Celestial Clockwork – Timeless

During the Arts Journalism course we attended two weeks ago, we were assigned to review any music album of choice. I reviewed Illogic’s 2004 release Celestial Clockwork.

Celestial clockwork

Celestial Clockwork by Illogic

Underground poet/MC Illogic is an epitome of a true lyricist. His 2004 13 track release Celestial Clockwork is what purists would say defines underground/ alternative rap. From the intro to the Catholic-choir fused outro; this album is clearly exclusive. I doubt he was even trying to reach untapped audiences.

Illogic’s lyrical content is extremely complex and abstract. With that said, every next song has no traces of the last on Celestial Clockwork. In the age of commercial mediocrity bombardment, this might not help him harbour  new fans. Especially with tracks like “Birthright” (featuring Blueprint), “1000 Whispers” and “Time Capsule”, which features underground demigods Vast Aire and Aesop Rock.

This Ohio native does, however, prove just how much of a versatile wordsmith he really is on numerous songs. Illogic is manipulative with words, you can literally see a five minute song play itself out as a two hour long movie. Songs like “First Trimester”, “Hollow Shell (Cash Clutch)” (my personal favourite) and “Sand”, featuring Slug of Atmosphere, are just some examples.

On “First Trimester” Illogic meticulously fuses the jazz/blues sampled beat with the story of a young couple dealing with an out of wedlock pregnancy that threatens the relationship.

“…Hobbling through stretches of sand dunes/ Stand consumed by a walking stick/ Surrounded by a desert of waste/
Searching for some clear liquid to mirage the dirt taste…
” “Hollow Shell (Cash Clutch)” with lines like these, you don’t have to be an alternative hip hop enthusiast to figure Celestial Clockwork was aimed for thorough purists.

Production on Celestial Clockwork is heavily influenced by a wide range of genres, as is the norm with alternative hip-hop. From psychedelia, jazz, rock etc. Executive producer Blueprint harnessed these influences with the traditional “kick and snare” to knit rusty good old boom bap beats.

My conclusion? brilliant album, but with all the hynonyms and everything in between, it is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Sounds in convo

The commotion on Wale Street might be minimal this dusk but traces of disruption are detectable with every muted motion. Everything is peaceful today. Fast fading echoes of laughter are projected from afar. Speeding cars head into a distance. A siren suddenly breaks the pattern before it also buries into oblivion. Parity restored.

The notorious wind is less violent than it was in the entire city yesterday. You can faintly hear it mischievously crash against the inviting walls. Daylight is suddenly locked in a duel for dominance with dark. Dark emerges victorious, eventually.

Glowing street lamps illuminate the road that leads into the city soon after. A roaring motorbike suddenly makes a dash. Calm is soon restored. A small frail rugged figure emerges from a semi-dilapidated building heading towards the local corner shop. There he meets a community of what appears to be vagrants who make themselves at home. There’s hardly a murmur from any of them. They all seem distant in thought. Nothing but brisk disorderly shuffles.

For a brief moment, the wind seems to be locked in a dead stare. The pattern creating a  rhythm of calm. Peacefulness. But soon, a level of pandemonium will manifest. Maybe not in the very instant. Maybe not in the next hour, but it is the inevitable. Then the cycle starts again. It’s the rhythm of life.

THE TWIN MISSION: Protect and Serve

SIHLE MANDA

They are on their way home with their mum from “asking for donations” in Walmer Estate when a bird sitting on a telephone line above suddenly poops on Siyamdumisa. I’m going to be rich, I’m going to have money,” he cheers.

They beam when they speak of their unemployed mother. She is all they have. She doesn’t offer them much but her undying love for them is enough. 

Siyamdumisa and Siyambonga Mgcina are identical twins from the PhilippiTownship.

The twins are only six but already know they never want to meet their father. He abandoned them and their mother when they were two months old. To them, he doesn’t exist.

Their love for martial arts is only matched by their passion for Orlando Pirates. This much is evident in the matching clothes they are wearing.

They adorn worn out short sleeve navy-blue dragon-imprinted Chinese shirts and red cargo shorts with black and white sandals.

Siyambonga wants to be a soldier so he can “carry big guns and protect people”. His brother wishes to be a policeman so he can arrest all the criminals menacing society.

