We recently caught up with the extremely talented South African poet and aspiring anthropologist Lebohang Masango, better Known as King Nova. Here we had a first-hand experience with a beauty and aura that our lenses couldn’t wait to capture. We had a chat to with her to find out more about her passions.
Who is KingNova?
King Nova is Machine Gun aka Nancy Peaches aka Coltrane’s Naima aka Su$ie Somalia aka The Gangster Girl From Ipanema aka She Heavy (Two Parts Fire and Three Parts Rock). A young woman with a passion for anthropology, literature, feminism, social justice, the excellence of Africa, classical dance and good food.
Where are you from?
Pretoria and Midrand by way of Stockholm
How did your passion for poetry come about?
I’ve always loved books and reading. I was an only child for some time and my mother used to read books with me from a young age. Being introduced to Lebo Mashile’s poetry and watching Love Jones really made an impression on me. The fact that words could be woven together and spoken to create such powerful messages struck me, especially the emotions that could be evoked.
What was your biggest experience?
It has to be the first time I won Word N Sound’s Open Mic Challenge and became the Queen of the Mic. It is significant because it was the first time I’d gotten such overwhelming affirmation that what I do is good and necessary.
What’s your take on being a very young female poet in South Africa?
It is great because there are not that many of us so I’m hoping that this time I have as a performing artist will allow me to inspire a great change in that aspect. Other than that, it has been exciting, especially the affirmation I receive from established writers and poets and from people who come and watch me perform. To know that, as an artist, I am able to create work that really moves and teaches and heals souls… It’s a wonderful thing.
Who and where does your inspiration come from?
I am inspired by my passions, always. As an aspiring anthropologist, a lot of what I study influences my work. I am also inspired by jazz music, spring days and summer nights, beautiful women and gorgeous boys.
Any projects you are working on?
Working on a collaborative project for Arts Alive on the 7th of September. Really looking forward to being able to work with some of Johannesburg’s finest poets.
What’s your advise to aspiring poets?
Read! Read! Read! Take in as many literary influences as possible in order for you to find your own voice and also so that you are able to discern between good and bad writing. I also believe that it is the more responsible thing to do to read extensively so that one spreads some kind of knowledge on stage.
Who are your most inspiring poets and their particular poems?
I love Lebo Mashile’s I Smoked A Spliff with Jesus Christ, Staceyann Chin’s Jazz, Sunni Patterson’s We Made It, Afurakan’s Dream, Saul Williams’ Coded Language, Warsan Shire’s For Miriam, Bassey Ikpi’s Without Permission and the list is endless.
These poets and poems are always teaching me new ways to feel.
What’s your mantra?
Biggie once said: “ I was told in shoot outs to stay low and keep firing.” That’s the mantra: Pursue purpose. Stay low. Keep firing.
Thina Zibi is a Johannesburg-based photographer, AfriPOP! contributor and all-around fly girl. See more of her work here.
Styling by the awesome Bongani Tau