living her truth to this day.
It is beautiful to watch how these two individuals have both come full circle in their quest to continue shedding light on the farce that is the rainbow nation in songs such as Bones and on how we are a country that is deeply fragmented -- mimicked by the chilling Sabela, crying out for healing and all at once reminding us that love is a possibility and that as a people we are worthy of it.
Now the real work of unlearning, rebuilding and learning can begin anew.