Tag Archives: Xongani Maluleka

WNS Family Part II – Understand that you’re not dealing with a small time brand…

Over the years the WNS stage has become a bucket list-worthy stage to perform on for poets and musicians alike.

It provides young, up and coming artists have a platform to showcase their unique, sometime eclectic sound to lovers of words and sounds.

We recently spoke to Masai Dabula [WNS Multimedia Manager, shareholder and former King of the Mic], Xongani Maluleka [affectionately known as Xongi, WNS Production Manager and Shareholder] and BlaQ2sday [one of the many awesome artists to have showcase on our stage], about their their individual Word N Sound experiences both on and off the stage.

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How did Word N Sound hook you? What made you want to get involved as a shareholder?

Masai: It was a gradual transgression. I had to prove, in various ways, that I was worthy to be part of the team. The support was also immense, not to mention the vision Word N Sound has. The hook was initiated by Word N Sound’s objective to be the voice of Africa when it comes to literature, and why wouldn’t I take the shares… I am Word N Sound!

Xongi: I wanted to get involved as a shareholder because I wanted to form part of the biggest poetry movement in this country. It is a great pleasure to be part of one of a few black owned production companies in South Africa. Well Word N Sound wanted me; it chose me. Word N Sound is hooked on me… 😉

Besides being a poetry, performance and live literature experience like no other, Word N Sound challenges those who step onto its stage and into its boardroom to learn and grow in ways they have not done before.

We spoke to the ever eclectic BlaQ2sday about their Word N Sound experience.

Blaq2sday

BlaQ2sday

BlaQ2day: Our first performance was intimidating, because Word N Sound was, at that time, the first show that was so on point. From the stage setup at the Market Theatre Lab, to the sound system and band instruments layout on stage, to the lighting and all those fancy things. We walked in there, we were happy, but tense at the same time.

Then over a year later, we did the WNS Rise of The Underdogs. At that stage, we were already used to nice things, so our confidence was already sky high the minute we saw the top class stage setup at the SABC Radio Park. We were just too excited, and we had the nicest of times.

What is different about the Word N Sound stage, compared to different stages you have performed on?

Word N Sound is world class. The trick is that, Word N Sound is open to anyone to step on their stage, whatever calibre the artist. However, as an artist, if you follow Word N Sound, you’ll know that not everybody can step up. The bar is just too high. Even the Open Mic is on flames. So, that should tell you something. We’ve been to shows where the organisers ask us if we have mics by any chance, or a live performance mixer [‘O_o]. So in brief, WNS pioneered a new standard for the arts, they gave artists hope in performance arts.

Since your showcase, what have you been up to?

We’ve had a couple of unfortunate events that disturbed the health of the band, and demotivated the team. So we had to take some time out as a band. This year, we’ll be looking into making more music than anything else, we are also switching up the sound a bit. Without giving away too much, we’ll be adding a new sound to what you already know of BlaQ2sday.

On the up side, on Friday 30 January we were announced the winners for the MTV #KickStartMyBandIntoGear Competition. We won the grand prize of R100 000 worth of band gear from Music Connection, courtesy of MTV, Electric Vines and Music Connection.

Much of what the audience sees is the result of hours of planning, preparations, mini heart attacks and many tantrums, but a collective team effort nonetheless. A lot of connections help the lights come on.

Xongani

Xongi: When we have festivals it gets really hectic and one really just has to suck it up until the end of the festival. Surprisingly enough it is always hectic, this is one thing I could never get used to. I have accepted this norm and that is how I am able to go into the next festival despite the odds.

A wise man once said, the only constant in life is change, and although Masai came to Word N Sound with no expectations, purely to be part of the experience, he and his vision for the company have changed.

With everything that WNS has done (and not done) over the years, what is your vision now for WNS? How is it different from the WNS you joined, and is that good or bad?

Masai: My vision is basic and simple: poetry must become a credible industry… Where writers will be acknowledged for their craftsmanship. Africa has many stories to tell, and we need to harness those stories for the world at large. My vision for Word N Sound has altered, and I have grown. It has solidified thanks to my team and I can easily say the vision is feasible.

