Bloemfontein’s hopeless romantics were fed a love potion of poetry and soul music, reports Mpho Matsitle.
We catch up with Charmaine Mrwebi during the eleventh hour set-up for Love Poetry Potion and ask her what it’s all about. “It’s a break from the little devils,” she says. “Date night,” she calls it. A chance to celebrate love away from all the distractions of life.
Most people have taken advantage of the discounted couples’ tickets it would seem, as they keep pouring in – in pairs. It’s lovers, it’s friends, acquaintances on one of the first dates, colleagues and relatives. They hang about the edges for a while, admiring the decor. “It’s so pretty here” is the consensus. A glass of red or white wine – or juice for the teetotalers – in hand.
Not too long the ushers hand them black and white flowery cloths, and lead them to the tables. The cloths are for covering the benches. Seats are taken, and conversations animated. No one seems anxious for the show; they couldn’t be happier than when hanging with their significant other.
Intermittently they’re entertained by a magician. The same magician who later pulls a disappearing act on us as he’s supposed to open the show. Or maybe he has metamorphosed into Charmaine, who takes over the vacant stage that the MC Mellow Daey had warmed up for him.
When he finally makes his grand entrance, it is worth the wait. He goes by the name of Ontlametse, and he packs stories with his magic tricks.
The stories and magic don’t end with him. From his seat, Preacher Technique shouts a love poem to Alida, the mother of his unborn daughter. The ladies in the courtyard swoon. It was just a taste of the sweet nothings he’d whisper all night. That is, of course, except for the recitation of his signature protest piece, Pay the Poet, which he closed off his set with.
Hot on his heels was the first music act of the day, Andy T. His mission, which he accomplished with some measure of success, was to get people off their chairs and unto the dancefloor. The Afro-pop sensation preambled each of his original compositions with a little back story. It was but a teaser to the storytelling prowess of On Point Music’s key sticksman now rolling solo on keys, Dumelang Tsepo, aka Bondo. He told a tragic-comic story of two lovebirds through a seamless medley of the modern romantic hits.
Mellow Daey would not let Bondo walk off stage without taking advantage of his magic fingers. The multi-faceted artist was not above showing off his prowess of song to the crowd gathered, and Bondo and his keyboard were well-placed to be a canvass upon which the melancholic masterpiece saw the light of day.
The two of them remained on stage to play back-up for the sultry Dudu The Vocalist, who also told stories through covers and original compositions, some of the latter being delectable Setswana neo-soul and blues serenades.
In as much as the musicians were full of stories, the poets were full of music. Bondo would not be let off the hook as yet; he was tasked with welcoming Charmaine, dressed in white, with ‘here comes the bride.’
It is on this tune that she recited the crowd favourite Gangster Nyatsi. She was later joined on stage by an acapella group.
JahRose too, well-known for reciting in melody and singing in poetry, took to stage in song. Her hit Khosatsana had many swooning, even those hearing it for the umpteenth time. But not as much as In Love With You, which saw the lovers lock eyes and mouth her words to each other.
It was her honour to close off the show, and at the same time moonlight as the opening act for the main act of any gathering: food, mapapa. POTUS Oprah would not take kindly to it, but the night was reaching its zenith when we supped.
Fed, souls and stomachs, many loitered around the National Sesotho Literature Museum gardens for photo opportunities. It was a night well spent, all the troubles of life forgotten.
Bloemfontein can look forward to the next one pencilled for Mother’s Day.