1. Brother, we really have missed you. Where have you been and what have you been up to?
I’m humbled to hear that, dear sister. I trust you visited my website and the blog (www.rantolokomolokoane.com) every once in awhile to remember that even when I am not around I have left pieces of me in many spaces so that I can always be found.
Well I have learnt throughout the years that the stage and performance creates a certain need for over-productivity in us artists which at times leads to an oversaturation of our works. As much as I love the space one must retreat every now and then to remember that it is in living that one finds the life breath of Art. So I have been taking care of the life breath of the Art that I do, whether through speaking to my Badimo, God, rivers, mountains or people. I would say I have been in myself learning to see God in all.
2. How has your upbringing influenced and moulded your work and headspace?
Most days I barely know how to point out the relationship because I’m learning more and more every day that there is much about my upbringing that was the responsibility of the intangible that I have yet to find ways of accounting for- not that I owe anyone an explanation though- in a manner this reality can comprehend.
My father was a Ndau-e healer and when I was very young there were always ceremonies held at home. There were drums beating everywhere, men dressed in healer adornments would share dances and spaces with me. I had my own beads, school was too easy- I didn’t study- but humans were hard for me to comprehend.
I knew my father had helped many people close to death to come back and live again. So magic and strangeness has always been a family thing. But so too has darkness.
My father was very abusive. There were days that I would have to stand between his drunken self and my loving mother when they would fight. My mother has always been my guide at how to live with the power of love and how to remain rooted in that power when things turned against you.
So my work celebrates both the light and darkness that make up life while praising the love that binds all, no matter how painful that may be at times.
Read some Khalil Gibran, Toni Morrison, or Ben Okri to better comprehend what I’m trying to convey.
3. Your profile says you’ve spent a decade practicing your craft, nurturing it and learning ways to better tell the Afrikan story. What is the Afrikan story you would like us all to hear?
I can sound like some old aged Afrikanist sometimes neh? Aha Aha Aha. ‘The road to hell is paved with good intention’, I have heard some say.
Not the Afrikan story that the politicians need to maintain their hierarchies; not the Afrikan story that the churches need to maintain to keep their temples and tents warmed by followers; not even the one that keeps the mental institutions flooded; nor the one that has healers drawing more and more from the darkness to survive.
An honest story reminding humanity of its oneness with all and its need to take heed of the lessons from its experiences. Should these lessons not be learnt the experiences shall be relived over and over again. Would you not say that this is a summary of human history?
4. How has the response to your book ‘Read, Write Dreams Into Life’ been and will you be bringing some with you on Saturday?
In terms of book sales it hasn’t been much to write home about. +/- 300 copies sold thus far. It is the responses of those who were brave enough to share their experiences of the work after reading it that have reminded me to remain guided by love.
I launched the book in my township to ignite the belief in dreams in those around me and that day still remains etched in the memories of the many who attended. It was my first official performance at home and in front of my mother. Even my white primary school teachers drove +/- 50km to my township, Tumahole, to share the experience.
It has also though made me realize how a culture of reading is not that established even at poetry events, the demand seems to be for audio offerings and not book offerings.
5. What challenges did you come across with publishing your own anthology?
I struggled to get the funds for the printing costs. As you know a lot of poetry events’ organizers are still inviting us to their events with exposure as their currency and nothing monetary, so poets don’t have funds to work with. It is my mother who was the sole funder for the book.
The other challenge was in deciding to publish a book in itself because I was aware of the state of reading in poetry circles, but I knew that I needed to find the few people who would be willing to be a part of my writing journey from the beginning if I’m to remain alive in this world.
There are many more books to come, if I can just find means of staying alive while writing.
6. A little birdie (called the internet) told me you are working on a fiction novel. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
That birdie never shuts its beak neh?
Yes, I am writing one. It sucks the life out of me when I write it, but I remain writing it. It is called ‘Messages From the Stars’. That’s all I can say for now, but you can visit my website to download a short story titled ‘Lost Days’ to get a feel of how my to approach fiction.
7. Your performance style is rather unique. What influences have brought you to where you are in your art?
It was during my literary studies that I came across a module titled the Semiotics of Drama. It was basically about how in a dramatic presentation (play) there is a code of signs which can be used to communicate certain messages. Meaning communication is not just depended on the dialogue, but props, movements and clothing can be used to communicate too. This struck a chord with me for if you think about it is this not what takes place during rituals? Everything present in the ritual has a certain message to communicate.
The other influence was the fact that I had been performing for ten years in the same manner and trust me that didn’t sit well with my spirit and also if the audience just loved the words they would flood the libraries as they flood events.
We are blessed with many means of communicating all that we feel we are to on the stage so utilizing all these means can increase the clarity of our messages but more importantly it can further convey the many dynamics of communication.
Love always reminds of how much more there is to everything and how fear can stifle everything, so through love amazing things can be done.
8. The one thing I know for sure is…
Certainty is not a temple I pray in.
9. One day my words will…
Remind their receiver of the power of silence.
10. The one thing I wish more people knew about me is
I become a comedian on some days. (Transformers ain’t got nothing on me)