Debrief After A Literary Pilgrimage

How do I start a gratitude piece for all the bountiful harvest that I have partaken in? That is the question that has been pushing me closer and closer to debriefing from a truly magnificent and perfect-in-every-form-ten-week-whirlwind of an American rendezvous. Well, as the trip fully and without any compromise demonstrated to me, perhaps I should start by thanking myself for the sheer tenacity, determination, courage, faith, and pure passion that has driven me to be still and hear, and be fully awake to see the signs as they presented themselves to me; to have trusted my perception instead of doubt it; to have shunned any inkling of doubt or fear; and to have honoured my own voice that has consequentially led me to my own truth.

I feel validated in my beliefs, gratified by my journey, closer to my relentless vision, and inspired to be extraordinary. I have seen in clear daylight the intensity of my own power; the unparalleled spark of possibility lying, dormant, seeking engagement with those driven by pure intentions to be creators in their own worlds; the spontaneous combustion between possibility and determination, initiative and faith, knowledge of self and passion; and the sheer magic that can be woven and witnessed in one whose higher self is in direct alignment with self. I am now possessed by a thousand thundering voices that speak with me, and through me. Where I once had shoulders I now have wings…

I am now more certain that ever that we are one with all living entities; the earth and its magnificent solar systems (this is no joke; the full moons and mercury in retrograde had me in full grips, begging for ‘normality’), the animals, plants, and human beings all form a cosmic and holistic part of who we are. I only exist because of all those living things. And there is no living without the dead—the persistent balance and harmony of life—so I have tasted the sweetest connections of them all; being awake in more worlds than this physical one; hearing, seeing, and feeling the intensity of the moment; but most importantly, trusting the moment and taking notes that I consequently use as a blueprint of my vision and dreams. Let no one succeed in convincing you your physical body is all you are!

I have grown spiritually, emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and cosmically on the literary pilgrimage I took from Amsterdam to New York, to Washington DC, to Chicago, to San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley, to Los Angeles; following and being followed by the footstep of a sage whose guiding hand, embrace, and mentorship—felt, heard and seen without his physicality—has led me to treasures of my own soul, of the larger cosmic world of our people, of the South African literary landscape, and of the broader black diaspora. The magnitude of the alchemy on this trip is to be fully experienced in the forthcoming months of writing this dissertation, this book, and producing this documentary. I have grown creatively too. I am decidedly embroiled in the cosmic world of the arts, where being a writer has so seamlessly and without any fear or favour led me to being a filmmaker: an art form that I have enormous respect for.

I trust myself more than ever. I am not the chosen one, but I chose myself to be the one for this task. Perhaps I should rephrase and say InI (I and eye—third eye perception and reception. I’ve explained this in detail here https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/ini-self-n-divine-self/ ) chose myself; perceived of self as capable, and received the ordained calling as my own. As the wisdom of the elders does state clearly, we exist in duality, like any product of nature and life—the yin and the yan, the body and the life force, the physical and the metaphysical—must be in unison. My life force and metaphysical self, the other ‘I’ in InI, are now lounging languidly with my physical self, at one, in perfect harmony, pregnant with larger-than-my-physical-body possibilities. My voice is stronger than ten weeks ago, and my resolve is only perfectly demonstrated by the image of being possessed by a thousand thundering voices. I move because I am moved…

What follows is a continuation of a photo essay that started here

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/the-golden-years/

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I travelled to Washington DC to interview poet, legendary jazz critic and literary historian A.B. Spellman, who was warm and happy to walk down memory lane with me

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Karen Spellman was an active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which Keorapetse Kgositsile joined seamlessly when he arrived in the States

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I went to meet my mentor, Professor James Miller, at the George Washington University. He was the first person who ever introduced the term ‘Black Atlantic’ to me at Wits in my Honours year, and I have been dreaming about conducting research in this field since he ran a fascinating course mapping the similarities in black South African and black American cultures in the 20th century

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Fall/Autumn is pumpkin season and America has quite a family of them I tell you. All shapes, colours, textures, sizes, and flavours…

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…but what do you do with so much pumpkins? Well, they have all kinds of pumpkin yumminess like pumpkin chai tea/coffee, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin waffles, etc. Pumpkin chai tea with hot milk really moved me to tears

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Of course while I was in town I thought I’d pop in and have tea with my girl Mitchelle, but the security guards had something else on their minds. They’ve since been fired 🙂

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Maybe something major was happening at Mitchelle’s house! I mean snipers on top of her house?? Really??

