A scholarly treatise for readers who never cared about scholarship, a memoir for those who have had enough of insular confession, and a poetry book for the hip-hop generation, A Half Century Thing synthesises the raw passion of a diary with the relevance and scope of nothing less than the history of South African literature, art and music.
In the spirit of Johnny Dyani’s Black Family Music, and similarly without compromise, Rampolokeng tangles and untangles a transgressive lineage that links Mongezi Feza to Miles Davis, via Dumile Feni, Sony Lab’ou Tansi, Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Steve Biko, Amiri Baraka, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Frantz Fanon and more. All the while chronicling his disillusionment with the current dispensation and simultaneously trying to dig himself out of his own alienated funk.
What emerges is devoted heresy, a sermon on the word, on politics and aesthetics that challenges what poetry does, what it can do, even what it is willing to address as a form.
“Combining forensic disgust, Swiftean satire and a Pauline revulsion against the physical, almost every page is a Guernica of bubbling bowels, bursting boils, piss, shit and cum….” – Gwen Ansell, Mail & Guardian, 2015
Cover photograph by Mambila Mageza.