The Escalating Heights Session, an initiative to bring poetry to the townships, was running a bit late, but folks were calm and patient.
The room was cool when Makgotso ‘Emphasis’ Nkosi alongside Mohau ‘Mo’ Monoa finally graced the stage to announce that the show would begin. The hosts kicked off proceedings with some of their own works, before introducing a capella group Soweto Entsha. The group failed to inspire confidence and the claps that came after their performance was out of kindness more than appreciation.
Both Nkosi and Mohau hail from Ekangala near Bronkhorstspruit and had journeyed all the way to the west for this presentation.
They brought along with them their homeboy, an unassuming fellow by the name of Dark Knight. He calls himself a comedic poet, which is rather unfortunate because he brought into the poetry space the ignorant cultural stereotypes most often heard in the stand-up comedy scene. Although the Ekangala trio had trekked from a far flung locale, they had not properly rehearsed some of their work before performing it.
The Dark Knight stopped frequently during his performances, and Nkosi brazenly admitted to not having rehearsed a poem before going on to perform it and then abandoning it two lines in. Entrance to the gig was free, but those in attendance deserved better.
Vilakazi, the headliner, never missed a beat, providing the audience with plenty of food for thought. His rhythm and flow melded easily with the dramatic essence of his performance. The customary clicking of fingers of appreciation was a constant during his performance as he addressed matters of governance, love and familial conflict.
Vilakazi closed off proceedings on a high note, relegating the brief missteps from other poets into nothing but history and an important learning curve.