As a former King of the Mic, what is your opinion on the type of performances you have seen on the stage?

Masai: Word N Sound has given a face-lift to poetry! There’s so much stigma attached to poetry. WNS has managed to challenge writers in ways I didn’t imagine when I first stepped on that stage. Our stage adjures writers to challenge the status quo and question conventional thinking. This is the main ingredient to an amazing show and strengthening the movement.

Who was your most hectic adversary?

Nova and Mutle were my greatest foes, but I grew to love them and respect them regardless of our clashes.

What is your advise for all those who are still to step on the mic?

Masai: When one steps on stage, one should have the decency of being honest.

Xongi: To the performers, my advice would have to be that they must always enjoy their moments on stage, because when we as the audience see that you are enjoying yourself, we will, too.

BlaQ2sday: Plain and simple: Our advice to the next artists is – Understand that you’re not dealing with a small time brand, so just to be safe, bring a world class showcase.

What would you like to see from Word N Sound in future?

BlaQ2sday: We would definitely love to see Word N Sound growing to be more than what it already is. Something like a franchise almost. The whole of South Africa needs to be exposed to what Word N Sound is doing for artists. So it would be nice to extend that to other parts of the country, and eventually the world. And a National Festival doesn’t sound bad neither, #InWordNSoundWeTrust!

Xongi: For the company I would like to say that we should never stop! We are a monster of a company and the world is yet to see more amazing things come from us. #INWNSWETRUST #POETRYWINS #ABEAST this thing…

Would you come back to the WNS stage in future? Why?

BlaQ2sday: Is this a trick question?

The more I speak to people about Word N Sound, the more it starts sounding like the pied piper of poetry. All those who hear the Word N Sound story, find their ways to its doors, and never want to leave.

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9 young writers to look out for

To mark World Poetry Day (21 March), Word N Sound would like to salute the young writers who have gotten us excited about poetry and keep us motivated and inspired to keep pushing when things get tough.

Kurt Schröder, Modise Sekgothe, Zewande Bhengu, Roach Du Plessis, Apiwe Mjambane, Elysium Garcia, Bafentse Ntlokoa, Xongani Maluleka, Nkululeko Ngwenya you are amazing and we salute you.

Kurt Schröder

Kurt Ludwig Schröder is a Poet/Storyteller based in Pretoria, South Africa. He is currently completing his final year of undergrad studies in Human Movement Sciences at the University of Pretoria. While he studies and works in the field of sport, he has always enjoyed creative writing and drama.

Kurt is relatively new to performance poetry. He is a fresh young story-teller who started writing and performing poetry in early 2012. Most of his content is based on personal life-stories and experiences, and he strives to share art that will “re-sensitize” a numb and desensitized world. Kurt co-founded and co-directed a Pretoria-based poetry movement called “Spoken Sessions” which successfully hosted monthly poetry events from June/July 2012 until January 2014.

Kurt recently started working closely with Emote Record Company to record and produce his poems and stories. Kurt dreams of one day traveling the world to share his poetry.

Modise Sekgothe


Modise Sekgothe has been a writer for the past 6 years since 2007 having begun as an abstract Hip-Hop lyricist for the first 3 years. His exploration of Performance Poetry began in the year 2010 as a member of the UJ Poetry Society formally known as “Fore.Word Society”.

He has headlined and performed in all their major annual shows as an individual and in collaboration with a number of other prolific poets and performers. Aside from this, he has graced many stages throughout Johannesburg either in the form of slams, poetry competitions or open mike sessions. To mention a few, he performed as a guest performer in the regional semi-finals of the DFL lover And Another semi-finals in 2011. He has also recently performed as a representative of “Fore.Word Society” at the Izimbongi Poetry Festival 2012.

Aside from his experience as a Performance Poet, he has also quite recently explored other avenues of theatre through drama. He has thus far been part of three professional theatre productions under the UJ Drama Company. The first of these was “SA Shorts” which premiered at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2012 and was also staged at the University of Johannesburg Theatre. Followed by “The Boy Who Fell From The Roof” which was part of the “ThatSoGay Festival” hosted by the UJ Drama Company also in 2012. Lastly, in the current year of 2013, he was part of “Equus”, the prolific play by Peter Shaffer, also under the UJ Drama Company.

