Songs for Khwezi: Sing loud

songs-for-khwezi-21We live in fear. We try to hide it ‘cos you like it when we’re scared. Power is the name of the game. We avoid walking the streets of our own country ‘cos you’re there. Calling “baby”; infantilising us. Intimidating us. Inserting your uninvited presence into our personal space – our space. So fuck you.

Women / Womyn / Womxn.
Mother. Lover. Daughter. Wife.
Marriage material. Feisty Bitch. Easy Whore. Nagging Hag.

How has patriarchy endured for so long? How have our existences – all sexes, all genders, all sexualities – been determined and defined by patriarchal heteronormativity for so long?

What are we teaching our children, that generations endlessly perpetuate the same gender role nonsense, make a tiny concession every fifty years, put a ribbon around it and call it progress?

“What are we teaching our children?” asks Refilwe Nkomo in Songs for Khwezi. She reminds us what we’re teaching our daughters: “… be good, be nice, be polite…” But what are we teaching our sons? Not those things?

Nkomo’s work’s title guides us: Khwezi. We know Khwezi. Remember?

We did after the recent screw-you to No. 1 during his IEC municipal elections results speech in August. A decade ago South Africa’s controversial president (at the time No. 2) was accused of rape, trialled, admitted to consensual sex (because Khwezi wore a kanga which meant ‘yes’), and was acquitted.

They shook us up, those brave activists who faced JZ with their defiant placards. Their #1in3 reminded us that SA has one of the highest rape stats in the world. One in 8 billion is already unacceptable. And like them, Nkomo tells of the wider significance of Khwezi’s story without forgetting her individual traumatic experience.

Nkomo’s “choreo-poem” is courageously scathing. A middle finger to sexists and misogynists. An indictment on a world where Zuma can do what he did and still become president. And still we have rape culture denialists. What are we teaching our children?

Nkomo’s work journey’s through cold, dark, lonely, quiet places. She takes us onto the streets of nervous fear, she takes us into the heart of a worrying mother, she plunges us into the shadowy depths of isolation and a hurt beyond understanding.

But her danced embodiment of painful frustration becomes a battle of the body to reclaim itself and reclaim power, reclaim her space. With a message that she’s had enough. She’s “coming for you”.

Women / Womyn / Womxn.
A good woman. A nice woman. A polite woman.
One in Three.

– Sarah Roberson

Songs for Khwezi is next on today (06/10) at 16.00. Click here for more info and bookings.

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