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African Renaissance

Kevin Carter belongs to everyone

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I hope you have the sun. I long for the sun today. Yes, I’m thinking of you. You and moonlight. You and tenderness. How you express yourself. How you make me feel from my smile to my soul. Only you know what I want the world to see. So, you took me and then you left me.

You were mentally cruel to me. I love you anyway. I accept and understand that it is part of your genetic makeup.  I accept and understand that that is just a part of your personality. You bring out the best in me. You bring out the worst in me. You’re holy even when you’re holier than thou. I accept and understand that we can’t be together. You’re not here. I’m here. The sea is here. Driftwood is here, my love, but you’re not. Are you drinking again? I know that you are. Of course, you don’t have to explain anything to me. You are my beloved. I understand. If there’s another woman, other women in your bed, you’re a man, I understand and accept that that will always be a factor in your life. I will never cut you. Understand that. I will never wound you for the sake of wounding you. You want me conveniently out of your life now. I understand and accept that. I will be writing to you to try and reach you for the rest of your life. Understand that. For you are my kind, my beloved, my kind of man. You will always be my type. Unfortunately, I will always be a stereotype. What do you see when you look at me now? Is she, your wife just a few years older than me? Both of you thought you’d be safe. That she wouldn’t fall pregnant. You did not use condoms. This is what married people do. I understand. You’re lovers. I understand you needed someone. I would not give in. I tried to tell you that I loved you. I just couldn’t put it into words, you see. Do you understand? Is it fine where you are?

What is the weather like? Is it hot there? How are you? Are you coping? I am trying to make things happen. If I was your woman, and you were my man, life would have been exciting all the time.

Interesting all the time. My sister is in Europe. That is her life now. Which is why I contacted you. I didn’t know how to say goodbye to her. I’m really in the depths of despair, which is why I tried to contact you. I wanted to hear the sound of your voice on the other side of the telephone. I wanted to hear all of your voices. I feel the ache in my lonely bones most of all. Yes, the loneliness is getting to me once again. Here I will pause; will you think my hair looks pretty like this. Do you still love me? There are bowls of fire in the linings of my heart. They are burning for you. You’re the enigma.

You’re the enigmatic prize. Other men look at you envious. Other women want to be at your side. I know you. I know you. I love you anyway.

You’re breaking my heart again. You’re walking away again. We must stop meeting as lovers. We have to meet as friends now. Friends who sleep together occasionally. I love you. I love only you. You are gone to the afterparty. The wrap parties. The social function.  I could never host anything. Just thinking about it makes me feel tired. She’s at your side. You have pulled me under again, my love. Your beautiful wife is at your side. You make quite a handsome pair. I have to let you go again. This time for good. You’re beautiful, and once you were mine. You’re not mine anymore. I will love you all for eternity. The ghost of man. The ghost of the man you were when I met you. I won’t keep you waiting. This is your time. This is the woman you have chosen to build a life with, it is her life too. She’s your human shield. I am anti-matter. I am non-existent in your world. We can pretend we feel nothing when we look at each other. But everyone can see our chemistry. How good we would be together. When I look at you, when you’re on television, all I see or feel is electricity. You’re angry at me that I can’t be more discreet. I can’t do your bidding anymore, my love, my love, my love. You’re gone. My sister is gone. Mike Murdock, American television evangelist is gone. I know the whisky tumbler is in your hand. There’s a woman lying next to you. You kiss her hard. What are you doing? You don’t love her. If I phone, you’ll answer. You’ll make me the happiest person in the world. I’ll make you the happiest person in the world. I meet so many people. All I want is you. You made your choice. You live like a family man, which is what you always wanted. You live like a free man. Perhaps one day I’ll see you again. I’ll see you and I won’t see you. You’ll see me and you won’t see me. Thanking you for your time. I can’t thank you in advance for your reply anymore. You won’t see this letter. I love you. I love you. I love you. Understand that. You’ll never let me down. You’re not going to answer the phone if I reach you. You’re gone. You hate me. I need you so much. You’re gone. I tell myself that you hate me. You loving me is impossible. Me loving you is impossible. The woman lying next to you. Well, this has always been your modus operandi. I miss you. You miss me. I don’t know how to be wife, mother, or lover. I’m sorry. I should call. I don’t have airtime. I don’t have data. Can’t give you a baby. I don’t feel that I am woman enough for you, because I can’t give you a child. There you go, you are breaking my heart again. You are my miracle. You are really gone this time. You have no need for me to substitute anything in your life. I am scared. I’m frightened. I’m running scared. I’m alone, but it is not the first time in my life that I am alone. Everything is in my head. I’m a mess.

