Arts + Culture

7 South African Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Young South Africans taking podcasting by storm

Podcasting has blown up internationally in recent years with the success of shows like Serial and This American Life and the popularity of black podcasts like The Read, For Colored Nerds, Call Your Girlfriend and Another Round. March even had its very own #BlackPodcastWeek. As Okayafrica contributor Ifeanyi Awachie pointed out, the world of African podcasting is slightly more elusive. There are however some gems coming out of the continent, like The Chicken & Jollof Rice Show and Badilisha Poetry for instance.


In South Africa, podcasting still isn’t as popular as it should be, thanks in large part to the internet not being accessible to all. With that being said, some young South Africans are taking podcasting by storm. Here are seven South African podcasts you should definitely be listening to.

The Sobering

Hosted by one half of Vaal rap duo Fratpack, Kitso Moremi, and producer Javas Skolo, The Sobering is the most authentically South African hip-hop podcast on the internet today. Featuring a 100 percent local hip-hop playlist and interviews with prominent figures in the local scene, the monthly show features an eclectic mix of exciting personalities, good conversation and an excellent blend of the best and most current tunes from local MCs. The 11th and latest episode of the podcast features Luthando Shosha aka South African television personality LootLove. Look out for new episodes the first Monday of each month.

Kiss & Tell with Lady Skollie

Hosted by art provocateur Laura Windvogel aka Lady Skollie aka the Kanye of Kaapstad, the podcast centres around sex, gender, relationships and sexuality––much like Windvogel’s work in the arts. The weekly hour-long live radio show aired for 12 months on the Cape Town-based internet radio station Assembly Radio, producing episodes centered around a sex-themed guest, some contemporary music and social commentary. Lady Skollie, who recently relocated to Johannesburg, has gone on to become somewhat of a cult of personality in Cape Town for her uncensored art and outspoken nature on sex and sexulity. You can listen to the show’s entire run here and via iTunes.

Quit Safari

Quit Safari is a Cape Town-based record label consisting of producers Fever Trails, Christian Tiger School, Damascvs, Hessien +, Swishy Delta, Yes In French and Selfir that also doubles as a musical collective and a podcast. Described as an “audio visual friendship,” their latest podcast titled "12 AM Roti Boys" provides a glimpse into the crew’s musical palette. The guys recently embarked on a four-city tour alongside London-based producer Rival Consoles with the support of British Council’s Connect ZA. Watch the behind-the-scenes of the trip here.

Sound Africa

Sound Africa is a podcast series of audio documentaries narrating the multiple complexities of living on the continent. The 7th and latest episode, “African Space,” is a live recording of a collaboration between the Sound Africa podcast team and the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival. The conversation features internationally-renowned astronomers and townspeople of the Karoo, both of whom share proximity to the largest radio telescope ever built, the Square Kilometre Array.

Amabookabooka

Amabookabooka is a weekly “novel podcast” hosted by journalist Jonathan Ancer and sound engineer Dan Dewes. The show revolves around South African books and the authors who write them, and features extensive interviews with authors, novelists and journalists documenting the current South African landscape. The episodes are a quick and easy listen––they hardly go over 30 minutes. The conversations are quirky and the content is highly informative for fans of South African literature. You can listen here to the latest episode with Claire L Bell, author of “Lost Where I Belong,” a book no publisher (so far) is prepared to publish.

Lesser Known Somebodies

If you have a keen interest in the behind-the-scenes happenings of the comedy industry in South Africa then you should definitely check out Lesser Known Somebodies. Hosted by South African comedian Simmi Areff, the podcast is an exploration of the ever-growing comedy scene in SA. Simmi’s oddball humor coupled with extensive interviews with local, and sometimes international, comedians from Jason Goliath to Orlando Gaston Chandler Aziz makes for a satisfying listening experience. In the latest episode Areff speaks to American actor and comedian Orlando Jones about everything from dealing with haters and how his daughter changed his life to his portrayal of O.R. Tambo in an upcoming six-part miniseries about Nelson Mandela on BET.

