Matwetwe is fresh, funny and fierce

Street hustle:  Papi and Lefa try to sell their potent strain of dagga to a thug in a scene from Matwetwe Pictures: supplied
Street hustle: Papi and Lefa try to sell their potent strain of dagga to a thug in a scene from Matwetwe Pictures: supplied

Hot on the heels of his lauded film Catching Feelings, Kagiso Lediga’s new dark comedy is about two teenagers who start selling their own strain of marijuana to make ends meet. It’s smart, edgy and highly entertaining, writes Phumlani S Langa.


Director: Kagiso Lediga

Starring: Sibusiso Khwinana, Tebatso Mashishi

. . . . -

Kagiso Lediga’s new film – which I’d describe as a satirical black comedy (though that’s still not quite right) – brings us the story of two young men on the cusp of adulthood.

With a liberal smattering of Sesotho, particularly the unique pitori slang, Matwetwe is filled with comedic moments.

If we were to see the legendary comedy troupe from the classic Pure Monate Show as the Wu-Tang Clan of local comedy, Lediga would undoubtedly be Ghostface Killah. This man hardly took any time off between creating this film and the widely adored Catching Feelings.

Matwetwe is way more gangster than Catching Feelings, though.

Education is the key to freeing yourself from poverty, so you’d think that government would be handing this out by the bucket-load, but I guess that would make too much sense. So, instead, youngsters are forced to pay through their asses to obtain this key. For some, the only thing to do is source money by any means possible.

This is the story of Papi (Tebatso Mashishi) and Lefa (Sibusiso Khwinana), who are lifelong friends and, now that they’re done with school, face the looming prospect of university.

The two have used their respective talents of botany and street hustle to create a potent strain of weed they call matwetwe, which means wizard.

Papi and Lefa want to sell their weed to a wholesale buyer, and they are approached by a neighbourhood thug and his posse. The thug makes them an offer, but they refuse and instead try peddling their wares to a strange white dude in Pretoria. He’s a real “breeker” and meets with them while he wrestles with a friend in his basement.

Papi and Lefa make a deal, but the whole thing almost falls apart when Meisie (Mimi Mamabolo), a hood sister who is the brains behind the group of local thugs, sets Papi up.

The character work in this film is immaculate and, locally, we are starting to wrap our heads around the art of delivering a good story.

Your plot might be a good one, but how well is it being told? First, you need a strong location, and Atteridgeville – a character in the film in its own right – brings us a fresh backdrop.

The film is shot well, and the cast deliver the most. I suggest you look out for Thapelo “Tips” Seemise (AKA Shampoonizer), who kills his role as a gangster club owner.

However, I did feel that the ending could’ve been more concise as I left feeling uncertain about what happened to Papi and Lefa, and to their connection with one another. That said, I was glad to have experienced this story. Be warned, though, the language used – especially in reference to women – is as brash and uncut as it is on the actual streets in the hood.

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