It is imagination and culture that keeps us rooted to the firmament. It is literature among other things that reminds us of the convergence of our world and the past. As we grapple with COVID-19, Credo Mutwa’s parents met the same problem over 100 years ago.
And even for this issue, we were burying friends, pals and colleagues seemingly with no end in sight. Dr Bhekisizwe Peterson was a mensch, a kind teacher and a guide for many of African literature students at Wits.
Nadia Goetham was a publisher at Jacana Media. A few weeks before her passing, we attended the National Human Sciences Institute Awards in Maropeng. Advocate Tshiamo Marukgwane also passed on. He was a marathoner who ran while reading Setswana books. And these are just some of the names that I can remember off the bat. There are many more.
So believe me when I say, this has been the most difficult edition to put together since I decided to bring this publication back from its decade- long hiatus. It was so hard that I thought of skipping this edition altogether. This was combined with and compounded by the fact that I was also busy working on another work that I hope to release this year; and that is A Note to Taiwa Molelekwa: A Reflective Essay. This work has taken a long time because of the stature and magnitude of Moses Molelekwa. But this is only a deflection. What made this really difficult is that there are few words that can adequately and precisely cover and capture jazz or music in general – but it becomes even more complicated when your subject is a virtuoso such as Moses Molelekwa. This work requires a writer to dig deep and find not only the words – but the right words, in their correct amounts and with their precise meaning, to carry the correct weight of signification. The same amount of literary and intellectual rigor is required if one is going to put together an edition on perhaps the most important seer and isanusi of this century. Thus I was up a creek without a paddle!
Writing about a titan such as Credo Mutwa is certainly no easy task. Reading his opus Indaba, My Children was not the hardest part either. It was reflecting on his work – without necessarily being biographic or writing an obituary – that was.
Fortunately quite a bit had already been written about him. Dr Sinethemba Makanya obituary was spot on and I shared a lot of her sentiments in the magazine.
We reprinted her articled titled Obituary: South Africa’s towering healer, prophet and artist Credo Mutwa in full and with appropriate credits in this issue with permission from The Conversation (www.theconversation.com).
I had scratched my head for the longest time about writing a reflective, feature article on Mutwa’s magnum opus, Indaba, My Children and eventually the words availed themselves. The article touches on his poetry (epics), his mythology of creation, his leading women and other worldly characters and his borrowing (if not creation of ditshomo) and the revelation of knowledge only given to grandmasters or isanusi such as himself. I also refer to his own words – where he implicates himself in the most sacrilegious of act: revealing this divine knowledge to an unready, unthankful and dismissive mortals such as you and I.
We also took two excerpts of Credo Mutwa’s own writing; his epic poem, The Bud Slowly Opens – the penultimate poem in the opening part of the book. We also discovered Credo Mutwa’s own words buried deep in the folds of the internet. We publish the excerpt with permission. I was excited to find the words of the grandmaster himself! He is perhaps one of the most misunderstood sages, sayers and savants of his time.
This discovered work helped us read Mutwa’s own words because much of what we know about him is second-hand or hearsay and very few of us have met him. I extracted this work – to help our readers to engage with the actual words of Mutwa because many of us who are in awe of him, have not engaged with his words about himself and his views, politics and philosophy.
As a poetry publication, we published poems from far and wide – from known and unknown names and poets as it is our tradition. Athol Williams was magnanimous engouh to allow us to publish poems from his upcoming collection of poems, Whistleblowing (Geko, 2021).
Mamodiehi Gwala, Myesha Jenkins, Johann van der Walt, Kim Schuck, Prophet JD are among some of the poets that we published in this issue. In fact, this quantity of submissions in response to the work of Credo Mutwa is impressive as it is encouraging to the editors, curators and publishers of this humble publication.
Andrew Miller, that writer-poet of Dub Steps also published his short story; The Quiet. It is a suburban tale of the neighbourhood funk that we go through as young black folk trying to survive the whims of privileged white neighbours.
It is in this issue that I have finally managed to achieve one of my goals: to publish one of the finest authors in the continent; Percy Mabandu; and all this by a stroke of luck only! The great Mabi Thobejane had passed away and I knew I had no vocabulary for this titan. We managed to publish Mabandu’s tribute to the great drummer and percussionist – a true honor indeed!
Sabata-mpho Mokae is an outstanding scholar and author. He wrote a moving tribute to a former Guest Poetry Editor of this magazine, Adovate Tshiamo Moremogolo Marukgwane and it was read by Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang.
Advocate Marukgwane was the marathoner who ran while reading our own Sabata-mpho Mokae’s books, Ga ke Modisa and Moletlo wa Manong gaining himself acclaim and fame. Advocate Marukgwane passed away earlier this year in Pretoria. May his wonderful and literary soul rest in peace!
We also take a look at Mpush Ntabeni’s latest book; The Wanderers. And if there is one book or title that I can easily say that I cannot wait to read, it is anything by Mpush Ntabeni. In the same breath of brave writing and unrelenting creativity, we also republished the work of Christopher Mlalazi and it is a great read, while Sifiso Ngwane took us on a wild trip n search of healing tea. How apt!