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The area between Capitol Hill and Lincoln Memorial gave way to an area of feeling deep in my heart. I was filled with all kinds of conflicting emotions from disgust to triumph

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I really really love how artists engage with the city, especially at the Washington Square in New York. It is a beautiful square with all kinds of artists, and they are well-respected if the tipping is anything to go by

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The student becomes the teacher. The interviewee becomes the interviewer

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On my last night in NYC I managed to score tickets to a Talib Kweli performance. What an amazing experience to hear him, feel him, and be entertained by him in his native New York…

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Kweli is a lyricist extraordinaire, and I was pleased that the sound at the legendary Blue Notes did justice to his flow

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I have been to quite a lot of jazz performances and festivals, but never have I seen a trumpeter display such barbaric devotion to his instrument – breaking all the rules

Common Sense Concert

I arrived in Chicago on the 20th September, and the next day I prepped to dance away at this dream line up. The special guest was Kanye West, and I have to admit that I absolutely enjoyed his performance despite my better judgement of the man

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In Chicago I managed to link up with my brother Ignatius from Polokwane. It was great to speak Sepedi in Chicago and crack ourselves over the mundane and magical

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Sterling Plumpp – the man who made almost everything worthwhile. He led me in the right direction and guided me gently into the very dense jungle that is the political and cultural life of Keorapetse Kgositsile. I am forever indebted to him

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During this interview with Keorapetse Kgositsile’s daughter, Ipeleng Aneb Kgositsile, we were visited by fireflies, hummingbirds, and butterflies. It was beyond magical. In that hot Oakland weather I was suffering (with pleasure) from chills

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The way I loved the bay area – San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley – was truly special. It will forever remain my dream destination and crush address

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Don’t even ask! Okay, I’ll tell you. I went into a shop, looked around, and next thing I know there was an impromptu photoshoot and wine #hides

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The beauty of the bay area. It reminded me of Cape Town with all its beautiful hills and mountains, winelands, botanical gardens, and laid back culture

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I missed this documentary to celebrate 20 years of Illmatic the album, and as I was minding my own business buying books I came across this poster and immediately heeded the calling

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Ipeleng Aneb Kgositsile

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We caught Fourplay at the legendary Yoshi’s Jazz Bar in Oakland; one of the most reputable jazz bars in the world. The owner, Yoshi, is a Japanese beauty of soul and spirit whom I’ve been fortunate enough to spend an intense afternoon with.

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The saxophonist and trombonist are from Oakland School of Arts, a public school where I have had the pleasure of teaching a literature lesson on Kgositsile. 51 Oakland, an NGO ran by Jason Hoffman and Yoshi, helps with putting arts and music back in public schools. These are the results of their work. These public school learners are playing with a legendary Latino band

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I felt the power of this NGO’s work. This youngster from a public school displayed so much skill on the trombone, and all the applause certainly gave him positive self esteem and motivation

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My lens caught this wonderful child

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Universe please conspire!! I need to live here, even if it is for a two year fellowship, or even better, getting a post at the Berkeley campus of the University of California…

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This is the NGO in discussion, 51 Oakland, and one of the co-founders Jason Hoffman. I met Jason through Ipeleng, and he was jsut so generous and kind enough to host me at his house during my stay in the bay area. There was something magical in our interaction, which has led me to my own treasures

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I helped out at the event where the students were playing; selling T-shirts and garnering support for the organisation. This has moved me to decidedly be more involved in the caring for others and making a difference in the less fortunate’s lives. A challenge I take on keenly

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Simple Mathematics in our Lives

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There’s simple mathematics to our lives than informs the beautiful alchemy of our existence. Yes, mathematics, just like physical science, is everywhere; in the way we love, laugh, cry, and make decisions. It’s all about additions, multiplying balancing, dividing, subtracting, finding the whole, and being part of the whole.

