Reconfiguring the Distorted…

Wangechi

When we last spoke I had wings where there were once shoulders; wings borne out of taking flight, soaring, and surfing the winds of itinerancy. My life has been fluid, like water, ebbing and flowing according to the calling of my heart. I obeyed and approached the fires that refined my passions. I have pricked my ears to listen, and I have prised my eyes open; I have been alert in order not to miss the divine appointments, and I have been abundantly rewarded, spirit and soul, with treasures that can never find expression here.

My ears have translated the sounds of all which call me from a place of passion, courage, hope and faith, without which all of this seems illusionary. The very palpable nature of the voices I hear root these otherwise ephemeral experiences. I have heard them. I have seen that which defies logic, that which goes beyond ones and zeros of this world; beyond rational. I have seen magic woven in my everyday existence. I have embraced what my eyes have seen without any doubt, and I have been abundantly nurtured.

My voice now strives to be heard, and I am called to the divine appointment of being an educator, a teacher, and an interlocutor. I heard and saw the calling with my third eye and ear – pricked, prised, sensitive, sensible and most sensuous. I am called to clear my throat chakra and speak in response to my passion. NOW. Poetry—the fluids that quench deserted thoughts; the echo that resounds generations past; the source of unbreakable resolve in my life—is calling me. It spoke through the heroic voice of former South African poet laureate Mazisi Kunene:

I possess a thousand thundering voices

With which I call you from the place of the sinking sun.

I call you form the shaking of branches

Where they dance with the tail of the wind.

You are the endless abundance

Singing with the lips of all generations.

You are like a trunk lush with branches in the lake

Whom the feller of woods felled in vain,

But sprouts with new buds in summer.

When it is loaded with fruit he comes again

And eats to saturation desiring to end its seasons;

But again and again the branches shoot forth with new seasons.

I am in a place of lack, of demoralisation, of defeat, and of hunger and thirst. I am in a place where those who speak to us from the place of the sinking sun are rapidly forgotten. The sun is sinking and setting upon us. We need its light. We need its warmth, its guidance, and its reassurance. I eat to saturation from the abundance left as our legacy.  With that abundance nurturing me as a teacher, educator, and interlocutor, I have accepted the calling and divine appointment to be possessed by those thousand thundering voices that I have heard, seen, and will now speak of.

My work in its entirety in is conversation with the endless abundance which sing with the lips of all generations: Keorapetse Kgositsile, Ilva McKay, Mongane Serote, Mazisi Kunene, Dennis Brutus, Barbara Masekela, Mandla Langa, James Matthew, and many others whose voices echo the politics of Solomon Mahlangu, Bantu Biko, Moses Kotane, Duma Nokwe. This is our history which has not found its rightful place in the post-94 curriculum, and which I have accepted the calling to take to the youth in ways whose nature can only be anointed. The forces of a truth whose time has come cannot be stopped.

I travelled the breadth of the United State of America unearthing and collecting—exhuming—to bring home, the work of our exiled fathers and mothers; the stench of their sweat and the haunting darkness of their blood which they spilled for us to take and respond to in our lifetimes. These voices call us and they must possess us. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to access these resources which I have now brought home, and urged to bring to you. This is a bountiful and anointed abundance, not a reckless one.

Without the clarity of our history we cannot have clarity of vision. However, we can never be defeated as a people, for like a trunk lush with branches in the lake, we will sprout with new buds in summer. No matter how big the sledgehammer it cannot orbit the sky. Our promise of abundance is surely coming. I am now putting forth this message. I want to teach poetry from exile to all youth who are willing to receive it. I call those in care of youth to share this with them; to invite me to share with them their beautiful history which will surely have them thinking differently about themselves. I call all educators and NGO directors to employ my services. For free; by divine appointment.

I am a PhD candidate in Literary Studies at the University of Cape Town, and have, in my ownership and potentially larger ownership of my people, endless books out-of-print and rare, footage of interviews I have conducted with prominent South African and American writers, multi-media resources, and 5 solid years of teaching experience from the University of Witswatersrand and UCT. I am the change I want to see in our teaching curriculums, and the time for it is NOW. Invite me for a chat on uhurumahlodi@gmail.com I await all of your response.

