Socratic dialogue was not what I anticipated from local media brand Blah Ze Blah. But seated in a smoky bar at the Victoria Hotel, beat-boxer Sinethemba Konzaphi and “tech guy” Desmond Gambiza talked me through the philosophy that guides a movement seeking to examine life within the Eastern Cape.
Blah Ze Blah is a fluid collective that initially emerged as a performance group two years ago. Now managing ongoing music sessions that highlight home-grown hip-hop talent, the group aims to create a vibrant arts scene in Grahamstown that is able to add to both national and international creative conversations.
Sinethemba Konzaphi and Desmond Gambiza, co-founders of Blah ze Blah, aim to promote local talent.Photo: Hlumela Mkabile
“The Eastern Cape is what South Africa needs at a raw creative level,” Konzaphi said as bursts of hip-hop blared through the bar. In the room next door, sound technicians tested their equipment ahead of the first event in a Festival line-up that boasts partnerships with the National Arts Festival, Makana Tourism, Fingo Festival, and Rhodes Music Radio.
According to Gambiza, Blah Ze Blah’s intention is to provide a supportive platform from which undiscovered talent can speak truth to a tired industry. “Tell the world about your story, but tell it in your own way; don’t tell it according to whoever’s philosophy. What’s your own philosophy about the world we live in and what is your contribution to other people?” Konzaphi added.
This vision found expression in the session that followed our pub philosophising. Blending beat-boxing and rap, performers Elastic Band, Optik, and Oz variously beckoned Biko and Sobukwe into a conversation with contemporary politics and set down the lived reality of local youth. Despite a fairly small audience, their authentic energy engaged those present in a moment of authenticity.
– Kyla Hazell
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