Here’s the simple mathematics of life. If you give, your efforts don’t vanish into the ether—you are not separate from the whole—they are stored as highly charged energy, and the more you give the more you multiply that energy. The simple law of physics states that whatever you give you will get an invert direct proportion of. Needless to say, you must not give for those reasons, you must give precisely because you are not separate from the whole. You cannot enjoy the quality of your spiritual, mental, and emotional life within depravity.

I may even go as far as saying this applies to our attitude to the earth itself. We are not separate from the earth and there’s nothing more detrimental to the development of the human spirit than those who treat the earth like a void into which they can litter things. That litter does not vanish into space; it is stored up and will be directly fed to your spiritual wellbeing. You can’t litter and expect peace of mind. That does not balance the equation of life.

The simple mathematics and physics of life state that energy is transferrable at any given rate. If you show love, you get love. You may very well infect people with positive energy and laughter. Let’s never forget the condensed energies in love and laughter that threaten to erupt in everyone who encounters it. We can be infectious to one another. It should be our purpose when we wake up to touch someone, however minutely, with the positive vibrations that emanate from our charged hearts.

If you give love, love will show its face to you. If you give with the purest heart, inversely you will know how to receive love from the purest heart. You would have known its face—you would have revelled in the emotions of being one with the earth, wind, water, fire; one with the solar system, the animals, the plants, and the inner god. You would have experience nirvana by trumping fear and giving the best of you even in times that seemed less motivating to do so.

Those are the simple mathematics of our lives: to capture the textures of life through the exponential sharing of ourselves. Life is about procreation; but procreation does not only infer birthing another human, physically. We have the power to give birth to innovative ideas, concentrated masses of energy fields, which all can in turn rebirth other souls, who will also affect the rebirth of others. Energy gets transferred. Contrary to popular belief, life is not about breathing, it is about living a purposeful life that infects others with the very essence and nectar of life: love.

P.S Love is not romantic love. Love is the thread that ties us together. Love is what makes us not part of life, but life itself.

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I have written about the 7 chakras before, here       https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/the-seven-chakras/                If you have any questions whatsoever, please engage me, I’ll be happy to journey with you in finding answers.

One blessed love…

(Tough) Love in the Age of Aquarius

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I’m starting to understand people with issues. I mostly hang around women so I’ll even say I understand complexities and dynamics that affect our adult lives. The thing to be stated here is you can’t have it all. There is no one out there who does not have a persistent poke, with varying intensities of course, from their past. For example I always had father issues, on a scale that most would undermine, but they are father issues nonetheless, and they were only resolved this year when I got married.

Issues. We all have them. However, the unspoken and unwritten rule of life is that we sort them out and not perform them with vigour in social spaces. We all should have that person—whether sister, neighbour counsellor, friend—whom we can speak uninhibitedly to and illuminate the dark corners of our hearts around. This person/people/friend helps us purge our issues and analyse them from a distanced perspective. That level of introspection is good. You should not keep your issues to yourself and allow them to be your personal cross.

Having said that, one should also be a keen observer and be discerning with oneself. What good does it do to display machismo when with others, only to crumble and perish under the weight of your personal cross? Or even worse, what good is it to keep your issues at bay and present to us a facade of prosperity only to consistently have meltdowns after a few drinks? I think I’m in a place in my life where I don’t have to call my friends to order. We should all know ourselves and be the ones to reprimand our own demons.

Granted, the journey of knowing self is a long one and continues unfolding, but the buffer that can afford our restless souls a haven can be attained through the power of friendship and spoken words. I’m a listener. And I want to surround myself with listeners precisely for that reason. If you have a problem, speak; but furthermore, speak when the time is right. That is a discerning character. Don’t hold the time we consider valuable and sacred, hostage with drunken ramblings that only function to put us off.

