Hullo, Bu-bye, Koko, Come In – also pronounced and as translated as: Hello, Bye-Bye, Koko [knock knock] Come In – is a phrase that was used and popularised by South African antiapartheid Afropop musician, dancer and activist Brenda Fassie in her 1990 hit song Istraight Lendaba. In his essay, Thinking of Brenda, Njabulo S Ndebele writes about how lyrically, Fassie’s songs are a mish-mash of the latest township lingo, sometimes barely comprehensible even to locals, but they stick in the minds of her listeners.
“What Brenda does, and this seems in part an ingrained pattern of behaviour, as we shall see later, is bring together unusual, apparent unconnected juxtapositions that make sense only in context. The phrase may look like an incomprehensible ‘mishmash’ to the socially uninitiated. But it is a free spirit expression of the social energy in the endless comings and goings in the township, the meetings and the partings, and the opening and the closing of doors. It is a dramatic validation of common experience.” – Njabulo S Ndebele.
In her forthcoming collection of poems Hullo, Bu-bye, Koko, Come in, Koleka Putuma tackles the legacies of black femme erasure from arts and society; names, bodies and lives lost in the ledgers of institutional history (both taught and passed down). The poems in the book take a microscopic look at the endless comings and goings, the meetings and the partings, and the opening and the closing of doors, in entertainment, society, archives, institutions of memory and learning.
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