Peaceful Punks Of Soweto
Punk is aggression, its anti-establishment, it's about s***ting on your neighbour's porch. So of course we talked to the guys who are trying to redefine what it means in Dube, Soweto.
by Daniel Gallan Posted: 2014/02/05
I'm having a drink with my friends, listening to Sex Pistols records and trying to figure out what 'punk' is, exactly - trying to find a definition for it. From what I can hear, the music is full of angst and anti-establishment sentiment. I'm trying to wrap my head around how anyone could say they 'love' punk and mean it.
A quick Google search produces two definitions:
1. a worthless person (often used as a general term of abuse) - "you think any of these punks they got fighting could stand up to Joe Louis?"
2. a loud, fast-moving, and aggressive form of rock music, popular in the late 1970s - "punk has turned pop music and its attendant culture on its head."
Mbuso "Moose" Zulu
Clint Hattingh and Mbuso "Moose" Zulu have their own ideas.
"It's about breaking down walls," says Hattingh.
"It's about doing what makes you happy," adds Zulu.
They would know a thing or two about both those things. Watching them talk about Punk Fuck, the punk movement that they started along with friend Thula Nkosi, it's like watching little kids talk about Christmas.
The Punk Fuck crew are about to throw their second music and skate festival, and a genre that's been looking for a new home in Joburg is now building a fortress in the most unlikely part of town - Dube, Soweto.
"We had a venue, Clint had the connections," says Zulu, referencing Hattingh's influence in the punk scene.
Clint plays bass for The Leftovers and Brafcharge, two of the bands playing at Punk Fuck, and manages TCIYF, Nkosi's band. Zulu, Nkosi and a few others run Soweto Skate Society (SSS), an independent skate store and adjacent skate park.
"Of course the link is that skating and punk are two cultures that are on the fringes," explains Hattingh. "I got into skating the same time I got into punk. The skate videos I watched as a boy all had punk soundtracks and the punk music videos all had skating. I always associated the two together."
"What we're trying to do is build a new audience, we're taking a genre that not many people in the area have identified with and are trying to build something," says Hattingh. "Young kids are coming to the store, asking about the sound that we make, asking about how to get hold of instruments. I think they can identify with the messages of punk."
To Clint, those messages are about standing up for yourself and not accepting society's impositions. Still, the two admit, the stigma surrounding the term 'punk' remains.
"Punk, at least in most people's eyes, is all about not giving a fuck and trying to remain on the outside," Hattingh admits. "But it can't be like that anymore. The music scene, in any genre, in SA is so small that we need to all work together. Our next fest will feature bands from other genres and we're trying to show that we really just love the genre. That we're not these angry, aggressive guys."
"We're also trying to build something in Soweto," says Zulu. "We want to see young kids interested in instruments. We want them to turn away from the commercial bullshit that spews garbage about bling and chains. This is real music and we want real people keen on it."
The event is even reaching out beyond the punk scene, with local stores and vendors reporting more business from a whole new crowd. There is a sense of unity emerging - something that defies the limitations that previous definitions placed on punk.
Maybe that's because punk can't be defined so simply. If it's about anything, it's about breaking down barriers, and Punk Fuck is doing that without smashing through them with a mallet. It's dissolving them with unity.
Check out our gallery from the last Punk Fuck event here.
Head to Soweto Skate Society here:
425 leselinyane Street, Dube, Soweto
Street Hawkers Concept Store, Opposite Dube Train Station
Photographs by Cale Waddacor and Leigh Taylor