Ribane is putting black on a pedestal

Published Mar 11, 2018


PERFORMANCE artist Manthe Ribane’s unbreakable spirit and her father’s ‘yes, you can’ approach to life made her a force to be reckoned with in London under record label Hyperdub.

She has dabbled in the world of entertainment as a dancer, starred in commercial ads and modelled.

Manthe believes she became a hit in London because her music is very African and is something they had never heard of before.

However, the reception has been cool in South Africa because the music started abroad.

“In South Africa it’s gradually growing. That’s why AfroPunk opened up a different world. A lot of people had a positive response and it opened another conversation on AfroPunk. Gradually South Africa will be there, it’s just that I started in London.”

Ribane is working on a new album, which she says is more Lady Manthe than her previous work, which was more kwaito inspired.

“We’ve already established our album, which is coming out around June, and I’m quite nervous. I’m just glad it worked out well and became what it is and that the response is great. To have a record label that believes in you through e-mail is amazing.

“I hope it will reach a certain standard, especially for the country. I don’t mind being in the mainstream because we are kind of underground. It’s also good because when you are in the mainstream you reach many doors and you get to spread your wings a lot.”

The videos which catapulted her to fame, Teleported and Dear Ribane, from her extended-play record called Tell Your Vision, are intense. She uses black paint as a form of activism. The video was shot by Edd Horder, a prestigious fashion photographer in London.

“I love celebrating our blackness. It makes me feel so alive because it is such a powerful colour regardless of the oppression we went through. How we came out of that situation - I think it’s a very beautiful memory to keep and to just celebrate, and so I love the black colour painted on my face.

“Why are we so scared of the colour black?

“Also the perception of the colour ruined us in a way that we don’t trust it. When we see it we get wary and it still freaks us out. If it was another colour, it would’ve been labelled as radical. Let’s celebrate it. It’s a beautiful colour.”

Manthe says when she was growing up she was exposed to a lot of music through her father and uncle. The two were jazz fanatics, with her dad playing a lot of John Coltrane and Sun Ra music.

“I love Sun Ra because he is so poetic. What he says about the altered state of mind was the narrative that made Dear Ribane believe in achieving the impossible.”

Dear Ribane is a family creative collective formed by Manthe and her siblings Tebogo and Kokona.

Ribane loves tapping into different mediums and it's designers such as Rei Kawabuko, the late Zaha Hadid and set designer Daniel Hashim whom she would love to collaborate with. She has already collaborated with Matt Chivas in what was called the altered state of mind.

“I love crossing different mediums. I have what I have, but they have what I don’t have, so how about we fuse them, because that’s how you learn, through collaborations.

If it’s music it has to be Pharrell Williams, Andre 3000, or Fela Kuti’s son, Femi.

The Sunday Independent

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