Celeb Focus: An Interview With Poetess Nandi Daughter of Nelsiwe

By Novell Zwange recently in JOHANNESBURG

Meet South Africa’s Nandi Nothando Khumalo (AKA) Ndlovukazi!

Nandi Nothando Khumalo AKA Ndlovukazi is a vibrant young South African writer and performance poetess. She recently held performances at (SA Poetry Invasion) Pietermuritzburg in  Durban, the capital city in  South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in the country.  I recently caught up with her in my brief stay in the country.

Nandi would you like to introduce yourself to Shout-Africa readers, please?

Hi to all the beautiful readers I am Nandi the daughter of Nelsiwe, the crazy poetess.

Could you describe your work, please?

My work talks to the conscious more than just everyone, I would like to think of myself as Steve Bantu Biko’s Soul Daughter.

How did you discover the poetry in you? At what age did the light-bulb come on for you, and what poem/poet(ess) flipped the switch?

Well in high school at Stanger South Secondary School, Miss Stevens and Mrs Phakathi my English teachers would always ask me to write something for holiday celebrations such as Woman’s Day, Fathers Day, Mothers Day etc. The first poem that turned things around for me was I Qupha that I did along time a go, but you will be surprised that today that poem is in two songs one House song by Dj Happy Gal and the second one is with me and the ever soulful Ayanda Nhlangothi.

Which African poet(ess) and/or poem or anthology most inspires you now and why?

Its the late Mazisi Kunene and his poem (IZIYALO ZOMNTANAMI).I am a very patriotic soul, the fact that Mr Kunene was in exile for 36 years in London and LA but still managed to write more than 10.000 poems in Zulu amazes me. The reason why I love this poem more than all his other poems is because it encourages young people to know their roots never to forget their forefathers.

What is your biggest challenge in your creativity?

It is to understand the difference between being inspired and sounding like the one who inspires you.

What are you doing about that challenge?

I’m a  very crazy inspired by a man who is no longer with us .I sound like no other.

Do you ever feel you are unable to create poems, and have you ever had a stage-fright?

Yes like every writer I have that writers block sometimes but that only happens when I’m uninspired or when I find myself forced to write when its not coming from me.

Thank God I am Sagittarius so I am a poeple’s person. I get nervous like any other performer which is a sign of me respecting my work, but the minute I hit the stage I feel at home. No stage fright whatsoever, I guess the other reason for that is because I was trained as a performing artist (Theatre) by the best if must say so myself, Mr Edmund Mhlongo.

If you were to meet with any poet(s) living or dead, who would it be, and what would you say to them?

It would be Shihan from Mos Def Jam Poetry and I would say Man lets have a collaboration you good I’m good LETS MAKE THIS HAPPEN.LOL

What brought you to poetry, and what has sustained your passion for poetry up to today?

I realised a lot of people had a lot to say but would not because of what people say, “that is a well respected so and so how could he say such a thing.” Some would put their tears under their armpits and put on a smile just to buy face. Well I became the voice telling the untold stories creatively and for as long as there are people I will stay a poet.

You have been recently sharing the stage with the Whos Who of showbiz in South Africa. Do you feel any kind of influence from these personalities in your quest to develop your talent as an emerging young poetess?

Yes I do I don’t know if you have noticed it’s not just sharing the stage with stars, its LIVING LEGENDS being part of my life on a full time basis. The teachings they bring into my life are priceless. The late Mama Busi Mhlongo left me with a lot of teachings even when you look at my hair she helped me realise that not everyone will like every thing I do but for as long as I am happy with myself nothing else should matter. If you look at my poetry its aggressive poetry straight to the point a lot like her music, it just forces you to listen. Mama Tu Nokwe her way of life, and her journey has became part of me like a mother she has become my own. She gave me a new look at life a look of gratitude giving me a family away from home. Sisters like Ayanda are showing me the way forward with protection and guidance, most of all “Standing my ground,” that’s Ayanda Nhlangothi’s teachings standing our ground always as any good family would. But then again I always find myself in good families like the one I grew up in at (K-CAP) with Edmund Mhlongo playing the father role and Mseni Ntobela playing my big sister showing me how harsh the industry can be, and also teaching me to always stand for what I beleive in. Xolani Majozi is the one who first made the media aware of my works.

Has your life and or your relationship with poetry changed since relocating to Joburg from your home town in Durban?

Oh yes I’m now getting more gigs in KZN than before. I guess its true what they say the grass is greener on the other side. The truth is Joburg has a bigger stage than Durban so yes it is a big change but as far as my relationship with poetry is concerned we are growing stronger everyday.

What literature books are next to your bedside? and what are you appreciating about them?

The SECRET- By Rhonda Byrne, it reminds me everyday that i was born to success ed,
2.Unfinished- By Karoli Ghosh, it is just proof of the beauty of creatively written truth (poetry).
3.Screw it lets do it- By Gorge Brynston, just go for your dream and stop dreaming already that is what that book tells me.

What has pan-Africanism meant to you in your life as a poetess?

All I can say is that for as long as an African is a foreigner in Africa we have a long way to go and as an active Africanist, I believe that one day Murcus Gurvey’s teachings will run through every African vain.

Why would you believe poetry is relevant today?

Because there is still so much to say so much to change silence is no longer golden.

Many thanks for spending time with us! I very much look forward to attending one of your performances.

Thank you very much. I cant wait to see you at one of my many performances.

To those of our valued readers based in Johannesburg, catch the poetess Nandi live at JOS concert to be held at the Bassline in Newtown on the 28th of January 2011.