One's To Watch: Abondance Matanda
“I feel like a flippin’ hologram,” Abondance grins, her gold tooth glistening between gulps of curried goat. “Last year I was just a shy little nonsense girl going through life and now it’s like, can I get used to being eighteen?”
In 2016, Abondance self-published two collections of perceptive, glinting poetry (Da Poetry of My Existence and #BareFucker1es) and wrote for Sula Collective, gal-dem, LAW and more. After speaking in a barely-audible mumble for most of the year, her blooming confidence was palpable during recent readings at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Women On Docs. “I don’t like talking. I’m still not a talker,” she swiftly clarifies.
"I’m not Beyonce — I don’t know what people want of me and I don’t care either."
Wise beyond her years, contemplative and disarmingly talented, Abondance is poised to step her Air Force 1s into an eye-opening future. “This year, I’ve given myself life. Too many times too. Life knocked me down like a hundred times, but I’m on the right path. I actually low key know what I’m doing.”
Born in London of Ugandan and Congolese heritage, Abondance scopes out and slices into voices and languages to conjure raw, righteous writing. Her way with words, used to pick apart the ways of the world, is a punch in the gut. Everywhere, all at once, its sparks skip across text messages, spoken word and zines; disregarding each context’s conventions in favour of something altogether more authentic.
“Nothing’s very fully formed. It’s literally zero and a hundred at the same time.”
Abondance’s third poetry zine, #BareFucker1es, is wrought with anger and warm with inquisitive pride. “It’s nang poetry by a gnarly yute. It’s mad raw. Sometimes I read back and it’s like, ‘What were you flippin’ feeling?’” Its poems, bound together with safety pins, plunge the reader from toothy grins to tears, via incredulous frustration at life’s trials and tribulations, all textured by this Tottenham girl’s tongue.
“I knew I wanted to do something on the anniversary of Mark Duggan’s death and I knew I wanted to do it across the road from Tottenham Police Station,”Abondance asserts. So, five years to the day and less than mile away from where Duggan was shot by police, triggering the worst riots in modern British history, she launched #BareFucker1es. “I had things to say and I needed to get them out.”
For every scathing snarl and deep bruise that #BareFucker1es bares, Abondance offers affirmation. In Shantelles & Shanelles, she praises, “dem slick back big puff mix race girls who wear ripped jeans to roam the high road,” whilst BLK British Girlhood glows with, “cocoa butter shine on shaved legs.” Elsewhere, in No Patience, Abondance urges herself and others to, “set pace on the pavement.”
As such, the air amongst family and friends at the launch – scented with KA Fruit Punch - was defiant, yet celebratory, of remembrance and excitement. #BareFucker1es sold out at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (on Abondance’s birthday) and has joined the ranks of cultural documents at the prestigious Stuart Hall Library.
“Just coming into contact with people whose hearts are really big has been bless.”
Over the last grains of rice and peas, recollections turn to resolutions for making moves and doing bits in 2017. “I want to be creating, doing or providing things that make people like, ‘Oh, shit. I need to up my game,’” she reveals. “I’m very aware of the power that people have within themselves and I’m not scared of embracing my own.”
Written by Joseph Bond
Shot by Adama Jalloh