August 2010


Notes On creativity, compassion and courage:

  1. Creativity: recently, many mo friends have been questioning and sharing with us, [the storytellers behind The Q/t werd and Nekkyd,] what they think our art is about; we have heard en documented many ideas on the ways to build solidarity among QPOC communities, from a pan-afrikan perspective, yet we haven’t ‘officially’ fleshed out where we coming from and headed yet with this epic of a feature length documentary and series.

reality is, our visions (in dis here epic of a quest) have undergone deep transformashun: in the last 3 year(s) we have crossed different worlds and not only survived, crashed en burned, revived en thrived, but metamorphosed into the kipepeo of our wild dreams. our experiences of rebuilding villages are not what we expected them to be, they have surpassed our wildest fantasies en remind us of heaven on earth; now, alhamdulilah(t) we are grateful for the growing, loving communities, for all the healing and prayers in sacred spaces

in dis’ place here, in the diaspora, we found the source of Mama Afrika again, in her people.  In our ancestral legacies en mestizoed religions,  speaking black into (our +ve) blood.memories, breaking ugali with bredrin en dadas in prayer en solidarity.

the q_t werd is personal, political en religious:

personal like what you get when a documentary filmmaker/storyteller gets married to other artist/dadas, en where dem and their village produce a (dark) comedy series on lesbian, queer & trans (pan/afrikan) communities & a feature documentary on their ‘personal’ efforts to mobilise resources for queer/trans communities in East Afrika by designing the curriculum and fundraising for a queer/trans youth arts collective (QTYAC) in Kenya & Uganda. [that’s wassup]

the political is, we are far from where we started: individually and collectively, even though we’re back to the storyboard stages again, we’re still in the spaces between (post) production en grant writing.

Our hadithi remains the same, we are still on this (vision) quest to continue (coming into) fulfilling our (right) destinies, still creatively funding our activism, art and village building through strategically chosen jobs and “fly-by-night” ventures.

The bigger point is that, the religious piece is the big(ga) hadithi, our nekkyd truth is the crux of our salvation and healing wise is,  us dreaming of (going) back home with all our first world privileges, friends and families.

2. Compassion: Over a moon ago, we received the best advice we ever got from a wise afrikan womban’s reading of our quest/ion/s. We were reminded that love and truthfulness would have to determine our way of expressing ourselves and that we jus HAD (no choice but) to lovingly and sincerely communicate our thoughts to those around us.

the truth is, we don’t have any ‘official’ funding for our (art) work, and yet we have still been audacious (and over ambitious) enough to work on submitting, not only, a documentary to the Inside Out & Mpenzi before the end of this year, but designing the curriculum and mobilising (people)  resources for QTYAC, to be run in Kenya & Uganda from May – August 2011.

Technically, the ‘boring’ or exciting stuff (depending on where you look at it from), that there are nuff people interested in getting move involved with/in our communities back at home, we’re trying because we CAN and if we don’t then folks who don’t know betta than us will prolly try to help us OUT  for themselves, we’re doing all a dis’ organising  because there’s sayings that go like we have mo to work with, in dis place here in the FIRST  world,  to serve our communities betta;

3. Courage: a love story

Skeleton woman

– A Tale of the Inuit –

She had done something of which her father disapproved, although no one any longer remembered what it was. But her father had dragged her to the cliffs and thrown her over and into the sea. There, the fish ate her flesh away and plucked out her eyes. As she lay under the sea, her skeleton turned over and over in the currents.

One day a fisherman came fishing, well, in truth many came to this bay once. But this fisherman had drifted far from his home place and did not know that the local fisherman stayed away, saying this inlet was haunted.

The fisherman’s hook drifted down through the water, and caught of all places, in the bones of Skeleton Woman’s rib cage. The fisherman thought, “Oh, now I’ve really got a big one! Now I really have one!” In his mind he was thinking of how many people this great fish would feed, how long it would last, how long he might be free from the chore of hunting. And as he struggled with this great weight on the end of the hook, the sea was stirred to a thrashing froth, and his kayak bucked and shook, for she who was beneath struggled to disentangle herself. And the more she struggled, the more she tangled in the line. No matter what she did, she was inexorably dragged upward, tugged up by the bones of her own ribs.

