[between the lines: i, s(ista) i(n) s(olidarity) give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow,our true love stories make I and so many others extremely happy…]

Dar es Salaam is abuzz. It’s giving birth to a novel artistic landscape. Well, at least new in scope.

A cursory look at www.everythingdar.com/ and other calendars gives a glimpse of what is happening in Dar on a daily basis. Of particular interest are the originality, novelty and locality of oratory and literary expressions. They remind one of the making of the Harlem Renaissance.

Just to recap, the Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that partly swept New York City in the early 20th century. It produced music luminaries such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and Duke Ellington. The movement also produced great poets such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay. It was in these times that the famous Apollo Theater came into being.

pamoja tunafika!

The works of these artists and artistes are still immortalized in the African imagination. Langston Hughes’s poem ‘A Dream Deferred’ continues to inspire critiques of the post-colonial ‘African condition’ – no wonder one voluminous biography is entitled ‘Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred.’

It is also not surprising that the Ella Fitzgerald jazz song ‘Drop me off in Harlem’ was also used as a soundtrack in the movie ‘Malcolm X’ starring Denzel Washington. And even today writers are still grappling with Countee Cullen’s poetic question: ‘What is Africa to me?’

Such is a fervour one finds in Dar to the extent that at the risk of engaging in a stereotypical linear comparison it is tempting to refer to all this as ‘The Dar es Salaam Renaissance.’ Of course the term ‘renaissance’ is not as innocent, especially when viewed in the context of what happened to Africa and the then so-called ‘New World’ after the European Renaissance. Yet it is a term that captures well the cultural awakening that tends to usher social change in any society.
It is in this regard that we need to pay close attention to what is happening in Dar’s cultural space, for in it are seeds of a social transformation-cum-revolution. What do you see when you encounter youngsters with locally produced t-shirts with Kiswahili or ‘Kiswanglish’ messages such as ‘Harakati…’ and ‘Na-struggle…’? Or what do you hear when you listen to them rapping about societal injustice? Mind you these artistic products are not made by NGOs or donor money!

What is interesting is that this renaissance in Dar es Salaam is pulling people from all walks of life and age as it crystallises a social consciousness necessary for societal transformation.

The ‘maiden’ Pen & Mic event attests to that. It featured poetic expressions from the likes of Vitali Maembe, Saida Yahya-Othman, Fid Q, Langa Sarakikya, Walter Bgoya and Mzungu Kichaa. You can read a bit about the event or relive it altogether at http://vijana.fm/2011/02/09/pen-mic/

Yet that is not the only space in Dar. There is the Fanani Flava poetry club that meets every last Tuesday of the month at A Novel Idea Bookshop in Slipway. Who knows, maybe a century from now its blog athttp://fananiflava.blogspot.com/ will be one of the leading archives of the Dar es Salaam Renaissance. Surely such a space needs to expand, lest it become, if not remain, elitist.

Last but not least there is Soma Book Café at http://www.soma.or.tz/ and its Soma Literary Magazine, among yet many others, is a space for fusing oral and literary consciousness. Interestingly, the upcoming issue of the magazine features Maya Wegerif, whose poem ‘Who tells our story?’ at http://mayawegerif.blogspot.com/ is a recipe for an African (cultural) revolution.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Chambi Chachage is an independent researcher, newspaper columnist and policy analyst, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.   * This article was first published on the Udadisi blog.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

[feel like I can’t blog it enough…..infinite gratitude for all those spreading love, hope and positivity in abundance…infinite gratitude for our true true hadithi]

Who tells our stories?

I’ve heard that the stories of hunting will remain weak
Unless the lion itself learns to speak.
If it is he who exploits us that tells our story you see
Then we will always be spear-hurling savages you and me

Because during slavery when we were forced to work for the white
This is the story they told
‘We are doing those Negroes a favor bringing them from the Dark Continent into the light’
And with that story we were sold.
They convinced themselves that ‘these negroes are beasts without the capacity to feel pain, shame or sorrow’
And slaves are fed and clothed, ‘we’re giving them a far better deal than they know’
And so the stories of hunting remained weak
because the lion was whipped if he tried to speak.

