Words and photos by Karabo Mooki
This article appeared in Issue 62 of Monster Children. To see more from the mag, get your copy here.
Before the end of apartheid in 1994, the fight against the regime was fuelled by the powerful political ideologies of artists of colour, who expressed their indignation through rebellious music, art, and poetry. Infamous artists like Lucky Dube, Hugh Masekela, and Brenda Fassie carried the voices of thousands from the townships to the ears of the world. Unbeknownst to these anti-apartheid leaders, their legacy would continue in the South-Western Township of Soweto with the punk group T.C.I.Y.F.
T.C.I.Y.F. is made up of Thula ‘Stroof’ Sizwe (guitarist), Sandile ‘Tox’ Mbatha (bassist), Nhlakanipho ‘Jazz’ Nkosi (bassist), and Puleng ‘Peezy’ Seloane (vocalist), and initially they got together to skate and hang out in their hood. At a time when skateboarding was mostly accepted by people living in outer suburban areas, the restless youth of Soweto realised they needed to create something of their own, a scene they could develop and nourish from within South Africa’s largest township.
‘We all met because of skateboarding,’ Stroof explains. ‘We’re glued together by the skate family Skate Society Soweto (S.S.S), and we spent so much time together that it made sense for us to do something more.’
In search of an outlet to express themselves off their boards, they developed a self-taught passion for playing music, which quickly lead to the formation of T.C.I.Y.F. and the systematic destruction of ever more social barriers and widely-held stereotypes of the township people’s interests and abilities. Their ‘fuck what you think’ philosophy resonated deep within the townships and spread through the suburbs like wildfire, bridging the divide between different demographics and bringing attention to the waves of counter culture rising from the district.
The youth that once felt disenfranchised can now acknowledge the future possibilities, thanks to a band of unlikely heroes that opened the gates, allowing any and all to freely express their identity in a safe space, to converge their creative ideas, and to foster more growth within the community.
Redefining the one-dimensional music scene in South Africa was never TC.I.Y.F’s sole intention, but sharing their stories and giving the middle finger to the scenes that failed to recognise their early potential absolutely was. Their music and clout have given the future of misled youth a platform to be unafraid, to create, and to destroy any barrier that would set them back.
T.C.I.Y.F. put Soweto on the map and continues to keep the historical fires of rebellion alive.