Lebo Mashile


Country: South Africa



Biography:

The poet, performer, actress, presenter and producer Lebogang Mashile, the daughter of exiled South Africans, was born in the U.S. in 1979. At the age of sixteen years she and her parents returned to their home country. It was while she was studying law and international relations at Wits University in Johannesburg that the desire to work as an artist took hold of her. In her work as a life skills facilitator for adolescents ñ focusing on topics like gender issues, teamwork and sexuality ñ poetry has been her preferred medium. Mashile regards its expressive power as the most effective tool to bring about those changes in mental attitude that are needed in the aftermath of the socio-political changes in post-apartheid South Africa. "The enemy isnít really clear in the way it was before. Itís an incredibly sensitive, complicated struggle with many dimensions, but the site for that struggle is inside. ... The language of poetry comes from a place where that transformation has to begin, that sort of intuitive, creative, spiritual searching place that will be the fuel for any kind of transformation process.î

Mashile began to achieve recognition as one of South Africa's most popular young artists in 2002 when she performed her hip-hop inspired poetry at the Urban Voices Spoken Word and Music Festival to a large audience. She was the presenter and producer of the television programme "L'Atitude", a concept that she co-executive produced with Curious Pictures. Throughout its three seasons and seventy-eight episodes she introduced the viewers to the personal stories of a diverse cross section of South Africans and their relationships with their immediate surroundings. These insights were gained from her travels through South Africa. The series reached an audience of over two million households.

Her lyrical and gutsy poems in the collection "A Ribbon of Rhythm" (2005) also speak about life in the new South Africa. Issues such as the diversity and unity of the "Rainbow Nation", the status of women, violence and the fragility of individuals are all treated with a sense of urgency, humour and at times with melancholy and a certain rawness. Mashileís self-produced album "Lebo Mashile Live!" combines her performance poetry with hip-hop, house and R & B.

In June of 2008, Mashile published her second anthology entitled ìFlying Above the Skyî. This collection marks the poetís first foray into self-publishing.   In October of 2008, Mashile wrote and performed in a cross-media and cross-generational collaboration with renowned choreographer Sylvia Glasser entitled ëThreadsí. One can find Mashileís thoughts in her monthly column, ìIn Her Shoesî, which she writes for True Love magazine. She can currently be seen on South African television screens as the presenter of ëDrawing the Lineí, a game show on SABC2 dealing with moral issues. The show is now in its second season.

In 2006 she was awarded the prestigious Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, the premier prize for African literature. The Jury characterised her poetry as of ìa distinct oral flavour, developing oral poetry and performance beyond the boundaries of the poetry of the era of resistanceî. In 2007, she was the recipient of the City Press/ Rapport Woman of Prestige Award. Mashile lives in Johannesburg.



Related Podcasts & Events:

Movable map

Go slow into worlds were words unfold maps
Find holes
Make whole
Stay clear of traps
See gaps
Steps steeped in insight
Free flight
Fright
Break form
Flow
Fly
Fall
Crawl
Creep quietly
Feel fear
Steal hope
Slide out
Trip up
Slip away
Skip over
Flop down
Flip through
Hop on
Bend
Pretend the mind is your friend
Don’t forget to dismember memory
Remember to wrIte what is left
Know that it binds you like wind blowing from inside,
Even air has songs like you, never stopping they just keep moving 

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