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BOOKED @ Muse: Afurakan


Thabiso Mohare, better known as Afurakan, is the crown prince of Johannesburg’s underground slam poetry. He is best known for his stage improvisations on hip-hop tunes. His style has caught the attention of many slam poets and and writers across Africa with its rhythm and provocative nature.

This is a poet who can cipher with god – and while celebrating the fact that “Blaq people rock” also writes for the miners who beat rock all their lives, for everything that is “less”. His activity within Jozi’s poetry movement can be traced back to the “So where to” poetry events, and his work with the poetry collective Soul 2 Mouth, among others. Afurakan has played a vital role in the growth of the spoken word movement in Johannesburg and indeed South Africa; and he’s a regular at schools and community centres, performing for the purpose of spreading the word.

The past three years have seen Afurakan learn and earn the highs and lows of entrepreneurship through a media and production company. When Muse @ BOOK SA finally caught up with the busy director of Head Gear Media, he had just finished reading The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield and was starting on My Life by the one and only Fidel Castro.



I cried
And with my tears
Fell all the walls around me.
With my tears
Fell all
Expectations prejudice and colour.
My tears
Washed away all memory of my failures
Washed away all memory of my struggles
And all traces of my scars.

I heard poetry
For the first time
It was heavy with accent
Yet, spoke clarity
It spoke words
That drove demons out of me
It unleashed pain from my spirit prison
And fed it to the universe
For she knows how to deal with it
It freed all corners of my mind
And gave me freedom lessons
It painted God as me
And hung my portrait
On the gallery of thought

My world
Lost all shape and form
And what stood before me
Were endless possibilities
My earth was clay
And I was a six year old

I learned how to breathe
With every breath
Came fresh hope
With every breath
Came new visions and dreams
With every breath
Time, age and wisdom

I learned
To let go


Blaq People Rock

rumour has it
that the roots of rock as we know it,
score whispers of truth,
leave human records unspun,
in the form of, ambition-propelled,

rumour has it
that we, compositions of clay
who speak sand storms
in the dilect of rock
carry scoresheet of origin
as patterns of skin tone.

can u dig?

yeah, i can dig

for we have dug rock
played its tragedy on world stages
around necks of legends
between rock-breaks, base kicks and hi-hats,
we have given life and limb
improvised the art of digging rock
yet stand with a fistful of sound
as descendents of soil.

can you rock?

yeah, i can rock
for we have danced bullets
and rocked oppression out of fashion
tatooed rock on the tongue of memory
and now the world sings our name.

and who are we?

we are the under-miners
and under mines
we are undermined
migrant roadies who beat rock
we beat rock
we beat rock
we beat rock
and let the beat rock
with a gumboot beat-box
we let the beat rock

and thru unplugged volumes of rock
ruff jewels bare the rock crushed backs
in pursuite of their destiny to shine
While mine,
Is a legacy of blood
A chorus beneath the earth
Instruments of greed
We compose the riches of rock
Yet sing hunger to the night
My royalty is life
Unspoken it hurts
Buried in a verse
The irony of word
Truth spoken, unheard
On how we still fish the earth
And while you rhyme about platinum and gold
Music is the canvas and we paint secrets untold

When the album is done
And black label satisfies a black labour thirst
We play a new rhythm
Back stage, while you toast statues of our labour
We play a new rhythm
We beat rock and
Let the beat rock
We beat rock and
With a gumboot beat-box
We let the beat rock



I stood in a cipher with God
and all he seemed to speak about was rotating planets and stars
I stood in a cipher with God
and all he seemed to speak about was separating light from the dark,
barbeques on the sun and leaving a burning candle on the moon

