Does life begin at 40? That’s the time signature Moses Taiwa Molelekwa would have reached on Wednesday, 17th April 2013. In recognition of his greatness we’re presenting some notes in his honour/memory.
deal an arm
lose a shack
scrutinise a scar
encounter makwerekwere death in du noon
outrage a constituency
preface it transparent
plot the derangement of a presidenct
ponder sac of fat smother line between prosecutor and hunted
instill a seizure
goad a fall
cosign a key player
consume a madam’s cellar
make your mama shie
& yr nephew cry
listen to an ex withdraw
ebb and flow insanity & inanity
do a mo & flow
scream bushed from a beam
live as a postmortem
be a: bulletin in labour
wild cat without favour
drag y’all from the afristocracy snare
devil with care
display an air
go:like, you mother, i breathe neruda
and swallow the gallow of saro wiwa
dambudzo’s my main man and
what have you done lately besides
talk to the hand
cause this fuck just
in a square of raw times
wednesdays to sundays designed for
crimes & grimes
creolic lives breakout in
hives of malcontent
as mahogany row rescribes the kow tow
how would moses know
where his burning bush
tight to a point
africa papa and mama
hanging and reclining
our brave new world.
“taiwa” molelekwa you will live.
by Gael Reagon
Mma Tseleng‘s mix, 13 February 2001 – for Taiwa.
[I ]Re-discovered his music much later in life.
Except, and this must be my Moses moment was a series of Friday fixes through a music/club culture show on SABC 1, Studio Mix circa ’97. They used to play heavily by standards, Moses’ ‘Genes & Spirits’. And because they used to serialised some songs, i wouldn’t miss 9-10pm TV time for a fix of this song. It reached me in a village where access to some good music was rare, TV and Radio was the only option. The song had all the elements of traditional music as I experienced from the village, as well as a voice I have ever experienced from the music I was hearing at that time and place. I knew that music has the power to heal through that song, and the video was different from anything I have seen on Studio Mix or anywhere on TV. That was high school. I forgot about Moses, after all the imports have knocked my senses out, until i got back to Moses in 2007 through the album, ‘Wa Mpona’ and carried forth. I think Moses’ hand writes in a deeply traditional manner, that is, he translates our idioms, euphemisms and angst into honest enchants, melancholies and aspirations. I will not spot a seat for him except a biased at the head of the table. This is biased because i honestly have not listened intensely to the work of other pianists.
Another always a winner Moses moment is in Brothers of Peace’s ‘Moss’, all the time.
During the residency with Keleketla co-director, Malose Malahlela at Wits School of Arts in April 2011, Moses’s music consumed us, almost possessed us, along with that of the Brother Moves On, collaborators at the residency. [NB: Brother Moves On are putting on their own Taiwa tribute]
I am disheartened by the scarcity of Moses work in the public, except for his father’s school and the cape town jazz fest stage.
Moses Molelekwa was remarkable for both his talent and the young age at which he began to show it. He had a very specific vision of the South African sound, and while it was informed by his predecessors (including Abdullah Ibrahim) it was very much his own. Unlike the Capetonians (Ibrahim, Mbambisa, etc), it was much more infused with the hybrid, big-city vibe of the Johannesburg townships: with 80s pop, the Afrojazz of Masekela, and the avant-garde experiments of the Pelican and Odin cinema modern jazz crews and the jazz stokvels his father exposed him to. But alongside those, there were strong echoes of more rural musics — both the church hymnody of his grandparents’ generation, and the complex rhythmic patterns & interlockings of sePedi pipe music. His “lineage”, then was always mingled with the now — and so it wasn’t surprising that as he travelled, he built musical bridges with international popular music and pan-African sounds. Had he lived, he’d probably today be our counterpart to Robert Glasper — never afraid to challenge genre boxes or conventional thinking about the music, but underpinned by the highest level of technique & jazz sensibility.
My most striking remembered image of Moses is the way he’d truck around town on Friday and Saturday nights carrying his keyboard; commuting from gig to gig. His lanky figure, stooped under the weight of the keyboard, became a familiar sight. It wasn’t about money (though heaven knows, he probably needed it) it was about needing, and loving, to play, whenever and wherever he could.
Gwen Ansell (teacher, writer and researcher)
everytime i talk about moses things always end up sounding hyberbolic.
that is because moses is and was holy!
a friend of mine was in moses’ class at wits university and he, my friend, always marvelled at how moses never attended class and would spend all day in his room practicing.
well, i thought, i can understand that – he’s busy studying!!
Neo Muyanga (Composer, librettist)
Taiwa was more like a Vijay Ayer, or —-really he was just himself. The closest to contemporary artists would be Robert Glasper, and, even MeShell Ndenge O’cello.
Taiwa was a genius alright, a trouble genius. But that we all know–it’s not quite revelatory.
Bongani Madondo (Narrative Journalist & Essayist)
It could have so easily been the nimble fingers, the originality of thought, the vast and the peerless comprehension of a truly special time in our musical history. But it was the reverence with which he came to his craft that locates him comfortably within the greatest of the South African lineage of piano players.
Siphiwe Mpye (Magazine editor)
Movement of each finger
On black and white keys
Give rise to an image, sound
That is painted in clear air
Projections of my frustration,
Love, passion, early life.
I see the melodies in my dreams
I can’t seem to get them right
I want to respect the (music)
If I don’t…
I’ll die young
Mpho Seoposengwe (Writer, journalist)
Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, 17 April 1973 – 13 February 2001
Rest up Brother, we hope darkness has past.