RIP to Malik,the 5 Foot Freak

One of my first music memories are the sounds of A Tribe Called Quest (thanks to older siblings) I went through my own Tribe “awakening” during my Sophmore year of college. I own almost every Tribe CD. A crossed off item from my bucketlist – watching Beats, Rhymes & Life with (really with – as in he paid for my ticket,popcorn and soda and I sat right behind with) Ali Saheed Mohammed.

A Tribe Called Quest (You have to say the whole thing like a Pimp Named Slickback) are part and parcel of Baby Phoof’s musical lexicon. And Phife Dawg, The 5 foot freak, is every part of my love for the group. Hearing about his passing dealt a blow.

To the ultimate sport loving hip hop legend!

 

 

 

You on point Phife?

All the time…!

 

A duty to serve, protect, and accuse of perjury?

Given the crime statistics in South Africa one would think that a person reporting an incident would be treated with some form of decency. Instead when I had to publicly (in front of the line of people waiting for other police services) state that I was there to report a mugging, I was boldly told, with seething words, that I was lying.

The deplorable behaviour of Captain Matroos of the Mowbray police station is the very reason why people do not trust taking their matters to the police station. Not only did the captain say I was lying, he went on to tell me what the weather conditions were like on the Saturday morning (which he reported falsely) and that there was no way I was mugged were I reported the mugging to have taken place as there are cameras and security guards and they would have seen the incident on tape. When I told him I knew of the guards and had reported the incident to them, he smirked and proceeded to tell me that perjury was a serious offence and I should be ashamed of myself.

As if the incident was not jarring in and of itself, to have the people tasked to serve and protect me are the very same ones treating you as if you’re the one who did wrong.

Thankfully Constable Powsa (I may be spelling his name incorrectly) dealt with the situation more appropriately, and followed up with the report I made to the UCT security guards at my residence.

If My Playlist Taught Me Law

International Law:

Michael Jackson – We Are The World

For Subjects of International Law who have considered Ius Cogens when the Vienna Convention on Treaties is not Enough

African Customary Law

THEESatisfaction – Recognition

*This is what I want, I’ll get down, recognition, recognition, Section 211(3) recognition, recognition*

Jurisprudence

Frank Ocean – We All Try

*We all gotta believe in something*

Contract 

Luke James ft Rick Ross – Options

Love is not a valid underlying agreement Luke

Criminal Law

Joey Bada$$ ft Action Bronson – Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Can I live?

Delict

Slikk the Shocker ft Mystikal – It aint my fault

“Did I do that?” *Steve Urkle voice*

Corporation Law

Aaliyah – Resolution

Because everything can be rectified.

I am going to be devout

But I don’t want to be noble and committed like most women in history were – which invariably seems to involve being burned at the stake, dying of sadness, or being bricked up in a tower by an earl. I don’t want to sacrifice myself for something. I don’t want to die for something. I don’t even want to walk in the rain up a hill in a skirt that’s sticking to my thighs for something. I want to live for something, instead – as men do.

Caitlin Moran – How To Build A Girl

Black Affluence: Setting Standards

To do things properly – this is the impetus of Black Affluence, the bi-annual hip hop event in Maseru.

Turning two this past December, Black Affluence was birthed out of a financial and social frustration. When co-founding member Litlatse “Katz” Phooko found himself in his dorm room, having spent his last few coins, the thought of coming home for the holidays penniless, loomed. So he devised a plan. He sent his friend and co-founder, Phoka “Dot” Lithebe, a few designs he had been working on to see what they could do with them to make some pocket change.

793675_163219913825250_1497135881_o

The first event, The Urban Rebirth, was a marketing ploy for the T-shirts which came from Katz’s designs.  Several people attended the event accidentally.  Many, like myself,  stumbled upon the event because they were looking for something to do; and in the true spirit of December shenanigans, chose to go to the one spot they were sure to meet like-minded festive people. We entered Times Café, not knowing we were attending a Black Affluence event – we did not even know Black Affluence existed. However the sight of familiar faces and T-shirts on display indicated that the alcohol was not the only thing brewing at Times.