Creative Underground

Creative Underground is a new hour-long podcast dedicated to presenting fresh creative talent from South Africa alongside a fine selection of global music apart from the mainstream. Hosted by friends Katlego Makhudu and Jonas Radunz, the podcast hopes to show listeners that there’s more to good music than the standard Top 40 charts. Each episode will feature a young South African creative sharing their story along with a selection of underground music from SA and around the world. The debut episode features 24-year-old beatmaker Dave Moyo aka Daev Martian who released his latest EP, uMoya, on Kid Fonque and Julian Gomes' Stay True Sounds label in April.

Thapelo Mosiuoa is a Johannesburg-based copywriter, lifestyle writer and the author of an unfinished book. Follow him on Twitter at @ThapeloMosiuoa.

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Tshego Explains Why He Left Family Tree: ‘I wanted someone to point a finger at’

Listen to Tshego's candid interview with The Sobering.

Tshego is about to release his debut album Pink Panther. As part of his press run, the South African hip-hop artist sat down with the hosts of The Sobering, one of the country's most consistent podcasts.

Among other issues, Tshego discussed leaving his previous home, Cassper Nyovest's label Family Tree. He's currently signed to Universal Music Group. His main reason for leaving Family Tree, he says, is that he needed to be in control of a lot of things in his career and needed a dedicated team to help him achieve his goals.

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Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

'The Spread' Is the Sex-Positive Kenyan Podcast Offering a Safe Space for Women and LGBTQIA+ Issues

'The Spread' is the podcast dedicated to "decolonizing" the way Africans talk about sex and sexuality, say it's creator Karen Kaz Lucas.

Karen Kaz Lucas is the revolutionary brainchild behind Africa's best-known sex positive podcast, The Spread. Three years in, the 52 podcast episodes, covering a range of diverse topics including: The Male-Female Pleasure Gap, Sex positive parenting, LGBTQIA+ issues, Kink, Reproductive Rights, and Porn vs. Reality, has listeners ranging from 6,000 to 21,000 and episode on SoundCloud.

Recently, The Spread had its first major event TheSpreadFest, a day-long event attracting over 600 people with diverse panels, workshops and more. It's been hailed as a truly safe and inclusive space for people of all sexual identities. Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to The Spread creator Kaz on her journey to decolonize sexuality, her motivation, and her hopes for the continent relating to matters of sex and sexuality.

Read the conversation below.

Karen Kaz LucasImage courtesy of 'The Spread'

What made you start The Spread podcast?

It was to address the key gaps in discussions around sex and sexuality and to create a safe space to discuss them. Younger people were either learning about sex from porn or on the flip side from a religious standpoint or the education system, where the focus is on the risks of engaging in sex (teen pregnancy, STIs etc). As such they were either getting information from a fear-based system, shame-based system or porn that has very little to do with real life sexual situations and intimacy. I wanted to create a safe space where people could talk about all issues related to sexuality but in an open, accepting and enlightening way. For me, this is an informal form of sex education that allows people to explore their sexuality from an unbiased perspective—no judgement, no shaming.

What's the reception been like so far?

The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I had no idea that the podcast would grow and be as successful as it is now. People are hungry to meet similar people and have discussions without judgement. Of course, there are also people who react negatively to my work and say that this is a result of "Western influence." To those people, I say that they should know that the majority of my work is focused on decolonizing sexuality.

Great transition. I first saw the term "decolonizing sexuality" in your Instagram bio. What exactly does that mean?

Prior to Western intrusion, we already had our own sexual culture. I'm trying to remind people that certain things we embrace as "African" and defend when it comes to sex and sexuality, are elements that came to us through religion, Westernized education etc. The shame associated with sex and sexuality on the continent are remnants of Western teachings.

