Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fighting the stigma of acquaintal abuse

So on the 21st of August i was part of a very interesting awareness march. THE NAKED TRUTH.. which was an initiative by the Wits University, EWS and POWA. the message was clear. we were marching against abuse on campus- a somewhat silent death. many young women are raped, harassed and molested on campus and it was our time to say ENOUGH! the march had special guests by the likes of Khanyi Mbau and Rosie Motene who both have come out publicly about their own abuse experiences. it was very successful and powerful and i'm glad such an initiative was created. i find it extremely scary and ironic that the most abuse that happens actually, happens indoors- indoors of the res doms or rooms, and with people that we dont consider as strangers at all. people whom you never imagine as the first to hurt you. your boyfriend, your lover, the guy you seeing... And i find that young women are faced with a dilemma, once your boyfriend violates you, is it really abuse? YES IT IS! if a guy or a girl breaks you down and brings you down, that is abuse... it could be mental, its physical, its emotional... my wish if for the good news to spread though.. that its not something to be ashamed of, we should all speak out and speak up!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My First Inspirational Speech, At the EWS &ABSIP Women's Month Gala Dinner

Last Thursday, the 13th of August 2009, a little after 9pm, I gave my first ever motivational speech at a Women's month gala dinner. alongside amazing women, under the theme WOMEN OF SUBSTANCE ... the first speaker was Ms Hixonia Nyasulu, who is the current Chairperson at Sasol. her profile is amazing...- google her! Mamu' Nyasulu spoke about Women in Business - The Challanges and Opportunities. the second speaker was Yolanda Cuba, who is the current CEO at Mvela Group. she spoke about Young women in prominent positions- Challanges and opportunities. then Matona Ntshona, station manager of Metro Fm spoke about the Challanges of being the first female Commercial Station manager. .. and then there was me, Unathi Twala, who spoke about Being the granddaughter of the 1956 generation. I look up to the women that spoke big time,and they spoke so eloquently, so frank. Women reall are amazing.. and i will never stop being grateful about the platform that was extended to me. Never mind the fact that i was not sitting at the guest speakers table, and that i was not added on the programme. I really was looking at the bigger picture...

this is how muy introduction went, i recorded it. And was intimidated by the intro itself. and i thought, well, wh csnt the intro be the speech.. can i crack it, after such?...

'Our next speaker is our fellow student, her name is Unathi Twala. She’s a third year Media and International Relations student. She’s the former editor of Campus Times which was previously under Mail and Guardian. She was also a presenter for VOW. She’s written for many publications and websites such as True Love Babe and Ymag, she continues to write for Seventeen and Student Village. She’s a strong believer in Student Advocacy Social development and Youth Development. When she is not on campus, or writing her rage articles she’s out motivating students from underprivileged societies with her friend Precious Kofi under Precious productions ( should be (Kofi Productions) . Ladies and gentlemen lets give a warm welcome to Unathi Twala…. '

and this is how my speech went....

My Speech for the EWS (Every Woman Society) and ABSIP (Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals) Women’s month Gala Dinner. On the eve of the 13th of August 2009.

When I received the approach by Every Women Society about partaking this evening on the topic of being a granddaughter of the 1956 generation, I was excited and at the same time nervous. Because even though this is a topic I’m constantly reflecting on, its one close to home. It’s about our generation with its many names. The Y-generation, the sometimes labelled as the problematic generation, the mxit generation and m favourite, the facebook generation.

So I’ve been asked to converse and share from my vantage point about our vantage point.

Which is why my Main Theme this evening is ‘The Many Faces of this generation,’ and what I think that means…

One of the core attributes to our ability and the opportunity for us to be here tonight looking all glammed up, pursuing our degrees’ and qualifications at Wits- with no inhibitions , is our history. With its many faces and struggles , including the Women’s Struggles. We know that!

We know that we are a walking monument and reminder of what never used to be, something that was never there 6 decades ago. But something that was well fought for and well founded. Our Freedom, our Liberation and our Empowerment.

Our grandparents layed that foundation. We’ll stay away from name dropping tonight , it would take a lot more time quoting the names under all the different struggles. Overall,they all planted the tree from which we are enjoying the shade.

