Kim Karabo Makin
A 3 part sound collage & audio-visual broadcast for Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee
Duration: 25 minutes
Production by Thabiso Keaikitse
This broadcast marks the end of the residency of artist Kim Karabo Makin, who lives in Botswana and is one of four artists selected for a Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee radio residency during 2022.
Artist statement by Kim Karabo Makin:
An intertextual audio essay which endeavours to explore the transnational space that Medu Art Ensemble has occupied historically ‘in another South Africa’, with a focus on the route that connects Gaborone, Botswana and Amsterdam, the Netherlands (via Chicago). Satellite Activism notably traces the life and legacy of Medu Art Ensemble in contemporaneity, with a particular look at themes that connect the Culture and Resistance Festival and Symposium, 5 – 7 July 1982 in Gaborone, to the Culture in Another South Africa Conference, December 1987 in Amsterdam. Additionally, with particular reference to the Art Institute of Chicago publication The People Shall Govern! Medu Art Ensemble and the Anti-Apartheid Poster 1979-1985, the project extends off of my exploration of ‘the living archive’ – a live sounding of the archive as expressed through lived experiences and shared storytelling, where my practice considers the DJ as an archivist.
*Use headphones for optimum listening experience.
I do not, nor do I claim to own some of the selected clips, sound/video archives. These are all available online by their respective owners for free and fair use. This collage is for research and educational purposes only. Please contact for full reference list.
Part 1: out of site, out of mind
duration: 6 mins
The voice of former poet laureate of South Africa (2018) and founding member of Medu Art Ensemble, Mongane Wally Serote opens with an analogy that explains how committed cultural workers collectively formed Medu’s ethos around 1978. Picture Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa playing their trumpet and trombone respectively ‘underground’ – what might it sound like as you walked underground towards the jazz hall, and eventually ‘opened the doors of culture’. What does art in the underground look and sound like? And in what ways might this have left an imprint on the site associated with Medu’s powerful red, black and off-white poster, Unity is Power. 2935, Pudulogo Crescent, Gaborone – across from the University of Botswana (established in 1982 as the first institution of higher education in Botswana), and adjacent to the Alliance Française (a cultural centre and hub for language, arts and culture locally, notably also engaging in cinema festivals and symposiums that include both European and local film). I am interested in unpacking and sounding this specific site as holding a particular cultural significance internationally, for it’s ties to Medu, despite not having been monumentalised in our local memory. In addition, out of site, out of mind is particularly concerned with exploring methods of recording the spatial and temporal dimensions of this site, with respect to my positionality in engaging this history, as well as themes surrounding exile.
Part 2: open culture
duration: 13 mins
Open culture closely documents and contrasts the Culture and Resistance Festival and Symposium, 5 – 7 July 1982, in Gaborone, with the Culture in Another South Africa Conference, December 1987, in Amsterdam. In fact, my research highlighted that there was another conference that took place in Amsterdam from 13 – 18 December 1982, entitled The Cultural Voice of Resistance, South African and Dutch Artists against Apartheid. These three conferences, festivals and/or symposiums were all engaged in the Anti-Apartheid struggle with a particular focus on cultural boycott, where the 1982 occasions closely engaged members of Medu Art Ensemble. Leading figure of Medu’s visual arts and graphic design, Thami Mnyele (whom was based in Gaborone up until he was murdered in the June 14 South African Defence Force Raid on Gaborone in 1985) is remembered as having left a lasting impression on Dutch artists, politicians and people interested in cultural exchange. His visit to Amsterdam in 1982 is said to have so inspired the running and continuation of the Thami Mnyele Foundation in Amsterdam to this day. Imagining 1982 – 1987, with respect to Gaborone and Amsterdam as sites of international activism, I am particularly interested in remembering and tracing these events approximately 2 and a half years either side of the June 14 Raid. Where 1985 is described as the year that Gaborone ‘lost its innocence’, I am concerned with investigating this moment in time as a traumatic turning point in Botswana’s Art History and subsequent creative development. Furthermore, I am interested in unpacking what connects Gaborone and Amsterdam amongst other notable cities around the world (like Chicago), as satellites, historically entangled with Apartheid South Africa and the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
“Medu’s Culture and Resistance Festival and Symposium in Gaborone, Botswana, in 1982 and the Culture in Another South Africa Conference, held in Amsterdam in 1987, are but two examples of the heightened degree of organisation that cultural activism assumed.”
(Gule in Byrd & Mings, 2020: 47)
Part 3: intergenerationally
duration: 6 mins
Refocusing on the potential for the moment that marks a part of the life and afterlife of Medu from 1982 – 1987, this piece considers the extent to which this fragment of the archive lives on in us today. By drawing connections between fathers Mzwakhe Mbuli – also affectionately known as ‘The People’s Poet’ and Keorapetse Kgositsile – former poet laureate of South Africa (2006), and their respective sons, Robot Boii and Earl Sweatshirt. Intergenerationally is particularly concerned with considering sampling as a tool for curating the living archive. In so doing, I extend a conversation that presents Amapiano as well as popular music and/or culture, as methods for connecting audiences and passing on knowledge across generations.
Artist / Organisation: Kim Karabo Makin
Host: Kim Karabo Makin
Producer: Thabiso Keaikitse
Length: 25 min
13-11-2022 at 12:00