The master class had rather hastily come to a halt, unfortunately. We had all satisfyingly enjoyed the ride and got lost in the moments it was as though Mr K was meant to be ours to forever cling unto. I on the other hand was more worried about the voices I was to lose sense of, like Bill’s. Most of these voices were more than a display of one’s intellectual capacity, although admittedly it was the reason why I was always attentive whenever Nozipho raised her hand. When each of the creatives had something to say, even the slightest slur of a simple word, I remained amused. Thandi the mimicker, as I had observed, was everyone’s darling, I mean who would say no to cracking a couple ribs?
By Sihlobo Bulala
Our last session had revealed a fact that will for the longest of times remain undeniable-people’s love for money. And it wasn’t at all that we hadn’t enjoyed the other master classes equally as we did enjoy Dana’s, but it was arguably what most creatives needed to know. The art of monetizing our crafts, attracting brands, collaborations and partnerships is what most creatives often appreciate but fail to execute hence the relative need of the session. It was to everyone’s satisfaction and observance however that Mr K and his team always knew who to bring and what expertise was to be expected from them. It did not escape either of the participants’ visual ability to observe that whoever the team decided on was to be finely tuned with beauty. If we didn’t know any better, we would have thought that they perhaps were trying to let us engage first with their physical charm before indulging in that which intellectually excited the mind. And I think it worked wonders because if it wasn’t for the soft spoken Busi and the lively Nontando’s already set pace, I wonder if we would have looked forward to the rest of what was to come. And if you had grown hating Math, and ducking classes, you would have risked dodging sessions which brought forth the brilliant Molife, and Imran who we later found out that while he works, his daughter also likes to energetically and profusely dance in front of her camera- another trendy job on the internet spaces.
Somehow, preparing for the digital festival which was to exhibit our many different talents, and crafts made me realize how much of a great opportunity I had landed in a year which sulked for many. As Mr K individually checked on us, he emphasized that the remaining month before the festival we were all to suck and feed on his experience. But what of us who can’t do it on command? As I thought deeply about it, I wondered of my mind’s sanity. How does it happen that I be granted a freeway to a mentor’s fountain of creativity but remain adamant, with little or no passion to seek reverence? But as I would come to understand, the mind is on its own a tank which will tell you when and how it prefers to be filled, and that pretty much made all the sense to me. Tino the stylist would a few days before the festival offer to style Mr K for a magazine cover which we had, by virtue of being grateful to the program, agreed to term #eMoyeniDig.
On the day of the shoot, all were determined to produce something to spike interest on their individual platforms. The idea was to showcase the creative process through an individual lens, one which also somehow captured not only the subject, but the creative on form. As Brilliant and Amanda took turns with their make-up brushing strokes, Eric was warming up for the moment as he intimately captured all other creatives in their form. Tino kept on brushing Mr K’s fanny pack, his face a full display of pride in his work. Nokuthaba, Thandi, Chantelle and Willmore kept on rehearsing for their guest interview, they kept their voices on check you would swear they were the invited guests themselves. Rachael and Thandi were caressing their guitars and as Chioniso recited her most fervent poem, they jumped on, their fingers making sure to perfectly play in accordance of the poetic flow. Novuyo who was soon to catch the train hummed in rhythm to Chioniso’s flow that for a moment everyone came to a standstill except for Dumie and Rutendo who were by this point obsessed by capturing the moments, often rotating their filming set to that which stood out from all that was happening. Rumbidzai on the other hand was as though she was paid to fatten everyone as she kept serving us cake, her tiny black leathered notebook tucked in her pants’ back pocket. Kingsley kept on hanging by Mr K’s side as though he had just landed from the UK. The rest of us, Elsie, Brian, Fungai, Thembi, and Amanda Tayte held our pens like our lives depended on it. There isn’t a place that our legs took us and our eyes didn’t tour, and it is because of our constant mobility that we were quite shocked when Bill and Usher handed us the animated version of the creative process and we on paper like in reality had appeared to be just about everywhere.
The experience I had garnered while working with other creatives compelled my mind to take me back to where it had all begun. I remember I could feel the blazing sun almost scotching my bare skin, but more than the worry of my sensitive body, my pride was rather brazen by how I had grown to let people take advantage of my friendliness. I couldn’t have told Thabo this because he could have just said, ‘but baby….that is not fair at all. You can’t work for nothing. I’m really sorry this keeps happening to you, what do you wanna do about it?’ and yet I would still have dillydallied my way out of situations I should have strictly treated as my meal ticket. It was nothing out of the usual. Over the years I had become used to plaiting unfaithful crooks who would rather mutter half way through about how they would cover me by month end- ‘what now? MISS, I OWE PEOPLE MONEY’, but even that would end in my mind, the anger and disappointment unspoken into the world.
