Makhafula Vilakazi

About Makhafula Vilakazi

Going by the name Makhafula Vilakazi (the title of one of his poems), Matodzi Gift Ramashia grew up in Chiawelo, Soweto. His poetry is a fusion of Tsotsitaal, English, Zulu and Sotho, interspersed with an uncompromising depiction of township life, and the exploration of issues which affect his community, such as unemployment and crime.

Makhafula has performed at various events such as the Botsotso Poetry Festival, the Jozi Spoken Word Festival, Speak the mind (Arts Alive Festival), Be connected International Festival, Music Mayday Festival, Poetry Africa and the Wordnsound literary festival.

In 2008 he won the B-Connected competition in Soweto – a competition which saw him represent South Africa at the Music Mayday Annual Festival in Tanzania, performing alongside artists from Ethiopia, Holland and Tanzania.

In 2012 he was a guest commentator in the critically acclaimed documentary series “Why are we so angry?”, where he unpacked society’s social ills and also recited his poetry.  He has published some of his poems in an anthology “Sections of Six”, and collaborated with award-winning South African rapper Tuks Senganga on his album “Tshwanelo” –  nominated for a South African Music Award in 2012.

In 2013 Makhafula released his first album titled “I Am Not Going Back To the township”. He described this project as being about “redefining the black person’s identity by scrutinising history and the effects of historical events on particularly black Africans”.

In 2014 he participated in a documentary by the legendary Lesego Rampolokeng titled “Word Down The Line” which also featured poets such as the late Mafika Gwala, Prof Kgositsile and Kgafela. He performed “Concerning Blacks” at the Joburg Theatre to a capacity audience (2018), and in 2019 he performed “Mandela Is Dead” to two sold out shows at the Soweto Theatre.

In December 2020 he gave a preview of his sophomore album, “Concerning Blacks” (released in April 2021) to a sold-out State Theatre in Pretoria.