I’m a mess. We don’t even talk anymore. Those days are gone. I wish you well, my friend. The passion is still here. What am I going to do with all this passion that I have for you? All this feeling that I have for you. You’re gone. Yes, yes, yes, I know I keep saying that. I have to remind myself of that fact as if it is alive, as if your departure it is temporary when in fact it isn’t. I’m crazy. Crazy for you. All you have to do is touch me once, and you know that what I am saying is true. My sister is such a talent. She has the potential to make it. To become an honest woman. To become lover. Somehow, she was saved from the kind of life that I live. Falling in love with emotionally unavailable men. There’s something else I wanted to speak to you about. I have to write something. Do I write something serious or light-hearted? Do I give the game away? Do I show and tell? Or let the audience in the theatre connect the dots. I trust your judgement.

You have to explain the situation to me now. We are not on speaking terms anymore? Can I contact you, because you said that I could?

You’re not free. You’re not available. Perhaps you’re not in the country anymore. Perhaps you’re at home with your family. This is my message to you. I love you. I inhabit you with every force. You’re embarrassed and insecure and shy. You were always shy. I loved that about you. I’m embarrassed and insecure and shy. I love how you make yourself vulnerable to me. You’re with someone tonight. It’s Saturday.

Love is just a game. And to you, loving is just a game. Call the police. Call the memory police. Gosh, you are so beautiful Robert. You still take my breath away. Be safe. You made me feel safe in your arms. No worries. Love who you want. Take to bed who you want. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t behave. Otherwise tonight, tonight, and all the nights after that we would have been together. I just wanted to say that I’m thinking of you. I just wanted to say that you were the greatest love of my life. But tonight, tonight you are on my mind. So, I relax into the dream of you. Smoke a cigarette. Pop a mint in my mouth. The sun is setting here. I know I can’t just show up again in your life. Unannounced and uninvited. You make me so happy. And all I am doing is just sitting here, thinking of you. You’re the man. You’re the man. You will always be the man in my life. I’ll go on pretending for your sake. I won’t pretend I know who you are if I ever see you again. I’ll avert my eyes and walk on by as if we never even met. I think of Brink and Jonker. How brilliant they were together. How brilliant we were together. Who is holding onto you now? Who is wrapping their legs around your waist? I’m missing you badly. Of course, I know this depression won’t last. It will pass the thought of the holy perfection of you. The man, the man, the man. You were the man in my life once. All the life in me has died. All the love that you had for me has died in you. I don’t regret anything, love of my life, light of my life. Perhaps they will say this one day, that my characters are complex. Males living in a reality of their own making.

Will they ever know how true that is? Will they ever know your potential to be both lover and husband? Will you ever know? Yes, I have no one. I always have had no one. No one is in the picture.

Except the master of the universe. Christ, the Saviour. I’m not coping. I’m waiting here for someone to take this pain away from me.

Yes, yes, yes. I know that person has to be me. I know that now. I have to save myself from this flux. You’re loving someone. Your mouth is on her mouth. Your lips are on her lips. Your warm breath is on her neck. The nape of her neck. When I think like this, I think of us. I think of us together like that. I’m a big girl now. No longer naïve ingenue. Am I confident? Looks can be deceiving. You see what you want to see. The world sees what they want to see. You don’t want me for some reason or other. You don’t want me. I accept this now. Do you understand this now? I am telling you that I accept this set of circumstances. I feel so rough, frustrated at myself because even after all this time I’ve isolated myself. I haven’t fallen in love. No one really cares about me, the way you cared about me. I can’t remember now what I was protecting you from. I was so poor. Perhaps it was my own poverty. I felt ashamed. You did everything in your power not to make me feel that shame. I absolutely hated you seeing me like that. That was not who I was. All I want to do is sit here now with you. Look at you. Look at you. Look at you. The way your eyes crinkle up at the corners when you’re thinking, when you’re laughing, when you’re with your friends. That is your life. I won’t ever be a part of that. I’ll do this any way you want me to. Now comes the leaving part again. The departure. And I know the reason why we’re not together.

