VANGILE GANTSHO began performing seriously in 2005 but has been writing most of her life. She had her first real break performing at Rhyme Alive at the Moonbox Theatre in Pretoria (2005). Since then she has been privileged enough to perform on a variety of both cultural and corporate platforms countrywide.
Vangi co-founded The Jamm Sessions at the University of Pretoria (2005), which in turn lead to Revolutionary Words, and later evolved into The Writers’ Forum: a platform on which young, unknown artists can share their various art forms. In 2009, she saw her brainchild, When the Kats Cum Out to Play, come to life, with performances by incredible artists such as Myesha Jenkins and Nomsa Mazwai. Until recently, she would have considered this intimate conversation with women through poetry and music to be her most fulfilling poetic experience to date, were it not for her recent standing ovation performance at the 2012 Annual Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture. The audience included former Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo, Joaquim Chissano and Pedro Pires as well as many other dignitaries from around Africa and the African diaspora.
As a writer, Vangi has had her work published in The Agenda, BKO, Baobab, Guilotine, was chosen as one of the Next Wave of Poetry Sistas of Love Life Uncut and was profiled and had her work included in UK-based magazine: Sabel. She recently had the privilege of having Dr Don Mattera take her under his wing and has since organised a workshop called Conversations with Yesterday, where he agreed to sit down with a handful of young poets and discuss the challenges faced by young writers of today. At present, she is in the process of completing her poetry collection which is being overseen by Dr Don Mattera. She is a freelance writer, performer and performance coach, poet, blogger (www.vangisafrica.org), student; and you can find her jamming at (sometimes hosting) NO CAMP CHAIRS Poetry Picnic on the grass at the Union Buildings on the second Sunday of every month – a movement she co-founded beginning of 2011.
When we eventually got to sit down with this lover of words her boisterous, animated, hard-talking demeanor belied the gentle girly interior which we only slightly got to glimpse at during our sit-down…
WNS: You’re a poet, an intellect, an activist, and you wear a lot of dresses. These things we know. What mundane or diabolical thing don’t we know about Vangi Gantsho?
VG: I also wear a lot of skirts and all stars. One of my favourite movies is Clueless. I love painting my toes in lots of different colours. At once. I love limericks and nursery rhymes.
WNS: You’re a self-described blabbermouth, what do you like to blabber most about?
VG: Everything. I’m one of those people who has an opinion about almost everything so thee are few things that are off limits for me.
WNS: Have you seen the movie 27 Dresses? Did it “speak” to you?
VG: Lol! Wow! I have seen the movie. And for the record… I’ve only been a bridesmaid once. Lol. On the real though…. Not really. I’m not a marriage seeker. Not even sure it’s something I want to venture in (forever is a long time and I’m not sure human beings are designed to be monogamous for that long… and other opinions). So that movie is a brain fart for me. And warm and fuzzy and funny because some of those dresses are hideous.
WNS: What is your biggest pre-performance quirk?
VG: I always just want to sleep. I get so nervous, I just want to sleep. Sometimes, I want to paint my nails or start singing my poems to make sure I remember the words.
WNS: Why poetry?
VG: Because I am an emotional creature. And it’s the one medium that allows me to be that freely. Plus I’m a good listener, which makes me a good messenger.
WNS: What question would you most like to be asked in an interview? Why? How would you answer that?
VG: I like being asked about my dresses. Because my mother makes most of them, and there is something special about performing in a dress that my mother has made just for me. It also makes me feel held. By her.