And when that lie became transparent and it became apparent that Africans were not like children who needed a parent
They began a new lie that would keep us subservient
Through their media they began to portray us as primitive and uncivilized
And thus announced it their burden
to come here and rescue us, to make us believers as though we were uncertain
Their holy book was the only book they allowed and forced us to read
Taught us to pray while they preyed on our meat
Throughout this purgery, they proudly named this converting we
Then went back and told of our tears of joy, when actually we cried and we’d bleed
They called us Pagans and heathens and tried to make us forget what gods we did know
Stealing our ancestors’ land because their God told them so? NO
And so, if it is he who exploits us that tells our story you see
Then we are spear-hurling savages you and me

And thus it went on through the colonial era
Stole our food and fed us lies that the smarter were fairer – A historical error.
Until we ourselves believed that we were inferior
And then they didn’t have to do so much of the story-telling
Because blindly we became mouth pieces still viewing ourselves through white-eyes
Judging ourselves on white standards, these were our white lies
And so we bit our mother tongues, after all how else could we survive?
And so the stories of hunting remained weak
Because the lion itself could not speak.

And so they observed us till we became blind
They spoke and spoke until our own words we couldn’t find
Now we wish our black eyes would reflect the sky
We want hair that follows orders from the wind
Because they preached that black was scary, and ignorant and death
No one has taught us that black is the color of endlessness, the universe and of depth.

When they told our story they spoke of primitive people with no organization
They spoke of our fields that seemed to be unused, with no signs of cultivation
We did not explain that we had empires with kings and queens and courts and tribunals and religion and music and love- We failed to speak of our kingdoms and complex early civilizations
We did not explain why we didn’t plant our crops in rows and so our fields appeared jumbled or untended, of form productive intercropping that we used for stopping the soil from over utilization
and so no one reached this realization
And so the stories of hunting have remained weak
Because the lion never did speak.

For too long we have allowed stories to be told for us!
Let us not speak on behalf of the West, let us speak from within us.
W’Afrika tujenge hadithi zetu wenyewe za kuhadithia
Zile hadithi zetu za zamani, tusisahau kuzisikia
Listen to the stories bibi tells not just the stories BBC sells
Let us revive our storytellers of old, let us sing the songs we sang and retell the stories we told
And as we move along let us create our own standard, our own beauty. Revive our historians and revolutionaries, let us be bold.
Let’s take walks down memory street
Retrace and teach the beat of our ancestors’ feet
But also move to the groove of our own emancipation
Casually let’s speak our native minds with no care as to who this will suit
Let the lion speak of how the hunter trembles in his boots before he shoots
Those old tales, they rendered us weak
Now

LET THE LION SPEAK!

As performed at the Tedxdar conference on 22 May 2010

the revolushun will (not) be televised, dis revolushun is live 🙂

[I,S.I.S prayer:

I give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow…..

give thanks for all the love and resources shared not only here in

[dis’ (almost) world wide matrix of the] internet, but in ‘real’ time,

with rebuilding sustainable villages in diverse communities and spaces.

Bless my family, friends, and enemies, and I pray not to have enemies… Bless all our living relatives…

I give thanks for the positive resistance, transformation, and renewal in 2010, and the exciting (not-so) new possibilities of 2011…

Nashukuru Mama Afreeka na dunia, nashukuru orisha…..

[I give thanks for the guidance of our ancestors, give thanks to the orishas… ]

Bless the motherless and fatherless, bless those sick in hospital, Bless those who spread positivity in abundance… Bless our youth, elders, en those who are yet to come, and I pray that we continue to come into our right destinies. I pray for forgiveness…for health, long life, happiness and prosperity not only for myself, but others….. Bless dis earth o…..ase, ase……. ]

As years of (pan) Afreekan renaissance go, werd on the ground, and the love spreading in abundance are clear signs that big tings’ been going on in the past years, en the fiya dis time is in our quest to share resources with folks we love, respekt and admire so, for our cherished collectives….these are the contexts and storyboards of the q_t werd….