Further explorations of both drama and poetry came in the form of a poetical or dramatic poetry independent-theatre production called “The Funeral”. “The Funeral” was conceptualised, directed and co-written by Simo Mpapa Majola including co-writers, Modise Sekgothe, Obakeng Makhutle, Nyameko Nkondlwane and Lakai Saadiq.

Zewande Bhengu

Zewande Bhengu is a growing, ambitious theatre director who has a strong opinion on the socio-political, the national economical and the general world of arts and recreation. His journey in art began at an elementary level with short poems and further on in high school, he began to perform poetry at school functions.

In 2007 he moved to Johannesburg to study Dramatic Arts at the National School of the Arts, during that time he performed in a number of poetry sessions, open mic sessions, expressions night and the like. He directed a number of poetic works at this time and his best work was ‘The Speakers’ that earned him platinum certificates upon its success. He also co-founded Night Vigil Sessions which was hosted at the South Point Building (Norvic House).

He was part of the ’21 Poets and Poem’ cast which played at the Jo’burg Theatre Space.Com and the Jo’burg Theatre Fringe Stage. His later successful work was when he co-wrote and directed FIRE:BURN, which was staged in 2013 during Wits University Orientation-Week, The National Arts Festival, 969 Festival and had its last run at the Drama For Life Festival. He has since won the All Res Council Talent Show, The Christian Action Fellowship Talent Show (Twice) and in a display of versatility, took second place at the Transformation Office’ Photographic Competition. He later took the King of the Mic tilte at the Word N Sound Series Season 4 Episode 1.

Roach Du Plessis

I started writing when I was about 15, with the intention of composing lyrics for a band that hadn’t even existed yet. I went on to play bass in many bands, (and now currently for Brainwreck), while my lyric books piled up.

At the age of 24, I went to Brighton in the UK, where I rediscovered my love for poetry in the form of spoken word at a venue called the Sanctuary. At that point, I dusted off my lyric sheets and got back into writing. Since then, I’ve gotten involved with Poetry collectives such as House of Hunger, Gold Peanuts, Liquid Tongue and Word N Sound, often taking part in their slams and open mics.

Through Poetry, I try to convey concern for topics that the public are kept blind to. I wouldn’t say I’m entirely political, but I do address issues that matter, while touching on subjects that remind us of our humanity and the importance of individuality.

I aim to make my writing extend as far as possible, but I do feel that if I can reach at least one person, and make them think or feel, my objective has been achieved.

Apiwe Mjambane

I am a 22 year old upcoming spoken word poet. I am random, I love music and I enjoy my own company. I am a social misfit to put it mildly.

It all started in 2005 when I was completing Grade 9 at the East London Science College in the Eastern Cape. I didn’t know much about urban poetry at the time but I wanted to deliver an assigned oral task in a new, more exciting way. I had just discovered that I could communicate differently. That I could speak poetry. And I kept it a secret until I came to Johannesburg.

In 2010, with my move to this concrete jungle, I began attending and performing at open mic poetry sessions. That is when I realised that I was not just entertaining what most people call a ‘hobby’ I was actually practising the ideal way of communicating with different souls. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing.

After studying journalism at the Boston Media House I started building my profile as an Artist. I have grown a lot in my craft. I am currently part of a spoken word organisation called Word N Sound Live Poetry and Music Series a platform which grants me the opportunity to express my love for language and self-expression.

Nkululeko Ngwenya

Nkululeko Ngwenya, better known as Page is a 20 year old poet from Durban, South Africa. Also a B Sc Marine Biology student at UKZN Westville Campus he only started really performing on 2011 but has already been accepted in the circles and hearts of where he’s been. He describes his poetry as, himself; saying “my poetry draws from characters such as my father and other close family as I do myself”.

