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/

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

…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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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 🙂

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The student becomes the teacher. The interviewee becomes the interviewer

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Ipeleng Aneb Kgositsile

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My lens caught this wonderful child

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

Take Off Your Mask

Mother earthh

The best thing about being in an adult, which can ironically be simultaneously the worst thing, depending on your general disposition, is that you get to decide everything about your life. When you are a child under your parents’ care, they are trusted aides that can secure you in the backseat, passively journeying onwards. But then you grow up, and everything about you and your path lies entirely in your hands. You become the sole proprietor of the spiritual, emotional, psychological, sexual, and physical businesses of your life.

Ultimately there can be no one who tells you to change your job based on your visceral sadness in your work environment; nobody can tell you to leave your emotionally abusive relationship(s); nobody can decide that since you have such deep yearnings to travel it’s time you cashed in your pensions and finally took that trip; and absolutely nobody can decide for you when it is the right time to have children, join the gym, get married, get divorced, seek counselling, or start eating healthy.

This is the best thing about being an adult if you are secure and confident in your every stride. It is empowering and promises perpetual validation when you are in sync with your needs and make conscious decisions to pursue change. All of the things we have to make decisions on are about one thing: change. Change can be scary, but resisting it can stunt your growth. So ultimately, decisions have to be made, change has to be embraced, and growth must be a natural state in our lives.

The great existentialists spoke about this anxiety born in adults who cannot possibly fathom that their destinies are in their hands. Most people indeed wish they could hand over their very agencies to live a life of their making. This would essentially mean you choose to renounce your very essence, your inherent resolve, sensibilities, and desire. It would mean you give up your life force and choose stagnancy and death of the true self. It would mean you choose to conform and hide from the winds of change instead of setting sail and being propelled by them.

We are humans, not animals. You are you, not the next person. So take off that mask! You are dynamically charged with the triumphant DNA of your ancestry, who have walked with the sheer resolve of living that is unparalleled. You are the sum total of that dynamism, resolve, and triumph. You are not here by mistake; you breathe the very fuel of life. Live your life. Don’t be afraid. Do not fear change; take risks, dabble in the gamble of personal success, look out for yourself, and always know that ‘normal’ is a concept created to make us second guess ourselves. Go out and conquer fear—wage a war with yourself, and your true self shall be revealed.

_______________________________________________________________________________

In other news, I was put on these amazing guys called Koffie, Dutch, who are inspired by the music of Fela Kuti so immensely. I love their stuff, and have bought both their albums on iTunes… Do good!

Staying True to My Heart

NYC_Panorama_edit2

Greetings from Amsterdam on this fantastic sunny day. I’m in a fabulous mood. First I must apologise for being so quiet over the last week. I have been brewing something exciting for the past three months, and last week it reached its execution period, where I had to wait until this morning to find out if the plan is green-lighted. So without wasting any time, here it goes: I’m going to be living in the United States for three months from the 1st of August!! These are most fulfilling and exciting news to me and my work. It has been a trying time for me emotionally, so a quest into the unknown is the exact literal, literary and symbolic journey I need.

I can confidently and safely tell you now that my PhD research on South African poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile has been approved by my department of literature at the University of Cape Town to take the form of a literary biography. For my own creative exploration and indulgence, I am also shooting a documentary that will accompany the final book project. He lived in New York for 15 years between 1960 and 1975, and I am going to live in New York for 2 months from the 1st August to chart his literary journey, interview his contemporaries—I’m looking for one particular Pharoah Sanders; universe please align—and talk to members of his family and friends in the 3rd month.

New York SubwayThis work is at the very centre of my heart, and anchors me day and night when all seems to be destabilised. Planning for this trip has been a most sacred journey as everything I have sought has been met with a resounding YES! everyone I have spoken to has been so open-minded as to see the value of this project, and even though I have never been to the U.S., I have seen New York, Chicago, San Francisco—places I will visit over the 3 months there—with my third eye. The kindness and generosity of my American interlocutors has left me feeling at ease about entering this new phase of my research and life journey.

I believe in more work and less talk, I believe in letting my work speak for itself, and I believe that plans for great work are like an intricate process of birth. I will only speak about the birth once the baby is strong, stealthy, and able to take their position in the world. So for now I’m content to share these plans with you. There are very exciting things and people I’m meeting with, but I would not want to talk about them before I have in fact met with them and engaged with their wonderful minds. Work first, then enjoyment of its fruits later. The power of the mind will now function to create something out of nothing, and this will find its time to be shared here.

