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When everything is as it should be, you don’t question it but simply live in the moment. Think back to what it took for you to be where you are and how you’ve managed to surpass all that you’ve gone through and still remain victorious. You’re a fighter and mostly importantly, you’ve won the battle – even if you don’t know it yet. Fear is a part of life, and so is doubt but worry not; you were born into greatness. Your spirit will be awakened when you finally stumble onto your true purpose. Even the winds won’t help but blow in your direction, brush up against your strength and lift you into your moment. Soak up all your happiness and spread it all around. You’ve earned your stripes and giving back takes nothing away from you.

Bongani Mathebula has had setbacks that made him question his life and his future. He kept yearning for a dream that seemed pointless to believe in when everything fell sideways. He's come a long way and the work he’s produced, the response he’s received is evidence that his persistence, drive and focus pulled him through the hardships so he could live and enjoy his moment.

I spent P-hive Minutes with Bongani Mathebula; a poet and writer so distinct in his nature and delivery; that you’d have to soak up the richness and complexity of his words that speak life in rhyme. 

Were you as expressive as you are now when you were growing up? How has your childhood influenced the direction you have taken as a writer and a poet?

Yes, I was always very expressive as a kid; from my speech to the extramural activities I was involved in at school. I amazed a lot of people, including my teachers and everyone called me the miracle child. My childhood influenced the writer and the poet I am and it’s too interesting to ignore. I’ve got an elephant memory and I recall events of my life that I feel I could write a book. Writing is telling a story and my life is my story. I can write my future just from observing and learning from the present and appreciating the past.

Did you always know you could write? How would you describe yourself when you were growing up?

I didn’t know I could write even though I was very intelligent. I was naughty and quiet and I excelled at school. My comedic element kicked in when I was in primary and I became the fun nerd. I never had to seek the attention but it was drawn to me and I became quite popular at school. I was always an entertainer and it showed. It still does. 

How were you introduced to literature? How did it come into play with you deciding to take up a career as a writer and poet? 

I picked up a book by Robinson Crusso when I was four-years-old and tried to pronounce the words as I read them. My uncle found me reading out loud and he was shocked that I could read so well. I went to school at Hillcrest Primary School and that’s where my knowledge and vocabulary was brewed. I was also surrounded by people who had a great ear for music and that’s where the love for rap and poetry came from. I used to record songs from the radio on cassettes and repeatedly listen to them until I memorised them. No one taught me the things I know; it’s as if I always knew that I would be a writer in the future. 

Has poetry taught you any lessons that you wouldn’t have known otherwise? Where do you apply these lessons?

Poetry taught me how to listen to myself and others. I’ve learnt what life is from poetry, as my work speaks to me. I’m versatile because I can transform my poetry to free-styling and provide spontaneous rhymes when I perform. It also taught me to be free. My writings teach me to believe in myself when there was nothing else to believe in. When I open my eyes and I see my hands holding my poetry books, I know it’s meant to happen. I learn the most from my audience by interacting with them after performing.

I draw my inspiration from the higher source, the Most High. Translating my work into writing is hard because there’s a greater vision in me of the world we live in. I do find it hard at times to translate these ideas into words that people can relate to because I often delve deeper. I’m learning to be better through my work.

When you pen down a poem or an idea for a piece; when’s the best time to write or does it depend on inspiration?

I’m constantly inspired, but at the same time I try not to abuse that power and end up writing anything that doesn’t serve purpose. When inspiration comes, I find a place where there’s privacy and a place to rest. I enjoy writing and performing because that helps me release energy at different levels. Life inspires me.

Are you planning on publishing a compilation of your work anytime soon? How do you plan on doing this?

I am planning on publishing my work really soon as recordings on hard copy. I draw as well and I’d love to fuse both the writing and the visuals on the project. It’s taking a lot of work, time and patience to put it together so I’m not rushing the process.

How would you describe the energy you present on stage when you’re performing? How does the audience respond to your energy and how do you feed it back to them?

My energy on stage is something else, I can’t explain it. It’s super intense, and I get goose bumps after I perform. After a performance, I have to calm myself down before I can interact with the audience. People respond positively and a connection is made. I was born to be great because of the relationships I can create with poetry. When people can relate to the story then I’ve done my part in sharing it. I go the extra mile to receive the extra mile from people.

Music happens to be a huge part of your life. How were you introduced to it and do you keep true to the art form?

I’ve always loved music but I don’t even remember how I was introduced to it. When the musical element was introduced, the poetry changed into a new form. My music is a free flow, it interchanges and I allow it to grow as I progress.
Travelling and sight-seeing is also one of your passions. Where would you like to visit and explore?
I love travelling because it broadens the mind. Learning and interacting with different people from diverse cultures teaches you to judge less. I’d love to go New York and visit the block where Biggie used to free style. I’d also love to travel to Germany, Australia, London and Japan. In short, I'd love to travel all over the world and make friends with as many people as I can.

Are you working on any interesting projects or productions currently?

Yes, I’m working on a project with King, who’s a producer for Sony and Crew Fahrenheit. He understands my style and direction of music. I’m also working on a collaboration called, Two Suns in One Planet; where I’ll host ciphers in twelve different venues every month. The ciphers will tie in with tourism and taking a tour around Johannesburg as I’m also a tour guide.

What’s your ultimate dream of true success? How do you plan on reaching, and achieving this goal?

True success is being able to execute a talent and giving it life. When you’ve dealt with internal conflicts of your life and you’re able to succeed; that means business and earning an income. I believe in my dreams and envision them until they come alive and live them out. That’s how things happen.

As a poet, lyricist and all-round creative; what is art to you?

Art is all around me because I am an all-round creative. It is picking the right fruit from the tree and sharing it with the world and changing perspectives.
When you feel you aren’t moving in the direction you are meant to, redirect your energy until you find your righteousness. It will get a lot harder and more confusing before it gets better and clearer.

Bongani has come far to be at the point that he’s at and he proves that you are what you believe. He trains his mind to see the good in everything because his future belongs to him. He remains focused, quiet and fruitful in his prospects because he always chooses to be better. It’s funny isn’t it; how life always works itself out into its perfect moments when we don’t try too hard?

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