Thor was his beat-box and Moses was keeping score on 2 four-cornered stones
his accomplice was a four headed shadow which seemed to bump it’s head in every direction
and the spying Ra, listened from a distance in anticipation
he started talking about me and I thought he was dissing
but actually he was explaining the philosophy behind me
see, God is the wizard and I’m his magical bag of tricks
all he needs to is think and I spit
and we don’t need blunts to reach the highest ultimate level of thought
coz we smoke life rolled up in papyrus leaves
blow out smoke rings and let them hang around Saturn planets

then suddenly Thor changed the beat

Thor changed the beat and 21 angels joined in
we opened up the cipher so the rest of hell could move in
flames sparked the cipher from this fiery creature claiming he was a battle cat
he started dissing but God ignored him,
I asked why, he said “nah, I’ll let Gabriel handle that “
he called me the first son of man and kept on repeating that
the Armageddon was only a punch-line away,
the Armageddon was only a punch-line away
but how could it be, he had promised me that we would cipher into eternity
then deciding that he was out of my league,
he brought Moses in to battle me

now Moses was from the old school and was known to battle only with 10 lines
but could simultaneously project his voice to transmit through 10 mics
10 times, now that’s 10 lives
10 mc’s embarrassed and taken out at the same time
the cipher was getting hot and I had to battle back,
so looking at Moses I was like

You are not an m.c
even if I was the red sea and you were a staff
You still couldn’t split me
Don’t even look at me
You need to live another century to be raw enough to battle me
And I’m the prodigal son out of the crowd you misled
And I’m back to make swallow every word you ever said
Even on Noah’s ark you wouldn’t survive regardless
I’ll make you write AFURAKAN as the eleventh commandment

The beat stopped as Thor had swallowed his electrical tongue
and all corners of the universe seemed to fold in
too dumb-struck to react, Moses collapsed face flat
as the 21 angels hung their heads in shame
and fell on my knees at God’s feet

Our father, please forgive me for I have killed one of your sons
Please forgive me for I have killed one of me

My tongue was then imprisoned for 21 reincarnations
only then can I cipher with God again
only then can I truly be me, again

Photo courtesy Kagablog

BOOKED @ Muse: Mak Manaka

Mak Manka

Maakomele Manaka is no doubt one of South Africa’s most influential writers, poets and thinkers. Raised by a family that engages in the arts, it is no surprise that this young lion started to write at 12. He went on to publish his first poetry collection, If Only, in 2003 at age 19. Recently, his debut poetry album Word Sound and Power was released through Melody Muzik. The flowerful and flaming production fuses reggae, dub, hip hop and ghetto sounds. As much as he celebrates Africa and his people, he also chides the powers that be! This provocative artist will launch his second collection of poems, titled In time, on 31st October, published through Ge’ko.

Throughout his 15 years on stage and page, Manaka has shared his poems/views through his strong voice, young blood and old roots, in countries such as Jamaica, Cuba, Germany and recently Italy with an array of extraordinary artists from South Africa and beyond. Muse recently caught up with “Mak”, as he is known, at the acclaimed International festival of Literature in Italy’s Mantova, where he appeared with two of South Africa’s (and the world’s) most loved writers, Nadine Gordimer and Gcina Mhlophe. Among them was poet/perfomer and playwright extraordinaire Napo Masheane.

Manaka has been associated with poetry collectives such as Likwid Tongue and Seven. His poetry can also be found in anthologies such as We are… (Penguin) and I nostri semi/Peo tsa Rona poetry (Mangrovie). Manaka is currently reading The girl who played go by Shan Sa.


A Feeling Like This

She tickles me,
Yet I find it harder to laugh
Coz it’s a feeling
Of a thousand Jazz-men flowers,
A sunset of different colors
Cady coded on her finger tips
As she touches.
She is not late night
With Msizi Shembe
Coz her beat on my heart
Pounds the rhythm of a djembe,
And I know….
That my pain will cease
Once my arrogance
Learns not to resist
Her fiery kiss
Simply because,
She is that calming serene sent
Of bliss
I ever
A feeling like this.
All of nature’s beauty
In one face,
She said my name
But Sunday jazz
Was all my ears to taste
Come darling here is my fire
Let’s blaze
Tonight you are the sun light
In all of men’s dark days
Some of us are still searching
For our selves in her purple eyes
And so I learned
To ask no lies
Hear no evil
And realize
The truth lives in her smiles.
She of a million light-years
Brightens up my path
True evidence
Of any man’s confidence
She is love longing to be found
We met at street corners
Like Township lovers
Plus the night covers
Disbelieve of loving
Feeling like we are surrounded
By nothing
My semi sweet glass of serenity
Say my name once more
So may definitely know
For sure
That just from a conversation
I soar
And in her eyes I saw
The truth starring back at me,
Innocent tears of reality.
And as she spoke in shades of the moon
I questioned
When will she ever hear the tune
I composed with my heart.

