S'busiso Manqa

Interview with S'busiso Manqa


Age 23

South African - living in South Gauteng,



Thanks for your time S'Busiso, firstly, where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in a place called The Vaal Triangle located in a province called Gauteng in South Africa. It would be very difficult to pin-point the exact location because, after the divorce of my parents, we moved all over the place with my mother. But a place where I had many of my childhood memories is a Township in The Vaal called Sebokeng. This is where I witnessed a lot of things, both good and bad. In these communities it is rare to find a person or family in need of basics like food and clothing. You could easily go to the house next door to go ask for a cup of sugar if you were in need, this is where I learned the true meaning of being humble and brotherhood. But it was not all good, as we were also exposed to crime happening in front of our eyes despite our tender ages. It was, and still, is a very interesting place to live and is quite close to my heart.

Were there things growing up that still influence your writing now?
Growing up I witnessed a lot of ambitious people who challenged life despite the conditions they lived in. The fighting spirit they displayed is reflected a lot in my writing, as most of the things I write about tell stories of triumph. Seeing life with a different eye, a metaphoric eye that turns struggle into tales of wisdom. Hence a lot of my work is never as straight forward, dominated by metaphors.

Can you remember writing down your first structured words?
The first words I wrote in my life was my name and surname! But I learnt how to write them before I even went to school. As soon as I could firmly handle a pen or pencil, my father encouraged me to scribble a lot. And he use to draw dots on a page for me in shapes that spelled out my name and surname, and he would tell me to join the dots, and with enough practice I eventually didn’t need the dots to write down my name and surname.

Did you have a love of words back then?
Growing up I had no love for reading books, but had a very weird habit of wanting to read every product around me. I would read the ingredients of food, deodorants, clothing and many household products. And over the years, as I discovered my writing abilities, those habits have evolved to me listening to the word choice of people, enabling me to write more directed to certain types of personalities. And now, when I observe the labelling of products, I try to put a story behind them; a lesson behind them and then create a poem out of them.

Did you go to University?
I studied performing arts at a theatre college in the city of Pretoria, but later had to drop out due to lack of funds. But during that time I learned one of the most important lessons that still influences my writing till this very day; writing with a clear marvel around your work. Acting out the scripts taught me that when you write, always picture your words on actions, and being the clown of the class at the time I definitely knew how to transform words into action. And now its a bit more simpler to write down with a picture in mind.

Is writing your full-time job?
In a way writing is my full time job, in a way not. I’m a filmmaker by profession, and, besides being behind the camera or editing footage behind a screen, I’m also a scriptwriter. So I can say  it’s a full time job, I can say it’s not.

Tell me about your very first writing engagement.
The first time I wrote a poem I never knew that it was a poem. It was in Afrikaans class and I was bored to death (I was in grade 11 at the time). I decided to play around with words at the back of my book, I wrote the first paragraph, followed by the second, then the third, then the fourth. I eventually found myself with a four paragraph piece in my possession. I went to a friend and asked them to read it, and they replied that it is a very cool poem I was shocked and said; “Oh, that’s what it is!” I then went to my English teacher and asked her to read and she said; “This is a very good poem, who wrote this?” She couldn’t believe it was me because I was always such a pest in the classroom. Later the poem was titled I’m a 21st Century Activist, and that was my very first piece.

Tell me about the projects you are currently working on?

Besides the films I’m working on, I’m at the final stage of my second anthology titled My Tears Miss You. After the first one (Understanding Life Through Poetry) which I gave out for free got such good reception around my home country South Africa. The second one is aimed at talking about the vulnerable side of love that makes many people very uncomfortable talking about as it displays the weak side of every individual. The book will be published late this year or early next year.

What really inspires your?
The lessons in everyday ordinary life are my main inspiration. Hence a lot of my work will take ordinary situations and pick point a life lesson in them. For example I would witness a car accident while taking a walk round about 4pm, and when I pass the same spot again and 5pm it has already been cleared and everything is back to normal. I would then go home and write about the accident, but  I don’t specifically write about the accident, I would use the situation to write about how life goes on.

What is the process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration, or idea, into actual words on paper?
When an idea comes to my mind, I never put it down on paper immediately so I can remember it later. I let it dance around my head a bit, I live it, and once tattooed in my mind then I can put it down on paper. Because once I’ve lived in that idea, even if it’s by imagination only, I can become extremely creative with it when I put it on paper.

Do you have a particular writing location?
Anything that’s not formal is the perfect location for me. I don’t like writing on desks, it makes it feel like a job and I fall out of love with writing. I prefer writing in unorthodox places such as the bed, the couch, the kitchen counter or a public chair at the mall.

What are your plans for the future?
A lot of these life lessons I’ve put in my poetry, I would love to put them into film, reaching audiences of more than just writers and readers.

Name your THREE most favourite books and why.

1. Try It My Way by Osho
This book tackles spirituality in a very unusual way, and it promotes no specific kind of religion, but talks about the common lessons and flaws of all religions.


2. Sounds of the Cowhide Drum by Oswald Mtshali
Papa Oswald is one of the finest poets to come out of South Africa  and Africa as a whole having being a literature lecturer in an American University, and this book is like recordings of the life of a native in South Africa especially during the horror times of the apartheid regime.


3. The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
Robert Greene here describes the different types of Seduction in terms of personalities. And he uses historic heroes and great names as his examples. When you had thought of a particular great as a Godsend hero or heroin, he describes the methods they used in order to get the masses behind them. A very interesting read!


Lastly... what does writing MEAN to you?
Writing to me means that I get to contribute to the evolution of human thought, as it is my deepest belief that HISTORY IS DICTATED BY THOSE WHO DOCUMENT IT.


Thanks so much S'BUSISO, and thank you for your wonderful contributions to TRAVEL, LOVE, WAR, HAPPY, BETRAYAL and THE SEASONS. Don't stop writing!


For a little bit more info on S'BUSISO, and to contact him, CLICK HERE.



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