I’m certainly not being harsh. All I wish to emphasise is that our lives are saturated with information, images, digital devices, social networks, and other personal vices. With so much noise going around, some of us seek peace and harmony. There is good timing for everything. I have the broadest shoulders and largest ears, I have food and wine to indulge you, and I have music to settle your soul; but I also am human, and need inner peace, balance, and solace. If we’re gonna be friends please set your heart free by divulging your issues with reckless abandon so we may also find ourselves celebrating the small treasures of being alive.

It all boils down to purposeful action. And being discerning. You should prioritise your insecurities and unhappiness. Make them your personal urgent project. When your headspace is clear and you have your demons in check, you can start securing your landscape. Life presents us with difficulties along the way, make sure you function from a base camp you have assembled, strengthened, and illuminated. You are a base camp. You are ultimately responsible for where you set it up, who can come in and out, and how it can weather the storms.

Life: a Balancing Act

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There are those who are living their death and there are those who are living their lives! There is absolute injustice in living a life that is not fulfilling and nurturing to your soul. There is no sanctuary to be found in feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. Yes happiness is a fleeting emotion and can be found in many commodities, albeit momentarily. I’m not talking happiness, I’m talking being content! Waking up knowing—that is contentedness: feeling resolute; feeling like you control the reigns of this horse called life; feeling harmony between your psyche, emotions, spirit, and physique; that is called being content.

The manner in which you approach this state of being has to be a well-devised and measured one. Think carefully about where you spend most of your time. For most of us life is driven by work, and we spent 9 hours daily, 5 times a week, at this place called work. Work can also be a mental space, as it is for me (I don’t have a physical office space). These odd numbers with my rusty mathematics suggest that in fact we spend a good 70% plus of our lives at work.

The next question that is imminent is “are you happy at work”? This goes back to the issue of happiness and contentedness: are you content with the work you do? Does your work drive you or do you drive your work? It is absolutely and entirely possible to be content with your work. However, if you’re not that fortunate few, if you’re not content, what are you doing about it? Are you taking any particular steps to ensuring that you are living your life instead of living your death? Are you allowing situations to happen to you instead of you happening to situations?

ImageThe reality is that there can never be any wo/man born of woman who can decide for you that the time for change is here. There is nobody who can identify your strife and decide for you that the time to stop is now. What is holding you back? FEAR! What if… , but if…, what about…??? In the past few months I have learnt to let go of fear. Especially fear that is driven by irrational thought. If you take stock of your life right now, and look at your expenses, your living situation, and your passions; are they congruent? That is the first point of contention. If you start living true to your condition, it makes it easier to make the changes that you need to make. However if you are living a life that is outside your means, it makes for a high maintenance life and consequently forces you into a corner of need-to-work instead of want-to-live.

Fear is a narrative we structure in our head when change is imminent. We are all amenable to change, as it is inevitable, however when the winds of change are blowing we find ourselves incapable of opening our wings and taking flight. We write a narrative in our heads that if we take three months off work just to discover what we are capable of, or to follow our passions, we will fall behind in maintaining our lifestyles. What is that lifestyle? Can you let it go for the sake of your own happiness? Can you write a more positive narrative about the joy at the end of the rainbow? Yes, it’s a leap of faith, but change is pain, pain is change, you have to be well prepared. You have to be ruthless to see a revolution, whether personal or public.

We all have to surrender if we are not happy. We have to surrender to that emotion, deplete what we have been doing, and start rebuilding. For sure you may never start building on a shaky foundation. You have to start all over again. If it is for the sake of your won happiness, it is more than worth it, it is your responsibility and adult human right! Freedom is the ability to change the course of your life, freedom is the release from fear, freedom is the unquestionable belief in your own wings, in their ability to take flight, in their ability to take you where you want to be. Chant down fear, take control of your own life, and make change happen—start living your life instead of living your death!

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