Lets Dare To Invent The Future

Green Ankh Works in Collaboration with Mercurial Films and CineCulture is delivering an in-depth Master Class on Esoteric Africa, Afrikology, Afro-Futurism and the History and Future of Black Science Fiction …

 

Menzi Mercurial

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Reality and Imagination Influence Genius in Sci-Fi

Are there any stories that particularly influenced these novellas?

I started writing Binti when I was in a deeply bothered state. Much of the Binti series came from personal struggles, narratives, and imaginings. I can’t really name any novels that were a specific influence.

When I look back, I can see flashes of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in Binti. The character of Nausicaä has a lot of similarities to Binti: both are agents of change and mediators. Binti, however, is far more nonviolent. Also, some other elements from the graphic novels and animated films found their way into the DNA of the Binti trilogy. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, and my love for that series and world helped me find the courage to write my own space opera. Lastly, there was a cartoon I loved from the ‘80s called Galaxy High. It was about an intergalactic high school. I loved that cartoon.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/25/15610998/nnedi-okorafor-binti-home-night-masquerade-cover-interview-read

Heroes of Black Science Fiction

In the late 1980s, Butler published her Xenogenesis trilogy—Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989). This series of books explores issues of genetics and race. To insure their mutual survival, humans reproduce with aliens known as the Oankali. Butler received much praise for this trilogy. She went on to write the two-installment Parable series—Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998).

In 1995, Butler received a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation—becoming the first science-fiction writer to do so—which allowed her to buy a house for her mother and herself.

 

https://www.biography.com/people/octavia-e-butler-38207

“I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the history: the pain and fear that black people have had to live through in order to endure.”

Phinda Ufak’ugesi: For The Love of the Electronic Sound

Couch Session

Buzzing with the adrenaline inducing sounds of Jungle inna mi newly dread-less hed …

I remain in awe of Music, its healing and revealing powers …

feeling great and newly liberated but still feeling rather weird … the music helps …heals visible and invisible wounds …and as Marley sang “When it hits u feel no pain …”

Its a Jungle in here and its a Jungle out there …

No its not drum and bass, its Jungle, a ruff and dexterous mixture of Reggae, R’n B throwbacks, EDM, Dance-Hall and Pure Energy …great vibes to drive to at night. Anyone hearing what I listen to would think I am truly mad, how can one listen to Terrence Blanchard’s Flow during the day and DJ Hype’s  – Jungle Warfare – Droll de Bass at night … same day …transitions from organic to electronic soundscapes …and remain sane?

I have just returned home from a Listening session …

Just read an article on Felix Laband ….in this nice Counter-Culturish journal/magazine, I think its called The Lake*, reminds me of one of my fave Odd Future …songs “Meet Me At The Lake …”

Anyway, I was introduced to Felix Laband’s eclectic electronic vibes by an odd friend called XJ aka Jobe aka many aka’s … Hey I did not know that Laband was from PMB, always thought his progressive otherworldly and often dark sounds had some kinda Jozi, Cape Town thing about them …and I have been to some gigs where he was playing in Cape Town …he is kinda legendary …Anyways …this is not really about him …but the article exposed as lot of basic truisms about the NIGHT Life. Mine is almost over with due to fact that I am married with Triplets …what with curfews and what not …but we are at peace …

When I got home, I wanted to simply write about the listening experience organised by Russel Hlongwane, one of Durban’s best curators, organizers, musical, artistic, lifestyle things coordinator extraordinaire …

This Couch Session, although there was no couch … featuring dude from Switzerland was advertised thusly : “Zurich based producer and beatmaker, Melodiesinfonie, is doing his South African tour, part of which includes a BeatLab at the Fak’Ugesi Digital Festival currently happening in Jhb. Melodiesinfonie will spend four days in Durban where he is hosting a workshop in Groutville, gig at the Winston Pub and a couch session/ meet ‘n greet at Khaya Records.

The discussion will circle around Melodiesinfonie method, his influence and production style and the experience of being a hip hop/ jazz – soul – electronica musician in Switzerland. He will also share his reflections of participating at the Beat Lab. He is also looking to meet and engage with the local community of musicians, producers, DeeJays and consumers. He would also present a brief set or maybe play around with his gadgets, who knows. We will also have our friends from Weheartbeat which is an integrated multi-media beat platform consisting of a concept record store, live events, workshops, listening sessions, monthly podcast releases, webisode features, music compilations, clothing and exhibitions.” 

