A poetry feast

Dreaming Is Gift For Me (CD)

Dreaming Is A Gift For Me is a spoken word CD compilation featuring Botswana's foremost poets. The CD was launched on September 20 when contributors gathered to listen to the CD in the company of well-wishers, journalists and an odd critic. It is hard to find words that can best describe the feeling of being in a room-graced genius. You can imagine the thrill induced by sharing space with diamond-brilliant weavers of dreams. I came out of the listening session feeling more alive.

Dreaming Is A Gift For Me comes out at a time when Botswana has celebrated its 45th Independence anniversary.It is important to celebrate the independence of our imagination. The CD proves that Botswana has come of age, imaginatively.

The CD is a cocktail of poetic pieces in English, Setswana and Ikalanga. The interaction of languages comes out superbly. Some poems rely solely on the voice and others are backed by melody and rhythm. You begin to understand why African-American poet Amiri Baraka described poetry as music made less abstract.  TJ Dema, the vocal dynamo, is the leader of the motley crew of 13 wordsmiths and musicians.  She plays the role of the awakener of the people. Her intellect takes hold of you and does not let you rest. Dema is plucky enough to turn her own project on its head. She kicks against what is expected. The CD revolves around dreams and dreaming, but Dema has the gumption to open the CD with: 'Dreams are evil/I prefer nightmares.' Her poem hits language at fresh angles, showing how dreams carry falsehood. Her persona refuses to 'mourn a future she never had.' She chooses to remain rooted in the here and now. Dema brooks no complacency. In her fiercely independent voice, Dema rallies us to stay alert. The poem Less Faith Full is a mind-opener.

The collection's title is from Mandisa Mabuthoe's poem. Mabuthoe's soothing voice is indeed a gift. She is big on blues. She alludes to John Coltrane and Miles Davis. The poem is a gift wrapped in philosophy. It offers us peace and sings the truth. It is a sweet poem about generosity, rebellion and creativity.  Mabuthoe acquits herself well as she 'swings those blues in a raspy voice.'  Joshua Machao is into words too. His business is to play with words.He expresses love for words. He uses words beautifully. He delights in 'words that rise to the sky like startled birds.' He celebrates words as he wonders about the true meaning of Botho.

Kefhentse Kefhentse, provides musical flavour with his bilingual beat box tune about living one's dreams.  The piece of music borrows some lyrics from a traditional Setswana song Mmangwane Mpulele. Kefhentse's persona casts himself as a messenger bringing the seed of rain and drawing our attention to tlala le lehuma. Leshie Nchunga's lyrical poem titled Glass Ball tackles the difficult issues of love relationships based on fantasy.  The poem speaks of the broken promises of love.

Boipelo Seleke probes the mysterious with her tantalising poem Tengnyanateng. She takes us deep into shadowy ancestorscapes. She raps of godly love. Kabelo Mereyotlhe's Queen Of Clubs addresses the sad situation of people harvesting injury and death in their bid to chase the glamour of six-inch stilettos and seven-digit salaries.Mereyotlhe reminds us of the hazard of selling our bodies and souls to the "fattest wallet". Moletlanyi Tshipa uses his unique brand of rhyme to 'utter' a message of deep love and respect for parents. Mmamoleane, a reworked folksong by the effervescent Ntirelang Berman, makes you want to get up and dance. Barolong Seboni pays homage to Molepolole, his customary neck of the woods. Seboni's finely crafted poem plays on the connection between crocodiles and Molepolole. The poem gives us a good sense of the lay of the land.  This poem, in its written form, has been in the public domain for more than 15 years. Angell Nthoi's contribution Tizha Ne Shango delivers philosophy and lessons of life in charming Ikalanga to the accompaniment of soulful guitar sound.  Malcolm Champane in an engaging poem titled Angelinah drags us into a nasty world of relationships gone horribly wrong. His action-packed narrative poem harps on abuse, rape, sexual perversion, revenge and messed up people.   Champane tells it like it awfully is.

Tshireletso Motlogelwa's gritty poem claims the streets. Politically charged with Fanonian overtones, the poem articulates the condition of the wretched of the earth in an unjust set-up. It contrasts life in the wealthier suburbs with brutal existence in impoverished neighbourhoods. It highlights the ugliness of a class warfare that most people are too scared to acknowledge. 

Maestro of Setswana verse, Moroka Moreri accompanied by Jade Moatshe ka mogolokwane and Ntirelang Berman ka setinkane wraps up the collection with O a Ntena, a conversational Setswana dramatisation of the ironies of repulsion and attraction in love.

At the tail end of the CD the poets attempt to provide off the cuff responses to a question every serious poet must asking themselves in the middle of the night: Why Do I write? Their responses seem to lack conviction. The poets will certainly benefit from revisiting this question as they dream on.

Editor's Comment
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