Artist Interview: Thandi Gamedze

Artist Interview

Thandi Gamedze | Spoken Word Artist

March 4, 2016

This morning, I recorded Thandi’s spoken word titled “Your Pen” in my bedroom studio. Thandi hails from South Africa and is a third-year student at BSSM. She also has a huge heart for social justice. I interviewed her after our recording session and got to learn a lot about her creative journey with God and the revelation she has about God’s great value for creativity.

What is your dream as a spoken word artist?

Creativity and writing are one of the things that I like the most, but it’s also one of the things that get pushed aside the quickest when things get busy or when life is crazy. It’s something that brings me so much life.

Recently especially, I’ve been feeling so strongly about God’s heart for creativity. It’s like the first thing that people who are creative push aside, but with God, it’s not like that at all. I think the way that he values creativity compared to the way that we value creativity—or the way that I have valued creativity—is so different. For Him, it’s just as important as the other day-to-day stuff, if not more important. So definitely it’s something that I want to invest more into, because it does make me come alive.

I want to see people’s perspectives get shifted and mindsets get shaped. I would love to see people get healed when they listen to my spoken word and I’d love to see people encounter love and encounter Jesus through that. Those are some of my dreams.

You said that God really cares about creativity and not just whether or not we are surviving, but how did you come to that realization? How did you learn that?

The first experience I had of that was in first year (BSSM). I was taking Pam’s Writing AMT. There was a piece that I felt like God had been wanting me to write and had given me inspiration for. I was pushing it aside and feeling like “Oh, it’s not that important. I don’t need to do this right now.” But then I felt God speak so strongly, “It actually is really important, and what if this is the thing that can set people free? What if this is the thing that can shift mindsets?” It really gave me a glimpse into the weight that He sees on creativity.

Also, seeing the power of creativity and the way it can tell stories and help people really engage in something that otherwise they wouldn’t have engaged with. Even something like “The Humans of New York,” how he tells people stories, and it’s often people that the viewers would never actually come into contact with and so never be able to have insight into their lives or have compassion for those people. But through a photograph and a part of their story, people are able to engage and have compassion where they couldn’t before. I feel like that’s the power of creativity. It just opens up a different world.

Also, God has been speaking to me about how everyone carries a different piece of His face, how everyone’s expression is conveying a different part of Him to the world. And if you shut that off, then people don’t get to experience that part of Him. So if He’s put that creativity inside of you, it’s so important to release it; otherwise the world is missing out on something.

And if you look at the media too, how it shifts the way people interact with the world or literally affects society and political policies… it’s scary. But it’s just a testament of the power of creativity.

Exactly. The media is releasing one thing, but if we can release another thing that’s in line with the Kingdom and aligned with God, how much more powerful can that be?

Yes!

So when did you realize that you like spoken word?

Someone actually asked me this the other day, and I was trying to think back about it.

I’ve always loved writing, and then at some point I started writing poetry. Then I found some spoken word on YouTube and was listening to it. And I don’t know what it is about spoken word; I love it so much. It just feels like it cuts straight to the heart. It’s just so powerful in releasing a message and releasing it with creativity. Really direct stuff that can hit you when you listen to it.

So I just tried to write a piece a few years ago, and I’ve carried on from there.

I feel like a lot of people enjoy listening to spoken word but don’t have the guts to do it. Have you ever been scared of public speaking?

I did public speaking and debate in high school, but that’s not the same. For so long, I never shared any of my poetry or pieces that I had written. It wasn’t until I came to Bethel that I really started going after that.

I think that when you write—and it’s like this with all creativity—it is scary to release, because it’s such a vulnerable part of you, and you pull it out of your heart and put it in front of other people to do with whatever they want to do with it. And that’s also a testimony to how important it actually is. If the enemy has gone after stealing people’s creativity, instilling fear into them not to release it or let it be seen, that shows how powerful it actually is, in releasing the kingdom and advancing the kingdom.

So, yes, I shared a poem that I had done in revival group in first year. And you know how everyone is so encouraging? So I think doing that gave me the confidence to keep going and keep doing it.

But there’s still that thing, and I have to push myself to get stuff out and to share it.

But I feel so strongly about encouraging people to do spoken word, people that are even a little bit interested, because that expression is so important. I feel like people think it has to look like something, but if you look at a bunch of different people performing spoken word, it’s completely different for each person. There’s so much freedom in the way that you can write it, in the rhyming and in the way that you deliver it. So you can basically go any direction that you want. I just think people should do it! Because it’s so cool. And in that freedom, people get more freedom to express themselves.

Last question. For myself, I’ve started to see that this is true and I think for a lot of preachers as well: God sometimes gives each person a theme for their life—like someone’s theme could be identity or the Father’s heart, like John Piper. Do you feel like you have a theme that you tend to write about or speak about when you do spoken word? Something that God has put on your heart more strongly than others?

That’s a good question. I think Identity is definitely a strong theme. But my heart is so strongly about Justice. And by justice, I don’t mean someone needing to be punished for something they had done wrong, but more like whatever has been stolen to be restored, so I guess that ties back to identity as well.

I think it has been different revelations and encounters that God has given me about different parts of His heart. It’s been a really great way for me to express those sort of things.

And I want to start writing more about social justice issues and shining light on those things and making people aware of what’s going on.

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