It was a joyful experience. I drove home characteristically early. But I was glad I got to play my childhood faves Donna Summer*, and Michael Franks on the vinyl player …

But when I drove home I put on my brother Khaya’s Junglist tunes, Heavy Bass, Hardcore Reggae, Electronic, Drum and Bass and positive messages … Hopefully one day I shall write a little more about the Jungle Sound, about Dub and about Reggae and about Why such a Beautiful Coastal City such as Durban still does not have a Jungle/Reggae/Dub scene that is lucrative enough for Artists to make a living …

But then again, much of the Sounds that are discerning and require true Artistry ever get the mass appeal …many Artists from around the world can testify …Its cold out there outside the Pop World …

But as the Junglist said in the mix: “Only the fittest of the fittest shall survive …kill all the fuckery out there”

The only good system is a Sound system.

 

 

On the dangers of Self-Help Guru’s

The pursuit of Wisdom as a precondition to joy, happiness and proximity to the Divine is as ancient as the Step Pyramids of ancient Kemet and Nubia, older than the plethora of temples in all of the East and beyond. Humanity’s search for the knowledge that would free us from what we perceive as ignorance and suffering is remarkably archaic. But one wonders whether after so much has been learned, why is it that Self Knowledge remains ever so elusive to many people?

Today there is a huge commercial market dedicated solely to what is called Self-Help books. There are just as many Guru’s from India to Senegal, Mali to the heartlands of the USA and all imaginable countries – men and women who are supposedly the chosen ones, the messiah’s and light bearers whose sole purpose is to liberate all of us from the darkness of our own being. As I had just lamented to my younger brother Khaya, all of these Guru’s books are repeating the same message – it does not matter how unique one may claim to be, they are all saying the same thing with just a minuscule amount of personal touch or style. This evening I told my brother how shocked I was at what I read earlier from Osho*. Without saying too much let me just quote him:

“Capitalism is not an ‘ism’ at all; just don’t get too obsessed by the word. Sometimes words become too important to us and we tend to forget the reality. Capitalism is not an ideology; it is not imposed on the society, it is a natural growth. It is not like communism, or fascism, or socialism – these are ideologies; they have to be imposed. Capitalism has come on its own.” (page 69, Osho, 2003)

Needless to say, even though I am not surprised that this is coming from Osho, who plies his trade from proverbial shock and awe, I became worried about the impact that such misleading words might have on young impressionable minds, who read the rest of this mans work, which is clearly a mixture of the truth and blatant nonsense. My brother gave a clear answer: “Osho is a charlatan, he is like all these so called new age teachers, getting rich by exploiting ancient knowledge.” Suddenly it made so much sense, because Osho and all the New Agers like himself are in the business of selling something that should not be sold at all. They are like the pharmaceutical companies, ensuring that you keep coming back for the same prescription, and they are connected to the whole network of the sickness business. They are not at all at the service of humanity, but like a talented Artist who decides to satisfy his or her baser instincts, would rather make a quick buck instead of producing something Soulful and Authentic.

This is how Osho, prefaces his book, aptly titled Come, Come, Yet Again Come: “You have heard many people, you have read many people; but hearing me or reading me is a totally different experience, for the simple reason that I am not a speaker, an orator, a lecturer. My words are not important. What is important is your silent listening.” 

Now can you imagine if one has to choose to listen to either Osho or Lenin, regarding the same subject of capitalism? Please read the following and make up your own mind.

Osho writes :”Capitalism is individualism, it is not a social structure, it is more than that, it is just democracy and freedom. Capitalism is pure freedom. Of course, everybody is not capable of creating wealth, hence it creates jealousy. But we should not be dominated by jealousy. Capitalism is not an ideology at all, that’s why I prefer it.” ( Osho, page 77, Come …)

Lenin writes: “Finance capital, concentrated in a few hands and exercising a virtual monopoly, exacts enormous and ever increasing profits from the floating of companies, issue of stock, state loans, etc., tightens the grip of financial oligarchies and levies tribute upon the whole of society for the benefit of monopolies.” ( Lenin, Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, A Popular Outline, 1939)

Lenin continues to give examples of how pervasive and detrimental to human well-being and progress capitalism really is. To think that the one author writes at the turn of the 20th century while the other writes such hogwash at the beginning of the 21st century makes me shiver. But the point I am raising here is that there is more to the world than capitalism or communism.; yet to simply pretend that a system that has rendered the world a market rather than a home for the species, a system that has turned even water and many other natural resources into profit is the ultimate freedom, is lunacy.