They met their objective – of selling the T-shirts – and there was a sense of belonging to those who had made the purchase. The limited edition shirts gave a sense of exclusivity to those who owned one, and envy for those who did not. As people enquired where they could go and purchase the shirts, stories from the party became part of the direction. To not be left out the next time, accompanied by a better marketing push, their second event, The Winter Warm Up, was well attended – exceeding the expectations of the organizers.

The difference in attendance between their first and second event is worth grass root campaigning case studies. The Black Affluence boys* did not coerce people to like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter – in fact a look at their social media numbers may induce scepticism, however, they punch well above their weight.

The event is a welcome change from the big open field events which dominate Maseru’s entertainment sphere. Because hosting events is not a very lucrative endeavour, most promoters vie to get the biggest bang for their buck. So they invite as many artists and DJs as they can afford, hire a large venue, and market to as many people as they can across the spectrum. Thus, you get events which “cater” to the whole family – unintentionally.

Black Affluence found a niche and unapologetically satisfies the needs of young adults who grew up on Hip-Hop and craved a gig to fill the void. In some ways Black Affluence became out of selfish desires. Black Affluence boys wanted to have all the night life privileges Maseru has to offer, but under their own terms. And they correctly thought that there are other people in the city who would enjoy it too.

The boys have not been without their share of difficulties though. Receiving financial support is an expected struggle which they have circumvented by staffing their own parties, right down to having their selection of in-house DJs. They partnered with a sponsor for an event, which did not prove to be as beneficial, but besides that instance, they ride solo.

The secluded nature of the event organizers has landed them in trouble from time to time. To some the group appear stand-offish and uncollaborative. The height of their tension with other groups in the country was when there was an alleged beef with some local rappers. The miscommunication came about when they had refused to allow the rappers to perform at their next gig. The tension grew when their squabble made it into a prominent local newspaper. When I asked them about this dispute, it became apparent that it stemmed from a slight arrogance on their part coupled with their desire to do things well. Arrogance was they did not feel that the artist were at the performance level they desired (which is not all together false). Moreover, they did not feel that they were at the point where they could stage suitably sounding live performances (which they are not opposed to doing in the future).

On the flip-side, their exclusivity also provides a sense of intimacy and familiarity to those who attend the event.  Black Affluence events are an opportunity to reunite over a few drinks, great music, and unabashed dancing. Each event a shared experience, one that is not truly explainable to those who did not attend – I have twice been on the receiving end of the inexplicable reminisce felt by attendees, sometimes having to be satisfied with an extended “yo” as a descriptor . The Black Affluence gigs are well-rounded experiences from their social media pushes, the actual events, and the pictures and videos which follow; there is a sense of being not only as an attendee, but a part of Black Affluence.

Having celebrated their second anniversary, and four events later, I had to ask what “Black Affluence” means to them. The simple answer is, it can mean whatever you wish it too. The mission, however, is to raise standards – of events, how people view themselves, and are treated – and one way to do so is to provide quality entertainment.  Personally, each member of Black Affluence is working towards achieving some milestone; and each use their respective skills to oil the machine. As they continue to take things to “The Next Level” with dreams of being the event in Lesotho which brings people from across the border, they continue to provide solid entertainment with the little that they have. That, is Black Affluence.

*Black Affluence members include: Katz, Dot, Bolae Machai, Neo Phasumane, Sekhoane Kolane, Seboka Phasumane, Hlompang Leduka, Bahlakoana Mosola, Lehlohonolo Khaebana, and  Mpho Monoko.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
– John Donne

Putting our Stamp On It

In today’s economy, with jobs as scarce as they are, and youth unemployment at an all-time high, it has become even more important to be entrepreneurial. Instead of seeking employment, we need to create our own. One venture that seems easy but isn’t as effortless as we had thought – based on how many endeavours that have come and gone –  is the T-shirt printing industry.

