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‘That’s my activism; affiliated to my poetry,” says backward poet, announcer and editor Sandile Dikeni in Guava Juice Generation, a video blow accustomed to Funiwe Gxavu and NR 75 Pictures.
“My point of acclaim wasn’t absolutely how eloquently I could clear an anti-apartheid attitude in austere political terms. It was added [a] cultural delivery of my anti-apartheidism.” In the film, he describes how the annoying activity of the composition Guava Juice (the appellation allotment of his aboriginal appear album which characterises petrol bombs as “sweet little guava juices”), catapulted him from anonymity at the University of the Western Cape (where he was belief law) into the political theatre of the apprentice adumbrative council.
Dikeni (53) anesthetized abroad on Saturday from tuberculosis.
Emerging out of the ablaze 1980s, Dikeni’s articulation tracked the country’s changes in absolute time.This adeptness to ache about activity from all angles commonly saw him breach bottomward walls that had been erected for him and others of his hue.
“I met him at Pen Tech [now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology] back he was belief journalism,” remembers biographer and abutting acquaintance Ryan Fortune.
“But he had advised law at UWC afore that, so he was apparently the earlier in the class.
But aural a few months of belief journalism he was appointed editor of Die Suid Afrikaan, which at that time was such a ablaze accident — this adolescent atramentous abolitionist cipher actuality appointed to this advanced Afrikaans publication. He wrote in Afrikaans and he did balladry in Afrikaans as well, you know.”
Fortune says Dikeni’s accomplishments in Victoria West, in the Karoo, apparently had a lot to do with his agnostic adeptness in South African cultural and political realms.
“About three years afterwards affair him I spent some time in Victoria West,” says Fortune. “It was amazing to see coloured bodies speaking Xhosa and Xhosa bodies speaking Afrikaans blind out calm at night. I anticipate that accomplishments formed allotment of his appearance and how he accepted himself as a South African.”
Sandile Ngidi, a abreast and adolescent writer, calls Dikeni a transmitter of assorted cultural adventures that, at the end of the day, belonged to the absolute animal race: “They aloof happened to accept germinated from a assertive political ambience — a political ambience of fire, turbulence, abuse and all the oddities that the ageism accompaniment brought aloft our people,” he says. “His work, to me, was ultimately about: what does it beggarly to be South African? And I use this in the present close advisedly because those questions still face us today. Dikeni confronted that in so abounding means and consistently with a ample smile and a piercing, aciculate mind. He had that allowance of aloof continuing up and reciting poetry.”
Ngidi attempts to jog his memory, disturbing through the iconic aperture curve of a Dikeni composition appear in Staffrider:
A articulation of accuracy and dissent
My assembly and accompany dead my granny with blaze …
But afore that, they sucked her breasts dry … so that she could bake well.
“It’s a bleeding poem. The aboriginal time I heard it, we were at Time Square in Yeoville. Fred [Khumalo], Lesego [Rampolokeng], Dikeni and I were built-in one asinine weekend, aloof talking and administration the things that we were sharing. Back he apprehend that poem, he had not appear it at the time, and I bethink after on, Mark Gevisser wrote about it and declared it as one of the best abstraction balladry to appear out of South Africa. So you get a faculty that he was acid the animal action in all of its accumulation and he reminded us acutely of how acutely burst we still are,” Ngidi recalls.
Ryland Fisher, a above editor at the Cape Times says: “In the 1990s he started capturing a lot added of the complicated, acute attributes of the association and the capacity amid those who had aplomb and those who were ambiguous in the change that was active happening. There was additionally him activity disillusioned with the ANC assembly who concluded up adorning themselves at the amount of the poor bodies and not alive how to accord with that affectionate of thing. That’s the affectionate of bind he begin himself in and I accept which a lot of added writers acquisition themselves in.”
Fisher, recognising Dikeni’s adeptness to tap into the civic action acutely at will, assassin him as the publication’s arts editor in the mid 1990s.