To heal, reconstruct, redefine, and reassert our greatness…

When I was in Oakland, California last year in October, I accepted the invitation to teach young students of the Oakland Art School. I was initially concerned by the age group as my teaching experience is with youth adults of 19 years old or older. However they were very receptive and responsive, fascinated by the histories of black South Africa and black America. This inspired me to engage with the youth from my own country, and open up channels for them to learn the extent of the struggle which our mothers and fathers found themselves broiled in.

When I was in Oakland, California last year in October, I accepted the invitation to teach young students of the Oakland Art School. I was initially concerned by the age group as my teaching experience is with young adults of 19 years old or older. However they were very receptive and responsive, fascinated by the histories and relationships of and between black South Africa and black America. This inspired me to engage with the youth from my own country, and open up channels for them to learn the extent of the struggle which our mothers and fathers found themselves embroiled in.

Sensual Creative Feast

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Nature makes you creative. This is an undisputed fact. Creativity has lost its true meaning over the centuries, when its name was dragged to high-end museums, opera houses, and city halls. Creativity is the simple act of creating. The process itself may not be that simple but it’s the simplicity that makes a creation creative. In nature, with minimal resources, one has to be in constant production. One has to create a way of living. Fires have to be made, fridges have to be improvised under the earth, and modes of entertainment must be constructed.

I very much doubt that the ‘first people’ were dropping like flies from eating the wrong kinds of plants. In fact, I believe because nature makes you shed your skin and rely on instinct and intuition, the first people knew exactly what to eat, and it was no mistake when they went under a trance of hallucinations for days. If you are accustomed to nature, you will know a fruit tree when you see one sans the fruits. The same principle applies to wild spinach, or morogo—when you find it in nature you will know exactly which is edible and which is not.

Nature trains your senses. You are fully awake and livened in nature. You use your sense of sight, before you pick up and smell, then you put in your mouth, but not without applying your sense of feel and touch: what follows is an engagement with your fifth sense of taste. All these senses would’ve been roused by the sixth one which is intuition. You don’t just pick anything in nature. You need to be as balanced as nature is to dwell in it. You must live harmoniously with the flora and fauna.

Artists have to train their senses. Artists function and create from their senses: they’re sensitive, sensible, and sensuous. They will function best in nature I tell you. Right now being in the Drakensburg for what seems timeless has immersed me in a crazy spirit of creativity. My senses are at work: the mist, the greenery, the river, the water lilies, compost, birds, butterflies, nests and age-old trees are all magic to my soul. I am a child, and I see now that we have to return to nature. [It’s gonna take some doing convincing R to move here].

Nature makes you creative. Our great-grands made musical instruments out of wood, skin, twine, seeds, pumpkin shells, and many other organic products that spoke to their sixth sense. They sought a particular sound and feeling, so they improvised and created it. They baked bread without ovens, and they had showers way before the conventional shower was conceived. They lived as creators. Creativity is not elitist or reserved for the trained palettes. Creativity is in our everyday modes of existence. We are all creators; we can make something out of nothing.

This post is inspired by a meal I made last night, pictured below. I just used what we had in the fridge, and stirred it in the one pan we have. It was a marvellous creation. I worked with what I had, used my intuition, and came at this delicious aubergine tartlets. I will definitely be making it again back in the city, even with the many other resources that we would be back to. I think it is a lovely treat for kids too, and works best when you don’t really like meat.

Food

 

You will need:

  • Aubergines
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgettes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chillies
  • Ginger
  • Feta cheese
  • Red pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Hummus to serve

I cut the aubergines in circles so they may create a nice base, then grilled them in olive oil with onions, garlic, chillies, and ginger. When soft but not mushy I laid them onto the plate, and sautéed mushrooms and courgettes. When lovely and soft I topped the aubergines with them. Then I put crumbled feta cheese on the tartlets, then for a lovely splash of colour I grilled red peppers and cherry tomatoes, and finished the toppings with them. I served with a lovely hummus and bread if you will. You may also use olive tapenade. I think it will hit the spot.

Obviously the ingredients may vary: I would toss ginger carrots on there, or even top the aubergines with round beetroot. It’s your kitchen. Create…