T-shirts have morphed from undergarments to central pieces worn by both genders; they also come in different styles: You can rock a plain white tee, spruce your outfit with a coloured tee, or make a statement with a printed tee.

Printed tees have become popular within the country, with several people and companies trying to make their mark in the industry. Besides corporates printing tees for promotional purposes, there are several brands that have cropped up to create and sell unique and impressionable printed tees. What makes our t-shirts unique is the fact that they are truly statement pieces – an attempt to unify Basotho around their Basothoness. We chat with two prominent Lesotho brands, Basutoland Ink and Mora Mosotho, to discuss the countries t-shirt printing industry, their struggles, how they see their brands growing, and the complexities of working in Lesotho.

Basutoland Ink is regarded as one of the pioneering printed t-shirt brands specializing in proudly Basotho wear. The brand began in 2006 when three friends (and business partners), Bokang Khekhe, Karabo Maitin and Tlotliso Setsomi had the idea to create t-shirts which showcase Lesotho’s vibrancy. One can say the idea began haphazardly. Basutoland Ink was born out of passion for Lesotho and an opportunity to fill a void. While students at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, “I saw a guy wearing a printed shirt that had ‘Lesotho’ across it and it did not look right. I did not want that to be the way people saw Lesotho.” Bokang explains, and thanks to the guy with a poorly printed shirt, the idea to create Lesotho inspired tees was born.

As avid basketball fans, the Basutoland Ink boys set out to sell their collection of basketball sneakers to raise the starting capital for their company. They raised about M4000, and with capital from Tlotliso Setsomi they raised enough money to print their first batch of tees.

Max Ramakatane of Mora Mosotho, also started his line from capital he raised himself. With earnings from his work as a DJ, event coordinator, and stake in Lighthouse Media, he was able to set aside enough money to design and print his line.

Mora Mosotho came about in 2011, when Moeketsi “Max” Ramakatane decided to create a line of clothing based on what he wanted to wear. The name derived from him combining the first two letters of his first and last name, Moeketsi Ramakatane, to form Mora, which conveniently spelled the Sesotho for “son”. Max is so known by his clothing moniker that it took me a while to figure out that “Mora” was not his legal surname. He, like the Basutoland Ink boys, is inspired by and passionate about his “Mosothoness”, hence him naming the line Mora Mosotho, “Mosotho’s Son”.  An epithet to him and all who wear his clothing.

Both groups expressed that people are generally discouraged from starting their own ventures because they do not have the initial capital, which is true all over the world. What makes the situation more difficult in Lesotho is the lack of support to acquire funding, either as start-up loans from banks, funds from ministerial departments, or corporate buy in. However, I have heard of, and seen companies begin with little to no money and flourish into viable businesses. The greater issue is the lack of support speared towards our entrepreneurial minded youth.

If it is not straight discouragement from their parents, friends and other acquaintances, it’s the lack of resources that hinders people’s efforts. A sentiment echoed by Karabo Maitin. He complained about the lack of structural support; lamenting on the fact that we do not have any incubation models to follow, organizations which encourage entrepreneurial thinking or a space to hash out ideas. Maitin wished for support that came in forms as easy as  monthly meeting spaces where people can share ideas, learn from each other, and find out what the relevant next steps are.

Another issue that many people have with starting a business in Lesotho is all of the red tape they have to go through in order to establish their company. Our country is very bureaucratic, which in itself is not an issue. The problem is that the departments and offices we have to visit in order to get ourselves off the ground are often not organized or efficient. At times it seems like an “I know, you know” situation which is highly discouraging, especially if you do not know “the right” people. Information is not readily available as to what we have to do in order to complete a task. We are sent to multiple offices to get what seems like arbitrary forms and signatures; we are then subjected to long waits and poor customer services; sometimes we get no service for something as trivial as someone having their lunch at their working station.