(Is) Kenya’s new port the end of lamu’s cultural heritage? http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/69659

Indigenus encounters diaspora hadithi

Pan-afrikan postcards

Of living legends

Na nia yetu

(Reposted with big love en respekt from) Chuka Nnabuife on why 2011 is the Year of Interesting Books Coming

NEXT year will be eventful in the African books section. Already publishers are introducing books they will release in the first half of the year. Amazon will put out a new anthology containing the works of Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, John Coetzee, Nardine Gordimer, Ben Okri and other Caine Prize winning writers. Ngugi wa Thiongo will also come out with a new book due for release in February 2011 on the Amazon list.

In Pambazuka Press, an about to be released book, No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way, captures the tale of resilence while throwing the reader back to memory of the segregative Apartheid rule in South Africa.

The anthology of factual tales captured in both poetic and prose (media feature report format) narrates the several accounts of Cape Town, South Africa’s Symphony Way pavement dwellers who, like in film story, found themselves catapulted from their hitherto poor settlement to an better developed estate upon the end of the Apartheid only to be pushed out of the houses almost as suddenly as their fortune changed.

The publishers promote the work thus: “This anthology is written by shack-dwelling families in Cape Town who were moved into houses but soon afterwards evicted again. They organised the Symphony Way Anti-Eviction and here write about their experiences.

 “Many outside South Africa imagine that after Mandela was freed and the ANC won free elections all was well. But the last two decades have led to increased poverty and inequality. Although a few black South Africans have become wealthy, for many the struggle against apartheid never ended because the ethos of apartheid continues to live.”

The book follows several hundreds of shanty-dwelling families in Cape Town who, early in 2007, were moved into houses they had been waiting for since the end of Apartheid. But soon they were told that the move had been illegal and they were kicked out of their new homes. In protest, they built shacks next to the road opposite the housing project. And, soon a vibrant settlement of hundreds of ramshackled huts inhabited by organised protesting settlers blossomed there. It became known as Symphony Way. Home ground of Symphony Way Anti-Eviction Campaign, whose membership vowed to stay on the road until the government gave them permanent housing. Eventually, the tales from the protesting slum-dwellers turns out a warm, close-knit and eventful one – full of vibrant communal lives, simmering relationships, love, hate and blood ties. The book also rubs off some disturbing feeling that the robust but poor settlement was forcefully moved to make the country host last summer’s football’s World Cup without what the authorities deem an odd sight for tourists.

Promoters’ of the book who inform that its audience target include anthropologists, activists, campaigners, NGO-workers, academics, journalists, commentators state: “This anthology is both testimony and poetry. There are stories of justice miscarried, of violence domestic and public, of bigotry and xenophobia. But amid the horror there is beauty: relationships between aunties, husbands, wives and children; daughters named Hope and Symphony. This book is a means to dignity, a way for the poor to reflect and be reflected. It is testimony that there’s thinking in the shacks, that there are humans who dialogue, theorise and fight to bring about change.

Two Symphony Way evictees were featured in a Guardian article of 1 April 2010: Badronessa Morris: ‘The police treat us like animals. They swear at us, pepper spray us, search us in public, even children. At 10 o’clock you must be inside: the police come and tell you to go into your place and turn down the music. In my old home we used to sit outside all night with the fire.’

Jane Roberts: ‘It’s a dumping place. They took people from the streets because they don’t want them in the city for the World Cup. Now we are living in a concentration camp.’

No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way set for release in March 2011 is available for ebook order in United Kingdom.

Another up coming book of interest from the same publishers is African Sexualities: A Reader, by Sylvia Tamale. In the work Ms Tamale probes, the perculiar traits of African sexualities with the aim “to inspire a new generation of students and teachers to study, reflect and gain fresh and critical insights into the complex issues of gender and sexuality.”

Promoters say the book seeks to open new frontiers of thinking about African notiopns of sex. African Sexualities stretches the space to several spheres of multidisciplinary scholarship.

The book with authors who are scholars, researchers, professionals, practitioners and experts from different regions of Africa and Africa’s Diaspora comes in themed sections, all introduced by a framing essay.”

