Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Where did Kwaito go?

Remember the good old days, when TKZee used to start and end the party....when Mandoza's Nkalakatha was the song to be played? Ahhh infact, I visited my old high school a few months ago, and found them still playing the good old kwaito beats lebesi jam-ma ngawo back in the day! Then again, the UWC is a whole new environment. They'll stay playing Mandoza and Tribal Blast. But as I joined in with kids from over 100 countries, watching as the sweet Lebanese girl and the chemistry geek from Uganda tried their luck at doing the "kwaito dances" that I once went crazy for, I could only wonder...Where did Kwaito go?

Its been about...emm...7 years since I finished high school in Manzini, Swaziland...All-girl Anglican school. No nonsense, don't-mess teachers and matrons. Best results in the country (may I boast a lil, dust my shoulders a lil?)...One thing St Michaels girls were known for...well, actually 3. Beauty (check), brains (check) and dancing (um, working on it to be dishonest). Do not even mess, besiba bontsa! We had school concerts, where students danced, performed skits, plays and had fashion shows...Ours was always the last. Of course ke, it was the grand finale. We danced to the likes of Boom Shaka, Mandoza, TKZee, Trompies, Mdu, E'smile, and that group....var vas jy....where were u! We even had the hair styles, I remember my first Boom Shaka braids, thick, black and long to the waist. Was I not feeling myself?? And then, of course, I had to borrow the "tsotsi" hat ('idori') and colorful all stars from my brothers closet. Well, by borrow, i mean steal and return before dark. They were the rockas...Trompies' "Sweety Lavo" was the anthem of all who had boyfriends. I remember mine coming early for the concert to make sure he got good seats and enjoyed a little "private moment" with me (Private means 'in disguise" from our nasty headmaster -- thats when the back of the hall was populated by lovebirds and the like). To top it off, I'd get a letter slipped into my bag with Sweety Lavo lyrics dedicated to me.

Kwaito was the thing of the season...Every festive holiday, a new "X mas" jam would hit the streets and no party would end without it being played. It went from TKZees Dlala Mapantsula (in fact that whole album was the rockas), to Nkalakatha, to Mazola. Mind u, each one came with a different dance...I remember them all! But I can't dance them all anymore. Will I not be the odd one out? It seems as though House is the new Kwaito and Afro-pop is the new R'nB. Well, House has always been there, the likes of DJ Fresh, DJ Glen Lewis, Africanism etc...but (correct me if I'm wrong), they never really enjoyed the mass air play that Kwaito did. And in fact, they seemed to be played at parties exclusively, in moderation...and as a "listen to this beat and go crazy for the next Kwaito song" type scenario. Ive always loved house, I feel the quality has improved, owing to the many new good DJs in the area. (Oo...remember, Benni's in the 18 area! TkZee in the area! Bafana in the area! Halakasha!...Shibobo...let me not crash my train of thought). I can't go a day now without listening to DJ Cleo, Sbu (Remember when it rained won best song at this years SAMAs) and others. I feel it is this overtake in popularity that has diminished the Kwaito scene and brought House to clubs, parties and personal stereos with a loud bang mfethu!

Afro-pop is another great genre. The thing to hear now is Malaika, Mafikizolo, Mina Nawe, Ntando, Tyte and lots more. I mean umaBrrr (Brenda Fassie, RIP), Yvonne Chaka Chaka and other legends have always been there, but there's been this sudden boom in the Afro-pop industry and the current artists are definitely loving it! I personally am a big fan of Afro-pop. Nothing says I love you better than Malaika and no one will ever describe how beautiful an African woman is -- as well as Ringo Madlingozi does. I'd rather be told "Ubuhle bakho ntombi...Amehlo akho sthandwa sam!" than "Sexy love...girl the things u do keep me sprung (and so?), keep me running back to you (where did u go to begin with?)". Infact, one thing I've always loved about parties and clubs in
South Africa and Swaziland is they play House and Afro-pop primarily. And so, after being bombarded with hip hop and dancehall for a year (with the occasional African get-together with Makossa, Highlife, and other African genres), it's a breath of fresh air to go back home and know that African music is being played by default. You'll find hip hop clubs, reggae nights etc in SA but most people definitely enjoy the music from home.

