Someone heard Lil’ Hussil’s cry, “Males need to represent,” and won the slam. I hope this is the beginning of a bigger challenge. Tshepo’s win might change the competition from being “poet against poet to Female Poet against Male Poet”. We are going to have to wait and see.
It’s Africa month so it’s fitting that I ask Tshepo “Blackhole” Molefe, the #CSPSlam Ch.5, 12 poet slam winner about being a black man and being the first.
This is what Tshepo had to say.
- What informs your work?
I love challenging the norms of society. Most topics that I write on are aimed to make the audience uncomfortable. To have them reflect on how they allow certain things to transpire because society dictates so. Example how a man who abused by a woman is treated as opposed to the woman. These are conversations we tend to shy away from and I want my work to open up a platform for people to start talking about these situations and how to fix them
- Is being the first black to achieve something in Africa an achievement?
Most certainly. The title “First Black…” to me simply means that despite the world and this system trying to hold you down because of the colour of your skin, you still chose to succeed.
I mean, if we don’t celebrate the achievement of our brothers, then who will…?
- Essentially what do you aim to achieve with your poetry?
You know that moment when one audience member steps up to you and says, “Dude, I never thought of this issue like that” or “Thank you. You captured what I was going through” or “You change my perception of this situation”. That is what I aim to achieve with my poetry. To change people’s perspective on the topics I write on. If I can do that for an audience member, I’m done for the day.
- What is the biggest challenge black men have to face?
To feel or to be vulnerable. Too many times in this misogynistic society, black men are taught that “men don’t cry” and to show emotions is a sign of weakness. If such is true then when will society allow us to be human then? To cry and let all the hurt flow?
- There are currently a lot of campaigns dedicated to empowering women and girls than men and boys. How does this affect the relationship between men and women?
Women empowerment campaigns are challenging what men refuse to acknowledge: Male Privilege. And since these movements are challenging what men have always had, the traditional gender roles of women in the kitchen and men provide are also being questioned. Hence there is tension in the man not knowing his role in society, because he is now being put in a position where he needs to prove that he is better for the job or opportunity because he possesses the skill.
- In one word, what to you love about poetry and what are the challenges in poetry?
I must use two words for this one. Consistent Growth.
The challenges in poetry? Too few poetry houses promote the poet to find their voice. Too many poetry houses are focused on slams and competition. I get it, people love competitive spaces, however it wouldn’t hurt for poets to go to an open mic merely to express themselves.
Secondly, our work must be immortalized in forms of chapbooks and anthologies. We need to start looking at poetry, not just as a movement, but a form of literature that one day, our kids would read and add onto the legacy we left behind through these bodies of work.