Complaints aside, it is equally necessary to have the correct paperwork and documents when you start your business as to minimize complications down the road. Especially in a creative industry like t-shirt printing, it is imperative to protect your brand so that no-one can steal your designs for their own profit. Mora Mosotho and Basutoland Ink are both registered companies and they expressed that it was a relatively easy process. For Basutoland Ink the process cost them approximately M3000, which included legal fees and the necessary fees for the Ministry of Trade and Commerce; the process took two to three months to get it all in order.

So what are the next steps for these clothing brands…

It is important to note that, although these two brands began by imprinting t-shirts, they have since expanded to hoodies, body warmers, and caps.

The deal between Basutoland Ink and the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) is relatively well known. They boys supply the national team with a fresh kit every game, and in turn they receive revenue from replica jersey’s sold; they also sponsor league winners Lioli, and hope to clothe more teams in due time.

I asked them how the deal came about, to which Bokang Kheke explained that they want Basutoland Ink to be for Lesotho what Pringle is for Scotland and Ralph Lauren, America. They want Basutoland Ink to be a national brand that can compete internationally. Through LeFA, they can bring their brand to new audiences, including those who may not connect to the t-shirts and sweatshirts they currently produce.  Maitin explained that “the national team is bigger than politics and creed.” We can, and should, all rally behind our national football team regardless of our political leaning. They hope to sponsor more teams in the future to broaden their reach. This year they are also expanding their offerings with a line of Basutoland Ink beanies for the first time.

Mora Mosotho, now in its second year of existence, has expanded the number of places where people can get their clothing from. The brand is available from Max at Lighthouse Media, Turning Point Lifestyle in Pioneer Mall, and Montana’s Boutique at the upper level of Victoria Hotel stores. At the time of our interview he had expressed that all of his stock was sold out, a statement I believed based on how many Mora Mosotho clad people I had seen that week. The exciting news was, including the new stock and styles he was in the process of ordering, he has plans on opening his own store in Pioneer Mall in the future, the brand also wishes to go into dresses and shoes.

Both Basutoland Ink and Mora Mosotho have  had requests from people in America and the UK  interested in their clothes, although Max did not seem completely sold on the idea, he may start selling online too. His trepidation came because he believes that his line has become bigger than what he had initially anticipated – I told him that is a luxury problem.

When Basutoland Ink began, they received a lot of backlash at the pricing of their garments, but they were adamant that they wanted quality product, and quality comes at a price. Both of them, regarded as higher end clothing brands, started off at a loss, not because people were not interested in their apparel, but because they had “sold” their product on credit. A credit they oftentimes never got back. The two have expressed that the t-shirt printing industry is not as lucrative as people believe. Those looking for a quick buck will be highly disappointed. In order to have any form of success, hard work is the key ingredient. Mora Mosotho and Basutoland Ink are riding high right now because of the extreme efforts and passion they have put behind their projects. Admittedly it is still not smooth sailing, as there are many inroads these two still have to make. They are still working really hard to solidify their mark in the country, and in Basutoland Ink’s case, the continent.

Only time will tell how far both brands will grow. However their dedication to their respective labels, and inner camaraderie, will assist them in the long run. It is only fair that we support our local start-ups to ensure their success and to inspire other ventures in the future.

Bachelor(ette) Party Featuring The Protwerkers

To Twerk, or Twerking is a phenomenal. If you are unaware of this new dance crazy, which I believe should be part of the 2016 Olympics, you should check it out on Youtube, FAST! Merriam-Webster is yet to give it an official definition; however, our favourite online dictionary for all things colloquial has. Urban Dictionary’s most colourful definition is: The rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter in ones intended audience”

The exact origins of this dance form have not been publicized. Some would state that it originated in New Orleans, Louisiana; others claim it is a strip club subculture from the USA. I would argue that the first time I saw someone “twerk” was in Koffi Olomide’s “Loi” music video.

The dance gained popularity after the Twerk Team – two young ladies in Atlanta, Georgia, namely Miz Twerksum and Lady Luscious – started posting videos of themselves twerking to various songs on Youtube.  With that, there has been a barrage of “Twerk Anthems” such as Waka Flocka Flame’s “Round of Applause”, French Montana’s “Pop That”, and more recently Juicy J’s “Bands A Make Her Dance.”