When the two Siyazakha Primary School Grade 1 pupils finish school, they want to work and buy a bigger house so they can all have their own beds. They share a bed with their mother Vathiswa in the one-roomed shack.

They don’t like this, however, says Siyambonga, especially since his brother wets himself in his sleep. Siyamdumisa cheekily chuckles at the revelation, rearing the growing back incisors. 

The boys love each other but hate being twins at times, especially when they are at the beach.

They have to toss a silver coin into the sea before entering the water or they will drown, says Siyambonga. They don’t always have the money, much to their dismay as they love to swim.

MEDIA LAW: THE PRESS OMBUDSMAN

MEDIA LAW EXERCISE:

The Department of Correctional Services vs The Times (newspaper)

The Ruling by the Press Ombudsman

February 8, 2013

COMPLAINT:

THE Department of Correctional Services, through its spokesman Logan Maistry, recently laid a compliant with the Press Ombudsman against The Times newspaper with regards to an article that appeared in the publication on the August 8, 2012, headlined: “MPs: medical parole a sham”. The article, authored by The Times journalist Thabo Mokone, was in regard to a variety of reaction from MPs to the medical parole application processes with particular reference of disgraced former police commissioner Jackie Selebi. The Department complained that the article was not truthful and accurate. The Department also thought the article was not presented in context and omitted material information. It also complained that the article did not present opinions, allegations rumour or supposition in such a manner as to indicate this clearly.

FINDING:

With arguments heard and deliberation with both the department of correctional services and The Times newspaper, the ombuds office presented its ruling on February 8, 2013. In the question of inaccuracy and untruthful reporting, the ombudsman said the department failed to pinpoint what was untruthful or inaccurate et cetera in the story. However, after analysis of articles in other publications reporting on the issue, the ombudsman voiced dissatisfaction with the article in question. The ombudsman did concur with the department that there was selective reporting in the story as some material was omitted.

In the finding, the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint of untruthful and accurate reporting. However, it was acknowledged that the journalist should have not omitted the material information and misrepresented the facts and therefore breached an ethical code. The Times were reprimanded and directed to publish a lengthy apology.

Both parties were made aware of their right to appeal the finding to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Ralph Zulman, within seven days of the ruling.

MY COMMENT:

The Times did the basics of news reporting in reporting on an issue that it deemed being of public interest and also getting comment from the relevant stakeholders. However, what the newspaper failed to do was present the full facts, omitting critical information which would provide clarity as to why the parole board decided to grant Jackie Selebi’s application. Therefore, the department was at liberty to defend its reputation and decision.

Despite the parolee’s public stature, it is crucial that the journalist be objective in his reporting and present all facts and not withhold critical information that would jeopardise the board’s credibility at all times. I thought the finding and sanction were fair.

Red Riding Hood – hard news story

BRIEF: The cadets are asked rewrite the classic Red Riding Hood folktale into a 250-300 word news story in 30 minutes. The cadets then sub-edit each other’s stories.

FIRST DRAFT:

SIHLE MANDA

The community of De Doorns, Cape Town, is still in shock after a farmworker mysteriously brought his niece back to life after being savaged by a wild animal.

On Saturday afternoon, Martin Francis, alarmed by the non-return of his 12-year-old niece, fondly known as Little Red Riding Hood because of her favourite hoodie she was always wearing. The girl had apparently earlier in the day gone to a local shop down the woods to get asprins for her sickly grandmother.

When Martins got the shop, having given a full description of his niece, learnt the girl had be seen and had been heading for the direction she had by. Alarms were, however, raised when two young boys came in rushing, visibly shaken.

“Those boys came in told their uncle, who runs the shop that they had branches ruffle in the woods and had seen a pool of blood and a small white shoe. I panicked immediately, inspected the area for myself,” said martins, who then rushed home to get his sharpened axe.

Still visibly shaken, he said he then rushed back into the woods in hope of finding her favourite niece alive.

“I kept calling out her name, but there was no answer and then suddenly a loud growling sound came from behind and my first instinct was to wield the axe,” he said.

The sound been that of a lunging fox.

“Ripped opened, it lay there and beside it was my niece. She laid there

*story incomplete

SUBBED VERSION (SUBBED BY LERATO SIBANDA)

The community of De Doorns, Cape Town, is still in shock after a farmworker mysteriously brought his niece back to life after being savaged by a wild animal.