Prior to colonization many ethnic groups had religious healers who were neither considered male nor female but were gender fluid or intersex. There were ethnic groups that didn't base gender on anatomy but on energy. Gender fluidity on the continent was observed even more than you would find in the most liberal country right now. For some, you could physically have male features but possess female energy and live as a woman. Some people worshipped androgynous or intersex deities and believed that the perfect human being is both male and female. Certain tribes did not ascribe a gender to anyone until the age of puberty. In other communities, their priests were transgender, and they were the only ones who could conduct certain spiritual ceremonies. There is evidence that for several ethnic groups gay and lesbian relationships were not taboo. Unfortunately, a lot of this history has not been publicized or it is being revised as it does not fit in well with the idea that the continent is trying to now uphold as a patriarchal, heteronormative society. That is why the work of decolonizing sexuality is extremely important as we now have a generation that is open to questioning themselves. The generation of our parents lived in a time of oppressed and suppressed sexuality (among other things) as they themselves or their parents had suffered the colonial rape and pillage [both literally and metaphorically] of their lives. All they could carry was anger and fear. To survive they had to conform to what the oppressor enforced on them through religion, western education etc.

[Recently deceased] Kenyan writer and gay activist, Binyavanga Wainaina clearly outlines how it is only former British colonies that have anti-sodomy laws, which came during colonial times from the fear that British soldiers and colonial administrators would be corrupted by the natives while they were away from their wives. The law, the fears by the British government at the time, really are proof that some of the natives were already practicing sodomy.

Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

What for you is the link between sex positive work and women's empowerment?

The average person might think that the type of work I'm doing is frivolous, but the reality is that when a society believes they have any right over women's bodies, we see all the terrible things that happen to women: rape, rampant femicide, violence against women and more. Reclaiming your sexuality as a woman is about asserting your own authority over your body—declaring the right to fulfilling, consensual sex of your own liking, the right to having children, or not having children if you don't want to, postponing or terminating a pregnancy. Once we accept the policing of women's bodies, it's a slippery slope.

Feminism is about women having equal rights and opportunities as men, and that also extends to their sex lives. My body, my choice. For those who are always ready to bash feminism, seeing it as women somehow trying to take over, dominate men, oppress men etc. They should realize that the only reason feminism exists, is because we live in a patriarchal world. Women are at the bottom of the rung, oppressed in thousands of ways. All we are trying to do, is get the same rights that men take for granted. Of course, to the ones who hold power, it will feel like a loss of power.

This is the reason why the topics we cover span everything from women's sexual pleasure to gender-based violence to LGBTQIA+ rights to women's reproductive health. All these discussions must happen in tandem.

Let's talk about the state of affairs in Kenya around various key issues, starting with female reproductive rights.

I'm working very closely with two organizations working on women's reproductive rights and abortion rights. The problem in Kenya is that there is so much misinformation. I plan to release a video very soon on the topic. I only recently found out all public hospitals in Kenya provide post-abortal care. Even though, abortions are illegal except in certain circumstances, post-abortal care is available throughout the country. Lack of information makes women especially vulnerable to the influence of quacks, back-alley doctors, or police who threaten them with imprisonment if they don't pay exorbitant bribes. The Kenyan law is that you are not allowed to administer an abortion unless the health of the mother or child is in danger. Health also includes mental health. As such, people with severe depression or suicidal thoughts do legally qualify for abortions, but most people don't know this.

Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

What about on the issue of sexual violence against women and children?

Sexual violence against women and children isn't taken as seriously as it should be. Sensitivity training across police stations is still lacking. Rape is extremely underreported in the country as most people don't expect to be treated with discretion, sensitivity or any consideration once they do get into the system. I did a whole video series years back interviewing female rape survivors and their experiences highlight the challenges with our police system including the trivialization of the crime by police officers who consider rape almost routine, given how often this happens. The statistics are masking the issue, rape survivors don't know who to turn to and feel completely isolated. The issues of male sexual violence against men isn't even spoken about as the survivors fear further shunning and stigmatization from society. Kenya doesn't yet have the right structures—including mental health structures—to deal with the normalization of rape and sexual violence against women.

In 2015 three men gangraped a teenage girl as she was on her way home from her grandfather's funeral. After the attack, they dumped her in an open sewer, leaving her with a spinal injury that has confined her to a wheelchair. When the men were taken to the police station, their punishment was to cut the grass around the police station. The incident made it to the news, sparking international outrage, resulting in a signed petition and leading to protests in the country demanding #justiceforliz. As a result, the men were eventually sentenced to 15 years in prison. While we can celebrate this particular win, it also makes us reflect on all the other hundreds of thousands of cases, where the survivors remain silent or seek justice, but never get it.

