TALKING with – and not to – Khahlishang Mametja, one of Limpopo’s performance poet and writers, one feels like attending a 300-year-long African political rally with only one agenda: the freedom of the soul of black folk.
The first impression upon meeting the wordsmith par excellence is that of feistiness, and of rigorous intelligence – all coupled with a delightful sense of humour.
Born in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, 28 years ago, and relocated to Johannesburg, Mametja, who is now a resident of Penina Park in Polokwane, describes himself as “a Pedi product of Greater Africa.”
At his tender age, he strikes as someone who has already observed a fair share of revolutions.
As he takes a trip down memory lane, he reminisces about the journey he has travelled thus far.
“I’ve been performing my poetry since the age of 14 with a three-part band called CREAM (Christ Rules Everything Around Me). My most cherished gigs and events include the Shindig Awe held annually in Haenerstburg in the Mopani district of Limpopo. I have also featured at The Royal Palace in Holland for the June 16th memorial, held by the Ambassadors of The Netherlands. At the opening ceremony of The One Billion Rising, an activism against woman and child abuse, I also had a stint at an event held in Cape Town. Furthermore, I have also performed frequently at The Piano Bar with jazz band ‘Chasing Summers’ at Green Point. Commune1 and Ayanda Mabulu’s Art Exhibition are some of the flagship events I have graced,” Kgahlishang reminisced.
All these exquisite poetic rhythms are drawn from inspiration by Don Mattera, the literary colossal in Reversing The Legacy, a 10-day re-enactment of the 1913 Land Act, which was sanctioned by the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Mametja added: “I’ve explored various realms of the Hip-Hop culture too. I have already performed at various other events, including Nelson Mandela’s passing and memorial tributes. I’ve just published and printed a conceptual book which I describe to be an Art Gallery called ‘LEWATLE: The Gallery’, which is a compilation of my poetry, photography and short stories. It’s not an anthology yet its structure is unorthodox.
“It will be available soon online. I’ve also featured on various media platforms such as Tshwane FM and Zest Magazine in Pretoria. There’s more that I do in line of helping high school learners in finding their driving force.
“That’s the passionate element of my life… my career falls in the electrifying waters of renewable energy. I run a business called MAATLA Energy where we do innovative advancements with solar, hydro and wind power to advance rural access to power and water.”
Again, a conversation with this art guru, one felt right back at the Afro-diaspora Revolution 101.