How we made it in Johustleburg Part 1: It was time for Word N Sound

Over the years Word N Sound has come to be a force to be reckoned with. From monthly open mic shows to annual festivals with artists from at least 3 continents over the last 5 years.

Word N Sound has provided a platform for spoken word artists to share their stories.

In our fifth year, we’ve decided to share our stories with you. Earlier this year we shared the stories of a few of our shareholders. Today, we present to you our Genesis.

The co-founders of The Word N Sound Live Literature Company, CEO: Thabiso ‘Afurakan’ Mohare, and Managing Director: Qhakazambalikayise Thato Mthembu shared their journey with us.

Q&A bannerKG: Where did it all begin?
The idea behind Word N Sound came about in 2010 when I realised there were no poetry stages in Newtown for me to perform on. Which was completely not the Newtown that I knew, where I grew up, you know, around 2001 through to 2005/6. So the idea was, look, if I’m going to perform again, let’s start a platform, get other people who want to perform and see how it goes.
I brought on three other partners, Qhakaza Mthembu, DJ Duce and Blast the Beatbox Artist, and we started Word N Sound at Yebo Studios in a dungeon somewhere with 4 people attending.

KG: From 4 people at your first show, to sold out shows almost every month. How did this happen
Because of her magic (points to Qhakaza)
Qhakaza: Partly because of the marketing, but I think Word N Sound came at a time where, it was the time for it. There was a lot of hunger for it. Young people were wanting a stage and so when we presented it, they literally all just came out of the woodwork.
The one thing we decided to do was go the digital route, and that was primarily because we didn’t have money to print posters and fliers. So then we were like, ok we’re sitting here with 1000 fliers, how do we get them out. But there is this lovely thing called Facebook, so that’s how we got into the digital field.
So I think my magic was in the digital sense, but I think it was time for Word N Sound, it was time for a stage to be back and for Newtown to remember who Newtown is, you know?

KG: A lot of movements start and die, and the same with small businesses. Word N Sound is somewhat both of these. What did WNS do differently for it to still be here?
 We put in our own money, which hurt … a lot
Qhakaza: Which makes it difficult for you to call it quits
I think what was most important was about us understanding what our vision is for the movement, why we’re doing this, you know? And then to be able to sell that, or explain that to the community around you.
So in the beginning, if Thabiso and I were ill or just weren’t able to do anything, then there wouldn’t be a show. But it’s come to the point now where we’ve got a team. So if we’re not able to do it, the show will go on. Everyone knows what they need to do.
It was about finding that vision that everyone can buy into and to be able to sell it to everyone and to do that, it needs to be a vision that is bigger than yourself. It needs to be bigger than, I’m a poet, I need to get on stage.

Previous Articles Telling Our Story:

WNS Family Part I – Being Part of Something Bigger – Why we Joined WNS

WNS Family Part II – Understand That You’re Not Dealing With A Small Time Brand

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