He has performed at Jomba! , Word N Sound Experience, Give Me Ten Mics, Cup O’ Thought and other nationally prestigious arts festivals. He was one third of the Poetry Africa SlamJam team against the European team from the Ordsprak Festival (Sweden) on the 16th Poetry Africa Festival in 2012 as well as being chosen the next year again to partake as the prelude poet for the 17th Poetry Africa Festival he is nowhere near stopping as he was first to be revealed as one of the headliners at KwaZulu Poetry Festival this April. Slam poetry champion of Cup O’ Thought as well as winning many minor events of the same kind has seasoned Page as a performer to travel around South Africa performing in Pietermaritzburg, Vryheid, Eshowe, Johannesburg and many other places.

Words with which he lives his art are, “poetry is not only in the words, but in the world. It is in the land, in the air and mostly, in ourselves.”

Xongani Maluleka

Writer, poet and performer. Credited for her unmistakable truth telling and unique style of writing.

Xongani started writing in high school for the lack of original poetry in her literature syllabus. As there were not many writers at her school to inspire growth in her poetry, she took leave from writing until university when she joined the University of Johannesburg Fore.Word Poetry Society and began to blossom into an eminent performer.

She has performed for important stages including the Word N Sound Poetry Slam where she won second place in the August 2013 top five. Her showcase at the Next Generation ‘Let’s Talk Homosexuality’ show remains closest to her heart as it was there that her voice became an ally for the activism of LGBTI rights.

Xongani wishes to grow in her writing and performing to have a bigger and critical voice for her expression of truth and advocacy for courses that are socially ignored

Elysium Garcia

Elysium Garcia is a writer and performance poet. An artist from childhood, his writing is a peculiar gallery of imagination and dream scape. Inspired by works of magical realism, absurd fiction and texts of mysticism, he writes his poetry from an alternative perspective, or as he defines it; ‘The Shadows.’ Garcia has been seen on stages in Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria and the Vaal.

In 2009, under a different forgotten name, he was part of a poetry collective formed at the Vaal University of Technology known as Secret Society 1696, blank compact discs were trafficked under seats at poetry shows with some of his’s primitive work of writing. It was not until 2010, that he opened up to a broader audience and came to Johannesburg to join and take part in the ever flourishing creative revolution of performance poetry.

Elysium has exhibited his work alongside many renowned names in the South African poetry community and international visitors respectively. He is one-third of Basic Channel, a poetry collective in Johannesburg currently working on numerous multimedia projects and literature products. He is the current Slam For Your Life champion and two times monthly (June and September) Word N Sound open mic poetry league king of the mic. His performance portfolio is comprised of performing at several poetry showcases and events in the country including a performance at TEDx Johannesburg in September 2013, Melville poetry festival (2013), Drama For Life poetry slam (2010), Izimbongi Poetry Festival (2011), Cup-O-Thought (Durban 2012), Current State of Poetry (2011), Likwid Tongue, UJ Poetry Festival (2010), he finished in the top 3 finalists of the first TEWOP Slam in 2012, top 10 finalist of the 2012 Word N Sound open mic league. He features in the 2012 Word N Sound poetry mix tape and KPN Live arts video mix tape.

Bafentse Ntlokoa

Born Sekang Bafentse Ntlokoa on the 26 of June 1985, this gifted mother of two fell in love with spoken word art after hearing Janet Jackson recite Maya Angelou’s ‘phenomenal woman’ in the movie Poetic Justice when she was only 10 years old. At age 16 she began scripting her own material but nothing she felt was poetry until age 21 when her spoken word artist boyfriend convinced her to take to the stage in 2006 at a poetry event organised by the VUT poetry society called Uvuko.

Bafentse did a few more performance in Johannesburg at Crammers coffee shop with balladry composition and some at Wits with but hasn’t always felt confident in her abilities as a spoken artist. It was only recently when she graced the stage with her enchanting piece called ‘beautiful like a gaping wound’ that the poetry public began to stand up and take note of this lyrical gem. Some patrons have been quoted as saying.

“If calligraphy had a sound, it would sound like the tone in your voice” -Sbusiso Simelane “Achingly honest, lyrically masterful, raw and gracefully eloquent at the same time, powerful yet dripping with delicate tenderness. I willingly flow where you flow” – Katlego Nakedi

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