I guess, Kwaito is still around in a way...House seems to be more of a merge between rave and kwaito beats, and Afro-pop still gets alot of its influence from traditional Kwaito music. And of course, we still have geniuses like Kabelo and Zola that will remind us of how it was done back in the day...Mandoza, Arthur and Mdu are also still in the scene. Hehe, Arthur's song "Sika Lekhekhe" has even been banned from the media because of its questionable connotations of sex and women. Do trust. He's the same one who came out with "Do u like my Zombo". Nuff said. Thembi Seete of Boom Shaka, I believe is still doing her thing, and it's sad Lebo (also of Boom Shaka fame) passed away this year in a tragic accident. And well, we have bo Mzambiya, Mzekezeke and other upcoming artists who get a lot of backing from older stars. Kwaito neva dies!!

Go to Museke to listen to some great Kwaito and Afro-pop, as well as find lyrics, blogs and news about African music! ~

Sika Lekhekhe Vid : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkSwGBgDXQg

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Congrats to 07!!

To all the hardworkers of the class of 2007...Congrats! The card (Zulu) says :
Congratulations...You endured the journey and survived,
You saw darkness, but now youve finally arrived!

And like Zola would say....Ola Se7en!!!

--And actually, the picture on the card is the perfect graphic description of "Esibayeni" -- meaning 'in the cattle kraal". Where alot of important functions take place in the Swazi custom.

Say it in a greeting, in the right language at Kasahorow Greetings

Nabikoowa Nange!

Nabikoowa Lyrics

Why are men such flakes. Watch him creep in ati no one can hear me...styoopid. Love the look on his face when he finds her scrolling through the phone. lololol. Some people. Although : never scroll through his phone. Atleast that is my principle. Because...you shall find it!

Happy Birthday

You know when you get your first male friend...and it seems like you will get married even though you know yre just friends? And then you get older and grow apart. You see pictures of him all grown and dating and you smile, and laugh because you remember those days after church when you would sit and talk about the funniest things in life....when you'd make fun of each other all through that discreet phonecall? You watch him grow, from a distance...and u wonder how on earth u havent talked for years, but still remember his birthday.....

You know when you're the baby of the house, and that 7-year gap between u and yr sister just doesn't cut it? You're jealous of all the freedom she gets, and she's jealous of all the spoilage you receive. When you get so angry that you want to murder her in her sleep...and yet you know you love her more than anything on earth...When you beat each other up until you're red and sore an your mother watches u from the kitchen and tells you how stupid you both are? When she teaches you how to use tampons and you still think they are disgusting. Then she teaches you how to deal with men, and gives you a beautiful niece and nephew that you love to death? When she gives you your first drink of amarula and makes sure she's there to monitor your every move thereafter? When she tells on you and steals your make-up and after you complain and almost shoot her, she brings out the best birthday gift ever for you. When you're miles apart yet her jokes still make you laugh wherever you are...and you know you can always run into her closet when you have that "wat to wear" attack...When its such a busy day, and you havent spoken to her in days...but you still remember her birthday..

Happy Birthday to two special people in my life!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A note to His Majesty

Your Majesty,

The one most valuable thing I learnt growing up in the dusty, yet friendly, streets of Manzini, is how to respect others. Particularly, how to respect those older than me. It is with my deepest humility and respect that I write this letter to you.

I wish I could sing your praises line by line. Unfortunately, I took the French path in primary school when I should have taken advantage of our SiSwati curriculum. All is not lost however, because I can still effectively communicate with my country men and women, read SiSwati books and enjoy our funny TV shows and commercials. Perhaps I can even write a novel in SiSwati one day. Bayethe Ngwenyama yesive semaSwati! I'm writing this letter to bring to your attention, your royal majesty, an issue I have been battling with as a young Swazi woman studying away from home.
I remember my days at St Michael's when I was the star of my class... I walked everywhere with pride. Come the annual prize giving ceremony, My mother would make sure to bring baskets to accomodate all my prizes, from Math to Additional Math, French to English, Chemistry to Physics. The one I failed to snatch was that Geography one. It's too bad I could never memorize those plate tectonic mechanisms. I was also a little on the lazy side to get a grab of the home economics and agriculture prizes. I applauded the girls that did, however. It makes me wonder : where are they now? We all strived to get into our tertiary institutions of choice when the St Michael's days came to a bitter end in November 2000. As a Swazi, I was proud to see my government sponsor every high school graduate who got into their program of choice in
Swaziland, South Africa and other SADC countries. I made my own decisions to come to the USA and that is a whole new topic, but I don't speak for Swazis in the States. Today, I speak for Swazis in Swaziland and the SADC Countries.