You’ve got your life back in order now, you complicated, complicated man. I don’t want you to change. I know who I fell in love with. Rich man. Poor girl. Older man. Girl in her early twenties. I will love you for the rest of my life. I just wanted you to know that. I’ll go on saying that until my last breath. No answer. Silence. You wake up in the morning and greet me with silence. You go to bed. Silence. Silence is also an answer. You are saying that you don’t love me. That’s okay.

I’m okay with that. I’m scared. The demons come at night. There’s a struggle. Always this struggle. They’re calling it body dysmorphic disorder. Do you understand? You are the only one who understands me.

You are the only man who has ever touched me. I am old. Old. Old. Old.

A woman’s body falls a part when she becomes older. Oh, quite literally. There’s no getting used to that. To the fact that girls stay young and in bloom forever. Let her love you instead of me. She will love all of you in her own way. That’s the most important thing to know. That she will try. I can’t let you see all of me, but you know me so well. You’re in my head again. You’re in my head again.

You’re the only one who sees me. The real me. You’re the only one who listens. The only one who will ever understand me. I go everywhere and I see you everywhere. Oh, I know they’re just a pale version of you.

But understand this, it is my pale version of you. All that they are doing, these men, are living vicariously through you. I asked God, to give me something to remember you by, and He did. For me, you will be my reflection of eternity.

Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.

African Renaissance

Thoughts From the Frontline

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Photo: Keenan Constance/Unsplash

“Hip/Hop, Trap. I would describe my music as different, unique, compared to what I hear in the music industry in South Africa. It is a different sound of genre based on hip hop. In my downtime I listen to artists like Mexikodro, Playboi Carti, Diego Money, Pyrex Whippa, Lil Gotit and Sahbabii. In my life my family has been and still is a major influence, I just want to see them happy and stress free. I want to be successful so that they can spend the rest of lives living comfortably. I chose music because I believe that it is something I’m good at. I wouldn’t call myself a musical genius, or say that I’m talented musically because I’m not but, I have taken the time to learn everything that I know today, I started as a rapper, but now I am a producer as well, a very good one if I should say, I mix and master vocals, well I try to. It is still something I am learning on a daily basis and I believe that one day if not soon, I will understand that aspect of music. The guys who I record with are so gifted at what they do, we really inspire each other to take it to the next level. I would be lying if I said that I inspire myself, well maybe I do, I don’t know, however what I do know is that we can go to the next level together because nowadays you rarely see a duo or a group of rappers in the South African music industry, there are 4 of us in our group including others who aren’t full time as yet, I think that makes the odds better for us to take it to the next level as opposed to being a solo” SUPREME ZEE, CEO OF Holidae Don’t Stop!

“What inspires me to take it to the next level is basically my daughter, Family and my everyday experiences growing up and living in Westbury losing friends and family to gang violence had a huge effect on me since a young age I’ve been through hell and back if I may describe in short and I’ve realized, to make it out you really need to dig deep. This is also one of the main reasons why I started writing music. I love Music, it is my passion that is mainly why I chose to make music, ever since a young age I’ve just been through the worst writing music and articulating every word I write is therapeutic. Manifesting and having faith in God has carried me through. Major influences in my life remains God, my baby girl, my family and obviously my Team Holidae Dont Stop! We always encourage one another to do our best we definitely do bring out the best in each other and I’d say the beats that supreme Zee creates brings out the best in me personally and it’s also one of the major influences in my music career it’s only elevated since the moment we started. In my down time I listen to All types of music mostly Gospel & HDS. I would describe my music as being one in a million very versatile, real and unusually different from the usual and it has an unorthodox flow and style to it so you can literally expect only the best” TheGR8ACE, CEO and co-founder of Holidae Dont Stop!

