On our Lists this week: Credo Mutwa, Johnny Dyani, and Ben Sharpa

The emcees' emcee: Ben Sharpa

The emcees' emcee: Ben Sharpa


‘How to Build a Meaningful Career’ by Amy Gallo: The last thing I want to do in my career is to work a nine-to-five purely for the sake of securing a money bag at the end of each month. Yes, cash rules a lot of things but I want to care about my efforts and so far I’ve been lucky. It all just happened.
But I would like to make sure that I know how to balance my needs and passions. Right on time, I stumbled across Amy Gallo’s article in the Harvard Business Review. It provides a mental model on practical steps we could take to ensure that we’re not just nine-to-fiving because we have bills. I think a lot of us who are finding our feet in the big bad capitalist society could find this helpful. (ZH)

Indaba, My Children by Credo Mutwa: I feel like I’m finally ripe enough to read and critically engage with Indaba, My Children. It’s been threatening me for years. So I started at the back with a chapter full of gold and dust asking whether Africans are human or subhuman. In it, the great Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa argues that human civilisation couldn’t have begun in Africa because there was no edible vegetation to support human life and that we probably started out in East Asia. I’ve marked those dusty parts with asterisks while I consider more golden kernels of knowledge such as his assertions about the similarities between Bantu languages and Latin, Greek, Arabic, Hindi and even Inuit. My favourite example is the root similarities of the Bantu word ithumba or tumba (tumour, abscess) with the Latin tumere, tumour (to swell, a swelling). There are many more where that came from. (MB)


Johnny Dyani: My Monday and Tuesday were spent praying at the altar of jazz maestro Johnny Dyani; from his seminal Song for Biko album made with the Johnny Dyani Quartet to the African Bass (1979) version of Nkosi Sikelela and, finally, his charming vocals over Abdullah Ibrahim’s piano in a recording of Namhlanje (MB).

Ben Sharpa: Beyond going to a boarding school, I also grew up in one. I had something of an idyllic childhood because I got to play older brother to younger kids with no biological relation to me. We taught them to shoot jumpers through netball hoops, schooled them on hip-hop and showed them vintage German porn. By the time this one kid got to Jo’burg and started making his way in the streets, he knew what quality music was and what was throwaway garbage. This was the early 2000s, the Groundworks album couldn’t have been more than two years old, and all this kid could rave about was O’ Kaptin My Kap’n (Ben Sharpa), who produced some of the beats and spat some of the projectiles. This was an amorphous Voltron-like supergroup, made out dudes in other groups too. The point here is, even among his talented peers such as Krook’d the War Monga, Hueman (RIP) and Breeze (Frank Talk at the time), he held his own, his electric sabre shining bright. He was an emcee’s emcee and, off stage, a strong personality. If nothing else, he is proof of the saying iron sharpens iron. (KS)

The Lists were compiled by Milisuthando Bongela, Kwanele Sosibo, and Zaza Hlalethwa

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