We love to applaud our artists. Why not let them make a living?
Our artists are dying, writes author Perfect Hlongwane in a plea for the arts to be celebrated rather than neglected by a state that doesn’t take them seriously and lumps them with sport and recreation
In (thinking about) writing this article, I did something that made me glad and sad. Glad, because it helped to focus my thinking about what it is I need to say, but incredibly sad because it led to the discovery that another gifted artist had silently slipped through the cracks, buried by a society determined to neglect its artists.
I dared to remember Zolile Myeni, who my mind had for many years pushed to the unwritten margins of my memory, mostly because I was overwhelmed by my simultaneous desire/inability to help her. Myeni was an imbongi, often imperfectly translated into English as “praise poet”. For a few months in 2006, before I fled the place (suffocated by the stench of corruption that permeated every office of the government complex in Nelspruit where I worked, but that’s a story for another day), I had lived in the small neighbouring town of Barberton, or as the locals there call it, eBhaptin...