I understand that budgets dont remain the same. Now, in 2007, fewer Swazis and programs are being sponsored, heightening the competition and hypothetically making our students work harder in school. Perhaps we got too comfortable in our skins and maybe now the caliber of professionals will be better, who knows? I dont think that is
Swaziland's problem right now. Quite honestly, I think Swaziland's problem does not lie with its monarchy rule as the rest of the world likes to point out. The fact that Swaziland has the highest AIDS prevalence rate in the world stems from our government's inability to create jobs to accomodate Swazi graduates from SADC countries and all over the world. I was never sponsored by the Swazi government, but I have countless friends who were. At the end of the day, most of us want to give back to Swaziland, but that puts us in an awkward position of power when you take into account job offers from countries with booming economies. Yes, money is a big part of the reason many Swazis do not return home upon completion of their degrees.

Your Majesty, as far back as I can remember, I've known the same set of CEOs, ministers, headteachers, economic advisors, public health officials, commisioners, etc. There is no room in
Swaziland for fresh ideas, eager minds and new graduates to bring to practise what they have studied in their various fields of choice. Whether or not they have been sponsored by the government, these young professionals all deserve a go at their careers. At home. If we dont lay the kind of foundation necessary to promote our own, then our 'independence' will forever be a myth. International NGOs will find opportunity in our weakness, humanitarian aid agencies will be our back support. This is detrimental to our economic success as a growing nation. I know plenty Swazis who are studying medicine, engineering, health policy, tourism, education, business and art all over the world. When we come home, there are very limited job opportunities that will give us the intellectual stimulation and financial stability we desire and deserve. I understand that this cannot be done over night, and that not everyone can be CEO and minister straight from college or graduate school. But we can atleast be assured that if we work hard at it, we can get jobs related to our fields (not the LLM-teaching-biology phenomenon) and better promote our own people, our own ideas and our own economy, so as to be a successful monarchy with dedicated global citizens!


Fakudze Mntolo Mayisandzaba Nkhaba yashona ngatsi ise bhodleleni.
Nkhosi Dlamini!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

4 years

Has it really been 4 years? The morning of the 27th May it still hadn't hit me until I was running around our apartment going crazy because I misplaced my graduation cap. When I found it, I saw the dangling, gold thing on the tassel that said "2007". I wanted to just collapse and cry. For all the things I had, all the things I lost, the things I left behind, and the things still to come. Manje, I had already ti-tivated with the mascaras and the eye shadows that I refused to ruin. Now, a couple weeks later, lounging in my favorite attire (wouldnt you love to know)...around my favorite time of the day when I've cooked the rice and beef stew, ive cleaned the kitchen, ive charged the ipod, ive watched a movie, ive gossiped all day with a Swazi friend, ive admired and hated pictures on facebook, ive listened to my favorite songs. Now...its time to think. I remember graduating from high school and someone told me, ahh...for you, college will be a breeze. I waited for the breeze for 4 years, thank God I dealt with the storm while waiting. It may be just me, but college isnt easy. Being thousands of miles away from home, family, people who speak your language and share your jokes, doesn't help either. Being in a country where all you are is your race and your body, your achievements and your mistakes, didnt quite hit it either. Well, I had my four years. I wouldn't say it was "the best years of my life". But I would say the person I came out as is someone I love to be. I'm a woman, I have insecurities, I cry, I laugh, I cook, I smile, I curse people out, I apologize, I love, I live, I wish, I pray, I dream....I'm proud of the person Ive become. I've always wanted to get as close as I can to the woman my mother is. I'm a far cry, to be honest, but the one thing I learnt through college, was to be able to step out of your skin and allow yrself to cry. And then when that's done, to dutifully pick up that pen and continue studying.