MY REFLECTION as a granddaughter of the 1956 generation observes that as much the march to the Union Buildings falls part of our vital history today, Those women then could have been oblivious to the fact that they had laid a foundation for all sorts of women empowerment, that we enjoy today. The wanted a change yes, but of what magnitude we don’t know. What we know is that the crack has spread thus far POSITIVELY!

Coming back to us, the grandchildren. I don’t think we are a helpless generation at all. Yes you get the different faces of our generation. You get the empowered youth with all the resources and privileges. And you also get the youth trying to benefit from those resources. Then the youth that even though has all the seemingly progressive resources , the are still battling within their struggles. Perhaps we call this predicament LIFE AND GROWING UP, our own LIFE’S JOURNEYS!

One thing I hope that we can take out tonight from these empowerment privileges and talks, is a reflection of how we would like to be known for by our upcoming generation of grandchildren. I hope that we can DEFINE our LIFE’S STRUGGLES and be brave enough to tackle them in unison, as young women and men, and lay our own foundations for an even brighter future. There’s still a lot of work to do.

Think about it this way, when another young woman and man is given the very same platform I have today, in 50 years to come… WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO SAY ABOUT US?....

I thank you.. Okey, well, I didn’t say ‘I Thank you’.. Just Thank you – lol…

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Relo's first Interview as a solo artist

Unathi : "Wow,i can not wait 2 c u perform and finally hear ur album.. Can u do a quick interview on wednesday for http://www.rage.co.za/ we'l put it up on thursday b4 da MTVBASE gig? After 1pm? Plz? I can even come to rehearsal.. Unathi Twala," sms sent to Relo on 3\08\2009 19:58pm

Relo : " Hey gal. gud to hear from u. i wud luv 2. my manager wil hola @ u girl. his name is Rocky. If he dont, cal him ( gives number and email add)". sms sent recieved 3\08\2009 20:04pm

Unathi text: "kul kul., Thanx girl" sms sent 3\08\2009 20:09

Unathi :' I can interview Relo and give it on Thursday morning. for rage? b4 her 1st gig solo at MTV? she sed yes, waiting on manager to confirm! No?" sms sent 3\08\2009 20:19 pm

Maria McCloy: "Sure! hope u well " sms recieved 3\08\2009 20:23 pm

and so that is how interviewing Relo, known as Relo of Skwatta Kamp for http://www.rage.co.za/ was concepted. I met Relo as a fan in December 2004 in East London, ofcourse she won't remember that. then we re-met in 2006, i dont know how. but we have maintained relations since. I admire her vocal skills- this girl can sing. from the days of Somlandela, uMoya,lets just sa all the songs she has laced with Skwatta... In 2007, on the 9th of August in interviewed Relo for Voice of Wits, the Wits Campus Radio station for Women's Day, and we also spoke about her album- which had the track Kasi chick. But the album did not release. So when i heard she finally was releasing, i just had to interview her.... the Interview took place at Cresta Mall, North of JHB, at Mugg and Bean over two glasses of Frullatas......

Final Relo Interview

Refiloe Tsotetsi, famously known as the Relo of the multi award winning hip hop group Skwatta Kamp is starting on a new slate with the music industry with her 13 track debut solo album Gift of Life. Apart from the occasional appearances like the recent Ngiya’Kholwa on Slikour’s Ventilation Mixtape 2, and the Dj Ganyani club banger Keep on moving, she took herself out of the game to increase her posture in it. She went on to study Marketing and worked in the Advertising industry. Later, she quit her full time job to focus more on her album, after attempting to do corporate at day and studio by night and early morning. “I was like, you know what, God will figure it out, I was so tired,” said the newly evolved bassy lady at a recent interview with Unathi Twala, North of Joburg. Friday the 7th of August she gets to debut on the stage at the MTV Base Nights for the first time ever with her new sound.

How long have you been working on the album, there have been waves about your album since 2007…
This is brand new, I started working on it in January with 88 Productions. I had been signed with Sony, I left (still on a good note). I’d been working on a couple of things for a while but they didn’t come through. I’ve got like a full album, the previous one, but it didn’t come through, you know what I mean. It wasn’t that time I guess.

