WNS: Who is the one great south African poet [dead or alive] that you would kill or die to slam against?
AFURAKAN: Lesego Rampolokeng! Purely because I would never win, however, the honey is in the fight. It’s just one of those word battles you want to come out of bleeding and torn to shreds. But still live to talk about it …
… Also because I can’t think of anyone dead or alive who would want to f#*k with Lesego Rampolokeng .. Next question …
WNS: You came up during the explosion of the performance poetry scene, what would you say the difference is between that era of the movement and the current slam dominated era we are experiencing right now?
AFURAKAN: Wow! Did you just call me an old man? Any way … The movement that broke through around 1999 through to 2005 was an exciting yet limited phenomenon. I think for the first time, black youth were redefining what poetry was accepted as in South Africa. Mainly raised on hip hop, jazz, reggae and blues, this generation of writers was concerned mainly with issues of freedom and its promises, identity, self-consciousness and the new African century to name a few.
However, the movement was primarily rasta and black consciousness based and certain mundane issues such as acceptable dress code and image at poetry events and the circular topics, meant that new and potential audiences were immediately excluded from participating. This was the primary reason that retarded this beautiful and vibrant movement.
Still, some broke through and it was those who had a global perspective of poetry both written and spoken. These would include Tumi Molekane, Lebo Mashile, Napo Mashiane, Kojo Baffoe, Kabomo, Mak Manaka and Flo Mokale to name a few.
The current slam / performance based movement is firstly open to a wider net of audiences. It has embraced individuality and instead put a square focus on writing and performance. The current rejuvenation of poetry has also benefited from the introduction and constant growth of online based social media platforms.
Another difference would be the current era’s experimentation and incorporation of theater and multimedia elements and fashion to enhance the performance and overall presentation of their work. The new age poet also has global insight of poetry and spoken word as a worldwide movement and their role both locally as change agents and as part of a universal network.
WNS: What is your biggest writing quirk/superstition?
AFURAKAN: Honestly, either I don’t have one or this question went over my head.
WNS: We’re still waiting for your book, and official follow up of your ep, what can you tell us?
AFURAKAN: What do you want to hear? What’s the rush? Is work that I wrote 10 years ago still not fresher than most? Next question
WNS: If the future were to unfold exactly the way you’d want it, what’s in store for Word N Sound?
AFURAKAN: When our kids and grandkids get on stage for the first time and it’s a Word N Sound platform, then we will know that we have succeeded in building a generational tool and resource that will change how writing is viewed and consumed in the world while providing a spring board for writers to thrive in the literary and performance careers. For now, it’s back to the grind!
WNS: Your career is dotted with collaborative efforts, membership of creative collectives [Brotherhood, 7, Soul 2 Mouth, etc], please tell us about the strengths and weaknesses of these types of initiatives and collectives? What happened to these initiatives and collectives?
AFURAKAN: Some collaborative initiatives work out while others don’t but it is in the trial and error that we learn how to be both leader and follower. The beauty of collaborations is that there is joint effort and resources thus making work easier and faster. However, the decision making process can be long and drawn-out while also trying to manage individual points of view and interests.
The collectives that I have been a part of have helped me develop as an artist, entrepreneur and also as a young black man living in #Johustleburg. These collaborative have over the years faded either as they had served their purpose or because of personal developments in the collective, and sometimes because of creative differences or lack of commitment. Each still a learning experience that has helped propel me thus far.
WNS: From the early 2000’s you’ve been part of initiatives [Poetry in Locomotion, WordNSound to name just 2] to create and maintain platforms for poets [and related artists], how and why did you go this route and how important has this decision been not just for you as a poet but also as an arts administrator/activist?
AFURAKAN: Firstly, if we don’t do it then who is going to? The broader question is that do we want to just be artists/ participants in the creative industries or do we also want own a piece of it? So if we say that we want ownership then we first need to accept that we will not be the real owners in our lifetime but our children and grandchildren will. Someone has to start from scratch and lay the foundation so that it is easier for the next generation to propel this movement to even greater heights.
Secondly, I am fascinated by the creative industry in Africa and the influence and potential it has. I want to be a part of this amazing time and space – the African creative century.
Last but not least, I like running shit!
WNS: What happened to your album?
AFRURAKAN: Quick check the answer to Question 4 and come straight back!
WNS: 7 was a rather progressive socio-political theatrical poetry experiment… 7 “black” male poets, celebrating the streets they come from and the streets that make them equal. Tell us more about it? Who was part of this initiative and what was its impact?
AFURAKAN: Can we have a coffee about this one? Long, long but fun and amazing story … but there people who were involved were Kojo Baffoe, Kabomo Vilakazi, Flo Mokale, Mak Manaka, Ayob Vania, Common Man and Afurakan.
Coffeee … anyone?
WNS: What question would you most like to be asked in an interview? Why? And how would you answer it?
AFURAKAN: I am an equal opportunity question answered thus I do not discriminate against other questions. I treat all questions the same as they are all important … lol …moving right along.
WNS: You are most famous for standing in a cypher with GOD, what do you think your killer punchline in the cypher was? What would a cypher with Lucifer the light-bearer sound/feel/look like?
“… even if you were a staff and I was the red sea you still couldn’t split me …”
Cypher with Lucifer? ….
“So it was that 21 eons had passed | and my tongue from God’s magical jar was freed at last | took a gasp | vision return to Lucifer waiting with an ax | swinging beautiful wrath | of a million hells ancient and possessed. | So what’s next …”