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PRESS: Lingua Franco Spoken Word Movement is back at the Baxter

Fahiem Stellenboom


After a long hiatus, the compelling Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement - one of Cape Town’s premier poetry collectives - returns to the Baxter Masambe Theatre with their latest production SHUKUMANI!, from 25 to 27 May 2023, at 7.30pm and a Saturday matinee at 2pm.

Resident poets Mbongeni Nomkonwana, Lwanda Sindaphi and Anele Kose are joined on stage by a drummer, two vocalists, and a pianist. The collective has been dormant for a while and audiences have been missing the powerful reflections on heritage, indigeneity, and identity that Lingua Franca offers in their performances.

With its unique signature fusion of spoken word, poetry and authentically South African music, this latest offering, SHUKUMANI!, is a revival, a call to rise up again and an ancestral calling to this poetic voyage.

“It is a revisit of the old poems that we have done. Poems like Love Psalms, Umzila kaMoya, and Izityhilelo Zobuze,” says Lwanda Sindaphi. “We are trying to find a new poetic language as well, a new sound and aesthetic that expresses and reflects our current realities and struggles.”

Lingua Franca was co-founded by Lwanda Sindaphi and Mbongeni Nomkhonwana in 2012 and became one of the most imperative impetuses that uplifted performance poetry and made it culturally fashionable through performances, workshops, talks, book readings and festivals. The company has featured some of South Africa’s best poets such as Koleka Putuma, Déjà vu, Malika Ndlovu, the late Primrose Mrwebi, Khadija Heeger, Pieter Odendal, Khanyiso Mabhodla and Javier Perez (USA). They have continued to be a dominant inspiration to the growing spoken word community in Cape Town for over a decade.

Over the years, the movement has positioned itself as a therapeutic space that utilises words and sounds to heal. It celebrates and preserves indigenous musicality and oral tradition while remaining both relevant and innovative in the production of multidisciplinary and dynamic afro-futuristic art.

Sindaphi explains, “We’ve asked ourselves what poetry is right now. A lot has changed and so the artform has also changed. We are now holding ourselves accountable to write new works, revisit and rewrite our old poems to see what they would mean right now and how they would work in these current times.”

In 2019 Sindaphi received three Fleur du Cap Theatre awards for his play, Kudu - Best New South African Script, Best New Director and Best Performance by an Ensemble for the cast.

Nomkonwana is a published writer, translator and spoken word artist who has performed on many stages, locally and internationally.

Kose is an awarding winning poet and published author who has performed in productions such as Ityala lamawele (directed by Mandla Mbothwe and Thando Doni) and the stage version of The Native Who Caused All The Trouble (adapted and directed by Nwabisa Plaatjie).

Lingua Franca has performed original poetry and music productions in various theatres and spaces across Cape Town, including The Baxter, Artscape, Magnet Theatre and Delft Rent Office and in Chicago (USA), gaining critical acclaim and a passionate following.

SHUKUMANI! runs at the Baxter Masambe Theatre for three days only from 25 to 27 May 2023 at 7.30pm, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday 27 May. There is an age restriction of 16 years.

Tickets are R150 and booking is through Webtickets online or at Pick n Pay stores.


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