The Lists: James Baldwin and SA jazz icons Abdullah Ibrahim and Moses Molelekwa


Genes and Spirits: Moses Molelekwa. I’m shuffling between Moses Taiwa Molelekwa’s Genes and Spirits, and I begin and end each listening session with Itumeleng or Kwaze Kwangcono. Something about those songs, old Johannesburg and a yearning to be old enough to have been in Jo’burg when the jazz legend was at his prime. (MB)

Mannenberg: Abdullah Ibrahim.  Mannenbeg is a call-and-response resistance anthem fashioned for “insider” audiences and acts as an indictment of the cyclopsian “outsider”. Its ability to stir audiences both new and old makes this song an inimitable South African jazz standard. (MM)


Go Tell It on the Mountain: James Baldwin. I love Zadie Smith but I’m struggling to finish what I feel is an unnecessarily long and limping plot in Swing Time. So I moved on to James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, which has been on my bookshelf for three years waiting for me to wake up and live in its brilliance regarding race, masculinity and sexuality in mid-century America. (MB)

Beasts of No Nation: Uzodinma Iweala. That Iweala wrote this book as part of a thesis after having spent time on the continent as an aid worker is the first part of the appeal of this novella. The second is that it acts as an illustration of how not to write on post-independence Africa. This book serves as cautionary tale to all writers seeking to write of home. I believe it would better serve the reader if it was titled Informant to the Coloniser. A good read, sure, but eish, man. (MM)

The Lists this week were compiled by Friday editor Milisuthando Bongela and contributor Mandisa Mbelu

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