The authors use essays, case studies, poetry, news clips, songs, fiction, memoirs, letters, interviews, short film scripts and photographs from a wide political spectrum to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, analyse the body as a site of political, cultural and social contestation and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities. The book adopts a feminist approach that analyses sexuality within patriarchal structures of oppression while also highlighting its emancipatory potential.

“As well as using popular culture to help address the ‘what, why, how, when and where’ questions, the contributors also provide a critical mapping of African sexualities that informs readers about the plurality and complexities of African sexualities – desires, practices, fantasies, identities, taboos, abuses, violations, stigmas, transgressions and sanctions. At the same time, they pose gender-sensitive and politically aware questions that challenge the reader to interrogate assumptions and hegemonic sexuality discourses, thereby unmapping the intricate and complex terrain of African sexualities.

“The blend of approaches and styles enhances the book’s accessibility and usefulness for teaching as well as allowing for historical and textual contextualisation.”

It is written for audiences in the higher education and postgradute levels. Due date of emerging from press is June 2011.

Among other books coming from Pambazuka and Fahamu books are African Women Writing Resistance, An Anthology of Contemporary Voices an anthology of African-born contributors who “move beyond the linked dichotomies of victim/oppressor and victim/heroine to present their experiences of resistance in full complexity: they are at the forward edge of the tide of women’s empowerment moving across Afrika.”

My Dream is to be Bold, a feminist oriented work is among them as well as Dust from our Eyes an Unblinkered Look at Africa, a Joan Baxter tale of the diversity of Africa and the resilience and spirit of its people.

From Citizen to Refugee, Uganda Asians come to Britain by Mahmood Mamdani is another nostalgia awakening book to be expected. It dwells on the seriously embattled life of Asians in Uganda during the eventful dictatorial reign of the late Gen. Idi Amin in the 1970s. It is a re-publication of 1972’s original. The author, Mamdani, an eye witness, describes the feelings experienced by Uganda’s Asians and tells of their camps’ political culture.

[http://www.compassnewspaper.com/NG/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71700%3A2011-year-of-interesting-books-coming&catid=54%3Aarts&Itemid=694]

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Montreal+protesters+rally+support+WikiLeaks/3999493/story.html

Dear  be/loved peeps…..

 How do we harvest the resources we have to share with our communities, across time and spaces? How do we harness the powah! of the all those intersections of our diversity to mobilise continental Afrikans and those in the diaspora in re-constitutional-i- sing our political and social systems to sustain not only all Afrikan people’s liberation, but all our living relatives?

[like real tox we all know many gifted en loving folks in our communities that are hungry to gain more balance, grounding en wellbeing while serving the frontlines in their hoods, many of us have be/come familiar with weariness en ‘thick’ skins, with living ‘cheque’ to ‘check’, en sacrificing ‘personal’ time for collective sowing, planting en harvesting bounties that shrink en swell according to imperialist currencies and the commitment of warriors….truthIS  there’s always a crisis in the horizon..day before yesterday it was the prime minister spewing hatred in a call to arrest gays and lesbians, and those hours of panic en fear, a few weeks ago it was the (slow) burning of witches, every day it’s the po’ and indigenus people’s struggle]

[http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/Arrest-gays,-Kenyan-PM-orders-10670.html]

Real tox: who en where are the ones who are willing to harvest the powah! of our love for Afrika(ns) to rebuild sustaining and sustainable united villages, cities en states of Afreeka that hold us ALL safely? are the questions too massive to reason en organise through, outside of OUR  social movements? or are they too specific? what is the appropriate scale to work through on a small-ish blog on the world wide web? what are the right questions to galvanise each other to seek ourselves out and support our family en comrades mo?

in the (t)here en then en now, in solidarity with LGBTTIQ folks in Kenya, what creative sustained resistance and renewal can we magically craft and organise in response to the increasing backlash to Queer/trans communities in East Afrika?

