Prince of Newtown (Thembiso Twala), Deputy Biko (Andile Mngxitama) and Legendary Poet & Thespian (Sol Rha). Image credit: Andile Mngxi Facebook Page
By Sandile Memela
There are thousands of people who are familiar with the faces of these legendary creative intellectuals.
Those who know them will acknowledge that, no doubt, these are free men who know the ups and downs of creative intellectual and artistic life.
Despite their harsh economic reality, they are living their lives to the full.
They do not spend their days measuring their success or achievement by the amount of money in the bank, labels on their back or the cars they drive.
Considering the events and experiences of their lives, they have the audacity to walk the streets and enter any space like men that own oil wells and mines.
You have to know these artists intimately to recognize that their lives are neither good or bad.
This is because their success and achievements, if any, are not judged in terms of what is defined within the context of a supremacist capitalist economic system.
These are creative intellectuals who have decided to accept themselves for what they are.
They are mentally strong and intellectually resilient enough to appreciate that up-and-down career path is a natural part of the black experience in this country and the world.
In fact, they have chosen the less travelled path to the predetermined destination of making easy money through corruption, accumulating wealth and being a delusional VVIP to be important.
Of course, they have more peace of mind and self-actualization than the majority trapped in the economic system of working for more than 12 hours a day.
In their own rare way, they are the face of true liberation.
No one can say The Prince of Newtown, Biko’s Deputy and The Legendary Poet & Thespian are not liberated creative intellectuals and free souls.
They have chosen to work outside the parameters and limits set by the economic system.
It would be easy for the ill-informed and ignorant to dismiss them as examples of ‘black failure’ who cannot fit into the life of the system.
But to understand the significance of the thorny path that they have chosen you have to detach yourself from using material accumulation and riches to determine success, happiness and self-actualization.
Living and working with them over the years, what I have seen are men who simply experience every circumstance that enters their lives to the fullest.
Yes they each feel the pain and trauma of being a highly gifted artist and creative intellectual.
But they are standing, working, walking and smiling in the face of the most brutal economic system.
Above all, their faces radiate happiness and contentment. It looks like those that have turned their back on the materialistic system and are perceived as down-and-out have everything. They have priceless peace of mind.
When you visit Newtown, you will realize that these men walk the precinct like African warriors and kings. They have grace and presence that can be seen by only those with eyes to see.
The concept of failure has no meaning or relevance in their lives.
The lives of these three intellectual creatives is not a story of tragedy. They exist to provide us with lessons of an alternative life.
One is not saying that they do not know tragedy or trauma.
But these are men who have seen that true liberation and personal fulfillment awaits every person who is willing to walk away from what the system offers.
They may not have the right platforms and audiences yet. But these are artists and creative intellectuals that are true to themselves to express themselves freely according to conscience.
Sandile Memela is a well-known journalist, novelist, cultural critic, polemicist and public servant. He is reputed to be an intellectually provocative writer.