source: DeviantART.com

Kanye, Kenny and Katlehong

A highly disturbed Ennes Kay hauls out her laptop to again grace the GrownNSexy pages with her take on the vulgar ‘Izikhothane’ craze that has taken SA township youth by storm. “Bling gone obscenely mad”.

source: DeviantART.com
We Are Money by Matheus Lopes Castro (c)

The world is coming to an end.  It’s as simple as that. There may be no mention of this sort of behaviour in the bible, but there should be. In between all the hell fire and brimstone stuff, next to the armed angels on winged horses, floods, famines, war and pestilence, there should be a verse that states – “And they will spit Ultra Mel at each other.”

If I hadn’t caught a whiff of the putrid winds of the 3rd Degree episode that aired recently on    eTV, detailing the sad and sorry state of our youth I would never have believed it. Not fully.  It needs to be seen to be believed. In a country of extreme economic disparity, we are constantly bombarded with stories detailing the madness our own people participate in and how low we are willing to stoop in the pursuit of money we don’t have and lifestyles we want.  It’s a sad and dangerous world, we live in fear that anything could happen to us anytime. Nothing should shock us at this stage. But I still could not wrap my head around this stupid sh*t.

The ‘Izikhothane’, slang for ‘he with the most expensive clothes’, are crews of young township kids, still in school or just fresh out of grey trousers and Toughies. They challenge each other, meet and battle in parks and on street corners (as crews do) engaging in a competition of the most ridiculous kind. In areas like the East Rand township of Katlehong – where you would think money’s too tight to mention and boy children should be the last ones concerned with not just the way they look, but the actual cost incurred in creating the appearance of a (grown) man of means – this preposterous pandemic spreads through the location like a swarm of misguided locusts.

Crews like the ‘Born Agains’ and the ‘The Over Spenders’ create ‘signature looks’ – the ingredients of which consist primarily of matching printed shirts, jeans or capri pants and the most crudely-coloured patent Carvella loafers I’ve seen since early ‘90’s kwaito stars burst onto the scene in all their citrussy catastrophe.

I couldn’t help but think of Mr West, suited and booted with bare ankles and shiny shoes.  Just this week the news broke that he refuses to eat off of anything but Hermes crockery.  That sh*t cray.  But at least he has a job. The practitioners of this local interpretation of bling and swagger have no means of their own and, more likely than not, sleep in the same houses they were born in.

These boys rely on the guilt and gullibility of their gogo’s [grannies] and mothers who will fork out a thousand Rand for a pair of Nikes in a bid to give their children a better life than they had. It’s a sad set of circumstances – parents grappling their way out of poverty to provide the best for their children, their children’s idea of ‘the best’ spiraling out of control and well clear of anything even remotely logical for people in their position. T-shirts and belts at five hundred Rand a pop, shoes at up to two thousand Rand, iPhones, Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels and um, Ultra Mel. I’m sure there is some social significance to spitting out dairy products but I fail to see it.

The bottom line is, if they can afford to spit it out, money is no object.  They dance around showcasing their wares, biting their phones with their gold teeth, insulting their challengers and setting their own clothes on fire in a senseless show of their wealth. Huh? Fifty Rand notes are torn up with blatant disregard for the cost of living or the recession; but I guess if you’ve never had a job in your spoilt, sponsored little life these wouldn’t be considerations for you.  Hoards of smaller kids, girls and aspiring ‘Skhothane’ look on in admiration. They admit that public praise, acknowledgement and respect are the incentive. And, of course, the women.  Always the women.  To quote Biggie, “Money, hoes and clothes”.

But I don’t want to be the millionth person to blame the state of every nation on hip-hop, so I won’t. These boys cite home-grown millionaire Kenny Kunene as one of their biggest inspirations, referring to him as if he were more than just the king of sushi. (Oh god, I hope they don’t start spitting sushi at each other).

I can see the Nando’s ads already – boys hanging out the windows of their open Caravel kombi’s throwing wings out at passers-by armed with only cheap Chicken Licken.  It’s so ludicrous it’s almost un-spoofable. It’s spoof-proof.  Even Debora Patta, who’s seen a thing or two in her time, spat out the commentary with a sickened look across her usually unflinching face, calling this “Bling gone obscenely mad.”

Kenny, poster boy for the unofficial Mzansi Bling Association – of which scandal-magnet Khanyi Mbau must be first lady, was asked for his humble opinion on this alarming trend and its propagators who consider him commander-in-chief of their movement. The millionaire ex-con confessed flattery but didn’t fail to mention that he worked for his money and would never destroy the goods he had worked so hard for…

At the moment there is no mention of violence at these baffling ‘Skhothane battles, but that seems unlikely. What happens when your granny can’t cough up the dough? Sadly, for one young man, the need to conform and the inability to keep up saw him take his own life. There is no doubt in my mind that theft occurs regularly in order to sustain this foolishness.  Theft at the least. Please put down the Ultra Mel. This isn’t worth it.


Image: Matheus Lopes Castro (c)

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