Like that public call of hate for mo’ state-sanctioned homophobia, and quite explicitly for mass allegiance to our persecution…. that kinda shit gets people killed, and Dear Raila, he knows that very well, so today, en tomorrow en the moons en years after, it would be amazing and much needed to hear more voices calling for mo’ than a public retraction, en organise with more bodies to advocate for and serve queer/trans communties all over Afrika

coz this shit is Raila’s hateful call and Bahati’s Bill , Burundi and Rwanda, Nigeria and South Afrika, Ayiti and Jamaica,  it’s about 53 African nations (that technically really should be states) denying observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians and upholding coloniser’s/foreign laws so shamelessly….

the bigger point is, dis solidarity ofcourse is much more than media campaigns or pointing fingers, it’s bout working collectively on sustaining ourselves en our growing movements, en harvesting all the wealth we do have…..hadithi kama

African women’s decade: strategic opportunities http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/69053

Ayiti: reclaiming sovereignty http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/69025

Western Sahara: the forgotten conflict

The Western Sahara conflict with Morocco is one of those almost forgotten conflicts. It is one that is an unbelievable 35 years old – and still the Moroccan government remains intransigent. A Moroccan About a World around him reports on recent uprising in one of the camps in Laayoune the main city in occupied Western Sahara. Prior to this King Mohammed VI had accused Algeria of human rights violations against Saharawis in Tindouf camps ignoring his country’s central part in why they are there in the first place.

‘The violence was triggered when a battalion-size security force descended on the camp in the early hours of Monday in an attempt to raze it and disperse its residents using tear gas and water cannons. The protests seeped into Laayoune and resulted in substantial material damage and loss of life as a group of the camp’s residents that an official Ministry of Interior statement described as wanted criminals and subversive agents clashed with the security forces. Black smoke bellowed over the city and debris littered its arteries. The number of people injured and killed could not yet be confirmed. According to the BBC, about seventy people have been injured and over ten have died.’…..read more @ http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/69060

na pia…..

What powah! does reclaiming indigenus knowledge en spirituality have for harvesting all those intersections of our diversity?

….not against flesh en blood

 Sister Outsider

check dis….

Mr Odinga on Sunday said that police should arrest anyone found engaging in such behaviours and take appropriate legal action against them.

“We will not tolerate such behaviours in the country. The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared,” Mr Odinga said.

Listen to Raila

“Any man found engaging in sexual activities with another man should be arrested. Even women found engaging in sexual activities will be arrested,” the premier warned.

Speaking at a public rally at the Kamukunji grounds in his Nairobi’s Kibera constituency on Sunday afternoon, the Prime Minister cited the recent population census results which put the ratio of men to women equal and wondered why people should engage in homosexuality.

“This [homosexual] kind of behaviours will not be tolerated in this country. Men or women found engaging in those acts deserve to be arrested and will be arrested,” he told the crowd.

He said leaders who were propagating rumours of same sex marriages in Kenya during campaigns for the new Constitution had failed miserably because Kenyans did not buy their propaganda.

“Those were lies from leaders who wanted to confuse Kenyans to reject the new law; the Constitution is very clear on that matter. It does not state anywhere that same sex marriage is legal in Kenya,” he added.

The Bill of Rights under chapter four of the new Constitution states that: “Every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties.”

A move by Uganda to introduce a Bill calling for long jail terms or death penalty in some cases of homosexuality received international condemnation, with US President Barack Obama describing it as “odious”.

He said: “But surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it is here in the United States or… more extremely, in odious laws that are being proposed more recently in Uganda.”
But notwithstanding Obama’s remarks, homosexual acts are now illegal in Uganda and attracts jail terms of up to 14 years in prison.

Read more: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/Arrest-gays,-Kenyan-PM-orders-10670.html#ixzz16pge8BvV

[and that is the story of how Raila tried to score cheap points, and took another brutal blow to his leadership, going to show yet again, what he sealed in ink when he accepted his position as prime minister, that he is not the rightful leader of our beloved country Kenya, maybe the other Agwambo, but dis one here o…..he dun make too much war o, it’s time for him to go O, no? in the spirit of….]

