Slam Poet – Topaz, reciting his poetry at the AFH School Banner workshop
at Ogwini Technical High School.
23 year old Mzamo Jiyeza (Topaz) is an independent poet specialising in Slam poetry (poetry done with a beat and rhythm) and musician who is currently involved with the Art for Humanity school banner workshops.
Topaz who grew up in Mtubatuba, was a bookworm from a young age, and says that hip hope music has made him what he is today. “I grew up in a family, where my uncle played alot of Hip Hop music, and from a young age I started listening to the lyrics and wanting to know what the words mean, by 1997 I could rap and by the age of 13, I was able to write my own words.” Topaz believes that poets are born and not made, and therefore is completely self-taught with no tertiary education in poetry or music. He adds that his love for rap music is what gave him an understanding of words.
Topaz attended the School banner workshop at Ogwini Technical School on the 11 August with the AFH team, recited his poetry to the enthusiastic students. He believes that the learners are not the only ones who have gained knowledge from the workshop, and remarked that children have lessons for older people to learn from, and that you teach them and they in return teach you back. “I get to learn myself and grow myself, it’s all about giving back,” he said.
He attended Mlokothwa High School, but says that it is art that he attributes his success to, “Art has saved me, I am an art activist and Hip Hop activist, I got to learn art naturally, and began starting organisations to help children realise their artistic talents,” he said. Having lived on the streets for a short period of time Topaz said, “I am not ashamed of it, it has been a definite influence on my aims to assist street children.”
Apart from being apart of the AFH School Banner Workshops Topaz is also signed to ‘Love Child’ and is apart of ‘ The Network’, which uses music as a source to connect people and which also runs workshops for children and artists to learn about art and music.
A passionate Topaz believes that art is limitless and it has definitely become his life. “I believe in art, because I am art...”