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?

Our real talks are like ‘a wom(b)an speaks’

(blood memories bout where we come from to dis’ days we live in and what is destined with the paths we’re on), in the spaces between honouring our ancestors, our children, and the future generations.

“It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community, be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time! ~

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its own destination. ~

The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.”

[part of] Hopi elder’s prayer

…..these are a few of my fav poems for grey days with mounds of homework and metamorphosis, that call out to be pegged blue, red en yellow. Dis are some  of the ones I hold close to my heart…..

Moon marked and touched by sun

My magic is unwritten

But when the sea turns back

It will leave my shape behind

I seek no favour/untouched by blood/unrelenting as the curse of love

Permanent as my errors/or my pride

I do not mix/love with pity/nor hate with scorn

En if you would know me/look into the entrails of Uranus

Where the restless ocean pound

i do not dwell/within my birth nor my divinities/who am ageless and half grown

and still seeking/my sistas/witches in dahomey/wear me inside their coiled cloths

as our mother did/mourning.

i have been womban/for a long time/beware my smile

i am treacherous with old magic/and the noons new fury

with all your wide futures

promised

i yam

womban

and not white.

[between the lines: we explore indigenus myths en ancestor worship in diasporic tongues, in the spaces between a.k.a another place not here, like]

“Dahomey”

“in spite of the fire’s heat

the tongs can fetch it.”

It was in Abomey that I felt

the full blood of my fathers’ wars

and where I found my mother

Seboulisa

standing with outstretched palms hip high

one breast eaten away by worms of sorrow

magic stones resting upon her fingers

dry as a cough.

In the dooryard of the brass workers

four women joined together dying cloth

mock Eshu’s iron quiver

standing erect and flamingly familiar

in their dooryard

mute as a porcupine in a forest of lead

In the courtyard of the cloth workers

other brothers and nephews

are stitching bright tapestries

into tales of blood.

Thunder is a woman with braided hair

spelling the fas of Shango

asleep between sacred pythons

that cannot read

nor eat the ritual offerings

of the Asein.

My throat in the panther’s lair

is unresisting.

Bearing two drums on my head I speak

whatever language is needed

to sharpen the knives of my tongue

the snake is aware although sleeping

under my blood

since I am a woman whether or not

you are against me

I will braid my hair

even

in the seasons of rain.

Recently a ‘rafiki’ (kiswahili for friend) of ours, offered critical feedback on the storyboard of dis’ documentary feature en the (wish-list of a) series, it came in the form of a rhetorical question, in the wake of goodbyes en hellos, masking many fears en hopes en deep scars, grasping at the heart of the matter…

[blogger’s note: ‘us’ (our.stories.n.people) in the q_t werd stands in for the non/fictional, biodramamythical collective of artists, artivists and village (organizer)s  aka. ‘bredrin and dadas in solidarity’]

bigger point is, dis dada said ”you know what your doc doesn’t have? an antagonist……..”

(leading us to the latest ‘episode’ in this quest of building solidarity en salaam [Arabic en kiswahili for peace], but first a lil’ background…..truthIs, we’ve been seeding, planting and sharing our ideas and the storyboard of the q_t werd in our villages since way before the inception of this blog, or the ‘other’ one/s – where behind the mask/‘we’ all get nekkyd)

Our roster of bio/mytho/biographies en interviews feature only people we love, respekt and admire, and reads like we’re totally in love with so so many of dem, n we unashamedly are;

those real talks that make the q_t werd are as fresh as the legends of jus dis week in review….from the highs of ‘our’  colour me dragg AND  cassie walker winning $5,000 @ manifesto, to ‘our’ community raising the roof @ granny boots for kim & nat, doing it revolushunary grassroots style…..

real talks as conflicted as the lows of last night with the drama n fuckery that defined the was the ‘powers that be’ hosting the AGM meeting for ‘our’ Pride Toronto

[in the spaces between, we continue to chart the journey in dub…..where a is for anitafrika dub theatre, b is for [the vision of] bredrin and dadas in solidarity, c is for colour me dragg and colour spill productions, all the way to p is for the people project and where m is for the myths that we’re relearning , taught by our kinda legends, in these hadithi of the q_t werd]

…………As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.”

[excerpt from: The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House
 
by Audre Lorde
 
From Sister Outsider, The Crossing Press Feminist Series (1984)]

These are the stories that make the q_t werd, as real as our children and lovers, institutionalised scandals, mashups and makeups, evolving bashes and (not-so) complicated backlash to ‘our’ community organising and village rebuilding, and all the lessons we’re relearning in our journeys.

the bigger point of this post is…… ‘that’ question,

the answer is….we have plenty antagonists, plenty of enemies BUT…… we choose to focus dis quest of documenting our healing en collective recovery, of rebuilding salaam and solidarity, on people we love

and even then, still……d is for drama is the crux of the q_t werd…

because the truth is….. we’re still working thru our shit, and even if we were to start jus with people we know en love, we would have more than nuff stories of conflict transformation and wishful fantasies for seven seasons.

The q_t werd is as simple as ABC en D [toZ] en as mysterious as the riddle of the sphinx…..

Hadithi? Hadithi?

Hadithi njoo……

Kesho ni: E is for elimu sanifu: in the q_t werd

The q_t werd : has evolved into dis’ present incarnation from its seeding, in Tdot en Vancouver,

five years ago…

[en in the spaces between, from before, long long long ago, there were 9(+1) dadas na baba na mama

Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo…..Sahani? ya…….Giza? ya……..]

Dis’ doc (in the works of becoming a series) is the love child of revolushunary villages

(rebuilding en dialoguing) in Hamilton, Tdot, Nairobi, Joburg & Kampala.

Dis’ is our nekkyd truth, a.k.a  real talks, about these visions we have on our quest of re-educating not only ourselves, but others, in the practice of freedom n’ liberation: where every moon is afrikan hirstory month, every day i(nvolve)s building solidarity within our diversity n peacemaking

[In the spaces between: we develop as a collective with all the means we have, our biomythdramas, inspired by the artists who’ve studied and performed (with the core principles being developed by d’bi young of) anitafrika! dub theatre, nourished by our ancestral memories, nurtured with the legacies of indigenUS en pan-afrikan warriors]

Dis’ is us, no apologies or excuses, jus’ as is, on a journey of  healing(selves) en re/claiming our destinies.

Hadithi? Hadithi?

Hadithi njoo…

[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/