Literature

Listen to the Cheeky Natives' Interview with Nthikeng Mohlele, Author of 'Michael K'

The author speaks about his novel, the writing process and his favorite writers.

Nthikeng Mohlele is a South African author who has thus far written five novels. His novel, Michael K, is a response to fellow author JM Coetzee's Life and Times of Michael K.


Nthikeng Mohlele sat down with Dr Alma-Nalisha Cele, co-host of the popular literary podcast, Cheeky Natives, which interviews Black authors about their bodies of work.

In the interview, he spoke about many things including his recent work, Michael K. Veteran novelist, playwright and poet Zakes Mda, described Mohlele's Michael K as "a work of reflective intensity, re-imagining character from JM Coetzee's world of stark and sparse prose".

READ: In Conversation: Zakes Mda on No Story Being too Taboo or Sacred to Tell

JM Coetzee's novel tells the story of Michael K who sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. However, she dies during the journey. Michael K is left alone in an anarchic world of ruthless armies. After he is captured and imprisoned, he escapes and attempts to live as best a dignified a life as he knows how.

Speaking on his response to Cotzee's novel in Michael K, Mohlele says:

"I think Michael K is the representative of the unsaid and the misunderstood. He functions primarily as a very metaphorical figure from where I am sitting. But it also speaks to a very silent thing, which is the interdependence of generations of thinkers and writers."

In addition, Mohlele also speaks about the writing process and the inspiration behind Michael K, the importance of young readers and writers reading contemporary works as well as some of his own favorite writers which include Niq Mhlongo and Zukiswa Wanner.

Asked about the myth of Black people not reading or buying books and the sometimes exclusionary world of publishing, he responded:

"There are commercial considerations, publishers are in business. There are policy issues in terms of your arts and culture department. I believe, humbly, that a lot needs to be done in terms of the promotion and support of the arts and policy that will enable writers to enter mainstream publishing. On Black people not buying books, that is untrue. That is a reckless statement. Black people read. I was taught by Black professors who referred me to a whole lot of other Black people."

Mohlele also shared a list of five books he would recommend to a young 16-year-old to read. His list included: Things Fall Apart by the late Nigerian great Chinua Achebe, Detainedby the veteran Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography by South African writer Mark Mathabane, the poetry of the late South African Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile and the works of the late Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera.

You can purchase Michael Khere.

READ: Meet the Dynamic Lawyer-Doctor Duo Behind the Riveting Cheeky Natives Podcast


Listen to the full interview below:



Photo: The Sundance Institute

In his Imaginative Debut Feature, Walé Oyéjidé Brings Together Elements of His Life’s Work

The Nigerian American director has long used the tools of his multi-hyphenate trade to expand the ways Africans are seen. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, 'Bravo, Burkina!' gives him a larger canvas on which to paint.

Whether it’s employing asylum seekers to model his designs or adding his flair to a piece of pivotal clothing that the late Chadwick Boseman wore in Black Panther, Walé Oyéjidé has always been about using whatever elements he can to push the ways Africans have traditionally been portrayed. What he hinted at in his short film After Migration: Calabria (available on the Criterion Channel), which tells the story of two refugees settling in Italy, he now gets to explore further in the feature debut, Bravo, Burkina!

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Photo by C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

Baaba Maal Releases New Single 'Agreement'

Senegal's Baaba Maal shares a new song ahead of his upcoming album, Being.


Renowned Senegalese singer and guitaristBaaba Maalhas shared a new single called "Agreement." The song is the fourth track on his upcoming album Being, which is slated to be released on March 31st, 2023.

"Agreement," a percussion-heavy record produced by Johan Hugo, fuses both ancient and modern rhythms, and continues Baaba Maal's ongoing musical quest to connect the past and the present, while making lasting cultural and emotional connections through music.

While discussing the record, Baaba Maal dissects the meaning of the song and explains that it draws inspiration from day-to-day relationships.

“Agreement is about the relationships you make in your life, whether they are with friends, musicians, neighbors, people you love,” says Baaba Maal. ”When you say to people, we are going on this journey through life together, through good times and bad, you should be very sure that you mean it.”

The Senegalese legend continues breaking down the meaning of the song by explaining it through a cultural lens.

“It’s based on a proverb from my community — to say no at the beginning to the idea that we will always be together is much stronger and more noble that beginning a relationship and then cutting it short later, maybe forty years later. Be mature enough to take seriously an agreement you make with someone about the future, about your souls being connected,” says Maal.

After a seven-year music hiatus, "Agreement" is one of Maal's new releases, and he will continue to share his music in the coming months with fans. In addition to releasing his upcoming album, the Poor-born icon will be performing at the Barbican in London, for the first time in 20 years on May 30th, 2023.

Maal'sBeing is a riveting extension of his pioneering, transcendent, and inspiring four-decade legacy that has blended the traditional and the innovative, the acoustic and the electronic over the years. For being, Maal reportedly partnered with long-time producer Johan Hugo, and recorded the body of work in Brooklyn, London and Senegal. Watch the visualizer for "Agreement" below.

Listen to Baaba Maal "Agreement" below.

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Rising Star Khaid Shares New Single ‘Jolie’

Nigerian music newcomer Khaid comes through with a new love song.


Khaidshares "Jolie," an Afro-infused love song that marks his first music release for the year. The record is a rhythmic and melodic offering that is complete with an infectious hook and Khaid's captivating vocals. In the song, Khaid describes his admiration for a girl that he is pursuing, but equally expresses the challenge that he is having getting her attention.

At the age of 12, Khaid, who was born and raised in Ojo in Lagos, Nigeria, began to freestyle and shoot videos in the streets of Ojo, which is where he was eventually discovered and signed by Sydney Walker, the owner of Neville Records, and a prominent Nigerian comedian.

At the beginning of 2022, Neville Records announced Khaid as a new signee, and since then, he has continued to make waves in the Nigerian music industry. His debut single "With You," was released only eight days after the announcement, and went on to become a commercial success. The song became one of the country's top hits, which now has over 3.7 million views on YouTube and 5 million Spotify streams.

Khaid went on to a release a 6-track album called Diversity and continues to push the envelope at only 17-years-old. The young talent has an EP on the way in the near future, and was recently featured on Okay Africa's 12 Nigerian Artists To Watch In 2023.

Listen to Khaid's "Jolie" below

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