What about LGBTQIA+ rights?

The definition I adhere to for this group is actually a longer, more confusing acronym, but also one I hope makes more people feel included. LGBTQQIAPPK, which is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual & transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, polyamourous, pansexual and kink.

We have some cause for celebration, but also a very long way to go. We were hopeful recently when the High Court reviewed the key law banning gay sex, but unfortunately, they chose to uphold it. Last year, we did have a small win when the courts deemed unlawful the use of forced anal exams to test whether two men had sex.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights commission of Kenya are doing a really great job in trying to get colonial era penal codes repealed. They are the legal team behind the court cases for the repeal of these laws. From a legal standpoint it's great, but from a social standpoint, it's still so sad that our binary understanding of gender is tied to what the colonizers forced on us. The worst argument is when people say that any deviation from the heteronormative narrative is "un-African." My question then is "Do you really know your history? Are you willing to educate yourself and to take off the yoke of colonialism and even consider the idea that what you consider normal is based on systems that came to you through oppression and repression?

For a country that is so progressive in many ways, this particular issue still remains an uphill battle.

Image courtesy of 'The Spread'

What about women's sexuality, sexual pleasure?

All the events we have are 95% women. Men are scared to admit they might not know it all. Society paints them to be macho and [makes them think] that they should somehow know it all, but they are scared to learn about their sexuality as they feel that it will take away from their masculinity. For women, it's empowering. Men are frightened about women learning and embracing their sexuality.

I want to be a part of this revolution, spearheading it on the continent.

Finally, tell us about The Spread Fest and your plans for it?

Our objective for the festival is to foster learning, inspiration and wonder—and to spark conversations that matter. The aim is to be more empathetic about our diversity, but also to leave people knowing more about sex and sexuality. This year we had 600 people in attendance, 5 panels, one workshop and it was a full day event. Next year, we plan to double everything.

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Courtesy of Universal Music Group.

In Conversation with Daniel Kaluuya and Melina Matsoukas: 'This isn't a Black Bonnie and Clyde film—our stories are singular, they're ours.'

'Queen and Slim' lands in South Africa.

Melina Matsoukas and Daniel Kaluuya are everything their surroundings at the opulent Saxon Hotel are not—down-to-earth and even comedic at times. Despite the harsh lights and cameras constantly in their faces, they joke around and make the space inviting. They're also eager to know and pronounce the names of everyone they meet correctly. "It's Rufaro with an 'R'? Is that how you say it?" Kaluuya asks me as he shakes my hand.

Matsoukas, a two-time Grammy award winning director and Kaluuya, an A-list actor who's starred in massive titles including Black Panther and Get Out, have every reason to be boastful about their achievements and yet instead, they're relatable.

The duo is in South Africa to promote their recent film Queen Slim which is hitting theaters today and follows the eventful lives of a Black couple on the run after killing a police officer. It's a film steeped in complexity and layered themes to do with racism, police brutality and of course Black love.

We caught up with both of them to talk about just what it took from each of them to bring the powerful story to the big screen.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Installation view of Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020, photography by Anna-Marie Kellen.

The Met's New Exhibition Celebrates the Rich Artistic History of the Sahel Region

'Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara' is an enxtensive look into the artistic past of the West African region.

West Africa's Sahel region has a long and rich history of artistic expression. In fact, pieces from the area, which spans present-day Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, date all the way back to the first millennium. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara, a new exhibition showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, dives into this history to share an expansive introduction to those who might be unfamiliar with the Sahel's artistic traditions.

"The Western Sahel has always been a part of the history of African art that has been especially rich, and one of the things that I wanted to do with this exhibition, that hasn't done before, is show one of the works of visual art...and present them within the framework of the great states that historians have written about that developed in this region," curator Alisa LaGamma tells Okayafrica. She worked with an extensive team of researchers and curators from across the globe, including Yaëlle Biro, to bring the collection of over 200 pieces to one of New York City's most prestigious art institutions.

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