How is the sound like on your new album, since we know about your previous background with hip hop and Kent is renowned for house?
It’s lounge, deep house, similar to your Sade, Samantha James. I wouldn’t say its just house. It’s more for a niche market but everyone will enjoy it, a few people will appreciate it. It’s real music, not the type that’ll be old news in a few months. It’s more of a classical sound. I’ve never been so comfortable on a sound, on a genre. With hip hop, you had to be a character, you had to write about an issue and be that issue. With house it’s so much more, it’s adapting to you, your life. You can write about anything that’s happening within you, so it’s not falling into character, but you being yourself with the music. The first single ‘gift of life’ is on another tip, it’s more of an international standard.

Why Gift of Life?
I called the album gift of life which is music. After all these years, people still appreciate the sound of Relo. Even though I’ve had people promising me and album deal and it doesn’t come out. And pushing and pushing telling people its coming out. And it doesn’t. I’ve been trying for years and I feel people have believed in Relo. That’s the Gift of Life I’m talking about. Experiences people around me face. That I face. And there’s a song there about nothing. I talk about the ‘silly blues’. It might mean something to someone out there, but to me it’s nothing music. I’m just dreaming alone. You can’t listen to it and go to a party. You need to listen to it when you cleaning in the house and think haibo this girl, come on now. Cause it’s a thinking album. When I thought of the album, I thought New York underground club.

Has this always been sound you wanted to do?
No, I’ve always been a hip hop head you know what I mean. But even though with hip hop I kinda like I fell short somewhere. No one actually knew what I was going to go for, after i-Skwatta, as a solo artist. And my voice was just like that. It just fell on any genre. I could do afro-pop, neo-soul. I could do jazz, I could do hip hop. But I became more comfortable with house and deep house. It has abit of contemporary jazz to it. Abit of soul and live elements on it. My voice has matured more. So it sat well on the house. We have experimented within what we want to do.

Has it ever been an issue that you people always put a suffix to your name Relo… of Skwatta Kamp, always being a feature story and not just you?
Not really, because I’m not featuring anyone on this album. With that, I knew what I wanted initially. When I came in with Skwatta, I knew what I wanted. Even though I’ll always have that association with them, people need to understand that Relo was her own brand anyway. It was Relo of Skwatta Kamp. I was not even bothered because I knew this was coming. The journey was bringing me to this. And I didn’t want to be part of a group. I wanted to be my own brand. The track that I did for Ganyani was produced by Kent and I just wrote the song and did the vocals. So I hadn’t even worked with Ganyani. It’s only on Ganyani’s compilation.

How and when did our relation with Kent start?
He and his partner had been looking for me for about three years. They wanted to try out my voice, because the thought I could use it anywhere. They eventually got my number from a friend or something like that. And I was like I don’t know if I should. I’m not sure, but we’ll work together. I wasn’t doing anything at the time. I really wanted to find me. Thought of it for a while. Then I asked them to give me a beat and I’d write on it. Funny enough they didn’t like it. They were like, it’s not sounding the way they wanted. But don’t worry we have an idea. That’s how we got formula. Work on vocals, create beat for vocals. Guess that worked!

Why were you on the low for so long?
I needed time to myself, I needed me, I needed to find out about the girl who wanted to work, and see an environment that can make me a better person. And a better person within music. Because I found out I didn’t know anything when I started out. I didn’t know the business side and the marketing side of it. Then I went to study (at Vega) and I graduated and I felt that look I’m glad I did this. Now I can spend time using knowledge I attained and now I’m more involved in my music, and business side of things. That time was better for me. What was I going to be about? If people had to write about me, what would people have written about me? I felt it was pointless for me to be everywhere and have nothing to be written about. I’m a marketer I need to create solutions, I need to create a product. I’m glad I took that time off. Even my personal life is at a place where I can say now I’m a woman. Before I used to change styles like mad. And that was me. I was bored half way through the month with what I wore. And this is ME now! I’ve learnt so much, from being that ordinary person waking up at 8 to work. And coming back at 5pm. That working experience. Now I know what people want. Now I know how to I get people to listen to me. I got to know the jest of the person that wants to buy your album, that’s what I learnt. I needed to gather my thoughts. And I’m a woman now; I’m not just a chick.

How more involved are you in this album?
I’m behind the marketing strategy, but can’t be the marketer and the musician at the same time. I know the tools. But someone has to sell it for you. I have my man handling my management, because he is the closest person to me right now and would know how to market me. Yho, in the past in had managers who wanted to be more famous than me. Now I know what I want.