– copyright Mak Manaka


the ghosts of theatre

see how they dance
attention into a trance
and jazz pain off our hands.
born to wait,
stronger than yesterday
and weaker than now
see the energy in their frowns.
look how they steal our crown
and treat us like clowns,
they forgot
that in the past
our feet stomp anxiety in their hearts.
we sing to bring classism
to a stand still,
listen to the anger in our poems,
because our music
has not been written yet.
we engraved tolerance
on time’s hands,
we are shadows
behind the curtains in your shows,
sons and daughters of patience
i respect your strength,
you are the everlasting beauty
of our spiritual wealth.
walk away from their pressure
and your insecurities,
coz lately words are bad for my health.
forward in the books of history we march
as untrained generals of our destiny,
by the time i am 30
i will be sick of me.
see how they treasure your pain
and label your passion insane,
where is the sugar in our coffee?
our passion for art runs as deep as the ocean
but passion pays no bills
passion is mean
passion is hard,
so i refuse to be a machine
because you are turning our hearts into poison.
built for death, doomed at birth
what are you teaching our children?
compromise yourself in a situation?
i refuse to compromise my truth
for the chains of conformity.
coz naked mics and unwritten verses
are yearning for honesty,
your world is smaller than our stage
and our spirits are stronger than your rage
we are more than names on your page
listen to the gumboot in our voices.
as we dance jazz to mbaqanga,
groove hip-hop with kwaito
slang english to scamto
the wind moves to our rhythm.
the energy in our talents is priceless
so your shit stops now
not before or after but now
you can’t hurt us any more
you can’t swell our feet any more
you can’t control us any more,
you cant stop the horror
we are not the ornaments on your door
we are the untouchable chords
of marley
sisters of joy down paradise road
and not singana,
we are the delicate rhythms of your heartbeats
the music in your books
we do not conform
our mistakes teach us how to live
our sorrows teach us how to receive
and respect whatever the lord gives
we drum fear into lives reluctant
to face the pride in our footsteps.
the truth about nature
is that it never lies
so its in our nature to be,
our children will not be afraid of art.

– copyright Mak Manaka

Photo courtesy Kagablog

BOOKED @ Muse: Lucille Greeff

Lucille Greeff

Lucille Greeff is a story catcher whose sensitivity spices life into every word she gives. She will soon launch her debut collection of poems titled, Glaskastele / Skylight of the Heart. “The book is unusual and controversial as it contains both Afrikaans and English poems (with no translations of each other). It is built around the idea that people who live in glass houses, usually die in earthquakes. It also explores narratives around motherhood, grief, xenophobia, heritage, freedom, domestic violence and consumerism,” she says. Lucille has recently contributed her poems to We Are: A poetry anthology.

The Vinyl Collection The Vinyl Collection

Lucille recently took part in DEEP: A night of Creative Currents featuring Sharks, Poets and other endangered species at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. Her “The Vinyl Collection” featured poems printed on transparent vinyl and displayed over fish tanks. “A Poem of Forgiveness” was featured on the Tristan Five Fingers display tank, which the fish seemed to marvel over.

Lucille also facilitates workshops on gender, society, class issues, self-esteem, laughter and mentorship programmes in the professional world. Recently, she facilitated a women’s day workshop for high school girls centred on the theme “I am Powerful” and another on gender and power, unpacking self-esteem and gender relations.

When the muse booked Lucille, she was reading Babel Tower by A.S. Byatt.


A Poem of Forgiveness

I want to wash myself
in the ebb and flow
of the ocean as it sings
its gentle lullaby today,
salt stinging skin
that only recently remembered
how to heal itself.

I stare into the blue lure
hunting for my own reflection,
until it finds me
on the soft curve of a wave
falling towards the rocks,
hungry for its lover’s touch.

In the small silences
between each ocean breath
I open myself to the sound I need
to forgive myself,

only to feel it slip
between my fingers
as the wave retracts
and rolls itself back
to its roots
within the depths,

where even forgiveness
doesn’t matter.