As you might or might not know, whilst interviewing Kgositsile and his contemporaries—I’ve thus far interviewed Mongane Serote, Lefifi Tladi, Muxe Nkondo, Tsitsi Jaji, Stephane Roboolin—I have been shooting a documentary. This has been a true blessing in my life, and I’d like to thank my best friend Mafadi Mpuru who has been so generous as to donate a full professional television crew for these purposes. I will continue with the work of shooting a documentary in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, and once again this is made possible by the generous spirit of a friend who owns an Amsterdam production rental company.

So those are my news. New York here I come in 15 days. I received my visa this morning, for a whopping 10 years!! The Americans are generous for such a paranoid country. Well good for me because this will be my first time there, but certainly not my last. This is my life work, and I will continue to invest my time here in (re)writing our beautiful literary history. If I don’t thank my husband for his gentleness and generosity then I will be doing a great injustice unto self first. Reinier has been, and continues to be a rock. All his connections are making this come true, and without him I would be found wanting. My family’s support has let me know: a pride of lions without a leader can be defeated by a limping buffalo (directly translated from Sepedi proverb).

I will say, last but not least, when you do what you love a world of possibilities opens up and the essential things of your heart’s desire become attainable. If your dreams do not scare you it means you have not fully explored your true potential and thrust. Nothing of value can come out of comfort; we must leave, as we have left our parents’ house, that which makes our growth graph stagnant, and pursue that which makes our hearts race, guided by faith, courage, hope, and passion. There is no greater fulfilment than to create something from nothing, to live with a clear vision that propels you forward in your everyday life. Productivity equals growth, and vision equals purpose. Without productivity, vision, and purpose, our growth is stifled…

KK

Our very first meeting in 2012. I was not nervous. But I spoke a lot, which probably means I was nervous 🙂

20140716-094709.jpg

Ntate Lefifi Tladi has been most inspiring to engage with. He was part of Medu Arts Ensemble in the 1980s in Botswana, together with Keorapetse Kgositsile, Thami Mnyele, and Dumile Feni. His house is a living and breathing music, literary, and visual arts library. He is a writer, musician, visual artist (he made a Sistine chapel-like ceiling in his house), and performer.

20140716-094737.jpg

Prof. Muxe Nkondo lifted the veil off this whole research. He is a literary scholar par excellence, and helped me reveal the core intentions of this study. I am forever indebted to him.

20140716-094723.jpg

Ntate Mongane Serote is a living literary legend. He is also the CEO of both Jo’burg theatre and Freedom Park. He was Keorapetse Kgositsile’s student of Creative Writing in the U.S. in the early 1970s, and they lived together like gypsies, travelling to jazz concerts all over the country (U.S.)

KK 2

This man is full of humility and brilliance. Dynamites do indeed come in small packages…

Awakenings

Personal development

Here’s why I think everybody who aspires to personal development should have a passion that drives them and provides them with a safe space to explore their higher being—what society has called a ‘hobby’. A passion, or hobby, is a good space to explore your strengths and exercise full control of your agency. It is an elementary and fundamental space that engenders knowledge of self, self-determination, and creativity. It is a space of your own making whose depth, layers, and textures you get to decide. It is a sacred space that promises a mining of personal treasures.

Here’s where we get it wrong: we try to control spaces that are not of our own making. We are propelled by a false sense of self-importance and worth that has us believing we know. This is the predisposition of humans living in the 21st century urban space—information overload and saturated sensuality has us thinking we are in control and that we are equipped with the tools to drive our own life-locomotives. The truth is ‘knowing’ is an illusion and is quite medieval. Once we surrender to the motion of life we are opening ourselves to be perpetually replenished by the rivers of eternal knowledge.

Once we give away our personal agency and power to create through our individual passions and hobbies, and falsely try to control an outward sphere, we will always fail. The world is not our space of control, our individual worlds are. Individually we inhibit worlds that are entirely of our construct and design. But we are quick to neglect our abilities and personal agencies to construct and configure those worlds to our individual needs; taking those intricate needs and imposing them on an outside world whose magnitude elude us.

We cannot control anything or anyone beside our own worlds and ourselves. This becomes evident when we experience grief—heartbreak, loss, trauma, etc—and we are so fixated with knowing, whilst grief demands that you surrender. When we surrender to grief—it is counterintuitive for animals to surrender, but the ego has no place in raw inundated primal feelings—we must always find refuge in a world we can exercise a certain control over: that’s where your passion/hobby comes in! It is at this time that the world of your own making nourishes you and waters your roots; strengthening you. That passion, during this time, is the difference between sanity and insanity, harmony and destruction.