You sound like you have learnt so much and your evolution shows… what are your expectations?
I had to ask myself what do I want. I felt I gave everyone my all I was left with nothing. What do I want? Whatever I gave to whoever I have worked with I have lost it and I can’t get it back. Now that I got back in the game, I know what I want to do. I wanna create a brand not only in music, but covers life. When you think of Relo, people must think she is exciting. When people think of plus size models they think Relo and that this person is comfortable in her own skin. If you want, you move forward with that. People need to understand that there’s life besides your music. There’s the girl that walks inside a shop and wants to buy a top. The Girl you won’t hesitate to say hi to at a mall, cause you think I will act out.

How did the Donna Claire endorsement come about?
The wanted to launch a new label called Love it, for their younger market. I think the saw me on The Weakest Link and approached me to do be their brand ambassador. At first I was like I don’t know. And I just did it, it wasn’t something I was doing ‘because of this and that.’ I was like you know what, its money I’m going to do it. They felt they were moving away from their vision, and what Donna wanted and they wanted to come back to it, I guess that’s how the contract ended. I wont lie it was a good relationship. I still have great relations with them. And it was good. So many women were not comfortable about their bodies, until a person they knew came out and was happy with being a big woman. It did not get to me, at all because I was cool with being big. Yes, when I first started in music, I was dissed about it. But it didn’t get to me. But with Donna I knew people were talking but it’s not bad. I had no creative input, I was just there to glam it up. And helped with some research findings.

What would you like to be the last words of this interview?
Celebrate your talent when you can cause you never know when you might lose it here, don’t know if I should call it earth or the world. Celebrate anything that you love and you are talented in. And know that this is what I have, not what someone else has. You have to be consciously aware around the people you love and around God, and of who are you. Celebrate the Gift of Life. I’m glad I’m saying it with something I’m talented in. End of August the album is coming out. Chat to Relo of facebook, on twitter. There’s more coming out of this, not just the music. I just wanna be involved, I just want to get my head in every pie type of thing.

Are you nervous about Friday night’s performance and performing alone?
I am because people have heard me on a house track but they haven’t seen me perform. It’ll be my first time and I don’t know how they are going to take it. I know that when I’m in that stage, I’m in my own world. It’s not like I have dancers. I’ve got back up singers. But I don’t want to create this ‘lets vibe’ type of atmosphere. I wanna create more of a mind-blowing vibe. I’m abit scared, if I wasn’t scared that would mean I’m abit over confident. So I’m scared and confident. You know how JHB crowds are like. You won’t know if you got them. But they have heard my song on radio, so I’m hoping. I was saying yesterday that I’m nervous and this gay friend of mine said you need gay friends there so you won’t be nervous. I’ll be in front there so you won’t be nervous.

Unathi: " Hey Maria just sent Relo interview and pics. Hope u approve. Many tnx 4da opportunity." sms sent 6\08\2009 13:58pm
Unathi : " The interview is live on http://www.rage.co.za/ thanks for a beautiful interview girl... Hope you like.. Goodluck 4 2moro. I cant wait to hear your sound. Many thanks!" sms sent to Relo 6\08\2009 19:13pm http://http//www.rage.co.za/readArticles.php?articleID=1762

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My first Time ...

Well, Today the 23rd of July 2009 , 8 days before I turn the cute 22, at 2:13 pm, I created my first blog. It has taken me this long ( dammit) , but hey at least i finally did it! And since I'm always bad with names, and naming things, it did not come as a surprise that i wasn't really sure what to call it, but Still In the running for being the best Unathi I can Be had a nice ring to it. Plus that's my favorite saying at the moment, i find it so true. That regardless of what happens to you , good or bad, fantastical or catastrophic, if you are still alive.. You are still in the running for being the final product that you are going to be when you die. You still in the game.. still journeying through life... I'm a hopeful person, ambitious and really into the evolution of life... well, my life mostly. So as i take on this first step as a blogger, I'm very hopeful that at least I'll make literary connections, have at least one member\friend, get an invitation to the next blogger Awards, hone my writing passion, share my opinions , grow, get the kick i need to write that book, collect some good material for the one good African Lit read i will write one day... and have fun! Enjoy... Be easy on a sister by the way....

Still in the running for being the Best Unathi I can BE!