Kgafela oa Magogodi, poet and musican, Johannesburg

South African artists on Sylt

Art needs space

His poetry is musical, his music is language. Kgafela oa Magogodi has been to Sylt a few times before, so he felt quite familiar when he came to visit for a few days rehearsing for concerts and performances at the Berlin Poetry Festival. Lack of knowledge of the german language he feels is the only constraint for him on the island as the spoken word is such a powerful tool for his work and his musical instrument. „I always enjoyed my residencies so much. Being away gives you space. At home I have a family and always try to catch up on lots of things.“

Space is one thing, says Oa Magogodi, but discipline is needed to make the most of it. So he works through the night with his guitar and with his words. „I allow the words to shape the music“, explains the poet. Inspiration comes from anywhere, from any sound he picks up around him. „I can’t seem to listen normally any more.“ One piece captures the sound of Afrikaans and molds it into Oa Magogodis language Tsetswana - after thinking about the similarity of hard guttural pronounciation of „g“ in both idioms.
Behind the sound there is meaning. His poetry watches and mirrors society, proud of independence. „Bua fela“ is the title of the latest CD, „speak out“.

Music ist he second source of inspiration. Heroes like Bob Marley and Fela Kuti and the many others Kgafela oa Magogodi has been working with. „I learn a lot from the musicians and I’m always moving on. Finding your voice is a long journey.“