Published on Botsotso, by Mphutlane wa Bofelo, article not dated.
This is not a review as such but just some notes on Lesego Rampolokeng’s Notes for TOU (The Original Ungovernables).
Notes for TOU is vintage Lesego Rampolokeng, recreating language, overturning idiomsconceptsterms, giving birth to new words and developing new proverbs to deal with “new” realities. Like Aime Cessaire in Return to the Native Land, Lesego Rampolokeng shuns romantic portrayal of his motherland’s past and present (and future). He uses graphically surreal images – and definitely not politically correct lingo – to interrogate post-freedom dreams and nightmares. The note is in the loving memory of the unnamed unknown unremembered boys and girls who walked into the lion’s den to make Apartheid South Africa ungovernable to free Mandela to liberate South Africa to build a new South Africa to see the dawn of the government of the people … the young lions who never returned from exile, the combatants who disappeard (not) mysteriously, the former guerillas who were not fortunate enough to make it to parliament or to know someone who knows someone who has they key to getting tenders.
Like Edward Said speaking truth to power, the poet-persona in Notes for TOU scratches beneath the veneer of political correctness to interrogate the neo-apartheid dispensation with tough questions and frank testimonies of the harsh realities on the ground … //
… Notes for Tou is a lethal attack on poetrymusic for the sake of arse-shaking and ranting only for the sake of paying rent or fitting the bill. It is the assertive voice of a dissident poet refusing to flow with the time or to let his individuated voice be swallowed in the vast cesspool of kitsch culture and fashion trends:
Slugs for the Bugs…
my bloodpool-facing shackles approaching set to fang-grinning around my limbs
gangbanging baton-rehearsing pre-kissing my knob down to breaking knees…
it is ‘steel i prize’ when it recites my poetries
off the over-time graveyard shift
last doubt-post i’m in the belly of the feast
they’re hacking at the crust….)
they’ve thrown it all….from acid pussies to spiked narcotics
they’ve run slow-sink-in poison fellatio lines riding cordite fumes liquid metal-licks
fumigation schemes word-pest control they’re bent on intellect-liquidation
in this sane world it’s been dying time a while
for the loco-text-ecstatic-rampster-lyricidal
still i&i survive spear burning infernal
from here til the End/Bend of Days/Lays…& beyond the death-fuck-list
Here poetry is not a passport and visa from concrete reality but a means of rememorying the place that the poet call home and the times and spaces that characterizes it without any selective memory or schizophrenic romanticizing:
“Orlando west was darkest spaces before the Apollo lights
White Light & goldminedust-& sewermud blinded senses-
took Hollywood-moonflights stuck to their bioscope screens
As the Mud Races march past, on their way to the phantom stars.
Diamonds cold-stare out of the display windows at Stern’s.
‘cos pierced palms made a god
coke cut wrist cuffs ankles turn shackles bangles
blue smoke blow fantasize platinum at low arsehole gleam angle
ghost-written tricks sleaze mingle where diamond dangles
Steam from brains that boil behind dead eyes is what makes the diamond rise
Roll it up the broken spine they wash it in life-fluids the quality that makes it shine
bones risen from horror’s hollows incorporated in erection of monuments to hate
violent life for pasolini is circus time in phefeni
a boy’s colour scheme was red pink & black
the greens killed him
& the balance is perfect in the land of the spectrum
when the national fate is at stake
we delegate the delicate of mental state…
testicles are smashed presidential induction cake
The notes make us ware that we are trapped in the same old story of taking power in the name of the people but never giving it to the people … the same old tale of two cities:
”The leadership carries cannibal cargo…
fakes a people’s power cumming & spurts Soweto-Mouth way.
No receipts for the royal seminal-flushing,
nothing for the receiver/deceiver/achiever of revenue.
Joburg moves its jaws, Soweto’s stomach rumbles.
The same old story of jet-setting, globe-trotting leaders and denialism with regard to critical issues afflicting the country and the world:
Mista Leader proclaims in foreign cities:
nothing to heal zero to mend there is no crisis …
as he strokes his beard the body of labour suffers a stroke.
mista leader rubs his bloodwashed, bonepowdered & hymen-oiled knob
& child-labour gets maidenhead decapitated on the shaft-job
The poet takes us into the idyllic, paradise that is suburbia, and then into the dusty god-forsaken streets, into the lives of ordinary men and women, boys and girls trying to eke a living and make sense out of the misery, into the world of the subaltern people on the fringe of the markert economy- euphemistically called the second economy; and into the underworld andor underbelly of society, into the world of vampire insurance schemes, and into the utopianescapist world of religion and idealism:
“in blithe & tithe visitations we guzzle Jesus chalice profanity
In religious drunkenness attempt to puzzle out the lice from the fleas…
as the bloody waters continue to rise, life’s little prices
it’s all venereal soaking thru my notes.”