Johannesburg- If you want to know, if I love her so/It’s in the click/That’s where it is! That is my take on the old-time classic by Betty Everette, The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss).
Why am I singing my own rendition of the 1964 classic?
Because events of this past week have left me feeling unproud to be South African – my motherland, my “her” in these lyrics.
From the killings of people with albinism for muthi to hostage dramas and service delivery frustrations, our patriotism is tested. So, I decided to fill my mind with some positive affirmations about South Africa – my country and my people.
I was flipping through a coffee table book on South African inventions titled What a Great Idea: Awesome South African Inventions by Mike Burton, when Everette’s got stuck in my head. In the Music, Craft and Entertainment section, I found some much-needed “gees”.
What a joy it was to see Mthwakazi among other great South Africans listed in the seven pages that celebrate contributions of the Cape Minstrels, world-renowned opera singer Pretty Yende and Venda’s Samson Mudzunga, sculptor and maker of the iconic Mudzunga drums, among others.
Mthwakazi, the Xhosa opera singer, is credited with pioneering Xho-pera, a “synthesis of African bow music with classical opera and choral music”. Hers is described as “music with a mission” because it “carries a message that emphasises optimism and progress and advocates for ubuntu.
I have met this remarkable singer before; in Simphiwe Dana’s spellbinding album Kulture Noir which features Mthwakazi in the haunting song Undishiyile. My spirit lifted; the song is more than seven minutes long – and every second is pure bliss.
The section is immediately followed by the Sport and Recreation section in which I found another South African great invention “Qolf” – and yes that is a “q”. It’s a cross between croquet and golf. This informal game can be played on the lawn or indoors with just a nine iron or a pitching wedge, if you already have golf clubs, or special Qolf clubs. The aim is to hit the ball through the arches in sequence with the fewest strokes. Industrial designer Brian Steinhobel is credited with developing the game and launching it in 2004.
In the Home, Garden and Clothing front you’ll find Laduma Ngxokolo, the creator of the iconic knitwear brand, Maxhosa. Ngxokolo was taught by his mother to knit.
Xho-opera, Qolf, Maxhosa … you see, “it’s in the click”! And these are just a few of the clicks I found, including Sandile Ngcobo, the inventor of the first digital laser. I haven’t even scratched the surface of amazing inventions by South Africans, including Pinotage, Mrs Balls Chutney, the Kreepy Krauly, Makarapa and Vuvuzela.
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