Ubuntu

many possibilities……

Last few week(end)s I been talking en hanging with mo’ bredrin en dadas that I love, respekt en admire so….reasoning bout many tings close to our hearts: love/r/s, families, dreams, passions, work,  our Afrikan stories, healing en the transitions that we’ve stumbled, are walking en continue grounding thru…so grateful for the manifestations of our quests to spread (salaam)  love en unity within our communities, I give thanks for what brought and binds us together forever….

coz last  couple o’ nites were like heaven on earth…. where infinite possibilities (re)presented themselves with beautiful, loving folks coming together to cook en break bread [pan-afrikan style], fundraise, play, reason en share many resources….real tox: these are the hadithi of the q_t werd, the blessings en powah of  positive(ly)  productive collectives, everyday…

like yesterday, I heard bout the story of na nga def en of revolushunary collectives in the diaspora embracing back to Afrika movements, yet another [trailer of a] doc that changed my life forever, four women (en then some) struck deep, their werds walking with me since

When we organise we find strength then in (you know) supporting each other, in being able to project our voices collectively [talent jumo]…

you’d have to get people to unite, take my country for instance… I wouldn’t advise that people must now start fighting, but it took war for us in order to get freedom, and people of colour in Brazil need to unite and stand for one thing [sega khutlapyo]…

it’s about creating positive energy and positive vibes around us [angel wainaina]….

i personally would want to help in that fight [yaganoma baatoulkuu]…..

Pamoja tulifika on Saturday….. en Sunday night was a reminder of how far we’ve come, how far we have to go still in building solidarity amongst our communities, en how much we have to be grateful for with the loving, growing revolushunary villages being rebuilt in the heart of urban centres in de’ diaspora en on the continent en….I pray that we continue to change the destructive paths we’ve been on, en fulfill our destinies

Truthis…our love (and growth stories) is at the crux of coming together…..sharing fantasies en food, fundraising, storytelling, celebrating, playing en praying together…..filling our hearts with the divine energy of the kinda people that we want to rebuild our homes with…

Real tox is… these quests we’re documenting, are (not only) our own and of people we know,

in dis space, now….we’re still getting to the crux of where we wanna be, in another place not here…

and there’s always the matter of how much villages should know about who exactly is coming, when the child hasn’t even arrived or chosen to stay in dis world yet…..

The riddle of the sphinx (in the q_t werd) is in the connecshun between nneka en nneke dumela. Where did nneka en nneke meet? In what different world(s)?

Real tox is….. there’s only so many stories we can share ‘about’ the q_t werd before we’ve finished production, only so much we can tell you about nneke before the biomythical monologue for the play is even finished, or bout nneka before we’ve even shot the interview, so we’ll tell you about the mid-wives first, from long long ago hadi leo, until next year….

In other werds, because there are so many of our true true stories to share, because the world is bigger than 5, 7 or 9 bredrin en dadas, we’re going to continue sharing hadithi about s/heroes, teachers and legends we love

Continue breaking down the complex of fear generated around being betwixt en between binaries and identities, playing with masks and [ideologies of] time and space, kama akina dada wa Afrika halisi

http://www.blacklooks.org/2010/10/feminist-africa-how-africom-contributes-to-militarisation-in-africa

Truthis, because we’ve shared so many of our fears before, the trust that’s been building, the safe spaces we’ve maintained, the metamorphosis we’ve witnessed and the love we’ve shared with each other en our loved ones have cushioned our rebirthing and transformed the pain

……….It was love in the first place, must admit, you blew me away, all the music…..inside of me,

got me feeling, some kinda madness…it was love…….

A woman speaks

Bout turning pages, making changes and showing (big) love….

Hadithi? Hadithi?

Nipe mji?

[B is for bredrin en dadas in solidarity: our (vision) quest is to implement queer/trans youth arts collective/programs & circles for healing and self recovery in East & South Afrika in collaboration with anitafrika! dub theatre: an intersection of radical creativity, activity, and thought, human positive and moyo wa afrika: a coalition of Afrikans on the continent and in the diaspora who are committed to the reclamation of Indigenous Afrikan spiritualities, knowledge systems, economic praxis, and resources as the only viable means of addressing the colonially-induced dis-ease and dysfunction plaguing our peoples….

