The rising poet and musician will be sharing the stage with wordsmiths such as Black Ice from US, Professor Pitika Ntuli and Kabomo at this year’s Speak the Mind Festival. We caught up with her to chat about, poetry, music and her family.
How did you get involved with Speak the Mind Poetry Festival?
I met Langa Macungo [Speak the Mind founder] about 10 years ago. He’s always been a great support of the arts and has always been at the forefront of showcasing new talent. So when he invited me to be part of the line-up at Speak the Mind this year, I said yes immediately. I’m very excited to be performing at a festival where so many great poets have performed before me.
Tell us about your relationship with poetry
I started writing poems when I was still in high school, but only [reciting them] in university. It’s always been my way of making sense of complex issues. I was just having conversations with myself. Now the purpose of my poetry is to speak truth to power – be it government or power. I don’t believe people choose poetry, because it doesn’t pay and there is very little respect for the artists in this country. But when poetry chooses you, it’s impossible to ignore the calling.
You have two influential sisters, Thandiswa and Ntsiki, do you ever feel as though you’re living in their shadows?
If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would have said no because I’ve always looked at the positive side of having two amazing sisters. But what I’ve come to realise recently was all the things I can’t get because of my sisters. For instance, when I was recently asked to be in a magazine feature, the publication suggested I include my older sister, Thandiswa, and I agreed. When Thandiswa pulled out of the feature, the magazine wasn’t interested in featuring me any more. But I love my sisters more than anything.
You’ve written a book titled Sai Sai Little Girl. What is it about?
The book tells of my experiences as the first female SRC president at the University of Fort Hare. Being at Fort Hare was an incredible experience for me, but as the first female SRC president, I also faced a lot of challenges. I remember shortly after I was elected, some of the students marched to my residence chanting “Uzonya uNomi” [Nomi is going to s**t herself]. The title of the book is my identity, really. When I was growing up, my father’s nickname for me was ‘Sai Sai’ and as a student involved in governance, people used to call me ‘little girl’ just to patronise me. I decided to use the label in an empowering way.
Tell us about your latest album, Nomisupasta?
The album is a journey. It’s created for you to just let it play. I come from a family of musicians, and I think it comes through in the music. I’ve been influenced by musicians such as David Bowie, Letta Mbuli, The Beatles and Thandiswa Mazwai. Some songs are serious and others are fun and naughty – like me.
- Speak the Mind Poetry Festival will take place on September 18 and 19.
- The first day is dedicated to workshops with the poets at the Bannister Hotel in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, and on the second the artists perform at the Bassline in Newtown.
- Tickets cost R100 at Computicket