I learnt that family doesn't always reside where you grew up, and that people who do reside where you grew up are not always family. I learnt that sometimes it's ok to allow yrself to be weak, because that's actually when God's strength is made perfect. I learnt that being black does not always mean being African, and being African does not always mean being black...and that identity is something that is unique to an individual, how annoying as it may be, i've learnt to be tolerant that i'm expected to fit in that little box on the application form. I've learnt a whole lot about Neurons, their biochemistry, their physics, their anatomy, their function, their networks. Ive learnt an awful lot about economics and health in developing countries, about the dances of Ghana, the formulae of multivariable calculus, the mechanisms of ketones, acids and alcohols. Ive learnt how to drink responsibly, and when to put down the glass, or avoid it altogether. Ive learnt that loving someone sometimes means letting them go. Ive learnt that people who think you're beautiful dont necessarily love you. And that those who love you dont always tell you you're beautiful. Ive learnt to be content with being pretty, not hot. Smart, not a dime. Friendly, not sexy. Ive learnt that music can be your closest friend. Ive learnt that the way to get an A in college is to do a whole lot of work, and just as much sucking up. Ive learnt that its ok to cry all night, pray all night, complain all night, criticize yourself all night...and then get up in the morning and smile. Ive learnt that you dont always need someone's approval to make a go at your dreams. Ive learnt to not take myself too seriously. Ive learnt that 9am classes should end junior year. Ive learnt that you can work on something for a year, and not get your desired results. Ive also learnt that sometimes, not getting yr desired results is a blessing...that some of God's greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers. I've learnt that my culture may not be the same as yours, but I understand. I've learnt how to type a 5 page paper in 45 minutes. Ive also learnt how to do a 3 page paper in 2 weeks. Ive learnt that sometimes, like Greg says, "hes just not that into you". And often times, I'm just not that into him either. I've learnt to appreciate a phonecall, a hug, a smile, a chat, a kiss on the cheek, a compliment. I've also learnt that that is not always necesary to feel beautiful. Ive learnt that sometimes you'll just look bummy and who the heck cares. Ive learnt that I dont always need to find answers, I just need to know that God heard the questions. Ive learnt that mothers are angels. Ive learnt that you can get healing just listening to someone speaking to you in your language. Ive learnt that sometimes the wisest people dont have degrees from prestigious institutions. And in fact, plenty a time, all they have is the highest degree of loving you sincerely. Ive learnt that cooking 5 times a week is the best way to stay healthy. Ive also learnt that I hate the gym. Ive learnt that a night with my girlfriends chatting in the hall / by the kitchen table is a night well spent. Ive also learnt that sometimes its fun to flirt and let them know what they cant have!! Ive learnt to love when it hurts, smile when its annoying, work when its tiring, sing when its unbearable and encourage when you need it the most. Ive learnt all the bio u can imagine, and still cant remember a damn thing. Ive learnt that African music is the best on earth, and that even though I love R Kelly's rise up, I'd love to come back home to Malaika, 2face, Nameless, Antwi and Julianna. Ive learnt that its all the bullshit that makes you stronger. And its all the heartbreaks that make you love more. Ive learnt to think of someone else but me for half the day. And about me the other half. hehe...Ive learnt to laugh even when its not funny...to stand on a crutch. Ive learnt to constantly make plans to do something bigger, and better....Ive learnt that when something is really yours, you dont have to fight to get it. Ive also learnt that some things are worth fighting for. Ive learnt that sometimes its not about the finish line, it's about the journey. Ive learnt that I love Haagen Dasz ice cream, and that sometimes you just gotta have it with chocolate and caramel sauce on top. Top that with a milk shake and a coke. Ive learnt that being alive is a miracle. Ive learnt that its always the wrong ones that love you best (ugh)...and that natural hair actually does look great on me! Ive learnt to scroll down my phonebook and call someone I havent heard from in a long time. Ive learnt to be happy and to be strong...Ive learnt to be a lover AND a fighter. Ive learnt that my career passions lie in the health field in developing countries. Ive learnt that we shouldnt criticize Oprah for opening a wealthy all-girl school in South Africa. Ive learnt that we shd criticize ourselves for letting someone come all the way to our countries to do things that we can do best ourselves. Ive learnt that liberal arts has been one of my most valuable forms of learning. Ive also learnt that doing laundry with my mother while she lectures me on many things, far exceeds liberal arts. Ive learnt that people are human first, before they are Guyanese, black, homosexual, educated, poor, hot, athletic, or annoying. Ive learnt to never compromise who I am as a woman, for who he wants me to be. Ive learnt that in all things, God remains the same. Ive learnt to go through the fire, the storm, the rain and the valley with a smile on my face. Ive learnt that my name is the best name my parents could have named me. Ive learnt to make a delicious meal between classes...Ive learnt that classes are a pain but sometimes a pain worth going through. Ive learnt that people will always look for your faults, and its ok to let them find them. Ive learnt all this and more....and yet, I'm still learning.