AroundHipHop Café: The Black Power Station

Andiswa Rabeshu engaging with literature kept at the Café. Photo: Supplied/AroundHipHop

Sunday 24 June saw the official launch of the AroundHipHop Café, dubbed as “The Black Power Station”.  Situated in a warehouse on Rautenbach Road on the way out of Grahamstown, the Café is open to musicians, artists and performers. A high-spirited, youthful crowd filled the seats in what many said was a much-needed creative hub in Grahamstown. Set to an artistic aesthetic, this Café embodies a black consciousness.

“Seeing artists connect so deeply with their craft, while taking the audience along on the journey, is incredible,” said Rennifer Madondo, a member of the audience. “The performances being in a language different from mine made them more enjoyable. I’ve had to rethink these performances in my own language, and that has made me want to engage even more.”

The smooth sounds of neo-soul and a blend of hip-hop and deep house filled the air, while many in the audience showcased their drawing skills in the sketching workshop. The audience was enthralled by the rich acoustic homage paid to IsiXhosa Bible hymns by Wandithanda Makandula. A quiet but gripping performance by Sikhumbuzo Makandula recounts the works of Tiyo Soga (below).

Following a surprise performance by Classical and African jazz singer Jiba Xulu, singer-songwriter and 2017 SAMA nominee Msaki captivated the audience with soulful isiXhosa lyrics leaving everyone longing for more.

The dimmed lighting hanging over the large collage and couches in the Café enhances the mood for those who wish to express themselves artistically. The room also provides a comfortable space known as the ‘Book Kona’ dedicated to the learning and engaging with black African literature.

“The Black Power Station is a space for artists and ordinary citizens to come and express themselves,” said founder Xolani Madinda. Madinda, who is an artist himself, emphasized the need for such spaces, especially for black creatives.

Catering to the aesthetic of the creative community in Grahamstown, the AroundHipHop Café is a platform for both recognized and emerging artists to exhibit and share their works.

By Zondelela Njaba