The hunter had turned to scoop up his net, so he did not see her bald head rise above the waves, he did not see the little coral creatures glinting in the orbs of her skull, he did not see the crustaceans on her old ivory teeth. When he turned back with his net, her entire body, such as it was, had come to the surface and was hanging from the tip of his kayak by her long front teeth.

Agh!” cried the man, and his heart fell into his knees, his eyes hid in terror on the back of his head, and his ears blazed bright red. “Agh!” he screamed, and knocked her off the prow with his oar and began paddling like a demon toward shoreline. And not realizing she was tangled in his line, he was frightened all the more for she appeared to stand upon her toes while chasing him all the way to shore. No matter which way he zigged his kayak, she stayed right behind, and her breath rolled over the water in clouds of steam, and her arms flailed out as though to snatch him down into the depths.

Agh!” he wailed as he ran aground. In one leap he was out of his kayak, clutching his fishing stick and running, and the coral white corpse of skeleton woman, still snagged in the fishing line, bumpety-bumped behind right after him. Over the rocks he ran, and she followed. Over the frozen tundra he ran, and she kept right up. Over the meat laid out to dry he ran, cracking it to pieces as his mukluks bore down.

Throughout it all she kept right up, in fact, she grabbed some of the frozen fish as she was dragged behind. This she began to eat, for she had not gorged in a long, long time. Finally, the man reached his snowhouse and dove right into the tunnel and on hands and knees scrabbled his way into the interior. Panting and sobbing he lay there in the dark, his heart a drum, a mighty drum. Safe at last, oh so safe, yes, safe thank the Gods, Raven, yes, thank Raven, yes, and all bountiful Sedna, safe… at…last.

Imagine when he lit his whale oil lamp, there she – it – lay in a tumble upon his snow floor, one heel over her shoulder, one knee inside her rib cage, one foot over her elbow. He could not say later what it was, perhaps the firelight softened her features, or the fact that he was a lonely man… but a feeling of some kindness came into his breathing, and slowly he reached out his grimy hands and using words softly like a mother to child, began to untangle her from the fishing line.

Oh, na, na, na.” First he untangled the toes, then the ankles. “Oh, na, na, na.” On and on he worked into the night, until dressing her in furs to keep her warm, Skeleton Woman’s bones were all in the order a human’s should be.

He felt into his leather cuffs for his flint and used some of his hair to light a little more fire. He gazed at her from time to time as he oiled the precious wood of his fishing stick and rewound the gut line. And she in the furs uttered not a word – she did not dare – lest this hunter take her out and throw her down to the rocks and break her bones to pieces utterly.

The man became drowsy, slid under his sleeping skins, and soon was dreaming. And sometimes as humans sleep, you know, a tear escapes from the dreamer’s eye; we never know what sort of dream causes this, but we know it is either a dream of sadness or longing. And this is what happened to the man.

Skeleton Woman saw the tear glisten in the firelight and she became suddenly soooo thirsty. She tinkled and clanked and crawled over to the sleeping man and put her mouth to his tear. The single tear was like a river and she drank and drank and drank until her many-years-long thirst was slaked.

While lying beside him, she reached inside the sleeping man and took out his heart, the mighty drum. She sat up and banged on both sides of it: Bom Bomm!…..Bom Bomm!

As she drummed, she began to sing out “Flesh, flesh, flesh! Flesh, Flesh, Flesh!” And the more she sang, the more her body filled out with flesh. She sang for hair and good eyes and nice fat hands. She sang the divide between her legs, and breasts long enough to wrap for warmth, and all the things a woman needs.

And when she was all done, she also sang the sleeping man’s clothes off and crept into his bed with him, skin against skin. She returned the great drum, his heart, to his body, and that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night, in another way now, a good and lasting way.

The people who cannot remember how she came to her first ill fortune say she and the fisherman went away and were consistently well fed by the creatures she had known in her life under water. The people say that it is true and that is all they know.

