Let it be the Spoken Word

By: Jinni Dawood

As we sit on the steps of Cullen Bowles residence, Eddith Ngcobo lets me in on a little secret.  “Music stole my heart and escaped with it when I was ten years old,” he says. Eddie or OG Dizzle started writing to run away from what was chasing him. The only way he knew how to kill the pain inside of him, was to lay it down on paper. The pen was his weapon and the words were his army, all he had to do was lead them through the battle field.

Does Spoken Word pass as entertainment? The answer to that question is definitely yes. Entertainment is the act of providing or being provided with amusement. Spoken Word is not only entertaining but it is also educational. Poets like Propaganda challenge his listeners with every verse and reaches across the spectrum of pop culture. His work stretches your mind and heart with bold messages that will leave you tongue tied.

Some people are born into writing, some grow into it and some just fall into it. Either way, writing is a form of art. It is the art of expression. First year Journalism student, Lethicia Nair, says expressing herself through writing feels natural to her.  When I asked Lethicia why she does what she does she said, “It feels like breathing to me. When I suppress my emotions I suffocate, I write them down so I can breathe again”.

Writing is drawing the essence of what we know out of the shadows. That is what writing is about. Not what happens there, not what actions are played out there, but the there itself. | Karl Ove Knausgaard:

Ronald Murdoch-Oats, who is a poet, rapper, guitarist and vocalist, says that he started writing because of the bullying he went through in primary school. When his teacher found out he was being bullied, she suggested that he start writing. “I would not be where I am today if it were not for those bullies, I guess” Ronald says jokingly. From the one rap song I heard him recite, I am totally “fan girling”. His work is honest and gripping.

Performing – be it dancing, singing, playing an instrument or hosting an exhibition – is one of the most fulfilling feelings an artist can have. This feeling drives them to do more, write more and well, say more. “I feel so good when someone comes up to me and tells me how much I have inspired them after hearing my poetry,” Lethicia says with a smile in her eyes. That satisfaction and motivation is what we need to see from amateur artists at Rhodes University (RU).

“What I love about spoken word is that there are no filters,” says Eddie, “I don’t have to worry about changing the hook of my song just because my manager said it does not sound ‘right’.” Spoken Word is a platform to speak your mind. Eddie says that being on an Open Mic stage is like bungee jumping and being naked in front of strangers. If you want to be bold and unpredictable, it is definitely something you would want to try out.

open mic 2

Poets and musicians have the power to control emotions, influence perspectives and change situations. They can be activists and lawyers who speak to justify our lives. There is a vast ocean of lyricists at RU that don’t have a platform to pour out their emotions. They write about in depth emotional and social issues that strive to consume the latter. Spoken Word or Open Mic night is a platform where amateur artists like poets, singers, musicians and comedians perform their art. Spoken Word events are usually set up in coffee shops, pubs, clubs or small spaces.

Having Open Mic nights on campus would be a fun and entertaining experience. It would be liberating to some and therapeutic to others and a break from blurry nights at Friars and Prime. Slip Stream Sport Bar (SSS) on 19 New St in Grahamstown is home to Open Mic nights. Some students meet there on such occasions and absorb the chilled atmosphere.

open mic 3

If writing and reciting is not your thing, you can always be the ear seeking out poetic justice. Going to a Spoken Word event can be good for your mind. It can be a place to de-stress after a long week or just to hang with your friends.  It could be a place where you fall in love with poetry, a place of inspiration, transformation and rehabilitation.

Picture this, Saturday nights, seven o’clock, Drama Café, the smell of strong coffee and sweet sautéed onions draped around the room. Feel the touch of the warm air and hear the soft chatter of your neighbour’s excited voices. Chase your gaze around the room filled with eager faces. Place your eyes on the set stage, sharpen your ears and listen as the room becomes silent. The poet speaks in a loud, round audible tone, pulling you into his bubble.  While he dished out his emotions you feasted and indulged in his presence. Beautiful, you think to yourself, spoken words are powerful.


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