© 2009 Lucille Greeff
» read more

BOOKED @ Muse: Ntsiki Mazwai (Video)

Ntsiki Mazwai

Mamiya Album PicMa MiyaNtsiki Mazwai requires no introduction both in Mzansi and beyond within the urban poetry, hip hop and music scene. She is co-founding member of Feela Sistah! a popular poetry collective with Napo Masheane, Lebo Mashile and Myesha Jenkins.
Her poetry/music debut album MaMiya was nominated for best urban pop album of the year in 2008.

Ntsiki is curently working on her next album, Defiance Campaign. She is also working on publishing a poetry book, with the legendary Ntate Don Mattera and Mme Miriam Tladi, our very own pioneering Black woman writer.

As an anti-rape activist, Ntsiki was recently criticised for posing naked in a revolutionary pose on a Marie Claire anti-rape campain. Some media defined the picture as “shocking” or “disturbing” – to which she responded, “rape is shocking”.

Ntsiki is currently reading Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like which is an “empowering read because [Biko] adresses all these issues that are in our poetry so eloquently”. Off the stage and page, Ntsiki also shares her gifts with youth at orphanages, schools and universities around the world, as well as by mentoring young women who want to become “[music] industry chix”. In the world of the spoken word, she is best known for love poems such as “Urongo”, “I found love in Soweto” and “Wena” (with DJ Sumthyng Black – see video below).




I did not ask to be raped.
Brutally molested,
body vandalised,
scrutinised by non believing eyes.
Read more…


I choose life

We wander aimlessly,
drowsy from the fear of losing.
Abandonment…whispered at the bottom of my soul.
but I chose life, because I knew if I didn’t LIVE…
Read more…


Video: DJ Sumthyn Black feat. Ntsiki Mazwai: “Wena”

YouTube Preview Image

Join us for the Jozi Spoken Word Women’s Day Finale at the Wits Amphitheatre

The Jozi Spoken Word Festival culminates this Saturday, 8 August, at the Wits Amphitheatre with a Women’s Day event that you will not want to miss.

Performers include: Donna Smith, Ntsiki Mazwai, Lesego Rampolokeng, Flo, Jessica Mbangeni, Lesego Motsepe, Bianca Williams, Khethiwe Mtimkulu, Masoja Msiza, Khanyi Magubane, Mzwakhe, Skado, myself and host Abigail Mogale.

The show runs from 6pm to 9pm and tickets cost R30 at the door. See you there!

BOOKED @ Muse: Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller’s truth is embodied in all his work. As an activist, he engages with young artists and has succeeded in finding space where they can work and showcase all types of art – from performances and fine art to multimedia.

Andrew is the co founder of the Unity Gallery, whose watchwords are “collaborative” and “waste” art, including carving works from recycled material. He is also co founder of Ge’ko Publishing, which produces both literature and music.

Ge’ko and Unity hold regular art exhibitions, cd and book launches in downtown Johannesburg. Andrew has published extensively in a wide range of journals and anthologies, such as I nostri Semi/Peo Tsa Rona and Rootz magazine. He has recently launched Hintsa’s Ghost, his debut collection of poetry, as well as Thoughts on Falling, a book of reflective and questioning essays. Together with Phehello Mofokeng, he edits BKO magazine, the most acclaimed spoken word/poetry and urban lifestyle journal to ever hit Mzansi. See also

When Muse caught up with Andrew he was reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jarred Diamond.


only the poor are idle

the rest will occupy themselves, until the end,
with automobiles satellite transmissions
fast downloads houses children
idleness is a fight with time
with the smell of last night’s shitty living
blending into the general stink of life
the sun is long
the nights are dangerous
cold living
the idle feel the real sun
the 21st century burn
the slow march of time as it presses the blade against your throat
» read more

BOOKED @ Muse: Lesego Rampolokeng

Lesego Rampolokeng

Lesego Rampolokeng needs no introduction. He is unanimously considered by the poetry community globally as one of the forefathers of the South African spoken word movement. He strikes a truth as frank as Fanon’s and Biko’s. He is legendary for his sharp tongue, sparring equally with politicians and fellow poets. He has been described as today’s “greatest lyrical master and wordsmith”.

