Kombonation: An Ode To Us
A Hive Creative Entrepreneur Spotlight
A few weeks ago, we spoke to Mpumelelo Zulu about lockdown business, making coffee and some of the things he enjoys with a good cup.
This time, we met two creatives who have the interesting challenge, of trying to tell a story everyone thinks they know everything about.
Where do we come from? [ A 3-point history lesson ]
“Where we’re from it’s the hood-hood…”
- Like many oppressed peoples across the world, South Africans have a ‘profile’ built on years of being studied, defined and silenced – physically, mentally and systematically.
- We may hear this quite a few times, but we don’t talk enough about the depth of black people being portrayed as nonchalant, simple and hardworking in commercials and other media (to this day).
- For African people, self expression (art, performance and overall creativity) has always played a pivotal role in the way other people see this ‘profile’ and ultimately, how we can be accepted (and even accept ourselves) as human beings.
What does this have to do with Kombonation (bangenaphi?)
Like many great stories, a flower blooms from a hard place.
In life, a few lucky people get to meet and work with someone who matches their passion and creative drive. Kabelo and Kgotso are a creative super-duo from the legendary streets of White City, Jabavu (in Soweto).
Aka Kombonation, they are visual storytellers who capture anything and everything they feel a connection to. Sometimes they work together, sometimes with other creatives and other times just for the fun of it.
From pre- to post-production, they’re guided by an appreciation for human expression and a desire to preserve the beauty of their world for future generations.
“What’s beautiful is what the world says is beautiful.”
The new ‘Profiling’
For any great artist — capturing the raw, honest expression of a generation that changes everyday — would be an almost impossible task. To do this, Kgotso and Kabelo have adopted a creative process that is centered around letting people do themselves as opposed to being directed.
Coupled with their sublime, ever-evolving technical skills, Kombonation’s creative philosophy makes a strong case for the goal they’ve set out to achieve.
By becoming masters at letting people express themselves, Kombonation’s role in the(ir) culture is as important as the DJ’s turntables or the neighbourhood studio have been to hip hop history. Every superstar and every industry that flourishes from black music could never have made it without that plug who has the only (bedroom) studio in the whole hood.
He worked with legends back in the day.
He just wants to see you shine.
Kgotso and Kabello view photography, and it’s role in creative self-expression in a similar way. By becoming an instrument/ platform for other people to share their sauce and preserve their own history — they’re in the perfect position to help us define how our grandchildren will see us.
But what do we look like?
You know how old people didn’t smile in photos? Compare that to our perception of people from those days…
The way we think about our elders and our relationship with them is somewhat influenced by the sides of them we have known or seen (esp. If they’re in the ‘great-greats’ then it’s really late).
Similarly, entertainment, news and other media from our era will define our grandchildrens’ perception of us.
Would you rather be remembered the way marketing agencies speak about millennials or preserved in your own, shining sauce?
We’ll take the sauce, thank you.
While most of us probably don’t care, throughout history, many (often unsung) heroes and villains have had such a deep influence on our minds, that their collective works could tell most of our life stories (think Maxine Powell’s work at Motown, war propaganda; or even the covert activities of historical organizations like Stratcom).
On the opposite side of such superpowers, the people have always had their voices and self-expression. Especially for young people at the peak of their self-identity, the prospect of preserving yourself at the loudest you’ll ever be is a beautiful one to aspire to. Not only for the future, but for the way you see yourself too.
As mentioned before, the devil works hard, but marketing agencies work so hard, there are more than 2.8 million Google search results for something called “Millennial Marketing”. This proves how many companies, people, industries and other organizations are interested in who we are, what we look like, what we want and how to sell it to us. In some cases, we even feel like they are telling us.
Putting It Together
When you consider the powerful role that the African Consciousness has played in our history, whether it’s stories we know about ourselves or our ancestors, you can somewhat appreciate the magnitude of Kombonation’s mission.
With a camera and some bright ideas, the tag team are definitely doing the lord’s work.
– – – – –
Lungelo Hlela is a Digital Copywriter based in Johannesburg, South Africa. When he’s not writing for brands, most of his work includes themes about social issues, history and popular culture. Follow him @lungelosam for more of his existentialist ramblings and romantic ideals.