My inspiration comes from knowing that I have a God given talent and my friends (HDS) and family that motivates me day to day to do better. I chose music because as a hobby it is something I love doing which started out in high school where I had friends that used to rap over beats and I’d just stand within the circle and listen to their rhymes and it became to amuse me when I found out that there are people in my community creating their own music, whereas in 2019, I linked with the crew Holidae Dont Stop! and it has been a wonderful journey ever since! Learning and growing at the same time. My mother has played a role as one of my biggest inspirations including friends (HDS) have been a major Influence in my life, for they always pushed me to be a better me. Not giving up on me and providing not bad advice but love and positivity. I’ve been in difficult situation in the past and I am just trying to make a better standard of living for my family, my friends as well as my community (Westbury). In my down time I listen to various genres like Rock, Rnb, Hip/Hop, Rap, Emo Rap. I would describe our music as Western Plug for it derives from Hip-hop with an offbeat including 808s and guitar and piano samples that Supreme Zee (Producer) recreates and when hearing the beat, I can automatically put my heart on it.” Bando -recording Artist at Holidae Dont Stop!

 To conclude this, we are all from Johannesburg South Africa as one of our members spread across as far as Cape Town, temporarily. Our member who are not full time are – Leiph Camp (Splaash66) Stock broker, Razaak Benjamin (Glock) Salesman and Marion Reyners (Marion The Great) Facilitator. “Our music is Bold, Iconic and timeless” TheGr8ce. Our crew is based in Jozi (Johannesburg) although we do not have a manager as yet. Our follow up record will sound similar to the “Western Plug tape” that we have recently released, followed by 3 singles. Plug is a genre that derives itself from Hip-Hop and our next single will drop in 2 weeks. The link to our music is on all platforms and the Love and support would be much appreciated. We literally wont stop! –

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African Renaissance

Slavery and the real life bending sinister

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What is slavery? It is nothing more than poverty of the mind. It is not a school of thought or a philosophy. It is scarcity. It is lack. It is cumbersome. It is heavy. It is a burden.

What does it have to do with politics? Ask what it has to do with genocide.

What does it have to do with the power of having a slave mentality? Just as easily as we rise, we fall. A leaf. Ask yourself this. Does the leaf or gravity have the slave mentality or is it just a path to its consciousness, and if it is a meandering path to its consciousness what does that make of gravity? Gravity is easily the culprit or saboteur. A cup carries water but how does the water break through the physical wellness of the body to sate thirst, how does water flow through the universal meridians and find sanctuary in all the wild places that the ocean cannot contain, in code, in which case what observations come out of these natural and bohemian studies.

A slave is a slave is a slave. My grandfather was a slave. My great-grandfather was a slave. On both the paternal and maternal side they are non-existent for me. I live for my father. My father is not a slave. You see his mind is not enslaved. His psyche, his mental, emotional, physical wellness, intellectual prowess and integrity is intact inasmuch as he is not a slave to the peculiarities and eccentricities of the people he finds himself amongst.

In the stages of my own life I can see that I have been enslaved (my mindset and attitude was) by my body image, my identity of cosmic Africa, the cosmos, my self as an African, what I was entitled to, my basic self esteem. I was a slave to my sister, her dalliances, her whiteness, her renouncing Africa for America then Europe and I understood what loneliness, family, friendship and family finally meant and this frightened me a great deal because I realised I had never really loved myself before. I was a slave to every moment up until I heard James Baldwin speak up. I had truly been a slave to waiting for someone to release me and offer me relief somehow from this kind of suffering and cognitive thinking. I wanted happiness but the price for my freedom was this. Somebody else had to love me before I could.

Ask what slavery has cost us as humanity. Look back at history. When I look back at history, all my life I never felt safe. Whether it was the bogeyman, or a horror film, or apartheid, or reading about apartheid, acknowledging it was the difficult part. How would you even begin that dialogue? What could you partner with those hectic images that left you with an urgency and a sense of betrayal from God? So, I grew up with an unpleasant disdain for middle class families in South Africa. It was easy for me to picture them as racist which they were and still are to a certain degree and yet how could I not be? The thought of slavery and decolonization never left me even as a child as I sought to fight for the betterment of society and to right all the evil wrongs.

Slavery is everything. It is primitive. It is visible if you look hard enough. We haven’t even begun to talk about or discuss in rational terms without venting or becoming agitated or irrational about race relations in South Africa or slavery as a concept or narrative in Africa.

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African Renaissance

On watching David Mamet in an African context

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His boots made a squelching sound. In the whorl of her ear a squelching noise on the welcome home mat. The man was quick. The girl was slow. The woman was slow to speak. She was slow to communicate what she was thinking and feeling. The secret part of the actor was valid. Her fear, anxiety and chemistry becoming like the flapping wings of a Bach woman. After the interview came the hurricane. Late morning the man realizes his mistake. The woman remembers her parents’ relationship from childhood. The man remembers how the young woman looked the day he married her. He remembers their courtship and the day they got married. How he squinted at her through the sunlight that fell upon her hair that day at the beach. He had gone fishing. Caught nothing.