Rampolokeng is the only known writer to have written an entire book (Horns for Hondo) in rap style. His other works include End Beginnings, Talking Rain, Rap Master Supreme – Word Bomber in the Extreme, Blue V’s (German Translations with CD), The Bavino Sermons the h.a.l.f. ranthology (CD with various musicians, 2002) and Fanon’s Children, an acclaimed play.

His Novels include Blackheart, (published through Pine slopes) and Whiteheart (published by deep south).

When Muse booked Lesego, he suggested these reads: Flyboy in the Buttermilk by Greg Tate, More Brilliant than the Sun by Kodwo Eshun, and The Amiri Baraka Reader.



(i am a potentiality for nothing says fanon i am fully that which i am
i am that i am echostrummed tosh the kalashnikov guitar-mystic-man)

still, tush is how it end & begin for them who question
no whore lullabies…that’s Mista Gwala in brokenbackflipped declaration
before poet-tricks&tics became flesh-merchant fashion
(salon-bred snouts gaped for the power-puke
          dreadlocked puppies in the chamberpot of commerce
          pedicured kitties’ withdrawals at the spermbank
                    media-mated lotto-genic
                    faces of the anal-lick-tick)
» read more

BOOKED @ Muse: Allan Kolski Horwitz

Allan Kolski Horwitz

Allan Kolski Horwitz is an activist whose everyday is designed to serve workers and issues that demand that silence be unlocked with honest words and actions. Between 1974 and 1985, Horwitz lived in exile in North America, the Middle East and Europe, returning to South Africa in 1986 when he worked in the trade unions as an organizer and educator.

He is currently involved in worker housing and provident funds in Johannesburg. He is the founder of Botsotso publishers as well as founding member of the Botsotso Jesters, a poetry collective based in Johannesburg. They regularly hold workshops and community engagement forums to teach and guide upcoming writers. He has published and edited over 30 titles since the inception of the publishing house.

Horwitz is currently finalising a play he is directing, The Pump Room, to preview at the Windybrow theatre on 24 and 25 July at 7pm. When Muse caught up with this mighty spirit and writer was reading (among others) After the Party by Andrew Feinstein; American Rhapsody by Joe Eszterhas, and Memories, Dreams, Reflections by CG Jung.

As a writer, Horwitz has been published in over 20 volumes of poery, fiction and essays. He also organizes poetry events and festivals locally (including, via Botsotso, the upcoming Jozi Book Fair).


Easter 2004

Dagga afternoon in natal street
the beer mama at celeste mansions doing fine
easter monday and the resurrection
of the opposition to the anc looks doubtful
after the election on wednesday:
years of GEAR moving sideways
» read more

BOOKED @ Muse: Maserame June Madingwane

June Madingwane

The Naming of KeaMaserame June Madingwane is a community activist worth taking note of. Issues that weigh us down with their monotony, such as unemployment and homelessness, are a fresh daily challenge for the Kimberley-born artist and writer.

Maserame writes short stories, poetry, children’s literature and book reviews, among others. She has recently published The Naming of Kea, a children’s book (left), with Maskew Miller Longman.

The single mother of two is a ‘fundi’ at Unisa, with Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Communications and Public Relations under her belt. She has travelled and lived around many of South Africa’s urban and rural areas and currently resides in Johannesburg.
» read more

BOOKED @ Muse: Percy Mabandu

Percy Mabandu

Percy Mabandu is an “all rounded” artist who paints, writes, speaks and dreams… Born and raised in Tshwane’s Ga-Rankuwa, Percy has been instrumental within community radio broadcasting. His presence is marked, on among others, a weekly art program called the BLK-Star Line on 93.6fm in Gauteng, where he also worked as deputy station manager.

Percy has recently joined the acclaimed weekly, the Mail & Guardian, where his passion for art history tells in his articles. He has also written for magazines such as Rootz and A Look Away. Percy’s poetry has appeared on a number of print and online journals as well as anthologies, including We Are… A poetry anthology.

His penchant for Black Consciousness art history and thought is currently focused on the life and work of Fikile Magadlela.

Percy is currently reading Seitlhamo Motsapi’s Earthstepper/The Ocean is Very Shallow, as well Focus: Music of South Africa by Carol A Muller, plus a whole lot of newspapers and magazines from everywhere.

» read more