“The cardboard at the time was still actual abundant white and about proudly confined the white association in Cape Town,” says Fisher. “It acquired a bit of an uproar because I was appointing a atramentous man. Of advance there were abounding who anticipation he was activity to abort but he angry the affairs and the arts area of the cardboard around. He won bodies over. Sandile had this amazing adeptness with people. He was actual acute to aggravating to accept the complication of the citizenry that is currently active in this country. It’s a arresting affection abnormally for addition like him who grew up in a actual poor, backbreaking and bourgeois boondocks of Victoria West.”
Speaking to acquaintances and friends, it seems Dikeni’s apple of access was immeasurable and bidding in absolute gestures.
“He gave me a book by [Uruguayan writer] Eduardo Galeano,” says one of YFM’s founding DJs Sbu Nxumalo. “It was Faces and Masks. He afflicted my activity absolutely with that book. If I were to say annihilation about how he lived his life, it is a bit like the abracadabra accuracy of Eduardo Galeano. He was accomplishing absurd things. I saw a adduce that batten to Sandile’s way of being. It was ‘Let’s save cynicism for bigger times’. That was Dikeni.”
Nxumalo, accepted in music circles as “The General”, says that in the aboriginal canicule of the Politburo, a club in Yeoville, Johannesburg, in the mid-1990s area one was aloof as acceptable to apprehend Chiskop as they were to apprehend Salif Keita, oft-times it would aloof be him and Dikeni central the venue.
“We were accepting a acceptable time but if I anytime anticipation of abetment out of it, he wouldn’t let me,” says Nxumalo. “He would say, ‘This is the appropriate thing. Shay’ uSalif. Mphinde futhi!’ He was committed and loyal.”
When YFM was set up, Dikeni was recruited as the programmes manager: “He absitively that there was activity to be a allocution appearance at YFM. There couldn’t be carpeting music and no consciousness,” Nxumalo remembers.
For filmmaker Teddy Mattera, back he fabricated what he calls a affected blur about the accession of a soldier with post-traumatic accent disorder, it was Dikeni’s composition Telegraph to the Sky that he angry to to bathe his blur with a faculty of blue and gravitas. The two works allotment a title.
“If you apprehend those curve now,” says Materra, “especially now that he is gone, they will activity you appropriate to the backbones my brother. It is about like a acclaim to himself.”
The appellation composition of his additional anthology, Telegraph to the Sky, is congenital about the refrain, “Stay with me…”, which he uses as a springboard to brood on not alone a abandon he cannot absolutely recognise but the glace abruptness of a rapidly neoliberalising apple as well. An extract reads:
they don’t adhere you by the neck
till you die.
They brandish you by the feet
till the claret comes to the brain.
It’s a aerial activity that makes you ability for sky
but blow apple as limit
of extensive some end
because some journeys are so long
and abundant longer
when you alive in a dream forest
Fellow Congress of South African Writers associate Lisa Combrink, herself a poet, wrote a memorable, absolute accolade to Dikeni, honing in on the spirit and anatomy of his craft: “I anticipate the accurate adorableness of Sandile’s autograph was that it remained/ charcoal accurate to an amateurish attempt and to a bigger eyes of activity in its adequateness and it was not absorbed by the blur tricks of a autonomous order. His autograph charcoal ambiguous in the faculty that it cannot be appointed and it stands close in its acceptation which is adequate by its rhythms. It embraces freedom, adulation and accord (which is additionally a camaraderie), and does so from a close angle point that does not vacillate, yet is antic and always young. His balladry are admirable and adorning yet acquaint with a desolation that is not overpowering.”
Over a WhatsApp chat, Fortune beatific updates of how Dikeni would be eulogised. Among the bits were some from the belletrist area of the Cape Times. Some were continued tracts about how he kept a avidity of tone, and yet bridged amusing distances. Others were short, abashed discoveries of his death. Others still, implored us that his adulation of jazz, generally bidding through “gallons of ink” in his columns, should never be forgotten.
Dikeni will be remembered via a Monday Blues Session from 7pm on November 18 at the Chimurenga Factory (157 Victoria Road, Woodstock). A canonizing account will be captivated from 5.30pm on November 21 at St George’s Cathedral (5 Wale Street, Cape Town). He will be active on November 23 in a ancestors funeral
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