Social media has been set alight (pun intended) by the movie Matwetwe. The film is written, directed and produced by the lovable and talented comedian Kagiso Legida. You can tell the script is written by a funny man as this film made me chuckle quite a few times in the cinema. Matwetwe is the name given to the superb strand of weed showcased in the film, it’s so good its “Woolworths grade”. Capitalising on the recent decision passed in the legislature, where the consumption of marijuana is no longer against the law, this film about weed is relevant to South African audiences.
Matwetwe means wizard and there is something magical about this film. Set in the iconic township of Atteridgeville, the film is unapologetically South African. It is narrated by 3 township drunks on New Year’s Eve, setting up the theme of new beginnings in the film. As they recount the story of Lefa and Papi, the actors break the fourth wall. They address the audience directly and this makes one feel as if you are sitting on the stoep with them, getting intoxicated on new years whilst discussing township affairs.
This coming of age tale follows Lefa and Papi two recent matriculants. Lefa is a horticulturalist who has been accepted into the University of Witwatersrand to study botany. However, he does not have the funds to pay the fees. Papi is his childhood best friend who can only seem to talk about girls and getting laid. He only refers to women as bitches but I didn’t find it offensive as I also listen to music where the term for female is bitch, and then I also find myself saying bitch even though I am a feminist. With Lefa’s green fingers and Papi’s street smarts, the two grow and hustle their own brand of mary jane.
Another name you can call Matwetwe is authentic with most of the dialogue being spoken in S’pitori which is a dialect of in its own right. A vernacular that is neither Sepedi, Sesotho or Setswana but an amalgamation of these tongues, borrowed words from other languages and slang. There were subtitles the entire movie, even the English part was subtitled with S’pitori, which I thought was very interesting. This is because the movie caters for the local Atteridgeville area audience. Often times a movie gets made in an underdeveloped region but it is never expected that those residents will see the movie, they are not the target audience. By also subtitling English, the political statement is made that the target market is not only those who grew up in suburbs and international viewers. It makes the statement, ‘we are making a movie about us, for us’ not just for outsiders. When watching the film, there is definitely a sense of Kasi pride.
The characters were well developed. They weren’t one dimensional, the good guys did some questionable things and the bad guys were endearing in their own way. This made it entertaining to watch. I particularly enjoyed the scene of the drug kingpin who was a fabulously dressed gay man telling one of his stooges that he needs to take better care of his skin.
The soundtrack was good, as to be expected if one of the executive producers is Black Coffee. The Cinematography was done well. It is a beautiful film to watch with a diversity of camera shots and angles. The scenes where the red of the soil contrast against the blue sky were particularly vivid. The characters being multifaceted, the music and the cinematography all come together to give the film a distinct cool vibe.
The acting was impressive as well, the bond between Lefa and Papi is very convincing. Tebatso Mashishi’s performance as Papi was exceptional and I look forward to seeing him in other roles, granted he’s not typecast. Also, I loved that people with albinism were represented in the movie. Therefore, I think the film was cast well. Matwetwe is very relatable. Illustrating Kasi life in a country where a large portion of the population live in townships. The narrative of a youth being intelligent but not having the means to further their education and improve their standard of living is an issue many South Africans face.
“We laugh, that we may not cry”-Roger Ebert. There was some dark humour in this film. For example, one narrator spoke of how a character’s father abused his wife (the characters mother) to death, and the storyteller referred to the abuse as WWE Smackdown. You can argue that this joke is made in bad taste. Nevertheless, the film deals with serious topics like mental disturbance in an honest yet amusing way.
Girl Boss rating: 8/10
In 2012, I graduated from high school, and never have I been so confused about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. High school doesn’t necessarily prepare you for such choices. I mean, it’s a serious commitment. You basically commit to a specific path for the rest of your life (ok for a good, important few years at least). It is also an expensive choice because you spend at least 3 years at college if you decide to pursue a diploma or degree.
December 2012 was a pretty intense period, especially as my peers seemed certain about the fields they wanted to pursue. There I was, as confused and lost as ever. I didn’t know all my options, and I didn’t know what I was passionate about, I hardly knew whom I was. Other than that, I didn’t do so well academically, I got university acceptance grade but I had wanted to do better. I was especially bummed with mathematics, I really wanted to do well in that subject, but it did not reciprocate. Needless to say, I had not applied to attend any institution. So I opted to take a gap year.
A gap year is something you take after high school to gain some experience before deciding what to study at college. Taking a gap year has been in the news these past few years as high profile teenagers have taken gap years, think Malia Obama, Yara Shahidi and Ming Lee Simmons. These American teens have gone on to amazing and enriching experiences before heading back on to college.
2013. I honestly had no plan about what I was going to do during the gap year; I was just a confused 19 year old. I actually think my parents were worried about the direction that my life was headed. I was too. All I knew was that I wanted to improve my math score, because I didn’t know I could get into varsity without a math grade. And then I convinced myself that I needed to do a BCom to get a decent job. I just assumed all the courses, which were BCom related, needed a good math grade, and they did, and that is what I thought I wanted to do. So I registered to retake 12th grade math, and in the meantime I was working for Verimark at Makro as a salesperson. Not long into the job, I was fired; I mean I knew nothing about selling gym equipment.
