I’ve heard, more than once, Oprah say something like: the only thing better than having something you like is sharing it. If Oprah says something, it must be true. Ha! No, seriously. A big part of why I love to talk to musicians is selfish. I am genuinely curious, so I ask.
But an even bigger part of why I love to talk to musicians is the fact that I get to share that with all of you. When people were still reading, it brought me joy to share through writing. Now that we are in what dream calls a “post-text world,” I try to do that through video and audio.
I’m always challenging myself to reach more people because I really do believe the stories musicians tell have transformative power. Call me naive. One of the ways I did that this year, was by agreeing to host a weekly show during Massiv Metro’s quiet, post-festive month.
Here’s the thing: Massiv Metro is not an English platform. In fact, it’s their mandate for whoever cracks open their mics to speak South African languages for most of the show. It’s like hosting a show on SABC 1. You’re going to try and have English dominate? Who are you talking to?
Yes, I am very aware of the slight awkwardness of writing this is in English but… it brings me to my point. I always knew I don’t speak Isibaya Zulu. But I thought I was pretty fluent in my mommy’s language. Until I had to deliberately speak it on the radio. Flames is the accurate word to use to describe how unprepared I was to hear myself sounding so inadequate on a mic.
I’m so grateful to Massiv Metro because I was only meant to be there for a month and in that month, I got some good, constructive criticism. I knew that the ideas I was trying to express were good, I was just not articulating them well enough. And being there showed me where I was missing my marks.
And then having Spikiri on i(m)bali LIVE was a major blessing because if I hadn’t gone through the Massiv Metro baptism, I might have been a bad interviewer on that day. That i(m)bali LIVE forced myself and the audience to level up to Spikiri and say what we thought, without speaking, in his words: is’Wits.
You’ve heard people say the most successful musicians in this country are the ones who speak directly to the people, in their language. Most of those people are saying the most intricate or straight up dope things in their lyrics. Look at Sjava. Look at Kwesta. Look at Mo’Molemi.
Two years ago, I wanted to learn how to speak fluently. Through some friends, I found a woman who teaches isiZulu nesiXhosa but I just couldn’t afford her lessons. I think I’m going to see if I can make enough extra money this year so I can sign up for her curriculum next year. Maybe we’ll see a music show produced (and presented? Angazi) by me on SABC 1 yet.
Imagine if more of us challenged ourselves to learn how to speak to more people so we can share more? What language do you want to become fluent in?