Communism has its flaws, but at least it gives a cogent rationale towards making a world a better place, a more equitable and fairer place to live. The New Age Guru’s simply tell you to listen to them and take their opinion as the truth, because they are unique, possessing some uncanny wisdom.

I have just discovered this disturbing story from another blog:

( http://matthewremski.com/wordpress/boycott-satyanandas-literature-and-methods-until-reparations-are-made-for-sexual-abuse/ )  but I am also adding what I think is a great response from a reader: ”

Thank you so, so much for this well-researched and very thoughtful piece, that sadly only scratches the surface of much vaster web of deceit, hypocrisy and abuse within the yoga, guru and ashram worlds. Unfortunately these things are far too often swept under the rug. The old model of deifying our beloved teachers I think needs to be reconsidered in this day and age, as they so often seem to buckle under their own impossible standards and go undercover with behaviors that, under a veil of secrecy, become increasingly more depraved. Someday I hope these leaders figure out that most people respect and admire self-effacement, humility, and transparency. Nobody respects a liar, abuser and hypocrite. The Bihar School and all who are associated with Satyananda’s teachings have an opportunity here to set an almost unprecedented example of fearless adherence to yogic principles by publicly acknowledging, condemning and apologizing for these abuses, and as you said, take steps to make amends to the victims.

On a side note, I think the spelling is Niranjanananda, nor Niranjananda. 😉”

In praise of wisdom

“Now unto what under the heavens shall wisdom be compared? It is sweeter than honey, and it maketh one to rejoice more than wine, and it illumineth more than the sun, and it is to be loved more than precious stones. And it fatteneth more than oil, and it satisfieth more than dainty meats, and it giveth [a man] more renown than thousands of gold and silver.

It is a source of joy for the heart, and a bright and shining light for the eyes, and a giver
of speed to the feet, and a shield for the breast, and a helmet for the head, and
chain-work for the neck, and a belt for the loins. It maketh the ears to hear and
hearts to understand, it is a teacher of those who are learned, and it is a consoler of
those who are discreet and prudent, and it giveth fame to those who seek after it.
And as for a kingdom, it cannot stand without wisdom, and riches cannot be
preserved without wisdom; the foot cannot keep the p. 22place wherein it hath set
itself without wisdom. And without wisdom that which the tongue speaketh is not
acceptable.

Wisdom is the best of all treasures. He who heapeth up gold and silver
doeth so to no profit without wisdom, but he who heapeth up wisdom—no man can
filch it from his heart. That which fools heap up the wise consume. And because of
the wickedness of those who do evil the righteous are praised; and because of the
wicked acts of fools the wise are beloved. Wisdom is an exalted thing and a rich
thing: I will love her like a mother, and she shall embrace me like her child.

I will follow the footprints of wisdom and she shall protect me for ever; I will seek after
wisdom, and she shall be with me for ever; I will follow her footprints, and she shall
not cast me away; I will lean upon her, and she shall be unto me a wall of adamant; I
will seek asylum with her, and she shall be unto me power and strength; I will rejoice
in her, and she shall be unto me abundant grace. For it is right for us to follow the
footprints of wisdom, and for the soles of our feet to stand upon the threshold of the
gates of wisdom.

Let us seek her, and we shall find her; let us love her, and she will
not withdraw herself from us; let us pursue her, and we shall overtake her; let us ask,
and we shall receive; and let us turn our hearts to her so that we may never forget
her. If [we] remember her, she will have us in remembrance; and in connection with
fools thou shalt not remember wisdom, for they do not hold her in honour, and she
doth not love them. The honouring of wisdom is the honouring of the wise man, and
the loving of wisdom is the loving of the wise man. Love the wise man and withdraw
not thyself from him, and by the sight of him thou shalt become wise; hearken to the
utterance of his mouth, so that thou mayest become like unto him; watch the place
whereon he hath set his foot, and leave him not, so that thou mayest receive the
remainder of his wisdom. And I love him merely on p. 23hearing concerning him and
without seeing him, and the whole story of him that hath been told me is to me as the
desire of my heart, and like water to the thirsty man.”