Lakini kwanza….]

A is for anitafrika! dub theatre: founded by artistic director d’bi.young in spring 2008 under the mentorship of visionary dub artist ahdri zhina mandiela, adt is a radical arts initiative rooted in the orplusi principles of storytelling, being developed by d’bi.young.

The 7 living/en/working principles are 

language, orality,

political context (or protext),

rhythm, urgency, sacredness, and integrity:

fundamental tools in the (re)emerging genre of bio-myth-solo-performance storytelling or ‘dubbin solo’,

according to artistic director d’bi.young.

[en between the lines: the Q_t werd is a documentary series/work in progress, charting the evolution of these principles  en reclaiming ancestral legacies……]

Through the intersection of these principles, the theatre seeks to explore and expand the relationship between the storyteller, their village(s), and transformation.

herstory

adt! is inspired by the seminal work of dubpoetry visionaries anita stewart and ahdri zhina mandiela. trained during the early to mid eighties at the jamaica school of drama (now the edna manley college of visual and performing arts), anita stewart wrote her thesis dubbin theatre: dub poetry as a theatre form on the progressive movement of dubpoetry into a theatrical realm which radically dramatized both the socio-economic tribulations of the jamaican people, as well as their potential for rebellion against their oppressors.

in her unpublished manuscript stewart identifies four major elements of the then emerging artform of dubpoetry — music, language, politics and performance — as bridges between the personal and the political and vice versa. stewart’s early documentation and analysis of dubpoetry as a working people’s socio-political movement, provide the primary lens through which adt! focuses.

in the late eighties early nineties, ahdri zhina mandiela coined and further developed the term dub theatre in reference to her own evolving work as a dub aatist. in the prelude to her dark diaspora… in dub: a dub theatre piece she defines dubtheatre as dramatized stage presentation comprised of varying performance component, including an indispensable/uniquely tailored dance language threading thru oral/choral work proliferating with endemic musical elements.

d’bi.young is a second generation dubpoet who learnt the artform from her her mother anita stewart and her mentor ahdri zhina mandiela. young is building on the foundational work of stewart and mandiela by developing dubpoetry/dubtheatre theory and practice through anitafrika! dub theatre: a launch pad of artistic training that locates itself within art for social change.

En A is for the legacies of audre lorde, that’s wassup!

Dream/songs from the moon of Beulah land I-V

I

How much love can I pour into you I said

Before it runs out of you

Like undigested spinach

Or shall i stuff you

Like a ritual goose

With whatever you think

You want of me

And for whose killing

Shall I grow you up

To leave me

To mourn

In the broken potsherds

Upon my doorstep

In silent tears of the empty morning?

But I’m not going anywhere you said

Why is there always

Another question

Beyond the last question

Answered

Out of your mouth

Another storm?

It’s happening

I said

II

Whenever I look for you the wind

Howls with danger

Beware the tree arms scream

What you are seeking

Will find you

In the night

In the fist of your dreaming

And in my mouth

The words became sabers

Cutting my boundaries

To ribbons

Of merciless light

IV.

You say I yam

Sound as a drum

But that’s very hard to be

As you covers your ears with academic parchment

Be careful

You might rip the cover

With your sharp nails

And then I will not sound at all.

To put us another way

What I come wrapped in

Should be familiar to you

As hate is

What I come wrapped in

Is close to you

As love is

Close

To death

Or your lying tongue

Surveying the countries of our mouths.

If I were drum

You would beat me

Listening for the echo

Of your own touch

Not seeking

The voice of the spirit

Inside the drum

Only the spreading out shape

Of your own hand on my skin

Cover.

If I ever really sounded

I would rupture your eardrums

Or your heart.

V.

Learning to say goodbye

Is finding a new tomorrow

On some cooler planet

Barren and unfamiliar

And guiltless.

It costs the journey

To learn

Letting go

Of the burn-out rockets

To learn  how

To light up space

With the quick fiya of refusal

Then drift gently down

To the dead surface of the moon.

Kesho……The (A, B, en C’s Of the) Q_t werd in dub video

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/