Msiza is doing it for himself

I'VE just met popular performance poet Masoja Msiza at Yeoville's Ekhaya eatery where the finest brains in Joburg meet.

I'VE just met popular performance poet Masoja Msiza at Yeoville's Ekhaya eatery where the finest brains in Joburg meet.

Here you will meet artists, musicians, poets, journalists, novelists, young and ambitious intellectuals - as well as pseudo intellectuals.

You will also meet BEE types who want catch a whiff of the township and who are tired of the suburbs. They come here to eat what the owner of the eatery, Sue Mabalene, calls soul food.

Others come to show off their new wheels. And the majority come to relax and engage in "intellectual discourse" ranging from sport, politics and race relations to art.

Msiza is one of this crowd in every respect. The young poet has emerged from the Joburg inner city to take centre stage as a popular performance poet.

This time he was here to talk about one of his proudest treasures - a new book of poetry that he has published himself.

"I have done this all by myself. As writers we can no longer wait for a publisher to come along and make things happen for us. If they come, well and good. They will find us on the way."

Titled Avalon, the poetry is about social activism, social commentary and even the celebration of the Fifa soccer World Cup in June.

"The countdown has begun. The moment of truth has come. All the colours of Africa have gathered together Siyi Bafana Bafana. Lilizela Mlilizeli," reads one of the poems.

The poems are both in English and in isiZulu. They are celebratory, they are complaining, they campaign on moral issues and they are political.

Msiza began his career as a poet, and later branched out as a stage and television actor, musician and storyteller.

He is the brains behind the popular Lentswe Poetry Project on SABC2. He has also published another poetry collection titled The Voice of Hope (Umgangatho Media).

He has also written and performed promo poems for Ukhozi FM and for Bafana Bafana during the 2004 Afcon in Tunisia.

Msiza uses poetry as a tool for social activism to heal, educate, rehabilitate and entertain people in prisons, schools, churches, the workplace and communities.

His acting television highlights include roles in A Place Called Home, Isidingo, Scandal and Jozi Streets and intheatre, Biko: Where The Soul Resides, Amawashas Asegoli, Once Were Free and Voice From Kilimanjaro.

Msiza is currently focused on developing his television production company, Masoja Creations, and the Spoken Word Society. The company aims to commercialise poetry, comedy and storytelling. His objective is to contribute to and stimulate creativity and to define new paths of imagination in society and also to encourage a love for education.

"I am inspired by events and circumstances that our society and communities experience. The themes I write about are socially related issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse, illiteracy, motivation and rehabilitation. Poetry, for me, is the mother of all art forms, whether it is storytelling, music or drama.

"I think it is not given the support it deserves. Instead, much attention is given to other forms of art. We need more platforms that bring poets together with musicians and performers on the same stage."

The man is full of hope and confident about the potential of poetry. He is proud, too, about Avalon . " A CD will accompany the book. We have to do things for ourselves."