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Here to enlighten you: Interview with poet Aura
Zanele Manhenga,
March 04, 2010

Read Inside / Out with Aura

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AuraHow old are you?
I am 20 years old.

Why music?
It's kind of always been with me; even before nursery my parents pushed me straight into it. I was in college about a year ago and I was doing my second year but I never got all the way through coz my father got retrenched so we were not able to pay school fees. Since then I have been the breadwinner in my family. The funny thing is that the money I make is out of doing what I love the most, which is the performing arts.

How is being the breadwinner of you family affected the way you write?
I write about life from a different perceptive having been a breadwinner for a family of six. And having to be responsible. Aside from the fact that I am the bread winner I have a young brother who is mentally handicapped with autism and so already from a vey young age I was forced to take responsibility and grow up very very quikly. The way I view the world is different from how other people my age view the world. Listen

Can you expand on that?
Well for example, I can't go on shopping sprees. My first instinct is to say; is there bread at home, is there is milk at home, does my brother need socks, and should I get socks. We need to do this; we need to do that. I am very aware of people around me and of things that they are going through. I have learnt to put others needs before my own.

How has your family supported and appreciated the art you produce?
They have always been supportive of the arts. I always say if it wasn't for my family I would not have been as active in the arts as I am. Their support started from an early age. I don't think that they ever thought that it would sustain us. In the beginning it was tough because they thought I should get a job, an office job that you know you every month you get a certain salary. They want to see me grow as an individual. So they have definitely been a great support system, and they are my best audience. My mother knows my poems inside out. My father gives advice on my music and what beats to go for.

Have you grown as an artist?
Yes I have grown; I started writing poetry at the age of 12. As I grew older I realized poetry is not about words but about what you are saying. Powerful poets like Julius Chingono, who uses very few big words and his poems are often short but they have such impact. I kind of realized that my poetry goes beyond my words and goes straight to the message. Definitely I have grown message wise. I have a stronger message and I come across clearer now than I did when I was younger. Listen

Who or what inspires your poetry?
Music. I always say music is my husband. If music were a man, I could have had an arranged marriage a very long time ago. Music has influenced my poetry. I will also pay close attention to the way people, eat, walk and behave.

What themes are in your poems?
Love, love and love. Love for me is a fascinating topic because it's not all roses and blue violets. There is a lot to love, and not just emotional or romantic love but platonic love - friendships and love between parents, other relationships. Not just between men and women, but parents and friends and people around us. I have started writing a lot of conscious poetry where you write about a particular topic. I can be talking about trees and talking about rape and not realize it. You will eventually figure out what I am talking about it. I use a lot of metaphors and a lot of symbolism. I speak messages but with an undercurrent. You really have to pay attention to what I am saying.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself talking to somebody and having him or her actually listen to what I am saying. I see myself educated, making some sort of difference or at least reaping what I am sowing now. I like to see myself as successful and by successful I don't mean money. I mean physically, mentally, emotionally well to be in a better space. I would like to see my father restored to his position so that I stop being the breadwinner. I would love to help my father support my family. Family is very important to me. Listen

What do you want to see in the constitution for a young artist like you?
I want to see an opportunity to influence my people, I want to see an opportunity where my voice can be heard not just by a group of people at the Book Café but where artists are taken seriously and realize that we are voice that can be utilized. That we can make a lot of difference because the first thing a person will do when they jump into their car is switch on the radio and they will hear us before they hear the news. There are a lot of people my age who want to make a difference in our country. We all want a better country. I think as a country we need to start realizing that we have so much potential and that we are literally one of the greatest countries in Africa. Our artists are the most unique and that we have such creativity and potential.

How would you sell the poet Aura?
I am a person who is ready to work, who is dynamic, and unique. I am bringing something new to the table. I do poetry like it's never been done before. I write from a totally different perspective. I am here to enlighten you and not to take over your mind, not to change the way you think but to help you think differently. Listen

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