At some point I had also become used to plaiting boyfriends’ female friends for free.
He had ringed me again after I had missed three of his calls only to learn that he needed a favor, of course he did! This guy that once pursued me had called in a favor for me to plait his current love for free and I had agreed. Naturally, it’s something I would have wished to vent to Thabo about but alas, I had brought this upon myself. Besides, how was I to share with him that a guy who once wanted me but I friend zoned had asked for a favor and I had agreed to it knowing very well that it would bring forth hurt and turmoil to my heart?
I could finally see my home, and I helplessly mentally arranged all the food I was going to bag into my tummy as I finally rested. Slowly, I fished my phone from the back pocket of the cute pants I had picked out on one of the common thrift shops in town. Once relieved from flight mode, the messages kept flying in and for a moment I thought my itel was about to crush from the crazy text frequency. As I got home, i recklessly threw my working bag on a single couch before I lazily lurched over a double seated couch which I almost instantaneously jumped out of, screaming, after having received a #eMoyeni congratulatory text for having made it into the master class. What was I to do with that Thabo guy? I had gratefully smiled in thought of how he had thought to share the advertised call for applications with me. I had once seen it on Twitter, with little or no likes and hadn’t cared an ounce for it, but then I guess something happens when someone you know believes in you thinks some opportunities are meant for you.
The contact person had asked if I was to be available for an official get together with other creatives, and although I had freely given my services away earlier that day and had no idea how I was to get to the second main city, I was convinced that I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity that could possibly would be a result of my moving out of the quaint mining town. That very same day, a client confirmed a booking and I guess I was sorted, look at God!
When I headed over to the Bulawayo Arts Gallery, the day we were to meet with the #eMoyeni crew I guess I saw my favorite local rapper, Asaph. Okay. It is not a guess, but hey, I wasn’t about to be that Gwanda girl screaming her throat out and asking for an autograph, although I had strongly felt an urge to let loose and find out what was to happen. I mean, what was the worst thing to happen?
When we had all assembled on the meeting point, the Kombi driver smoothly drove us out of the gallery park, into the city and eventually out. I hadn’t been there since my final year in college and somehow I wished I would be able to see the glorious city lights complimenting the stars of the night. My heart must have excitedly beckoned the Amapiano sounds which were booming from the taxi’s speakers as I found my head bobbing and my feet in rhythm to the tempo. My dear Tupac had been shoved into the back of my mind and for a very long time the drive must have saved my ears a day’s pain of having headsets all day apart from the unnerving lyrical digestion of conscious rap.
When we finally got to our destination at the Amagugu International Cultural Heritage Centre, we briefly introduced ourselves to each other. Everyone spoke with such brilliance and eloquence that for a moment the Gwanda lady in me had felt unfit of the place and the convening of great minds. The man who took us through the history of the Cultural Centre’s establishment spoke from his heart and with much precision. There we learnt of Matobo being one of the five world heritage sites because of the cultural monuments imbued in the place. These would include Cecil John Rhodes’ resting place, and Sir Charles John Coughlan. We would also soon be acquainted with the subject of spirituality in Africa and that of African aesthetics, but that which would be most remembered by people as we toured the centre and its walls is the ever lying fact that cultural crafts and artifacts are all hinged and underpinned in spirituality. They go beyond their presentational beauty as they are a communicated culture and religion of those before us, all that ‘beyond the beauty of the craft is a communication’ sentiment.
The sun was now threatening to go down and everyone’s mind now lingered with the question of when the braai on the rocks moment which we had been promised was to arrive (men and meat!). When people mingled about and casually carved their way up the rocks I was to try hard to imagine a beautiful future where I was in total respect of the people I had met. I assume it was my open mindedness then that I was to fully appreciate the varying sectors of the crafts which these people I had just met, but was sure would get to know eventually further drove my inspiration and passion into a place where even as I waivered along the way, I was to be reminded of how much a creative ought to believe in himself for he is all he has, and when fortunate-others like him.
At this point, my reflective mind is but in awe of how much the #eMoyeniDig experience has loaned me. I speak of loan because quite frankly, I’m yet to put into effect all the knowledge which we were more than fortunate to have been granted. I speak of loan because while the experience garnered many points as to justify why one is to be passionate and sticky on this road, only my being is to fully comprehend the gift of this year. But as I know myself, I remain open to the fact that while I might not effect all that I have learnt, today, there will come a day in which I will be grateful to have been a part of conventions I never understood as they happened, but will eventually find useful when time demands of it. The only thing I’m to do now is to revel in the beauty of having been a part of it, until I land on another opportunity as great as this one.
This blogpost is part of the #eMoyeniDig Festival 2021