Don’t Wait

This track is just too good…

Newcomer Mapei from Downtown Records brings some bassy electro hip hop to a sassy pop sensibility. It’s my early 2014 jam right now… Wow it’s actually 2014…

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Thoughts on the Passing of a Father

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Nelson Mandela’s death being imminent for what seems like the whole year, was not a surprise. He had been ill for some time and he was 95 years old. He lived a full, remarkable life. And yet when his death was finally announced, the news hit one straight to the heart.

While I knew the nation would mourn when Madiba passed away, I had no idea of the extent to which I would personally mourn. I heard the news in Los Angeles while working on one of my final projects for my first semester at USC. It was my birthday, and I had just gotten off the phone with my parents earlier, who told me that they had seen “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and that they really enjoyed it. A while later, I got a text saying “Mandela is dead.” I listened to Cape Talk online, where the radio host confirmed that Nelson Mandela was indeed dead, and they proceeded to play the “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” our national anthem. I hugged my fiancée and the tears fell down my cheeks.

The sorrow and tears that hit me surprised me somewhat. I have always had great respect and admiration, even love, for our former president, but I was never a fan of hero-worship. It took Madiba’s death to realise what a personal hero he had been in my own life. I realized that my tears were not only for the passing of Madiba but also the death of the Mandela symbol, the dream of a new South Africa, the dreamy ‘rainbow nation’ ideal. As a child I remember the electricity of that first election week, when my parents were able to vote for the first time. I remember the election ballots and the ANC caps, T shirts and posters in our home. Even as children, we were all so proud of our new black president, excited for this new thing called “democracy.”

Mandela was not only a symbol of freedom, but he was also our father. He was a moral compass, a strong example and a figure of great warmth and love. His strength as a leader made us believe that South Africa was a place of infinite possibility. And like every father, Madiba was not without his shortcomings. As I grew older I became somewhat disillusioned by our “miracle,” our transition into a peaceful and democratic society. The majority of black people in South Africa still live in poverty. Many of apartheid’s worst perpetrators got off scott-free and enjoy comfortable lives and careers to this day. There was no redistribution of wealth from wealthy white South Africans. The common consensus amongst my black friends is that Mandela and his team of ANC leaders had compromised too much in their negotiations with the apartheid government. Today the ANC isn’t the liberation movement it once was, but a monolith of power that has over-promised and under-delivered.

However, there is no doubt that South Africa today is way better off than pre 94, no matter what Zumaphobes and expats in London say. While the majority of South Africans today have not yet experienced economic freedom, it is up to all of us to work towards that ideal. Is this possible within the capitalist framework which Mandela’s leadership left us? I don’t know.

I spoke to my father recently about Madiba’s death. That’s him in the picture on the right. While my family has no special ties to Mandela, my dad used to work in government and organised a meeting between Madiba and his friend, the great painter Gregoire Boonzaier (in the center of the picture)  in an effort for Gregoire to paint the first official Mandela portrait. Out of humility, Gregoire refused!

My dad called Mandela ” the father of humanity.” While that statement might seems like the common hagiography one reads about Mandela these days, there is an undeniable kernel of truth there. Madiba showed us what it meant to be human. He was able to walk out of decades of imprisonment to lead a country without hatred, without bitterness and without violence. In remembering him we should honour him by looking honestly at his presidency and the democratic transition in South Africa. One of his famous quotes was that he considered himself a saint only if a saint was “a sinner who kept trying.” At the same time, we should acknowledge his huge personal sacrifices in fighting for a free and democratic South Africa and a better world.

Enkosi Kakhulu Tata Madiba. Hamba Kahle. It’s in our hands now.

Sorry, We’re Open

One of the classes I’m taking at USC is called Creating Poetic Cinema. Our first project was to find poetry in everyday processes. I chose haircutting as there is a sense of renewal involved. I was hoping to convey that through the video. Also at barbershops there’s a  masculine vanity and which only really exists in these spaces. I’m busy editing it now but in the meantime here’s some pictures from the barbershop I found in my neighbourhood, Sorry We’re Open, at Hollywood and Highland. Good peoples!
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A note on the (re)naming of the blog

This blog has gone through many name changes, none of them worth repeating now, and finally I’ve landed on this: “Valleywood.” Slightly cheesy I know, but I feel its strangely fitting at the moment. I currently live in Hollywood (still weird for me to say that) and its probably the only time I can get away with attaching this title to anything I’m doing.  The idea actually came from my good friend Aryan Kaganof ( a man who is not unfamiliar with renaming) during the creation of Afrikaaps. He was adamant that I needed to start a company and that “Valleywood” should be the name. Apparently there’s already a Valleywood Productions in LA, plus my future business partner (Antoinette) is not too keen on the name. So at least I get to use it for this blog.

I also don’t imagine the blog will live beyond my stay in LA; I struggled in the past to blog here regularly, but now it will serve as a good way to keep my friends and family in South Africa updated on what I’m up to while I am away. Since I am studying journalism at USC, in the future I plan to focus my writing on stuff I can actually publish on Africa is a Country and elsewhere.  On here I’ll be sharing some of my class projects, videos and writing. In the future I’ll be showcasing my work on my website, which is still under some construction. So for now, welcome to Valleywood. I’ll be your guide, enjoy the ride….