What could your passion be? In my experience, my passion drives me, as opposed to me driving it. It is a world where my third eye, higher being, and full sensuality are in synergy with one another. It is a charged space of inspiration promising creation—something always gets created in my world of passions: cooking and writing. Passion is seated in the heart; it is submerged in my life force, in my arteries, and in my seat of love. It is a place of possibility, of joy, and of growth. It is a site of self-determination and personal development.

Been jamming to this track in gym today. Conceive, believe, and achieve…

Apathy is the Hole in our Whole

Image

There’s a beautiful truth that will save us from the trap of apathy and procrastination that perpetually guzzles our plans into an abyss of a never-coming tomorrow: there is no tomorrow! There is only today. In fact, there is only NOW. Every moment we live and experience is always NOW. The concept of time as a linear continuum that moves from compartments of past, to present, to future; of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is a Western concept of time that is based on a socially constructed Roman calendar with its attendant trappings.

Time is not linear but cyclic. Apathy is brought on by the belief that tomorrow will be different from today, or next year will be a better year to do something. The truth that glares at us is that, just like seasons of the year, there is no major difference between last year and this year; they are both years that constitute the seasons of our lives that are cyclic. The only way they are different is in relation to our growth (both physical and otherwise), because as we know nature abhors stasis so there will always be evolution of humans, plants, animals, and all living matter; and as long as they exist in nature, their lives will be cyclic.

My biggest lesson of last year and in continuum NOW is that if you are a writer, write! If you are involved in creativity, it is your prerogative to release yourself from the trap of linear time and exist in a space that allows you to create at your most optimum. There’s a particular charged energy that propels us to create, and procrastination can only be birthed from that energy: a wasted energy that has to recede and perish unceremoniously. That energy is the difference between possibility and hopelessness: being and nothingness.

apathy2That energy may never be regained. It is the key to a world where you can be a creator by making something out of nothing. It is a sacred space charged with positively flowing magnetism that ropes all existences together into NOW. The mental image of all possibility framed into a reality within reach is an image tantamount to a miracle, jostling you into action to discover the nexus of your creative being. There, in that hub of possibility, choose creation. Choose NOW, not tomorrow, not later, not next year.

The nectar of the seasons does dry out and crust over what could have been. Where there was once possibility there is now just a bump in the interflow of energies. Apathy and procrastination are the enemies of harmonious creative energy. They create speed bumps in the vitality of thought; they function to block the unending passages of the rituals of creativity. They mute the cantations of a charged vibrant heart—the heart, the seat of passion, should be given free reign, especially in the moment that seeks to meet you halfway and guide your soul to ecstasy. Purposeful action NOW is the path to pure uninhibited happiness.

Let us see your works. Let us share in the creations of your heart. Let’s live in the house of our legacies. NOW!

Purposeful Action

Image

Habits are born out of actions we do for at least five days in a row. That’s what I believe. Moreover, when your actions are purposeful, then you catch onto that habit holistically. If you have serious desires to find a job of your deepest wishes, eat healthier, exercise more, drink water, write a blog/thesis/book, or whatever else; you have to firstly concretise your reasons for wanting it so badly, which will give you purpose for going out there and getting it. You have to have hope, faith and courage to forsake most things and focus your energy on those wishes, and you have to come back to your own centre to be able to receive a clear voice that will guide you and propel you forward.

Once you want to change your life for the better, that’s exactly what it means, change! If you want to visit the gym regularly, you have to see what you can forsake in order to create time for that. If you want to lose weight you have to look at your eating patterns and see what to forsake. If you want to write you have to start with one sentence. How bad do you want it? What’s at stake? What is in the way of you getting it? And how much do you stand to equally lose and gain? Those are motivating questions to get you started. Growing up essentially means depletion: you will inevitably choose this over that—contrary to popular belief, there are enough hours in the day. We must focus on purposeful action.

I would like to take this opportunity to inspire you as much as you have inspired me to change my life. I have moved, in four weeks, from a lethargic, surly, and dull me to the best me I’ve ever known. I have allowed myself, in the past, to be swallowed by negative energy to a point where I thought I was melancholic (if you’ve ever watched Lars von Trier’s melancholia then you get it). This was a result of waking up tired, having a fuzzy cloud in my head, my body sore from sleeping for too long, and being generally dissatisfied with the course of my life. This led to bad eating habits and being a basket case to my husband.

