‘I used to pray for the things that I have now’ – Thobani

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You have really stretched yourself this year in terms of writing style. Tell us more about that, what inspired it and what did you gain from this?
Stretching myself with my writing was inspired by the desire to grow, and possibly challenging slam stage norms. Altering, to a certain extent, the expectation, both from myself and from the audience. Gains came in the form of discovering that I could write almost anything I am disciplined enough to put my mind to. But what this also did is broaden the requirement in performance. Consequently opening me up to a whole new world of learning and growing.

What are your top 3 lessons from last year’s season finale?

  • Every time you step on that stage, believe you won’t get the chance to step on again. Deliver that thing like it’s the last time you will ever be on stage. Be. Do not worry about anything apart from each and every moment you are on stage.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, REHEARSE!!!!!!!!!!
  • Last but not least, have as much fun as you possibly can! It is an exhilarating experience, bask in it!

    Male poets are often criticised for not opening up and being vulnerable on stage. This year you got pretty personal with your work. How was that for you? What inspired those poems and how were they received by the audience?
    This whole year for me, with my art and other aspects of my life, has been one huge experiment, stretching myself, making some conscious decisions that would facilitate growth and new experiences. Being vulnerable and personal on stage felt odd, very odd. So much so that I hesitated to continue on that path. I felt really bare. I didn’t know how the crowd received it, but I knew it was not comfortable at all. But that is also when I decided it was an aspect of growth, in the craft. So I humbled myself, and continued to try.

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    Tell us more about #BeautifulStrangers. How did the collaboration with Lungelo Msibi come about? What was the intention of the piece?
    I have known Lungelo for the better part of a decade. We used to chill and dream up these concepts. This is before we even discovered we were interested in pursuing art. We were just Kasi boys with wild imaginations that transcended our then conditions and perspective. A couple of years later, here we are, remembering every concept and idea we thought too far out of reach to ever pursue. There is a quote that says “I remember a time when I used to pray for the things that I have now”. And now we have the opportunity to create. ‘Beautiful Strangers’ is one of those, and we do not know yet what it will become. But it is Lungelo’s brainchild, so he would be able to answer this question better.

    Which poet in the Top 5 will be your toughest competitor at the Season 6 Finale at #WNSFest6?
    (we don’t want any of those PC answers about you being your own toughest competition…you have to select one of the other finalists)

    Hahaha what I am prepared to say on this subject is that when the year started, me and Strange said to each other, and I may be paraphrasing, but something along the lines of “If we make it to fest this year homes, it’s me and you!” – This ended with a nod and stare down… Well look at us now Strange! Look at us now. It is a very strong top 5 though. Anything can happen.

    About Thobani Mntambo
    Thobani Mntambo is a 24 year old writer, performer and aspiring all round artist who was born and raised in Gauteng (Soweto and Vosloorus). His debut performance was in March 2015 on the Word N Sound stage.

    Some highlights include:

    • Runner up at the Word n Sound Poetry and Live Music Series Festival in October of 2015
    • and SANAA Africa festival 2016 performance.

    He is juggling art with a career in IT – living what in his eyes – is the intended journey for him and hopes to grow in both worlds sustainably. Prospects that he is looking to explore include: Fashion, Radio, VO work, Copywriting, script writing, and possibly books. Fields that are within his scope and align with the mission of continued learning, about people and himself.

    Do you think Thobani will take the ultimate title at the Season 6 Poetry League finale? Be sure to buy your tickets for 8 Oct to find out. Get all your #WNSFest6 details here.

    Photography: Poetry Vision and Shassy Chasowa

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