He had left her alone to read a magazine on the beach. The town was near decay. It was a tourist destination for the mega rich.  She will think one day (the girl inside of her) that she married the wrong one.  The apparitions come at night. The snow in winter. David Mamet is a mega rich American writer and Republican intellectual. He has made it. Millions won’t. Millions idolize him. Thousands want to be him. They want to live his life for him. They admire him for living so well. There is driftwood on the beach. The chips of wood are like a magnet almost as if they are chipping away something of life at the root heart of humanity. There is always a story to be told from life, from everything. Everyone has a story to tell. The girl sighs with a thousand other girls. Her soul is bitter. She has lost something. She feels she has lost everything because the guy has up and left her stranded with the baby. What is she thinking, what is she feeling? David Mamet is a well-known playwright. In a shining circle the bleak ones live in this world feeling nothing. Existing on the fringes of this life world. They wait in unison for the hereafter. I realize my mistake now. The young girl fell for the wrong guy. The twig sucks me in. The man walks in beauty. Wild geese are calling with a purpose. Music in Africa has its own language.

We are conditioned to think that nothing lasts forever in politics. The only thing that really lasts is a story. It has prophecy and legacy combined. Which one lasts longer? What of our playwrights and our songwriters? It is a summer evening. People are dancing in the street. The smell of barbecue is smoky. She looks at her face as she passes a shop window that is brightly lit up and doesn’t recognize her own face. The wretched and forlorn look upon her face. The young girl smells of bloom ad smoke. She thought she would give it up for Lent. David Mamet is a world-famous director and writer who understands the nature of art and truth when it comes to telling and writing original stories. He started his own theatre company. He married an actress. Conquerors know of miracles. The house has a room that has been standing empty for years. The naming of parts comes with having a range of intelligence, scrutiny, wearing a sorrowful mask, understanding suffering. The woman has a slender body. The actress has a stunning face. The woman has a confession. There is a sharp intake of breath as the man’s fist comes crashing down on the table. You cut your finger with a kitchen knife. Remember, the day you cut your finger with the kitchen knife. Or was it really your fingernail?

The director goes back and forth, back and forth cutting between the tension and the dialogue of the actors. He walks them through their paces. The actors take a well-deserved break. They talk and interact with each other. They smoke and laugh. The girl throughs her head back and sounds silly when she tries to put everyone else at ease when she is not with her own performance. There is some insecurity there. Some self-doubt. They run lines. The gravity of the thing comes into view. We all struggle. Don’t we all, someone in the group says. There are confessions. Then there are more confessions with a trimmed and a manicured nail. I am getting old. I can feel it in my bones. The flesh of my flesh was very tender that day I cut my finger with the kitchen knife. I sliced it like a pear. Prizes make you happy and sad. Here is the ballad of a growing intimacy, a camaraderie amongst the actors in this theatre company. They mill around. No one wants to end the flow of the conversation. They want to work. They don’t want to go home yet. It means sitting at home alone for some. It means a lonely night. The beauty of the dahlias is complicated. Will there be real flowers or plastic fruit on opening night on the table? My sister doesn’t phone to talk to me.

When she does telephone, she speaks to my mother. I wish I was more real than having this kind of a fake personality.  The actress is deciding whether to paint her toenails a fire engine red to stay in character. Pain helps you to grow. If you forsake pain, you also forsake growth. All of us should conquer something in life. Let us go into the wild that is calling. My life has always been on this path.

On the edge of uncertainty. My soul is gone to tell you the truth. It has lost a bit of its own mystery.

When I speak of David Mamet, I think that in the context of Africa that there is the worker Mamet in all of us. Whether it comes to the tradition of oral storytelling or not, the linear arrangement of the goal of the storyline or in the sheltered pose of the actor reading their lines from a script. The past slips out of its calling. Its shell of water. It passes away into nothingness. That means absolutely nothing and everything to me.

I feel it coming. I feel it coming on. Turning me around. This lonely night. Beyond the trees I feel the thaw.

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