On our Lists this week: Sol Plaatjie, Trinidad James & Neo Muyanga

The story which begins in the village of Kunana in the North West, where a Matabele invasion by Mzilikazi’s son, Langa, destroys the Barolong, revenging the murder of two royal Matabele messengers (Penguin Books)

The story which begins in the village of Kunana in the North West, where a Matabele invasion by Mzilikazi’s son, Langa, destroys the Barolong, revenging the murder of two royal Matabele messengers (Penguin Books)

THE READING LIST

ice cream headache in my bone: Phillippa Yaa de Villiers. This third collection of poetry recalls her childhood memories and reflects on their effects. I was reminded of one of my introductory psychology lectures when I read this.
The exact words have escaped me but something I read focused on the idea that our psyches develop according to the experiences of our formative years. So now I’m spending time digging in the unlabelled boxes of my childhood to find out a little more about myself. (ZH)

Mhudi: Sol Plaatje. Plaatje’s debut, the first English novel written by a black South African, circa 1917 but published in 1930, is set 100 years before its publication and begins in the village of Kunana in the North West, where a Matabele invasion by Mzilikazi’s son, Langa, destroys the Barolong, revenging the murder of two royal Matabele messengers. The only Barolong survivors of the massacre, Ra-Thaga and Mhudi, meet in the wilderness, fall in love and marry in the absence of their community. From there, a historical account of the kinds of encounters that such a pair would undergo at the time involves warring Matabele, trekking Boers and groups of Khoe, which paints a picture of the formation of colonial classification in Southern Africa as well as a local history of love, war and a complication of the popular “everything was peaceful before colonialism” narrative. I’m at the point where Ra-Thaga and Mhudi are about to encounter the Voortrekkers, which is chapter four, and I’m suspending my critical eye and reading the book for what it is first before reading it for its meaning. He writes in an English that was for the English and less for the natives. (MB)

THE PLAY LIST

Vogue: Full Crate featuring Trinidad James & Bryn Christopher.  Yes, yes, I know I’m a little late to the hype, given that this song was released in May last year. But I don’t care, bite me. I found Vogue when I remembered how much I loved Trinidad James and, although I’m no longer too keen on the club scene, this makes me wanna lose all inhibitions and get down. (ZH)

Revolting Songs: Neo Muyanga. I found an explosive little historical misnomer while listening to one of Neo Muyanga’s YouTube recordings of Revolting Songs, his masterful interpretation and historicising of struggle and toyi-toyi songs. I discovered that some of the struggle songs Muyanga records and reinterprets on the piano and guitar are actually the basis of the cheerleading songs we used to sing as Xhosa children at our model C schools in the 1990s Eastern Cape. We would take the infamous toyi-toyi chant, which was sung against the apartheid police, “Babuliseni: Molweni, Molweni. Babuz’impilo: Ninjani, Ninjani? Abaphenduli: I wonder, I wonder”, and we would substitute the names of the political parties such as the ANC with the names of our houses (Milner, Hunter or Victoria House). This would be done during school galas or athletics meetings and it now makes sense that we, the black children, would always win the coveted but consolation “Spirit” prize because, when we arrived at the schools and were taught “I-said-a-boom-a-chick-a-boom”, somehow, in our 10-year-old minds, we knew that there was another way to warcry. (MB)

The Lists were compiled by Friday editor Milisuthando Bongela and intern Zaza Hlalethwa

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