Idols for intellectuals

2013-05-26 06:00

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“It was incredible in so many ways. Here I am, a simple township kid who’s never been this far away from home before, asked to stand up in front of strangers and tell them who he is,” said poet, rapper and musician G.O.

He was speaking from San Francisco this week where he had performed his gut-wrenching poem Suicidal Blues to a room of executives and artists.

“It was beautifully received, which is the best part of the job, having people come over to you afterwards and saying they were touched by your work, and that they saw themselves in it.”

The Pinetown-raised artist had been selected from a crop of emerging global stars to perform at a new school arts event, Onef, hosted by the Omiydar Network.

Omiydar is a socially conscious Silicon Valley start-up that funded a new free app for discovering African creative talent called Bozza, operating from Cape Town.

Bozza focuses on poets, musicians and film makers who submit content that is then shared with users of the app, who view it on their phones. When it first started testing the market it secured 40 000 downloads in three days and more than 170 000 active users in three months.

Of the artists sharing their work, G.O. – whose real name is Mfundo Ntobongwana – emerged as a hot favourite and was selected for a trip to the US. It’s kind of like winning a digital Idols for intellectuals.

Although he was selected to perform at Russel Simmons’ Brave New Voices Slam Poetry Competition, he has published his poems in several journals, and has had moderate success with his hip-hop band NativeRefugee, it’s Bozza that has given him his first big break.

He has been invited to India and back to the States to study.

G.O. told City Press he had moved to his grandmother’s house after his parents divorced and that she, a nurse with a love of literature, had instilled in him his passion for storytelling.

He studied marketing at Cape Peninsula University.

It was during his initiation that he met a friend who became his musical producer. The team were signed by Bozza Star, who invested in professional tracks and videos.

“It’s a digital age,” he said. “The job now is to reach consumers wherever they are and not just expect them to come to you.”

» Watch G.O. perform Suicidal Blues

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