One morning in January I woke up and knew exactly what to do (considering that my life was otherwise great, and actually quite privileged). I joined the gym and took up yoga lessons, stopped drinking and smoking, and started juicing and opting for healthier food choices. I am so dedicated to gym, and I cycle 17km’s in 40 minutes right now, and am going for glory; I have made that choice, I wanted it badly so I gave it my all for five days in a row, and now I cannot imagine spending a day without spinning and yoga. Yoga has been essential in unblocking my energies and helping me appreciate and celebrate my vision to write a sound thesis that will make a tremendous contribution to my field of study.

20140211-120004.jpg

Oatmeal with roasted sunflower seeds, topped with sliced nectarine, pecan nuts, blueberries, cinnamon, goji berries, and a dollop of plain yoghurt

I have always made good eating choices, but when you’re unhappy with yourself you have those days you scoff a rack of ribs unconsciously, not even paying attention to their taste or portion. Comfort eating it is called. But now I have found comfort in climbing mountains and hiking with friends, which allows for true meaningful connections that don’t involve alcohol. I have been inspired to eat more grains and seed, which all contribute to a fibre rich diet, which means rapid digestion, feeling regular, having high metabolism, and being energetic all day.

I’d like to share with you the best way to eat seeds, legumes, and fruits/vegetables every day (this was central to our ancestor’s diet). This is also great for your children; to start them from an early age so they can also pick up good habits of eating healthy and feeling energetic all day. My husband brought this habit into our home: have a salad with every evening meal. I would add to that and say, roast some seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds) and sprinkle them on your salad. Alternatively, you may roast those seeds and put them in your oatmeal for breakfast. Kids will love it too. Breakfast is the most important meal, that’s why mine looks this way. I also put pecan nuts, goji berries, blueberries, cinnamon, and seasonal fruit in my oatmeal. This is just full of bursts of creative energy. You want that wonderful energy will take you through the day.

Purposeful action <> Hope <> Faith <> Courage <> Resourcefulness <> Good Habits

Image

Bildungsroman

Image

I’ve always been a strange one; the only difference today is I’m no stranger to myself. I was born between stone and fire; and intolerant to lactose when the only nourishment was the by-products of the cows and goats we called family. As a result I was on the brink of death daily; dancing on the marginal line between the beginning and the end.

I’ve always been a strange one. When we played at age 4 around the make-shift crèche my mothers had co-founded, I counted so fast and sang the letters of the alphabet so confidently they threw me out of nursery rhymes into the rhymes and metre of bantu education under apartheid. Everything was sing-song under the threat of a whip; we avoided impala and buffalo tracks to get to school.

I’ve always been a strange one. When my peers in the township played diketo, m’gusha, and house-house, I was playing soccer with my brother and dissecting rats to quench our curiosity. I had to be in a guise of a boy to participate in soccer competitions, whilst the drum-majorettes teacher thought me too black and ugly to be the leader, despite my dexterous energy around the drum sticks.

I’ve always been a strange one. In high school when my friends were fighting to be ring leaders of our clique I was seeking solitude and debunking group mentality. I always made fun of the lengths they would go through to afford scarlet lipsticks and nail polishes, which to me looked like the blood of the rats I used to operate on. I didn’t take easily to hair relaxers; my scalp would combust into flames and seer my brain. My hair would therefore remain ‘unkempt’.

I’ve always been a stranger one. After high school the freedom of escaping my parents’ house found me suckling on the philosophies of Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey, Dead Prez, and Chinua Achebe. Mom disapproved of my new-found vegetarianism and choice of herbs. Red, green, yellow, and choosing to live on mountains shaped the extent at which I familiarised myself with the self.

I’ve always been a strange one. I published a book with money for IT school fees. No IT for me; that was the only truth I knew. I skipped the country for months on end without a word of where I would be. I didn’t even know my destinations; it was the journeys I was seeking and yearning for. I came back on my 21st birthday from a sojourn of East Africa, thirsty for institutionalised knowledge. I registered at Wits to study literature.

I’ve always been a strange one. I have no origin, and have many homes. The question ‘where are you from’ makes me grit my teeth. I am not of one culture, I dream in foreign languages, I have no skin, and I am a teacher who is in it for learning. I do not care about my car, laptop, phone, iPad and clothes: I own them, they do not own me. I live in two hemispheres; I emanate multiple existences. My life project is putting a magnifying glass on the languages, politics and cultures of the continent and its diaspora.

I’ve always been a strange one; the only difference now is I am no stranger to self. My heart is a drum that refuses to be silenced. I have legitimised and validated the trajectory of my own voice. I write my narrative with conviction for I am the captain of my own soul, and am the author of my life story. I have always been a strange one, but I prefer to occupy the margins of society for the sake of my own sanity, than the centre of popularity at the compromise of my beliefs.