– Queen of Sheba praising Wisdom in the Kebra Nagast

Compositionz -Undoing The Other-ring

After viewing Sphephelo Mnguni’s exhibition for the first time, I wanted to remark that his work, although probing into uncomfortable racial and gendered narratives, appears to NOT BE ANGRY. Yes, there is a lot of red and a lot of aspects that provoke one to reflect with concern over the un-transformed state of our Urban settings, but the Artist appears to have measured his message quite evenly, making his testimony in what seems to be a more reflective/ mirroring and objective way. Speaking during the launch of the exhibition, Mnguni mentioned that though he has a story to tell, he is eager to emphasize that his is “Not the only story.”  He urged us all to find in his work, a way to tell our own stories and face our own fears and prejudices. To question the spaces we exist in and often take for-granted as merely given. It is possible that I may be misreading his messages but as a person who also grew up in the Township before moving to the Suburbs, I saw so much of myself in this depictions of taxis moving along the ‘white area” along the walls, the  White routes in and out of the Ghetto. It is a story of Separate Development and deliberate race based underdevelopment, it is also a story of violence against the black body and as Mnguni also mentioned, the “Shameful violence against the Black woman.” The image of the primus stove, conjured up images of nights in the Township of KwaMashu where my Grandmothers would vigorously pump this hazardous ‘poor peoples stove’ in order to cook for us and keep us warm. But let me begin this way.

It was a serendipitous to walk into TheOtherRoom, an arts, books and music space situated next to Khaya Records at the corner of Lilian Ngoyi and Florida Road in Durban’s Morningside suburb. Being one of Durban’s burgeoning vinyl record companies which is just one  area where history is brought alive so vividly by the kind of music that issues from within these walls. This particular afternoon was even more special as I walked into the space while a song called Ma-Afrika by Sister Cool was blasting from the record player. Sister Cool happens to be a Afro-Pop group which released this record through Cool Spot Productions way back in 1989. Before I proceeded towards my mission of viewing Sphephelo Mnguni’s installation titled Compositionz* in the OtherRoom and displayed all over the passage walls, i read these interesting words on the back of the Sister Cool album sleeve: “Afrika, Everything About You Appeals To All Nations.

Entering The OtherRoom I sat down on a stack of magazine cuttings, to view a film titled Ubuqhophololo/Staircase, Created and Directed by Sphephelo Mnguni. I was not too surprised to hear the distinctive guitar refrain aka Madala-Line of KZN legend Madala Kunene forming the first part of the film. The all too familiar Township scene that is shown against this musical background is both disturbing and intriguing in its ordinariness. Mnguni’s rendering of  black and white light, space and the textures of the shacks is a cinematographic masterstroke. After we see a Black boy running through the precarious pathways in the shack-lands carrying a 2 liter Coca Cola bottle half-filled with a clear liquid which we later discover to be paraffin, the scene shifts to a depiction of an older Black youth going to fetch water from the communal tap. While everything around him is rendered in Black and White, the 10 liter containers he uses exude a golden glow.  Once he returns into his one room shack he proceeds to have a bath, but while he is doing so, the screen is halved so that we also see a white woman in an advert for Palmolive soap, which appears to be a skin-lightening ingredient. The youth is applying soap and water on his face while the white lady also wipes her own face with this Palmolive, the image immediately reminds me of Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin-White Masks*. Mnguni’s work as evidenced by many juxtapositions and scenes in this short-film and shot-through the whole gallery space presents us with the unmistakable nuances of the Black Consciousness tradition. So the Fanonian imagery is obviously not a mistake. Infact, although the young Mnguni does not come across as a deliberately political or ideologically motivated Artist, it is clear from viewing his work that there is no fence sitting here and that everything is political whether we want it that way or not.