[from women who run with the wolves: myths and stories of the wild woman archetype]

http://www.blacklooks.org/2010/08/james-baldwin-precious-lord-take-my-hand/

Wahenga walisema, it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.

So the series starts before the turn of this century, not so long ago that many would have forgotten the major events in their lives, back in our youth’, when we analysed, questioned and instinctively rebelled, all the way to our growing (up) present selves, and our (collective) visions of the future.

Season one features 31 (+3) biomyth monodrama hadithi.

It only makes sense that we re-introduce ourselves, share the truth about our stories;

So we’ll start somewhere in the middle with these hadithi. In this place here, now…..

There are 4 afrikans (A,D,M en T) behind not only the q/t werd but, principally, the series that inspired dis’ quest for unity (with)in our diversity, Nekkyd.

There are also the growing villages, and the energies of many more who are weaving indigenUS & pan-afrikan narratives of ancestral memories and legacies; this tapestry includes those who are rebuilding healthy, loving, sustaining and sustainable communities.

[ between the lines: in The Q-t Werd is a vision of fundraising for yet another grassroots collective, bredrin en dadas in solidarity whose mission is to work on our own unity first by mobilising & sharing (capacity building) resources with grassroots groups working with queer/trans communities and sex workers in East & South Afrika.  Our inaugural project is the Queer/Trans Youth Arts Collective set to run in Kenya & Uganda from May 2011]

hapo zamani za kale, kulikuwa na (m)wana wa Obatala, Ogun, Olokun na Yemoja…….

hadithi no. 14 is for (the spaces between) nneka en nneke in

neKKyd: Each episode is a different journey inside Nneke’s (Tsholo Khalema) world as her wry observations take us into the mind of a screwed up, loved up, lustful queer world.

Being a lesbian is tough, Being a black immigrant Afrikan lesbian trying to fit in…

well lets just say, to survive you gotta know the RULEZ TA BEIN’ A STUD!

NEKKyD explores the world of Nneke Dumela and her earth-shattering lust for the gorgeous and sassy women

Hadithi no.13 is for Medusa en Molisa

bio(myth)drama: on using a pseudonym

molisa nyakale is a name that comes from my family. It is the name of my great-great-great-grandmother on my father’s side, and a mark-er of my true true home….claiming this name was a way to link my voice to an ancestral legacy of womban speaking

Molisa is originally from the Shona, maybe even the Ndorobo. Partially re/constructed from mawu-lisa. I first read about her in the stories of sista outsiders.

Nyakale was given to me in a marriage vow; I chose to keep the name but rejected the suitor’s proposal.

10 years ago: I was in my last year of high school, full of possibilities and already getting used to rebelling with (self)righteous causes….I was excited to go to the next level, pursue freedom where I thought I was surely bound to get it, in uni.

9 years ago: I was in my first year of university @ the United States International University – Africa,

I had fantasised about this land of (queer) dates, milk en honey/when I got out of ‘here’, dreamed of growing up and getting a loft of my own, like the one that Alex had in Flashdance, where I would grow passion fruit in the backyard and be surrounded by big city scapes; I (en)visioned driving a car like the one that Vanessa Williams drove in Dance with Me, but all that dramatically changed when I finally realised one of my big dreams.

8 years ago: I landed in Tdot –  Canada.

Bio/facts: Timelines that point not only to geographic locations, but also vastly different worlds betwixt en between ideologies, traditions and wealth

7 years ago: I was in my ‘first’ year of university at University of Toronto – Mississauga

Fiction/myths: lie in the names we’ve chosen, and (un)mask(ing)s discarded en nurtured in our quest to wholeness.

Facts: The village is necessary in re/locating our afrikan stories, the baba en mama of this biomyth-drama inspired and trans/formed by bredrin en dadas channelling the truth of their own stories in the practice of arts for revolushunary change en healing.

Bio/drama: My name/s have been rebellions, running to visions of betta lives. I first experimented with sounding alternate realities with word! when I was about 10 years old, from Henrialovna en Henrievna to Nyakale

4 years ago: the seeds of the Q/t werd were planted at the Inside Out festival with hadithi yetu!, and in Vancouver with 31 stories

2 years ago: the Q/t werd travelled to great rivers and re/discovered their source

Over a year ago: the Q/t was reborn in the Ngong Forest Sanctuary.

