Katlego Maboe could no longer remain silent.
The constant stream of racism circulating in SA needs to be addressed, and he has chosen to do it through music. Best known as a presenter on Expresso, Katlego has written and produced an Anti-Racism song (soon to be anthem), in an effort to spark conversation around this huge issue that desperately need to be addressed.
We chatted to Katlego about his song ‘RACE (against time)’ and what he hopes to achieve:
Was there a particular moment or incident that made you feel like you had to do something to combat racism?
Other than the accumulation of racial events that have gone on over the years, my own experience was an influence. When I was in school I had an encounter with a kid, in like grade four. I was playing touch rugby and an incident happened between me and this white kid.
We were arguing the way kids do, and out of nowhere he called me the ‘K’-word. I certainly don’t want to grow up in a world where my kids are exposed to that or made to feel inferior because of the colour of their skin.
You are a man of many talents with lots of platforms at your disposal. Why did you choose music as the platform for this message?
We’ve embraced many different ways of taking about racism on Expresso and it’s a wonderful platform that I use regularly to ignite people’s minds. But music is my biggest passion. It’s how I found my way into the entertainment world. It’s always been a part of my life, and I thought what better way to do this than through music? It fires me up. I think I just went back to my roots. It’s what I resonated with, and that’s how I felt I could best put out my message.
You wrote and co-produced ‘RACE (against time)’ with David Harmse and Ntokozo Mkhize. How did the track come about?
We were sitting the car, listening to our favourite hip hop music, and I turned to them and said. ‘When last did you hear an MC spitting bars about things that really matter?’ I referenced the song Glory from the movie Selma. And we were like wow, especially in the South African context, there isn’t many. Off the back of that, we put our ideas together.
I came up with this line ‘Race against time’, deliberately playing on the words. We got the Sing the Change Choir to collaborate with us: an organisation that gets children to sing the change that they want to see. This is a song that seeks to help you find inspiration and get people talking about the issue of race under a positive light – lest we leave it until it’s too late and we lose the race of time.
Tell us more about your collaboration with the Anti-Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA)?
We decided to do more and we partnered up with ARNSA, they have the backing of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. We thought, since Nelson Mandela Day is all about doing 67 minutes of community service, we are going to take our track, and we are going to try and pre-sell 67 000 units by that day.
All the proceeds with go to ARNSA because we believe that their hearts are in the right place and they are supporting the right kind of organisations and initiatives.
How do you think ‘RACE (against time)’ can effect change?
This song is not about throwing the book at people and saying ‘you are the bad guy.’ There are bad guys, and we have to come to terms with the realities and truth about the racism issue – what it’s done, what it’s doing – and try to get people to look at it from a human perspective. One of the lines in the song says: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, it shouldn’t matter if you’re black or white.’ We know that we live in a world where unfortunately it does. It’s all driven with a certain sense of prejudice. We are trying to say, ‘Hold on. Step back and be human first.’ Then we can move forward and embrace our common humanity.
It’s a very deeply seeded issue that we are trying to unpack, that’s the important thing. We are not saying that the song is going to solve the problem of racism, but perhaps it an be a chant, a mantra that people have in their hearts.
To join the fight against racism and help Katlego and the Anti-Racism Network of South Africa effect change, download RACE (against time) here.
Check out the live performance of ‘Race (against time)’ in the video below: