South African video footage has been freed from the annals of the archives housing our past on VHS. A remix of South Africa’s past and present day is now available in a low-fi video clip collection from CUSS — a group of young Johannesburg artists including Ravi Govender, Jamal Nxedlana, Bogosi Sekhukhuni and Zamani Xolo — on their free-to-air channel, and even more directly to the public in the myriad of TV-selling stores in Johannesburg’s inner city.

CUSS, among other things, subverts the closely guarded collective memory of South Africa’s 90s and takes standard definition video/images as a starting point. They help to remind us of what we know (that 90s TV talk show) and what we more recently barely got to know (that Spear painting). It’s a comment on what’s in the media today, catching throwaway comments that could be lost in the brevity of an un-taped local breakfast show:

(PJ Powers is still talking “poster boys for what South Africa can be”. Really?)

Remixed in rainbow colors is a dismissal of the rainbow nation for all the grey areas in the picture, as well as an attempt to find out where the picture does come together:

Pointing fingers at our middle-classness is also part of the offering of self-reflexive video speak, in an age where “I’ve got to have it!” sets the precedent:

Here is a group of artists who have democratized the image of our past through ripping clips off Youtube to re-author what we once knew. It’s incendiary and strikes chords very close to home for those of us under-30 near the mark of South Africa’s 20-years of democracy.

We were just kids in the 90s, listening in on the excitement of our parents and singing along to the SABC catch phrase: “Simunye, oh, we are one!” Now, we are still one, I think, only less optimistic. That’s Mzansi for sure.

Further Reading

Singing truth to power

When Ugandan police imprisoned Bobi Wine in his own home, the singer-turned-lawmaker used the internet, music and multiple languages to craft a call for solidarity between civilians and security forces.

The Fighters

Are the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of Julius Malema primed for the greatest gains in South Africa’s May 8th national and provincial elections?