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Hip-hop and theology collaborate to transform
Author: Corporate Communication - Sandra Mulder
Published: 05/02/2020

“To get the honest message out, you need to have knowledge of yourself and know what your political view, world view, your opinion, your focus, your purpose and your call in life is. This should be shared honestly. One should also try to see the essences of other people in their communication."

This was some of the wisdom hip-hop artist, poet, rapper and actor Hemelbesem, shared with students and staff at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Theology on Theology Day (3 February 2020) at the Attie van Wijk Auditorium in Stellenbosch. He delivered an inspiring message of “honest communication that share your beliefs, opinions, purpose and call in life" as a contribution to the students' transformative experience.


In a gripping and humorous speech entitled “Hip-hop, Community and Life", Hemelbesem explained that every artist, sculpture, painter and writer wanted to communicate information. According to him, when moving information from the heart or mind to another person (through your choice of medium), people will encounter “filters" between the mind and mouth like different vocabulary, accents, age, race, gender, opinions and political backgrounds. “All these filters influence your message. It is actually difficult to communicate and it is impossible for people to understand each other 100%."

Hemelbesem explained how easily messages could be misunderstood by sharing one of his own personal experiences with his wife. “Some men find it hard to be romantic and to say 'I love you'. The general problem a man has when it comes to romance is to be romantic. It is a tough thing for some men to express themselves and it is not so easy to say 'I love you'. I told my wife that I loved her and I meant it, I really meant it. Five days later, she said I did not say I love her anymore … but I meant it there (five days ago) and it still echoes here."

He said that he communicated best through hip-hop and according to him communication was information we wanted to share. “All pivotal moments in my life has music to it. The sound and music associated with some moments help to make that moment permanent." He elaborated by saying that music could bring change in people and took them from one space to another space, changing their minds and atmosphere.

“You can be hard-core and stay within the rules, and do not have to compromise. You will never please everybody with the truth, with your brilliant message, with your call from God. Can you honestly express yourself? It fluctuates and can change from day to day, but if you are sad, you can share your message from that point."

Hemelbesem clarified jokingly that the message was not about the students' testimonial story of “I was a drug lord and the Lord touched me, but an honest sharing of your essence in life."

He ended his address by performing the hip-hop lyrics of “I paint pictures": “I paint pictures that are so vivid, if you look at the pictures, it would reflect your soul in it, we paint pictures to give life to the Scriptures, we do it on a stage that the crowd might witness …"

  • Siphokazi Jonas concluded the Theology Day event with a monologue. She is a writer, poet and spoken word artist who produced three one-woman poetry productions and recently presented the theatre production Around the Fire at the Artscape Spiritual Festival. Her performance followed an address entitled “Rhythm: a theological reflection" by Dr Marnus Havenga from the Faculty and a panel discussion about “The role of the arts in society and faith community" lead by Prof Stella Viljoen from SU's Department of Visual Arts. 
Photographer: Sandra Mulder