Rap­per’s rhyme and rea­son

CityPress - - News - PHUM­LANI S LANGA phum­lani.sithebe@city­press.co.za

“Aluta con­tinua” are the open­ing words of Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh’s lat­est hip-hop video in his cam­paign against what he sees as the ANC and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s mis­man­age­ment of the coun­try. The strug­gle, he says, is far from over.

Drenched in #FeesMustFall footage, ref­er­enc­ing Marikana, Zuma and Je­sus, and in­clud­ing footage of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande be­hind the par­lia­men­tary fence, the video for his new song, State Cap­ture, was re­leased on­line on Thurs­day.

“I never thought I’d see the strug­gle mov­ing back­wards/ Don’t get me started on the strug­gle for the land and/ Don’t get me started on this gov­ern­ment of ban­dits,” raps Mpofu-Walsh.

City Press spoke to the aca­demic rap­per in Ox­ford in the UK, on the phone this week. This year, he’ll be pos­ing a triple threat – he’ll com­plete his doc­tor­ate on Africa and nu­clear arms, pub­lish his first book – he won the 2016 City Press Tafel­berg Non­fic­tion Award – and re­lease his first rap al­bum.

The son of Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers na­tional chair­per­son Dali Mpofu, Mpofu-Walsh is con­duct­ing his ca­reer dif­fer­ently from his South African hip-hop con­tem­po­raries, who write about booty­li­cious babes, swag and mak­ing rands rain in the club.

“Hip-hop is ac­tivism,” he says. “Hip-hop and politics are kind of the same thing: the use of rhetoric to get your point across,” he says.

“Over the past few years, hip-hop has re­ally blown up in South Africa. But I’m not im­pressed with any of our ‘ma­jor’ artists. They’re push­ing a vac­u­ous, ma­te­ri­al­is­tic mes­sage – de­spite ac­cess to huge plat­forms. [Con­scious rap] takes more work than cookie-cut­ter rap.”

When asked about his new video, which con­trasts to­day’s lead­ers sip­ping on cham­pagne with lead­ers of the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle, Mpofu-Walsh says: “I wanted to con­vey the para­dox of liv­ing in South Africa to­day: si­mul­ta­ne­ous de­spair and hope.”

His al­bum, Democ­racy and Delu­sion, is do­ing well, he says.

He will be re­leas­ing it in Au­gust, at the same time as his book, which has the same ti­tle.

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