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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Inspired By The Living Road

Everybody gets the Blues! This is what I thought this morning, while driving to BK bookbinders to print yet another batch of my book Rock ‘n Rule – I was listening to one of my many mix-tapes ( I never can decide what to listen to so I decided to put it all into either mix-tapes /Compact Discs or in a USB ).

Between the Hip Hop,  Reggae-Dub, Jazz, Afro-Fusion and Rhythm&Blues,one can never be done with these labels, these boxes; there came along songs by such artists as Msaki and The Golden Circle and the indomitable and deeply engaging voice of Lhasa de Sela; The Mexican-Canadian artist was introduced to me by a very intelligent and eclectic Romanian ex-girlfriend a couple of years ago. I am yet to thank her for this and many other indelible gifts she may not be aware that she bestowed upon me. Only the music lives to tell the soundtrack of the journey.

Now, I am working on a film project about the Life and Dreams of an intriguing friend of mine and I am actively listening for Soundtracks or Cinematic music to fit with the spirit and images of this quasi-magical project. Hearing Lhasa’s song My Name, this morning got me so very inspired, I almost did not reach my initial destination. All I wanted to do was park by the roadside and somehow register this light-bulb moment, perhaps match the song with some of the images and texts that we have already put together.

Lhasa sings with such melancholic surrender and the musicians accompanying her carry her lovelorn tales with dexterous precision. The music is at once very modern or electronic based, yet remains decidedly grounded in the minimalist genius of the individual players.

Such is the power of music. We have even considered making the film project a sort of tapestry of sounds, scenes that a woven together in such a way that they form a coherently multi-storied collage. But let me not give away too much. I am now listening to Blue Note recording artist Lionel Loueke’s Heritage project, a swooning and magnificent project, co-produced by pianist/keyboardist Robert Glasper. Yet again, my ‘scatter-brained’ Self discovered Loueke’s Karibu album, another ‘gift’ from a friend who called Osmosis Liza, who is actually involved in the film project.

By sheer coincidence, (If we can call these strings of serendipitous incidents coincidences), Karibu contains a version of Naima, the John Coltrane song I recently told the lady who is the main subject of the project that I wanted to include in the Soundtrack. This is the difficulty with labeling music. This version of Loueke’s version of Naima is so string laden, electric and expansive, it is only the clarinetist and bassist who make it vaguely recognizable, yet somehow this now seems to be the perfect fit for this Afrocentric tale that we are trying to tell.

Here are the Lyrics to the Lhasa song that captured my imagination; I so hope that one can obtain the Rights to use it once the whole film is ready for Production etc:

Lhasa de Sela – My name (The Living Road 2003)

Why don’t you ask me How long I’ve been waiting / Set down on the road With the gunshots exploding / I’m waiting for you In the gloom and the blazing / I’m waiting for you I sing like a slave / I know I should know better / I’ve learned all my lessons / Right down to the letter / And still I go on like this Year after year / Waiting for miracles And shaking with fear /

Why don’t you answer /Why don’t you come save me / Show me how to use All these things that you gave me / Turn me inside out So my bones can save me / Turn me inside out You’ve come this close/  You can come even closer / The gunshots get louder / And the world spins faster /And things just get further And further apart / The head from the hands And the hands from the heart /

One thing that’s true Is the way that I love him / The earth down below And the sky up above him / And still I go on like this Day after day Still I go on like this / Now I’ve said this I already feel stronger / I can’t keep waiting for you Any longer / I need you now not someday When I’m ready /Come down on the road Come down on the road

My name, my name Nothing is, nothing is the same / And I won’t go back the way I came My name, my name Nothing is the same “

The sadness and the sheer Blues of these lyrics and the way the late Canadian-Mexican singer carries it just grabs at the heartstrings and will not let go until the last phrase.

The Language of Dance

It has been a long time since I have witnessed a contemporary dance piece that moved me so much. Just a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to witness the collective multi-disciplinary installation of the Iqhiya Artists, a collective of women who met as students in Cape Town and subsequently formed a movement of themselves for various noble purposes. Although I did not spend a lot of time at the KZNSA viewing their installations, I really was captivated by some of the work they displayed and how they articulated themselves both individually and as a collective. Their work had an implicit and also explicit feminist tone. When they showed one of their films at Ikomkhulu Art Gallery, run by Amasosha Arts Movement, it generated a very healthy debate around questions of women’s invisibility both socially and as artists. A robust debate was had surrounding matters of patriarchal dominance of every conceivable social space and how women were challenging that and taking charge of their own narratives – moving away from the predominant colonial and male gazes and conditioning.

Tonight at the KZNSA Gallery I and I witnessed two elaborate and well executed dance movements. Part of the Jomba festivals, programs called Jomba! @ The KZNSA Gallery presents; Jomba!’s KZN ON THE EDGE…

The first piece, called “Otherwise” a sort of freestyle and interactive experience where almost all the members of the audience were included in the piece. . . It actually began with some of the dancers writhing and contorting  on the floor of the courtyard while some were seated among the audience. There was a lot of running to and fro, and despite the few clear communicative and Unitarian pieces of choreography, the work was rather long and had me lost after a while. But this does not take away from the dancers erudite and dedicated moves, whose language clearly depicted the struggles of an otherwise co-existential humanity.

What moved I and I mostly was the second piece, called ISIFUNGO. An English translation would be, The Oath or The Vow. Choreographed by celebrated dance educator and choreographer, Sifiso Khumalo from the well heeled FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY, featuring a fluid team of  Durban’s “young veterans” of contemporary dance; Gcina Shange, Zinhle Nzama, Njabulo Zungu, Jabu Sphika, Kirsty Ndawa and Thobile Maphanga. This was a truly remarkable work, as intense as it was gentle and nuanced with the themes of an Urban-Afrikan wedding, the inner turmoils of the bride and the groom as well as the family and community. The live musical accompaniment by Mdu and Siya was very evocative, I could not help but move…

This sight responsive work was so engaging visually and the choreography was so intense and evocative, it made me look into the oaths I have made myself and the circumstances and consequences thereof.

 

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. “

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

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Izibongo Zabathathu

Inkondlo Yamakhosi Amathathu AkwaMaseko

Mvulandlela:
Esikhathini sesomiso
lapho kuvame ukwesaba nentukuthelo
isizukulwane sivukela umbuso
sikhala ngezimfanelo
nombuso usobozela abazukulwane
Ufike wena uhogela ngamakhala amasha
Umoya wezishingishane zasemandulo nakusasa
Wathi lisazonetha
uhlaza luzovama
Uthe isizwe sisazonotha
Kusho wena Vulandlela

Mvelo:
UMdali eluthando
USomandla evumile
Sibone ngawe nkosi encane eyembethe igubo yokukhanya
Ubuhle bakho busikhange ngenkazimulo yesethembiso
Ucwebezela okwamazolo
Ufumbethe izimpawu zenhlanhla ngazombili
Kwavela wena kwadeda ubumnyama lacweba nezulu
Wena omehlo’mbulunga ngokufuza ekhabo Nyoko
Siyashweleza nkosenhle kuvuka kwamaNgcamane

Mvikeli:
UMama wakho wakwetha kuqala
Ungakaveli sakubona ngemisebenzi emihle
Kusengathi uyawazi amandl’akho
Sengathi uzizwela yena izigi zenginyama
Ubukhosi obusha obuyobusa ngothando nangosiba
Ezinye zigabe ngegazi
Wena nguwe oyovikela amasango asemakhosini
Iso lakho liyodedisa izitha ZikaNomkhubulwane
Isandla sakho siyokwelulelwa kwabampofu …