Capetonian Kwaito killers

Capetonias are a bunch of kwaito killers with an uncanny ability of shaking their asses like they have just discovered Pink Floyd. The mother city is the birth place of a wide variety of musical styles from minstrel rhythms to Long street double bass blues. The sounds that pulsate the city make Cape Town the perfect template for classic South African clichés such as “cultural hybrid” and “diversity”.

Mac preparing for a perfomance

Having not been born into the somewhat polarized South African film industry has turned out to be an advantage for Angela Ramirez.  Her award winning film Welcome A Tumaco has become something of folklore depending on whom you ask. In her latest offering Ramirez does a good job of giving the traditional critics the finger. Entitled Mama Goema  the Cape Town beat in five movements Ramirez attempts to account for the Mother city’s musical taste.

Her camera takes us on a ride as we experience Cape Town through the eyes of the people who make its music. In a place that is often plagued by creative misunderstandings, Mama Goema is  an almost fair attempt at piecing together the various pieces of a puzzle that were not even meant to fit together in the first place.


 We meet familiar faces such as Neo Muyanga who with his round glasses pontificates on the melting pot that is the beat of the mother city, we are then thrown into a basket of Khiosan beats but not before we are reminded that even Cape Town has its own Bob Dylan. Mac Mackenzie and his band the Genuines. The group had made a name for themselves in the 80’s for taking Goema music and making it three times faster. Resulting in a kind of smash mouth hard metal that would have many punk rockers begging for nappies.  We follow Mckenzie in small acts as he tries to put together an orchestra where the Goema and the Violin share a stage, a move that would clearly have Andrea Reiu asking a handful of questions.

Mama Goema is the next offering from Angela Ramirez

As we follow Mckenzie its no surprise why many have compared him to the late Syd Kitchen, he is a kind of musical master that will most likely take most of his genius with him. He recounts small and scratchy bits of his time with the Genuines but we never get to find out why a second class Cape Colored like Mckenzie decided it was worthwhile to take a piss at the riot police, and make music  that makes it much easier now for music critics to predict the past.

As a film the only real failure of Mama Goema  is that it attempts to do too much too soon. In 60mins we are expected to cope with a flurry of at least 15 different artists as they are interviewed about what they think  about Cape Town’s musical tradition. Its this mixture of artists that leaves you feeling like you have just took a taxi ride form Gugs, your expectations are meet but never exceeded. It is kind of shortfall that is typical of docies of this nature. But quickly we can forgive Ramirez because of the undercurrents of humor that are littered through the hour. But above and beyond that Goema mama is a sort of history that you would not get in government text book. And perhaps it should be compulsory viewing for all those self righteous musos who want to smash guitars on stage and be the next punk rocker.

4 Responses to “Capetonian Kwaito killers”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice article SihleMthembu! Gracias! The documentary will be screened at the Tri Continental Film Festival coming in September. It is an independent documentary made by Sara Gouveia, Calum MacNaughton and myself. More info and trailer:

  2. SihleMlambo says:

    Arty farty, it gets better and better, though I have no interest on the subject, I read to the end, it must be the manner in which this is written, clean and flawless

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