On Saturday afternoon, Martin Francis, alarmed by the non-return of his 12-year-old niece, fondly known as Little Red Riding Hood, because of the favourite hoodie she was always woreearing. The girl had apparently, earlier in the day, gone to a local shop down the woods to get aasprins for her sickly grandmother.

When Martins got to the shop, having given a full description of his niece,  he learnt the girl had been seen and washad been heading for the direction she had come by.by. Alarms were, however, raised when two young boys came in rushing, visibly shaken.

“Those boys came in, told their uncle, who runs the shop, that they heardhad branches ruffle in the woods and had seen a pool of blood and a small white shoe. I panicked immediately, inspected the area for myself,” said Mmartins, who then rushed home to get his sharpened axe.

Still visibly shaken, he said he then rushed back into the woods in hope of finding her favourite niece alive.

“I kept calling out her name, but there was no answer and then suddenly a loud growling sound came from behind me . and Mmy first instinct was to wield the axe,” he said.

The sound  had been that of a lunging fox.

“Ripped opened, it lay there and beside it was my niece. She laid there.”

MY (LERATO) COMMENT:

Well thought out angle. I enjoyed the narrative style. Remember, it’s important to double-check all names in your story i.e. Martin cannot suddenly become Martins. With longer sentences include commas where you can for easy read

RESPONSE: Well spotted. With regards to the errors, most of which are embarrassing, I was working under extreme pressure and didn’t get the chance to go over my (very rough) draft.

SUMMARY: A girl, 12, was mysteriously brought back to life by his axe wielding uncle after being mauled by a fox in the woods of De Doorns on Saturday.

 

Feeding of the streets

SIHLE MANDA

As the rain pelts in the streets of Cape Town, a scruffy gray bearded figure stands tucked in a hollow shelter. Apathetic. I, desperately fending for myself, come in hurriedly. Oblivious to this intruder, he welcomes with a light jibe.

“Jesus, it’s pouring. That’s Cape Town for you, hey!” he remarks. “Tell me about it!” I respond in a half pant.

Blotted fingertips peak from his oversized greasy navy-blue jacket sleeves as he reaches for a firm handshake.

His name is Winston Victor Nienaber, 47. His English mother and German father gave him the name after his birth coincided with the death of the great Winston Churchill. You don’t know this, but he relies on you to survive. He doesn’t like this, however.

Everyday, for the last 12years, he rummages rubbish bins and begs for his next meal. He doesn’t care about its nutritional content, as long it’s edible.

“Its days like these that I really miss home and wish I had bigger family. People with bigger families don’t realise how lucky they are. I’d kill to spend one more day with my parents,” he says. He suspects he might have an aunt in Australia.

You see, Winston didn’t always live like this. He once had a stable job in the printing department of a national magazine in Johannesburg. He had been serving the company for seven years when it downsized its staff by 25 percent back in 1999. He was among the unfortunate to bite the dust. Then his father – his only surviving family – died. His mother had died a few years prior.

He never recovered from these misfortunes.

“I’m ashamed of it, I’m ashamed it! (Scavenging),” he concedes “but it’s better than robbing and stealing”.

Diseases are a daily threat for Winston whenever he indulges in these delicacies. But that’s the least of his growling stomach’s concerns.

The worst thing I ever did….

SIHLE MANDA

 

Curiosity killed a cat, you know.

 At first, I was quite baffled as to how I go about recalling the highest perking regret that I’ve gone on to designate the prestige of being: “the worst I ever did”. It was like having to look for a needle in a haystack. Then it suddenly dawned upon me. Still not sure if it’s the worst, but it certainly is the most stupid.   

It was August 1, 2009, at the annual All Elements Battle of the Year competition, the biggest event on the Durban hip-hop calendar. Here all supposedly budding talents are afforded a platform to showcase their skill and earn the much coveted street credibility everyone longs for. From rappers, graffiti writers, b-boys and DJs. That year, I was one of these hopefuls.

In the rap category, the one I had entered for, you are expected to literally think on your feet. Your wordplay must be cunningly witty. You are expected to be the last man standing. Do none of this and you’ll be deemed nothing but a failure. All of this, may I add, while at least a thousand set of eyes are piercingly fixed on you. I wasn’t ready to walk out that door reduced to such. 

