SINCE the release of his debut album, Pure Jesus Poetry, last year, Motswitla Hlakotsa, aka Tswi da ChristMic, has taken contemporary gospel poetry to another level.

He has shared platforms with local gospel hit acts 50 Fifty Family, Ernie Smith, Pastor Benjamin Dube and Swazi Dlamini and pop act The Arrows and international acts such as Ken Reynolds and Grammy-nominated artist Emmanuel Lambert, aka The T.R.U.T.H.

Tswi’s album has seen his popularity increase with requests for his CD coming from as far afield as Canada, the US, Europe Australia, Botswana, and even China – even though he’s not signed up to a major record label.

Tonight touched base with Tswi, who is respected for his slam poetry, to get his thoughts why we are seeing this trend among the youth towards poetry, hip hip and fusions of the genre.

“Poetry is a beautiful, rich dynamic form of expression, usually for people who have something to say, and young people have a lot to say. It is also fuelled by the fact that mainstream forms of artistic expressions have been corrupted by capitalism and have lost their authenticity and integrity. Poetry remains pure, particularly since the true value of poetry is its effect on hearts and minds and not really about financial rewards.”

Commenting on June 16 and what the day means to him, Tswi said: “June 16 will always be a symbol of the power a united youth are capable of wielding. Young people are non-conformists; it is that spirit coupled with the zeal and energy that saw the class of ’76 shake a nation. Young or old, our struggles are never over. Today the struggle for the youth has shifted from the political sphere to a social one. The freedom we have must be translated into financial, emotional and sociological prosperity.

“We have a responsibility as young artists to give this nation hope. When the class of ’76 raised the dust of the township streets with their chanting, they sent shivers down the corridors of power. This generation holds that same power, not to have music that revolves around promiscuity and sexual innuendo, especially in a region of the world decimated by Aids, spending thousands of rand on the very alcohol that destroys lives, despite having it glorified in advertising campaigns. The situation on the ground is a far cry from the glamorous TV ads, these are the things killing my nation, and these are my people’s struggles,” he said.

Tswi recently joined forces with Simiso “CelestialMic” Hadebe to form the duo Mics of Thunder. CelestialMic’s album The Mic in the hands of God will be released soon.

• To get a copy of Pure Jesus Poetry, call 079 479 4586 or e-mail [email protected]

You can also catch Tswi at the Love and Music Concert on June 30 at City Hall with Tsepo Mngoma, Swazi Dlamini, Nqubeko Mbatha, Ntokozo Mbambo, Thabo and Nonhlanhla Mduli. To keep updated on his gigs see his Facebook page.