Meet Iain Thomas, the 36-year-old South African poet who is famous all over the world except in SA

Trevor Noah has pulled out at the last minute from hosting the MAMAs 2016, due to 'a severe upper respiratory infection'

“It’s a spiritual war, not a physical war.”

2008-02-28 10:36
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Or read about why he wants to start a revolution, why he thinks reggae is a marginalized genre in Mzansi and more.

As much as we’d like to believe we now live in a free and democratic society, sadly when looking closely at the situation in South Africa this isn’t the case. Whether you are a musician, an artist, a journalist or a doctor - many of us are still marginalized and discriminated against, although these now take different shapes and forms. But what’s even sadder is all those who leave the country for Europe instead of fighting for change. As Dillinger says, “if we all run away who’s gonna fight this thing at home?” The reggae star is adamant he won’t marry in Europe to stay overseas like some other musicians. He’s left the country to get the power, knowledge and strength. He’s determined to come back to start a revolution here at home until we don’t have to fight for freedom any more. “I like it ‘cause it’s a spiritual war, not a physical war. I’m not gonna take out a gun and shoot somebody,” explains Dillinger. “South Africa is the kind of country where you get respected if you shine. You have to shine up and put something on the table”. Like Bob Marley he also believes that “no one but ourselves can free our minds”.

This is true especially when it comes to reggae music which is an extremely marginalized genre in Mzansi. More often than not we only take notice of reggae musicians once they’ve become popular overseas or when they’ve passed on like Mzansi reggae’s star Bra’ Lucky. There’s no support system here at home and the South African audience is also not receptive to this kind of music. “We have to fly away from home to perform our wonders, our miracles which we inherit at home. We cannot exercise those skills at home to our people so that they can see because we’re inspired through the ghetto. There’s no ghetto in Europe,” says Dillinger. But the problem isn’t only with record labels and the audience, but with the artists as well. “Reggae artists are the kind of people who expect opportunities to come to them instead of going out and getting these opportunities."

Some nagging stereotypes we have of reggae artists may also be adding to the problem. Let’s face it, some of us still think that all reggae artists smoke ganja. Dillinger highlights this as one of the reasons why most reggae musicians like to keep to themselves. “Marijuana is a sacrament from the ancient of things that… has nothing to do with nothing it’s [just] a green tree used by Rastas in a highly meditation of knowing I self, so unto I and I, it’s a divine sacrament, of let I and I to know what is evil and what is right, I and I not deal with cigarettes, I and I not deal with Babylon which are western things known or assumed as legal things.”

Most of us also assume that you have to be a Rastafarian to listen to reggae or to be a reggae musician. But as Dillinger says Rastafarianism is a way of life and actually has little to do with reggae. “If you look at Shaggy and Sean Paul, they’ve got nothing to do with Rastafarianism, but they still sing reggae music.” He explains that reggae music used to be a tool for the poor people. In Jamaica they used reggae music as the element to voice and express their feelings with melody, bass and drum. So reggae music is for the people, but when it comes to Rastas they use it consciously and wisely to pass the message to the people. “Nowadays reggae has become commercial which is dancehall music and that type of thing. R Kelly and them, are doing reggae nowadays, - it’s no longer reggae or a rasta thing, but in the mix there are still some true people - Bob Marley inspired people.”

Black Dillinger has just come back on a trip from Jamaica where he worked on a song with Jamaican reggae legend Sizzla. Look out for the joint from the Grow With Me selection when it hits the shelves!

-Tiisetso Tlelima

Nkululeko Madolo aka Black Dillinger was born in the ghettos of Cape Town. But like many Mzansi reggae artists he’s more popular abroad than here at home. His debut album Live and Learn released last year in Berlin – where he now resides – is making waves in Germany. “In Berlin I’m the local there, so my music plays everywhere – on the radio, car, taxi – everywhere,” he says. Never heard of this reggae star?

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