At the time, I was probably one the most respected rhyme-slayers in the region, or so I thought. I was at my peak. Spring a topic on me, throw in a beatbox and I was certain to burst a rhyme that would make even multi Grammy award winners look like amateurs. I had invested time crafting my art, even putting my studies in jeopardy. I could see my name engraved on the prize. Besides, I knew almost all my threats’ traits. “What could possibility wrong?”, I thought. Victory was certain.

How wrong I was. The announcer called us to the stage for the freestyle round. “Procedural,” I arrogantly thought. Some went through, while some fell on their swords. Fortunately, it was the former for me.

What was to unfold in the next round was nothing I had anticipated. All those who had made it through to the second round were called up on stage for what was called ‘battle royal’. I was introduced to my opponent. Continued to be my lax, assured self because I knew the guy and didn’t think he’d be a hazard. I was suddenly taken aback. His rhyme slaying technique and sheer brilliance was nothing I had expected. He was that good. The crowd approved. I froze. For some reason, I couldn’t utter a word. There was hardly a murmur from the audience. You could hear a pin drop. Then suddenly a chorus of boos filtered the auditorium. The bulging buoyancy crash landed, face first! I was numb and paralyzed for a few seconds. I felt the credibility I had invested so much time earning gradually fragment…

No, no, wait! This can’t the worst thing I’ve ever done? It can’t be, because I remember this one time when…Oh, Lord, you unfortunately capped me. Now you’ll never know. Bummer.

The haunted chambers

SIHLE MANDA

Image

Imagine being tormented and tortured for hours, forced into confessing a crime you never committed, then being executed.

Well these were everyday occurrences at the Castle of Good Hope three centuries ago.

They say it’s a historic monument. This castle was meant to be a fortress, protect its people. But I guess this applied to a few and exclusive. The bloodstains might have been washed, but the pain and sufferings still roam and haunt these chambers.

The inscriptions on the mahogany timber incarceration chamber doors dispel any hope all this might just be a well orchestrated fiction. These people probably had wives, kids, brothers and so forth, who loved and cherished every minute spent with them. I know they say only a handful on these slaves were natives but there’s every little chance that one of them carried my bloodline.

I stood in those chambers and thought to myself, someone spent their last moments alive – and probably died – here. This wasn’t good for me. This is not a castle. It’s a grim reminder of these savage acts.
They were harmless from what I made out. Why clasp them on to shackles as if they were some vicious stray dog spreading a deadly virus? It boggles the mind.

Just like their torturers; these people were once conceived, birthed. But because they weren’t of a particular class, they were ridiculed and treated worse than the senator’s dog.

The lenscape: Grim yet picturesque

SIHLE MANDA

Day three, blog post one at the cadet school. And after hearing what we’ve been told about the programme, I admit it’s only at this point that it sinks just how privileged I am to be here. Our group, comprising of 10 truly amazing people of various backgrounds, is the cadet school’s fourth batch since it was launched in 2010. Guests, all specialists in their fields, are coming thick and fast imparting what will hopefully guide us in this seemingly demanding field. From super sub-editor Dave Chambers, head of the 102-member strong IP (Independent Production) department, to investigative journalist extraordinaire Ivor Powell (I’m hoping to discuss the session we had with him soon).

 

And then there was the lanky, foul-mouthed yet extremely energetic and award-winning lensman Andrew Ingram. His hour long session has probably been the most captivating yet. As the presentation commenced swiftly the oohs and deep gasps from the cadets grew louder with every photo. Andrew has a catalogue of pictures that, in a nutshell, encapsulates his career spanning well over 25years. He’s treaded murky waters but attributes his apparent survival to his “thick skin”. From fleeing brutal police as an exuberant novice in the late 80s to covering raging fleinboos and shack fires; gruesome road accident scenes and to capturing newly released Robben Island prisoners reuniting with their loved ones. He’s done it all. 

A large section of society considers journalists, including photojournalists, to be selfless empathy lacking bastards who care about nothing but getting the story not giving much regard to the victim.

But Andrew proves this notion wrong. His passion for both primary health care and photography saw him give up his job as chief illustrations editor three years ago. He then literally merged the two spheres when he took up take up the media liaison officer role at the National Sea Rescue Institute after previously serving the organisation on a voluntary basis for numerous years.

Andrew Ingram is the quintessence of daring and dedication. During the next nine months as I embark on my own journalism voyage, I’m hoping to take a leaf from his book.