Because I had no specific goals as to how I would spend the year, it was pretty much ‘anything goes’. Fast forward, I started my tertiary journey 5 years later after I left high school. Crazy right? Not really, but I couldn’t have asked for a different journey today. Although at the time it may not have felt like it, today I’m somebody who is certain about who they are and what I want to accomplish.
Here are some things that My Gap Year(s) taught me:
It’s okay to not know – you’re only about 18 when you graduate from high school, and I commend those who knew exactly what they wanted to pursue straight after high school, but it’s okay if you don’t know. Being that young you have time on your side, and stupid or silly mistakes are allowed. But you must never get comfortable being in this position; it should be a temporary state. This is where you should do most of your research about topics you’re interested in, not just subjects or courses, what you find yourself speaking about the most, your passion, what makes you light up when you think or do it. What kind of conversation arouses emotion and passion when speaking? Do as much reading as possible; educate yourself, even if you aren’t officially enrolled in a formal institution. This was the time when I took the opportunity to read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, and it was when I entered my first awakening stage. Awakening in a sense that there is a lot more knowledge in the world to be acquired that we will not necessarily learn at school.
Pressure is good – it is inevitable that if you ever find yourself in a predicament similar to mine that you will feel the pressure. It will come at you from in from all directions. Transform this negative feeling into something positive. Pressure should drive you to want to do and be more. So even if you enroll for a diploma/degree that you are not 100% sure with, it’s okay. What pressure should do is keep the fire and desire to grow at a constant, but then that fire and desire should be from within yourself, not external, otherwise you will burn out trying to satisfy others. This was a hard lesson I learned when I enrolled in 2015 then later dropped out in May 2015. Basically, I quickly burnt out, I enrolled for a course because I felt pressured to start studying and I enrolled for a course I thought guaranteed me employment when I was it was not anything I enjoyed at the time. But it was only after that experience that I slowly uncovered my passion for a certain cause. A cause that is external to my own satisfaction. And that is what is really important. What and who are you about? This is a constant undying fire.
Take this time to learn about yourself – My biggest lesson to self here was that, “If I Don’t Know Who I Am, People Will Tell Me Who To Be”; obviously I was not okay with this. So I took this period to learn about many truths, including my true self. This has been by far my most personally challenging experience, lonely and depressive. I was confused about a lot of things, and decided to take time taking them on, one by one. Once I was on this journey I slowly started meeting people who made sense, who spoke my language. This ultimately gave me clarity about who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do and whom I wanted to do it for and importantly that I don’t have to try fit into any box of what I think people expect me to be. I still live by this vision it is what motivates me. Finding a purpose higher than myself.
2017, I started varsity. As you have read, a gap year can also take you on an adventure you never subscribed to. But to have a successful gap year and also to limit the time of years spent trying to figure yourself out, set clear intentions about what you wish to achieve during that period. That will make all the difference, setting clear intentions from the onset. Ask yourself important questions like who you are? What drives you? What are passionate about? How would you like to make a difference? What issues do you care about? Also, don’t forget to educate yourself, keep reading and having conversations with people you look up to, there is also a lot to be learnt from the streets of life outside of structured schooling.
Our favourite chef, Mogau Seshoene speaks to us about her journey in the culinary arts, from teaching her own cooking classes to publishing the country’s best-selling cook book and custom merchandise. The Lazy Makoti is a female project and brand that is dominating a male-dominated industry. Who better to inspire young women to stand up and take control of their future?
You can follow Mogau on social media:
My name is Simile Isizwe Sama Qwabe, Asimbonge Gumede. As you can tell, I am a Zulu girl. But I am incompetent in my mother tongue. Yes, I am what people refer to as a coconut. But I assure you I do not want to be white. My dark skin is beautiful and my dread locks are strong. So how did this happen? I went to a private school my entire life, from grade 00 to matric. I even went to a white creche. My teachers urged my mother to speak to me in English, to push my proficiency to that of my peers and by the time my mother switched back to isiZulu, I had forgotten sentence construction. So, I understand Zulu and speak broken Zulu. Now that I am out of school, completed my degree and officially adulting, I want to be fluent in isiZulu. Speaking predominantly English is not worth the hype. Girls, embrace your home language.
First of all, I am judged for showing off my level of education. Also, people think I think I am better. Like how white people, at times, think they’re better than black people. I am also perceived to look down on my culture, as language and culture go hand in hand. I was always acutely aware that I was black, being the only one in class. I do not think I am white. So, I want to better represent myself as an African. One of my dreams is to write an isiZulu poem.
The world is changing. I learnt this in my politics lectures, Europe and America are not the super powers they used to be. We already know that China is an economic powerhouse. For better or for worse, China is looking at Africa for trade relations.
Furthermore, being successful in life isn’t dictated by your socio-economic class anymore. More and more Africans from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds are making it, and I need to improve my networking potential. I believe I will make more money conducting business in isiZulu and English as opposed to just English.
Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. And girl, I need a man okurrr. I need to be having heart to heart conversations with my future boo. Jokes aside, I want to improve the intimacy of my relationships in general.
Do not think that you are less than because you grew up in black areas. African languages are beautiful and sophisticated. Being proud of your roots, is strength and it is a spiritual resource that we should not forsake in contemporary South Africa.