This year: we launched Nekkyd & The Q/t werd in ‘foreign’ lands, aka. these spaces that are our homes (for) now, documenting our individual and collective quests to continue fulfilling our destinies with bredrin en dadas in solidarity & colour spill productions…..

Hadithi no.3 is for cee as the crux, in swagger; en cea walker in “i”

These are (some of) the legends of the q/t werd…..

Press Release

 ( aka. the truth about our stories: revisited)

The q/t werd is our [epic of a] quest for unity within our diversity.

A mystic, organic, us/folk driven caravan of  real talks with (en legends of) people we love, respekt and admire, and need to get to know betta .

The series examines the fragmentation and intersections of our diversity and charts the growth of our communities through interviews with a diverse bunch of POC, and topical themes from identity politics, community accountability, using the arts for revolushunary change to ethics and guides in dating and non-monogamous relationships and survivor accounts

It uh go (go) something like

 vlog(s)

#1 a is for (mama) afrika

#2 b is for bredrin en dadas in solidarity

#3 c is for colour spill productions

http://soundcitizen.com/interview-nneka-nigerias-new-messenger/

#4  d is for (the spaces between) dini ya msambwa (lukemi en santeria)

#5  e is for (the link between) Elijah Masinde (and Elijah Wilson)

lakini leo ni leo ni monday is for medusa, the official opening of the word! sound! powah! (graduation) fest of the artists in residence at anitAFrika dub theatre……the fiya, wota, earth en air this time, in this place here (aka. tdot), is blessed

En so (mpaka) kesho, it only makes sense that we shud tell you mo’ about the art of nneka en nneke, in the Q/T werd, au siyo?

hadithi? hadithi? hadithi njoo…..

 I remember, once when I was looking for mangoes somewhere on the way to my aunties place as a lil’ pikney, being chased by a huge crowd of boys, in various states of un/dress….. I was terrified, half running en mostly examining the ‘spectacle’ of peers crossing thresholds, screaming after me en waving assorted ‘objects’.

I must have been very afraid, I remember my heart beating fast, or so I fill the memories of the spaces between the evolushun of our traditions, now, in a place far away from where my father’s ancestors lived.

That was my first direct introduction to bukusu circumcision ceremonies. I eventually got back to my grandmother’s homestead safe, missing not much more than a number of mangos, and one slipper, with plenty o’ juicy stories.

As I grew older though, my visits to papa’s village en the number of ceremonies paying homage in my kukhu’s homestead lessened, by the time I was 17, my return to ushago had dwindled to funerals, which meant that at least once a year, I couldn’t miss the ‘big’ one, the truth is I haven’t been back, now,for a decade…….

Sasa, my deepening en growing knowledge of the ways of my ancestors, is creatively sought through google, you tube channels, and decolonising diasporic tongues, there, in the tales of gran’ nanny maroon n’ harriet tubman, of elegba en nana buluku, here in my hoods, sharing knowledge with other afrikans, I found spaces to pay homage to my kukhu again. Ase…..

Kesho, on the q/t werd, vlog#2: thank Gawdess for tdot

coming soon to a theatre in our hood

a is for mama afrika

b is for black august…

en Q/T is for our (vision) quest

August 1 is Emancipation Day in Canada and other countries that were once British colonies. Africans who had been enslaved in Antigua, Canada and South Africa were freed on August 1, 1834.

Africans who had been enslaved by the British in several Caribbean islands including Barbados, Dominica, Trinidad and Jamaica, in British Guiana (Britain’s sole South American colony) and in British Honduras (Britain’s sole colony in Central America) were subjected to a system of “apprenticeship” which lasted from 1834 to August 1, 1838.

