Heavens So Far Yet So Near

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In this article I briefly discuss the pros and cons of Afrikan peoples embrace and assimilation into the religion and cultural artifacts and practices of ancient Israel.

I am fully aware that there are many Black people who since the late 50’s began calling themselves African Hebrew Israelites and of the existence of the Lemba of Southern Africa and the Beta Israel, the so called Falasha of Ethiopia. I will later expand on what I think of these peoples and their practice, but this particular article deals with the music of AmaZioni, the Ngoni/Nguni peoples of Southern Africa who are proto-Christians yet retain much of the trances and customary practices of their respective indigenous cultures. Their god is Jehova, and their Messiah is called Jesus the Christ, but much of what they do bears little resemblance to the Judaic conception of God.

It is a continuation from a conversation begun on Facebook by Ndosi Ka Magaye.

 

 

The Revelation

a poem for John Coltrane

“To tremble in prayer & trepidation

To tremble against trepidation in prayer

Screech – Scream – Cry

To tremble with prayer

and arch the muscles of my back

in face of trepidation,

transparent beads bubbling from my forehead

Screech – Cry.

Bird of blood with razor-sharp

wings of boiling stone falling from God into my throat

claws my tonsils

sticks its feet way down into my stomach

and I double over trying to vomit

forth this bird

to the rhythms of anklets ashake

in the dance of a black-blue-black blue – black a black blue black African

Witch Doctor wailing wailing –

Scream high out into God.

fall heavily from the pole of light He offers to the snow

of doubt that freezes

all Spirits dancing gallop

to slabs of ice across the tongue.

Father, Father, understands me

Make, Purification, Psalm of Warmth

within Light – understand the reverent

screams of this confused devotee. “

its all natural

There is a sacred relationship between the natural and the spiritual worlds. I want to write about and for Black people. The people of Afrikan descent who are found all over the world. But we are going to use all knowledge and all the language we have inherited through our oppression and subjection to colonialism and imperialism to express some of the colors we exude. To express the way we were, the way we are and the potential we have to become whatever we collectively seek to be in the future. There is a song by Bheki Khoza called The End of The Blues, it is an interesting title for a deeply moving song. Although it is a guitar led instrumental, one can discern the sighs and existential pains of the people who are going through great tribulations. The musician as a prophetic vessel of the spirit has the freedom to paint a picture of a future where All Blues are gone, the proverbial How Long Blues of yesteryear, when the social, cultural and economic death of a people has come to an end. Even though surely the memory shall remain. But it is the nature of all things to change. Nothing really stays the same, even shades of blue can become black or white with the passage of time.

Since what I write emanates from a place of blackness, there will be a lot of Blues, more Blues then Greens, more Sepia, Browns, bloody red and all the rhythmic colours that define us a people. As Amiri Baraka wrote : We are the Blues people. What does that mean exactly, when there are so many colours in the spectrum of life? Beyond the Afrikan Amerikkkan musical evolution, is there anything that can explain why the Blues are so called? Has it anything to do with the colour of the night illuminated by the Moon? Does it have anything to do with the night rituals of our ancestors as they sat or danced around bonfires in the Deep Southern plantations during times of slavery?

Poet and former president of Senegal, Leopold Senghor writes: “Rhythm is the architecture of being, the inner dynamic that gives it form, the pure expressions of the life force. Rhythm is the vibratory shock, the force which, through our sense, grips is at the root of our being. It is expressed through corporeal and sensual means; through lines; surfaces; colours and volumes, in architecture, sculpture¬†or painting; through accents of poetry and music, through movements in the dance. But doing this, rhythm turns all these concrete things towards the spirit.”

This is about Nature. Nature and Music, Music and Sacred spaces in which we make and enjoy or engage with music. There are patterns in nature which parallel the human existence, it is our work to strive to understand or at least find some meaning in the suffering, the joys and the tensions in between.

Patterns in nature are beautiful. They help create order. The universe possesses such beauty and perfection. It has been the objective of many brilliant scientists for thousands of years to find ways to explain and express the universe using math, geometric shapes and even music. While most of us jazz musicians are not trying to explain the meaning of life in our solos, we are trying to express something meaningful. Improvising a combination of knowledge, technique, thoughts and feelings.” – Ted Nash ( How To Use Patterns to Enhance Your Creativity …)

sound dreams and forgetting

these dreams are not sound

purple hued

flirting with disastrous red

yet they are almost blue

and I often forget

how I got there

their naked truth

apparently

is the result of my nervous conditioning

and there is always a part that’s almost true

sisindwa yisisindo semisindo sizukulwane

sikashwele

Bantwana baka Maye Babo

Sifingqwe ngamasonto

sanikelwa ethala sisathwele

Izishingishane ziheleza kuze kuse

imibiko ifika ize iyophelel’emaweni

ngokweswel’izihlwele …

Ake sithule

Mhlwawumbe USimakade Ozwa konke uyoke Asiphendule

 

 

encounters with music

there is no inspiration in things

everything is floating in dark space

and when we randomly collide

Light Happens

Life happens …

Close the door

sit down

listen to this silence

where did it go?

before the music, breathe in

and let the sound take you

there is no one but you

in this space

you and the story-filled music

the bow

un-struck

on the eternal present tense

as we begin to write the stories of our lives

the loneliness is shattered by presences

the lessons of life are sustained

by the trauma the pain of the collision of time, space and thought

misdiagnosed sound

the pain

the thud and the grind

the poverty of explanations for the grooves

many find themselves in

the body of work

the toll on the body

the body of water

embodied evidence of mans ignorance

the mishearing

the unseeing

up close and personal with the unsightly

Silence Before and After the music

tree

For Bheki Hyacinth Mseleku

i have heard of that tree

hyacinth

ngiyawazi lowo muthi

ngiyayazi nembali yawo

kepha ngisalibele …

ubuhlungu bempilo nobuhlwempu bomphefumulu

kungenze ngafiphala

Sengaba kude nalowo owangitshala …

Rooted

I met an old man in the garden

And he told me

“Asparagacea”!

It is a flower from old glorious Babylon

Well they call her Iraq

these frail and fragile days

yes, beautiful Hyacinth

“Hyacinths are forever if you know what you’r doing …”

Deathless hue

these howlong blues

we are coloured by

history into names

nations, known unknowns

we are galactic beings

caught in the cruel current of the waves of time

and yet

our hearts melodies

our Souls harmonies

are timeless –

boundless energies bursting from the Source

IThongo!!!

Urging us closer

Closer to the Source.