I am not sure which aspect of this expansive and thought-provoking work to begin with as all of it is composed in such a way that one can see the politically fraught transitions from Township to the Suburb that part of this work explicitly focuses on. I am also careful not to give away to much information, as it is best to view the work for oneself. I will revisit this work and write a little more and perhaps add some images.

Leaving the gallery, these are the rough notes I jotted on my journal:

Draft Review: “Compositions, Collages, Co-existence, Confluence, Conditioning, Art as a conduit…

All these terms and more, come together in Mnguni’s installation work, visual arts, music and a psychological exploration of what it means to commute daily from a place of blackness to a place of whiteness while knowing that you are part of the majority population – yet the way the city is planned still makes you feel like The Other, the alien in your own native land. The work somehow reflects the character, personality and current conditions of the artist himself. Whether his work may be categorized as social-commentary, protest-art is speculative and would probably only box the Artist into some concept coined by both liberal and conservative viewers from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

What strikes me about this massive and expansive work is how it is devoid of any condemnation, bitterness or confusion. It is as the title suggests, Composed. It is the Artists work acting as a mirror to a society that is still grappling with the legacies of colonialism, apartheid and a convoluted nationalism. Mnguni’s voice reminds me of how Hip Hop mentions everything that is happening around us yet does not claim to hold solutions or any antidotes. The writing is literally on the wall. Sphephelo Mnguni is really a promising and intelligently articulate young Artist to watch closely. His sense of compassion and revolutionary consciousness is original, distinct and quite refreshing to see.” –

The Exhibition, titled Compositionz is up for the whole Heritage Month of September. Check it out and lets tell our own stories.

Menzi Maseko (c)

 

 

 

 

 

Timelessness /Sonininanini

 

What is time, beyond the Defined

beyond the measurements and instruments …In what dimension is time / a fundamental and realistic feature? —factor in anything, any material and condition and experience

Does it all manifest in time

or is taking place in a

Circle or cyclic stages of a wheel revolving in time, on time, in between and out of time?

In my head I am hearing Abbey Lincoln singing –

With Bhekumuzi Mseleku accompanying her –

Through the years 

The sound

Of love and music …”

Also on my mind at the very same time

is Abdullah Ibrahim

Brother With Perfect Timing also known as

Bra Timing From Mopholong

many other thoughts, spaces and traces of perpetuated memory

all co-existing in what I call my mind right now

-rhythmic elements

breathing sounds and heaving scrolls

-The pulsing life-forces of the 4 Living Beings around me right now

my Beloved, my three sons

all harmonizing with the joy of living –  sleeping only to be awakened by a benevolent Sun

Its furious mercy could unmake us all but providence gives us space

gives us distance

gives us time

And of course there are many other living entities around us

they are not bound by the dictatorship of time

beings beyond the 5 nodes

there are others beyond the realms of extra-sensory perception

even speculation

when we are inclined we can picture them

scripture them like Samuel R. Delaney

feature creature them like Nnedi Okorafor’s tales of inner spaces

Time is Relative to each experience

before Einsteins theory

or any scientists hypothesis

there is a beating of a drum / a clock

that does not measure or define time – the clock as neither arms nor digits

it is in and around the essential timelessness

a Black Existential void where we are seen in Light of our own being

Beyond this death of a lifetime

in due time

the title of a song by Outkast featuring Cee-Lo Green

Echoes of Sojourner Truth, Bhambada and Harriet Tubman echoed by the Dungeon Family

We are Gods Body of Work Reflecting our Godhood through sound

Revolutionary Ideas worth sharing

http://www.asante.net/articles/1/afrocentricity/

“The Afrocentric paradigm is a revolutionary shift in thinking proposed as a constructural adjustment to black disorientation, decenteredness, and lack of agency. The Afrocentrist asks the question, “What would African people do if there were no white people?”  In other words, what natural responses would occur in the relationships, attitudes toward the environment, kinship patterns, preferences for colors, type of religion, and historical referent points for African people if there had not been any intervention of colonialism or enslavement? Afrocentricity answers this question by asserting the central role of the African subject within the context of African history, thereby removing Europe from the center of the African reality. In this way, Afrocentricity becomes a revolutionary idea because it studies ideas, concepts, events, personalities, and political and economic processes from a standpoint of black people as subjects and not as objects, basing all knowledge on the authentic interrogation of location.” – Asante