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Creative Limpopo


by Morrel Shilenge / 08.10.2010

“Raah” is the word every session begins with. Raah. It just sounds good. Centering. Affirming. Raah. Here where loose minded “creatives” gather to collaborate in the “arts”. Mostly they smoke zol and get sloshed on cheap red wine, to be honest. Like creatives anywhere. But this is Limpopo. You thought wild shit doesn’t happen in the Limpopo Mountains. You thought it’s just mud houses and muti everywhere.

These brainstorming sessions started last year. I was shocked. Limpopo still has a lot of old folks around. An older generation still runs things. They’re not wild about loose minded creatives verbalizing in clusters or visualizing their thoughts on power point walls.

But every month they gather. Ostensibly to start a “creative revolution”. I know. In Limpopo, right! Most of the crowd don’t even listen to the presentations. In one ear and out the other. They come just to be around creativity. Watch sharper minds represent Limpopo – life here now. Through art and analysis. It’s just about inspiration. For Limpopo. At Kgorong. Which ironically means ‘where the elders gather’ in Sepedi. After the sessions, a soul band called Dice and Skalf get it right. Good linear fun. Not trying to be anything but themselves.

Kgorong Limpopo

But one of the members suddenly starts praying for us. “You need Jesus,” he says. Whoever that is. I say to myself a band with spirit consciousness may be exactly what the South African music scene needs. Shit every revolution begins with a revelation. So the Limpopo creative revolution must have begun.

A revelation and reviewing of the past and the present. A land of three cultures: Tsongas, Pedis and Vendas. The ineluctable trio that amount to Limpopo. The Kgorong art and poetry sessions show history changing right in front of us. Cultures beginning to blur.

A long time ago Limpopo was divided into three parts with the Tsonga in Giyani, the Vendas in Thohoyandou and the Pedis in Sekhukhune. But Kgorong is helping the “born frees” to mingle beyond their culture. Kgorong is a movement influenced by American popular culture. The Def Jam Poetry era meeting the amakip kip generation. I mean it’s pretty awesome. For Limpopo.

Limpopo has remained under-populated, a land sacred and immune to many of the troubles besetting the other glitzier provinces. People here still have a sense of ubuntu. They really do. For real. Beyond the hyped cynical deployment of the idea. People here care about who they are, sustaining deep spiritual ties to each other and the land.

Limpopo Creative Kgorong

But the reach of mediated popular culture, through the youth, has changed Limpopo. Like Footloose. Like Elvis in middle America in the fifties. No longer are we pure and untouched. We’re stricken by the virus of social media. Limpopo is becoming one with the rest of the world. Becoming commercial in the process. Is this a good thing? These are some of the issues we chew over at Kgorong.

Limpopo is beginning to find its voice. It really is. Beginning to express itself. Young creativity is breaking out of the shell. Starting revolutions in their own backyards instead of traveling to other provinces. Not heading for greener pastures.

The question is – how do we retain our innocence while moving forward, keep the best of ourselves while mining opportunities, advancing while retaining our identities? See you round the bar for these and similar concerns at next month’s Kgorong! Raah.

Kgorong Limpopo

All images © Morrel Shilenge.

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