Africans were forced to continue living on the plantations of the people who had enslaved them and worked 40 hours a week without pay (paid a pittance for work over 40 hours) as “apprentices.” They were forced to pay taxes and rent for the dreadful hovels in which they dwelled on the plantations. In 1838 two British men Thomas Harvey and Joseph Sturge documented the brutality of the “apprenticeship” system when they published The West Indies in 1837: Being the Journal of a Visit to Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, St Lucia, Barbados and Jamaica, Undertaken for the Purpose of Ascertaining the Actual Conditions of the Negro Population of Those Islands. Harvey and Sturge wrote;

“A new kind of slavery under the name Apprenticeship; an anomalous condition, in which the negroes were continued, under a system of coerced and unrequited labour.” They also observed that “the planters have since succeeded in moulding the Apprenticeship into an almost perfect likeness of the system they so unwillingly relinquished.

An equal, if not greater amount, of uncompensated labor, is now extorted from the negros; while, as their owners have no longer the same interest in their health and lives, their condition, and particularly that of mothers and young children, is in many respects worse than during slavery.”

While the Africans were suffering in slave like conditions under the apprenticeship system, white people in Britain were in self congratulatory mode. The Guardian, a British newspaper, published the following piece dated Saturday August 2, 1834:

“Throughout the British dominions the sun no longer rises on a slave. Yesterday was the day from which the emancipation of all our slave population commences; and we trust the great change by which they are elevated to the rank of freemen will be found to have passed into effect in the manner most accordant with the benevolent spirit in which it was decreed, most consistent with the interests of those for whose benefit it was primarily intended, and most calculated to put an end to the apprehensions under which it was hardly to be expected that the planters could fail to labour as the moment of its consummation approaches. We shall await anxiously the arrivals from the West Indies that will bring advices to a date subsequent to the present time.”
Meanwhile on Saturday August 2, 1834, a group of Africans were on their second day of demonstrations in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad because they were furious that complete freedom was still 6 years away. Africans in the Caribbean had learned that those who worked in the fields would be apprenticed until 1840 and those who worked in the homes of the slave holders or were skilled tradesmen would be apprenticed until 1938. It is hardly surprising that on August 1, 1834 a group of angry Africans had gathered at Government House in Port of Spain. Governor George Fitzgerald Hill sent the militia out to intimidate the group but the furious Africans stood their ground recognizing that the “apprenticeship” system was a scam used by the white plantation owners and the government representatives in the Caribbean to use free African labour for a further 6 years. In spite of the presence of the militia, the protest continued until nightfall when the protesters strategically withdrew because they were not allowed to be in the town during the night.

On Saturday August 2nd, when the group of protesters returned to Government House, Hill gave the order to arrest them. There were scuffles with the militia and some of the protesting Africans were arrested, tried, sentenced to hard labour and flogging and taken to the Royal Jail. Their incensed compatriots were forced to flee but returned on the Monday to continue the protest. The numbers had swollen by Monday and there were more clashes with the militia. Some of those who were arrested on the Monday were publicly flogged in Marine Square. The protests continued the entire week before it was quelled, but several of the Africans refused to return to the plantations and instead “squatted” in districts known today as Belmont and East Dry River.

On July 25th, 1838, Governor Hill called an emergency session of the Council of Government to seek approval of a special proclamation he had drafted which ended the apprenticeship period for Africans in Trinidad on August 1, 1838 whether they worked in the fields, homes or were skilled workers. Africans throughout the region protested their continued enslavement under the Apprenticeship system and on August 1, 1838 slavery was abolished in all the British colonies.

Since the abolition of slavery Africans have celebrated August 1st as Emancipation Day or August Monday. British author J.R. Kerr-Ritchie in his 2007 published Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World: Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World has written about the global impact of August 1.

In her 2010 published Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada, African Canadian author Natasha Henry has researched and written about the history of August 1 celebrations throughout Canada including the connection of Caribana (modeled on Trinidad’s carnival) to Emancipation Day.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago was the first of the former British Caribbean countries to declare August 1 a National holiday in 1985.

In 1997 the Caribbean Historical Society (CHS) of Trinidad and Tobago, supported by the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) advocated for global recognition of August 1st as Emancipation Day.

The OBHS has been successful in gaining recognition of August 1st as Emancipation Day at the Municipal and Provincial level and close to gaining recognition at the Federal level.

On August 1st the OBHS will host an Emancipation Day event at Nathan Philips Square.