Thanks to the videos and songs, twerking has reached our part of the world, with both sexes fascinated – for different reasons – by the new trend. It was not long before South Africans had their own Twerk Team. Six young ladies, Queen Twerk, Miss J, Terry Berry, Sweet Ass Koki, LadyKim, and A$$ Plicid, collectively known as the Protwerkers. The ladies gained major notoriety in early February, when they opened for one of the world’s hottest hip hop stars, Kanye West, in Johannesburg.

Image

Pride Magazine meet the Protwerkers when they were in Bloemfontien for the “Bachelor(rette) Party” hosted by Reves Entertainment on the 22nd of March, 2013 on the Stanville Hotel rooftop.

The Protwerkers were seated in their hotel room before their scheduled appearance. We had a very casual conversations and spoke about how the group was formed. Miss J explained that Queen Twerk came up with putting the group together. They are all friends, two of them being cousins, but the unifying factor was their assets. They agreed that they were selected because of their shapely posterior.

Image

The girls did get upset at the backlash they receive from people criticizing their dance form. A$$ Plicid stated that people twerk in Jamaica, and other places, and yet, when it is in South Africa they “hate.” The question they dislike the most, “What do your parents think about you twerking” Their response: “Some of you dance even worse at the clubs, then come and criticize us.” They also want it to be known that twerking is not their only profession. They all have jobs outside of Protwerkers, like Miss J works at a gym, and they are using the Protwerkers as a stepping stone to other ventures within the entertainment industry.

The event itself was an enjoyable night, with a purely hip hop set. People mingled on the Stanville Rooftop, and thankfully the weather gods gave us a cool evening. Bloemfontien looked mighty pretty from the rooftop view. The first few hours were meant to let you soak in the music, the people and the atmosphere. The DJ was late to arrive, so Reves made due with a preselected playlist. The attendees were more than content with the feel of the night, and happily conversed with each other. When the DJ finally arrived, however, the mood changed, people had a new sense of hype, and were dancing in pockets around the venue – some of it initiated by the MCs for the evening who tormented female patrons to twerk in anticipation for the main show.

As expected, the highlight of the evening was the Protwerkers performances. Cameras flashed at every instance, and the boys almost started crying at what was in front of them. Admittedly, I even had to sit on the floor at one stage because I did not know what the appropriate reaction was to what I had just seen. Even after the performance, people still gathered in front of the performance area, unable to move, discussing what they just saw – it was short of catharsis.

Besides the Protwerkers, our interest in this event are the ladies behind Reves Entertainment, two ladies, Basotho in origin, who are based in Bloemfontein, Boreng “Bonnie” Maharaswa and Mamaitse “Chichi” Moloi. So we sent them these questions about Reves Entertainment, and the “Bachelor(ette) Party”:

Who is Reves Entertainment and how did it begin?

Boreng and Mamaitse:  Reves, which means “Dreams” in French, is currently an entertainment company, as opposed to an events company, because we would like to be and do more than events. Reves is pretty much the beginning of our dreams. We started it because we have a vision and common desire for our lives and love the [Entertainment] industry. Since Bloemfontein’s live entertainment industry isn’t much to write home about, especially for the youth, we wanted to change people’s perspective of it with Reves. We were ambitious (and frustrated) enough to get up and start something. We already wanted to jump into major concerts but learned the hard way that the best and simplest way to get longevity for the company was to start small.

Can you tell me a little bit about the concept for inviting the Protwerkers, how did it come about and what was your objective?

Boreng: As you might have heard or seen, Kanye West was in South Africa and we went –  we can call it research, haha –  and realised that for the most part, people were very agitated and impatient with the opening acts until the Protwerkers came on and performed. The response was amazing. We had initially wanted to go bigger [For the first event] but a personal friend advised us otherwise, especially with our resources and it being our first event. So after a brainstorming session, the Protwerkers came out as what we needed for our target market, brand and first event, as the hype around them would result in hype around us and our parties and events.

