Thabiso Nkoana is a poet, music producer and musicologist. As a musicologist he focuses on the digital repatriation of African music from archives, for the benefit of communities of origin and African artists in general. The main goal of the current research is to encourage the reimagination of cultural and traditional African music as a form of the propagation and preservation of indigenous knowledge.
As a poet, Thabiso juxtaposes poetry, free-verse and rhyme, with prose, to explore subjects such as class, race, gender and politics. His work can be described as postmodernist; often free of form and meant to reflect the process of thought or organic speaking through a stream of consciousness style. Unlike the broadly existentialist nature of postmodern poetry however, Thabiso’s work is solution oriented and pragmatic, using a poststructuralist approach to deconstruct meaning through language and text, always leaving room for reinterpretation.
Born in Kagiso, a township on the West Rand of Johannesburg, Thabiso was raised in the suburb of Diepkloof, Soweto. He currently resides in Hatfield, Tshwane – the capital city of South Africa – in the province of Gauteng, where he is reading towards his master’s degree in music technology at the University of Pretoria. Thabiso recently returned from Cape Town, where he was reading towards his bachelor’s degree in musicology and then his master’s degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Cape Town.
Thabiso is the 2013 and 2015 InZync Poetry Slam Winner and placed second in the 2014 slam. Again in 2013, he was a Lingua Franca Poetry Slam finalist, Zabalaza Festival Best Poetry Performance Winner, Open Book Festival Slam Finalist and a featured poet at the international, spoken word, collaboration festival Tongue Fu.
As the poet and rapper of the Addis Ababa Assembly, Thabiso also brings his brand of unapologetic poetry to this Cape Town based ensemble that specialises in the fusion of Pan African music with urban sounds. With the band, Thabiso won the best actor award at the 2016 Zabalaza Theatre Festival, while the band won the award for best musical directors. In the same year, the band was featured at the Cape Town Fringe Festival.
Having recited poetry for the past seventeen years, engaging audiences at poetry sessions such as Likwid Tongue and Xara Books in Newtown; Tsa Afrika in Randburg; Uhuru Wa Maisha, No Camp Chairs Poetry and Expressionists in Tshwane, as well various others around South Africa, including Lingua Franca, the Poetics movement, S.O.S in all in Cape Town and InZync in Stellenbosch. His work deals with all aspects of the human condition, which are indeed multifaceted and at times contradictory; it is often confrontational, humorous and particularly lyrical.