Artist puts kasi stories on the map

Bongekile Nqiyama is making a name for himself.

Just three years ago, Bongekile Nqiyama was sitting at home with nothing to do but now he is making headlines for all the right reasons.

It seems his new home, Taiwan in Site C, Khayelitsha, has greatly inspired this growing author and hip hop artist who goes by the moniker Homeboy The General and is steadily making waves in the entertainment industry.

He hails from one of the most remote rural areas, Engcobo, in the Eastern Cape.

Talking to Vukani at his home in Taiwan this week, he said having no tertiary education to lean on, life had not been easy. But, he said, he saw the importance of looking on the bright side.

“This world needs people who can think positively, young people who have a talent for thinking. There is potential out there, but young people are, at times, lazy to think,” he said.

He said that after dropping out of school he had decided to come to Cape Town to look for work – any kind of work.

And naïvely, he thought he would simply get a job. But it was not to be, and he was at home, with nothing to do, when he decided to start writing.

“At the time I was so frustrated, and I wanted to share my story with people. I am not a good speaker. I am a shy person, so the pen and paper helped me communicate with the world.

“That’s how I started writing songs and a book. But the book had to be in my mother tongue. I realised people were running away from indigenous languages. It had to be in isiXhosa,” he said.

Now he’s released an EP, Kasi Library. And he attributed the discipline it took to get the project done, to sport, soccer in particular.

He said playing the game had helped him to focus and be disciplined.

“Football kept me disciplined because my gym sessions kept me pre-occupied, so that I never had leisure,” he said with a smile.

He said he had started writing and rapping towards the end of 2013. Kasi Library, he added, is a collection of daily kasi stories, as the title suggests.

“I believe if you are going rap or write about something, it has to be worthwhile, and it has to have an impact in the community. This is why you only find positive messages in my music and my writing. I am not about the hype and the violence that you often find in hip hop,” he said.

Last year, at the Spiced Beef Poetry Awards, he was nominated in the category for best poetic hip hop artist of the year. The annual event was held at the University of the Western Cape and claimed to “celebrate the soul of South African poetry”.

Bongekile’s next mission is to publish his collection of short stories, Ivuthiwe Mawethu, and he is working on a second book of plays, Evukamva Idliwa Zizagweba.

He is also working on a musical project, called Community Issues.

He said the stories were fictional but influenced by things he had seen and experienced in his home town of Engcobo and in Khayelitsha.

“I sing and write about community issues. My next project is going to be titled Community Issues. I want to publish all my books on my own so that I will have 100 percent royalties from them,” he told Vukani.