What was your experience putting an event like this together? Can you delve into the step by step planning a little bit?

Boreng: The experience was more than crazy. The first and most important step, as one would assume, is getting the funds for this to happen. One needs trust, a relationship, and some success behind their name in order for someone to trust you with their money, and we thank SABMiller for being the ones to take the risk to sponsor us, which was appreciated and mutually beneficial. Once that is done, the rest is pretty much logistical, you have to find, secure, and work with everything and everyone for the night of the event, meaning artists, brands, marketing, and those may be as hard as getting the sponsors. Working with people, especially in this industry, isn’t easy, but we love the feeling of a successful event, it’s all worth it.

What were some of the challenges and more gratifying experiences from it?

Mamaitse: Funding. It’s the main reason why people have plans for a venture like ours but can’t follow through. We had plenty of support from our family and friends, which is one of the gratifications, as well as the feedback from the people that enjoyed the Bachelor(ette) Party. It was positive and has geared us up for the second event.

Boreng: The most gratifying moment, honestly, is seeing a dream become reality, an idea materialise and very close to what we envisioned. The feedback was also amazing.

What is next for Reves Entertainment? Where do you want to see this brand grow to?

Boreng and Mamaitse: Events are our main focus but the main idea is to become a media and entertainment powerhouse. We want to build Reves into a reputable brand so that people can either approach us with their ideas, or when we do our events people will trust that it will throw down. We are also in the process of becoming the managing company/agent for artists in Bloem[fontein] and are excited to add that to our repertoire of success. We’d like the events we do to grow bigger and better, for us to become a loved and trusted brand and company, to provide many types of entertainment to the industry and public as well as establish good working relationships as far as our events may take us.

Photo Credits to Masiu Photography @matt_one

I Wrote A Letter

I wrote a letter to the wind, wished
each word to dissipate into the
elements of the world and settle the
matters of my heart. But the winds
blew erratically. Some winds cradled
me with comfort, others shook me
into realization.

So I wrote a letter to a dandelion,
sent my words with her wings, saw
them dance in the sky. What a
beautiful dance we shared. But
tomorrow I saw her offsprings
scattered across my field.

So I wrote a letter to a tune, let my
words reverberate through the cords
of a cello. What a clumsy game to
play. Inexperience shrieked at every
sharp note and my reed snapped
from dehydration.

So I wrote a letter to you…
and you read it

Do You Like Pinha no Coladas?

I just finished eating a segment of a Pinha, a fruit I was disappointed to find out has no part in the making of a Piña Colada. It has a hard green shell but the insides are soft white squishy flesh which covers individual seeds. My takeaway from the fruit is, eating it is as much part of the experience as, if not more than, the taste itself.

Image

In my head I thought, instead of questioning this poor unfortunate texture looking fruit and weigh the pros and cons of eating it, just sink your taste buds into it. Be 3 years old again and eat first ask questions later. So I did

My friend said she picks at the segments one by one, whereas I saw her boyfriend just bite into it. I tried both. My friend’s way makes more practical sense, eating the flesh around the seeds one at a time, being able to suck on the seed to clear it of all its flesh is a messier but safer way to eat it. But engulfing the fruit in bites maximizes flavor, as there isn’t as much flesh on each seed. And I felt that I was leaving a lot of fruit on the shell by picking at it. Since I am not 100s comfortable with this fruit yet, I will continue to pick away, and if I am able to (read won’t die from) eat the parts closer to the shell, I will bite away.

I am picky about my food, texture has all to do with how I perceive said food, and Pinha is not an appealing fruit. However, I went for it. Mostly, to not seem rude to this fruit that was offered to me; but also because I want to allow myself to explore and really delve into experiences. Completing Elizabeth Gilbert’s travels through India may have a lot to do with my new resurgence to explore; most books charge me to do new things. Eating fruit is a small, and victorious feat that I can manage.

I don’t think Pinha is a fruit I will crave in future, but if presented to me, I will take pleasure in eating it once again. Try everything at least once, don’t they say?