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BOTSOTSO 13 & GOVA (article first published : 2004-10-19)

On October 22, Adams Campus Bookshop and Botsotso Publishing will launch popular journal’s tenth anniversary edition and work by sicamtho poet at Poetry Africa. This will take place in the Wellington Tavern at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 18h30 for 18h45.

Botsotso started as a magazine but has developed into a journal carrying new poetry, fiction, essays, art work and reviews which are of a contemporary nature but still deal with South Africa's past.

The journal contains the works of new and established artists reflecting a range of themes and languages. Botsotso 13 is the tenth anniversary edition and features over 40 poets including elsbeth e, Anet Kemp, Lisemelo Tlale, Makhosazana Xaba and Riana Wiechers, who are to be featured with other women poets in a new anthology to be published by Botsotso next year.

There are stories by some 23 writers including Muthal Naidoo (whose own collection of stories are to be published shortly by Botsotso) and Caine Prize workshop participants, Carol Sepeng, Kedibone Suku and Mbongisi Dyanti. Other writers include Mike Alfred, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Kaganoff, Joyce Mbanjwa, Kobus Moolman; essays by Kelwyn Sole, Fred Khumalo, Anna Varney; Hans Pienaar, Mbodi Khorombi and Frans Krueger. Also included are reviews of books such as Post Traumatic (short fiction), Gova (poetry) and The New Century of South African poetry. The artwork is by photographers Cedric Nunn and Kai Lossgot. Altogether, the publication features over 70 writers and visual artists.

Gova, a collection of poems and illustrations by isicamtho (tsotsi taal) poet, Ike Mboneni Muila , includes a CD recording of Muila’s rendition of the poems. A member of the Botsotso Jester performance group, Muila has appeared in many festivals both locally and abroad and is a South African ‘original’ using isicamtho to probe the various realities of the new South Africa. Ike Mboneni Muila was born in Soweto in 1957, and grew up in Venda, Limpopo Province, returning to live in Soweto in the 1980s. He studied acting at the Soyikwa Institute and his first poetry performances were between 1988 and 1990 with the Madimba music students at the Soyinkwa Institute of African Theatre in Soweto. Since then he has performed at numerous festivals such as Grahamstown, Arts Alive, Herman Charles Bosman, Berlin International Poetry and Cambridge Contemporary Poetry. In 1998 he recorded a poetry performance video titled Jikeleza Train in collaboration with New Coin and ISEA at the Grahamstown Poetry Festival. In the same year he won a poetry translation award from the English PE Academy, Southern Africa. He is inspired by the combination of music and poetry, where it is not possible “to draw a line between their harmony”.

His poetry is featured on the CD Purple Light Mirror in the Mud (2001). He also draws inspiration from “listening to people when they chat or deliver jokes using a combination of words from different languages brought together without fancy formalities”. His other publications include We Jive Like This (1996) and Dirty Washing (1999) – all of these being compilations of group and individual work with the Botsotso Jesters. The most recent solo collection of his work (which includes his drawings and a CD recording) is Gova (2004). He is presently on the editorial board of the Botsotso Publishers Collective.

In the 1950’s, the so-called “tsotsi taal” of the townships, the slang used by the most marginalised developed in response to the innate need that all people have to express themselves, and to do so in the language that most reflects themselves and their environment. It was in this spirit of defiance and verve that all the languages spoken in the polyglot Black ghettoes were incorporated into an urban idiom that became known as Isicamtho. Out of the ‘mix and marry’ of new expressions a vibrant bridge that crossed chasms in all directions developed a language that embraces the diverse linguistic heritage of South Africa’s fractured society. Ike Mboneni Muila plays with this form – and play is the word, for isicamtho is above all a joyous and tongue-in-cheek ‘grootbek’ of a lingo. And as a master practitioner, he conjures up associations in the mind of the reader that are transformed and transforming. Isicamtho is best experienced live, in performance. The words flow like a tide, musical to their core. In this regard, the CD recording that accompanies the book captures the irrepressible energy of the poems that a quiet reading on the page cannot do. The situations and emotions on which his poems are based remain individual and yet at the same time carry the imprint of wider social influences. Both the style and content challenge orthodoxy and comfort . Humour and satire together with ‘ straight talk ‘ make this a unique collection.

Featured poets on October 22 October presented by the dynamic Lebogang Mashile, will feature The Botsotso Jesters (Alan Kolski Horwitz;Ike Mboneni Muila;Siphiwe ka Ngwenya); Kobus MoolmaN and Tumi.




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