30 Oct First Look: The Brother Moves On Share the Video for Their New Track ‘Shiyanomayini’
Debuting on 10and5 today, ‘Shiyanomayini’ is the first release from The Brother Moves On’s new project Black Tax, for which they’ll be sharing ten new tracks – two today, followed by one per month for the next eight months. ‘Shiyanomayini’ is accompanied by a music video co-directed by the collective’s frontman Siyabonga Mthembu with filmmakers Mbalikayise Mthethwa and Jannous Aukema.
The term ‘Shiyanomayini’ loosely translated means “leave whatever you have”. Most of the track was written by Zelizwe Mthembu after being robbed multiple times while travelling through the Joburg CBD on his way home from rehearsals. There are four consecutive narratives within the song, the first is that of Zelizwe himself who speaks about being robbed at 6 o’clock at Park Station – losing his phone, his bag and his ice-cream cone to the encounter. The second perspective is that of a Kasi cat who’s sick of suburban boys “flossing” in the hood with their cash and expensive cars. The third verse presents the voice of Ma’leven, a ruthless criminal known for putting babies in ovens to force people to open their safes during break-ins. He sings “Your baby boy, she’s in the oven. I’ll make example, just to show them.” The final verse of ‘Shiyanomayini’ comes from an elder who asks what we are to do with this situation, in a country where nobody is untouched by crime.
The music video mirrors this four-part story, a literal representation of the lyrics and settings. Siya plays a taxi driver (who is the voice of the elder in verse four of the song) and begins his journey at his grandfather’s house in Tembisa. Throughout this everyday act of driving a taxi from Tembisa to town and back again, we see each verse played out – the Park Station robbery, the extravagant pimp, the notorious Ma’leven and finally, the elder’s question. “You can’t live in SA and not be affected by crime, but you also can’t live here and not understand what fuels this situation,” says Siya. “Who the characters are and what they say speaks to the theme of all South Africans being opportunistic takers or beggars, due to capital or illegitimate violence.”
The issue of crime is a multifaceted one with many variables, and there aren’t any easy answers or quick fixes. However, we can take a step in the right direction. According to Siya “We need more state endorsed dialogue and political mobilisation of the human capital that sits at home unemployed. We need art centres in hoods which are by the hood, and for the hood. Creative spaces such as Thesis Lifestyle, Keleketla Library, African Freedom Station, U-theSpace and Capital Arts. We need more regard and respect for the arts and for how it can open the space for complex discourse.”
The art of TBMO on has always addressed issues head on, though not without a sense of humour, as a way to open up the channels of engagement. The single ‘Good Times’ from their album ETA is about a miner being robbed after a good night out, a reference to an experience where the entire band got held up at gunpoint. This miner was Mr Gold, a character through whom the band told an idealistic rural to urban story draped in allegory. He is central to their 2011 EP The Golden Wake, which they’re releasing a full re-mastered version of today. ‘Shiyanomayini’ is a contemporary take on ‘Good Times’, but instead of placing them at odds with one another, it places criminals and victims in the same space.
Likening ‘Shiyanomayini’ to the poem ‘Makhafula Vilakazi’ by Matodzi Gift Ramashia, whose writing is influenced by life’s striking contrasts, Siya explains, “The setting for the poem as well as the song are both rather contextual. It’s the homely side of the poverty of this country that the rainbow can’t sell.” Neither the poem nor the song are simple to translate, and any attempts at doing so invariably lose some of the important nuances. But as Siya says, “Who gon’ know, gon’ know. When it hits those who know the context they love it. So the best way to understand is to become more accustomed to the brown spaces around you.”
Tonight The Brother Moves On are playing a pop-up gig at the Bannister in Braamfontein from 11pm. If you’ve downloaded The Golden Wake EP or ‘Shiyanomayini’ before arrival, entrance will be free. On Saturday, 7 November they’re having a farewell for TBMO member Raytheon Moorvan, followed by a theatrical intervention as part of The Black Cube Sessions.