Ladies and gentlemen settle down, settle down, SETTLE DOWN! In tonight’s program, hai! Abuti ke wena, wena. Yah ke bua le wena. Can you behave! (long pause) please sit down! Please!

Thank you.

In tonight's rendition we have the advent of a virtuoso on the South Afrikan music scene; jazz connoisseur, performer and composer Thandi Ntuli presenting to us a very special program (Deezer - Thandi Ntuli). I am excited for you to witness this work, and hope you will be moved by it as I was.

In this performance, Miss Ntuli invites us into the deep corridors of her inner self, to witness a personal story of love, displacement, otherness and internal yearning. Like many a sublime artist, the art itself cuts tenfold, dwarfing this narration.

In this art, Thandi Ntuli asks of us to wallow in the idea of how one can be displaced from oneself, lonely with friends, hurt in love, othered as the majority, and exiled at home? She asks these questions with searing precision. She asks with much vigour and unfailing tenacity… with a palpable unease. Following the trajectory of her intense probing, one can’t help but notice that something is not quite right.

Something is not quite right with this whole corona situation. Something is not quite right with our democracy. Something is not quite right with this article, and something is definitely not quite right with our society. Something is generally off with our sheer existence. Listening, I can't help but ask of someone to wake me up from this nightmare, and tell me that the fact that I can’t help but feel that something is not quite right is a figment of my imagination. And yet I can’t help but feel that even my imagination is something I can no longer claim as my own...

Oh Saviour can you not come and save me now?

Save me now from this overpowering displacement, this dystopia of Setting the Tone for Exile (Live) that is so vivid in painting a picture of the general despair clearly experienced by most in our country. Send not the frantic 12-tone look alike, because it can’t help much in our marginalisation. After all, is it not Thandi Ntuli herself who explains that, whilst writing this music, she realised how, “there are a lot of displaced people in this society” … and that this was true for most, from the conversations she was having?

Such displacement we rebuke, we decree and say: Oh lost strings of New Way consume us not, for we are but momentarily confused. We are confused at how “ill-equipped, we find ourselves in a boxing ring ... and this has led to being ravaged and left wounded by the blows of men who couldn't love” … How could they? How could they, when “this integration is all for show” and all those who “talk of freedom, what do they know?” As for me, I see a Rainbow with coloured soil.

We invoke the spirit of Ngai to manifest itself in the ever constant and pulsating beat of Kasiva Mutua’s drumming, we beg that you secure us, Oh Great One.

In our heartfelt pleas we are also aware that all is not lost, as the piano vamp on the B note (Setting the Tone for Exile - Live) brings much hope and a sense of possibility to our madness. It is this madness that we hope to settle, as this vamp tries to do for this song.

We pray for a second chance to try and be decent (we promise we will be) just as Ntuli’s benediction to once again extend her artistic vision, intended in Exiled but manifested in Thandi Ntuli - (Live at Jazzwerkstatt) was granted.

In deep despair we ask, are we not of this world? Are we children of a lesser God?

In crafting a sense of normalcy on Portal (Live), we declare that we will not be consumed by this despair. We reject this displacement, and we decree that Black is Beautiful (invoking Bantu Biko), and indeed we are.

With these words, I present to you thee Thandi Ntuli.


*Thandi Ntuli will be performing live at the KULTURE Blues Festival on May 14 at the South African State Theatre. Time: 19:00 | Entry: R150 | Tickets: Webtickets & Pick N Pay