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African Renaissance

Holden Caulfield

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My grandfather was just as handsome as Jerome David Salinger. We weren’t Jewish though, or at least I never went to the best schools. I never finished school. I never received my high school diploma. I love too much. Sometimes I’m high. I’m sometimes low. I want to lick the screaming asphalt beneath my feet, the blinding sky, the limited point of view off people in general. I want to explore love, the world, many, many things. Books and countries, from Prague to Paris. But all I want is love. And the day is like a wound.

Salt gets its daily preferential treatment. I cast no pitch-black shadow. I have nothing to give but my acne scarred skin, and my racing heart, and unconditional love. I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I don’t work. I only have, like Salinger and Hemingway, like Camus and Symborska, Rilke and sacrifice. All I have is pain. I guess it is selfish to be that self-absorbed, that self-indulgent. But I am a disciple. I am a loser. I am a winner. I am no saint. I just fall in love with them all the time. The feeling is generally unreciprocated. So, I pray.

I look at my reflection staring back at me. What do I see? I see someone like me. I see someone like you. AllI see is the windows to my soul. Can you see the pain in my eyes, the fact that I’m a born outsider? Unloved, unwanted, and yet to make a positive contribution to society. I’m trying to make this positive contribution o society. I want to fall in love. No one looks at me. No one looks my way. They all walk on by. I just want to connect. I just want to relate to him, to her, to someone like me. I’m finding it impossible.

I think of the literary greats. The dead novelists. Rainer Maria Rilke under the moonlight. Hemingway riding ambulances in the war. Hemingway the extraordinary man, profound thinker, the enigmatic reporter, the expert lover, the husband, the father who was the sun. Salinger the possessed machine. Bram Stoker the immortal. The invincible Russian writers. Nabokov (Russian/American), Pasternak, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Anna Akhmatova. Every poet that has ever lived. Live with imperfect me and be my love, Holden Caulfield.

I want to be invincible like they are. I want to rewrite history like they did. Bessie Head, Cartland, Colette, Jean Rhys, Gabeba Baderoon. I am emotionally damaged. Hold me tight. Don’t let me go. But you do. So, does he, and he, and he, and then I’m alone again. On my own again. Flying solo. Bird. Bird. Bee in the mist. These men will always be in my heart. Soon, I will find someone else. I don’t want to go around the world. I don’t want diamonds or pearls. I have mostly terrifying days. Life terrifies me. Love terrifies me.

Touch terrifies me. And however, however much I say I want to be loved, perhaps I really only want the physicality, the illusion, the masterpiece of it. But all of it, but all of it, the physicality of love, the illusion of love inside my mind’s eye, the masterpiece of love comes with the forever of burdens and cares, and the boy is unbelievably good-looking, but I want the man, and the house, and the son and the daughter that I could not give David, that sweet man. All I do is run game, go with the flow, love, love. Love is my priority.

But today, love is not my priority. Today I am invincible. Tomorrow I am untouchable. I like the way it hurts. Repeat. I love the way it hurts. And I don’t like to ask for help. I trust, I fall, I break. Yesterday is already another day. I miss you. I need you. I trust, I fall, I break. I hurt, I cry, I write poetry, novellas that never reach their novel stage. I never seem to reach the end of satin days. I tell the truth. I don’t believe in lies. You’re gone. But you’re gone. I never told you that I thought I could stay, and live, and be yours, yours.

And submit and obey you for the rest of my life.Shut up. Shut up. You don’t love me. You never wanted to share your throne with me. You never loved me. Your eyes lied. And when I asked you to love me, you ran. The men all ran. Women approach me. I’m really not into that. No lie there. I jut want a man to treat me gentle and kind, respect me, treat me like a queen, dance with me, take vows in a church. i’m not funny, but people laugh anyway. And Roberto was somebody’s father. And he said I looked like his daughter, so?

So, I guess that dream is over. I am scholar, I am writer, poet, half-woman, half-girl. Half desired-half dream. But nobody knew the real Norma Jean Baker. Was she happy when she was smiling, or always a frightened, and sexually abused child living the white lie of a celebrity life, hiding the truth about her maladjusted mother, being molested from an early age? Will the real-real Marilyn Monroe please stand up. We need to talk about sexual assault. I am always disappearing into the bathroom to wash my hair.

Little do they know. How selective I am about what I eat. I need happiness too. Why be happy? Why be normal? I am neither. I am neither. I keep smelling like perfume. I keep smelling like roses. I keep smelling of Ibsen. Tim Rice’ lyrics. I bite my tongue. Please, no more flashbacks about the old me. The sinner. The desired femme fatale. I would follow you, into your car, and we’d be pretending to talk about everything, except desire. And every time I open a book of erotica, I think of you. I spread my legs, and touch myself.

Afterwards, I eat. I sleep. I finally sleep. And I’m here, and you’re not. You’re in the air, you’re gone. You’re with your wife in your mansion. She conceived a child for you. Abused children turn into abused adults. Never knowing the absolute substance of love. If you’re happy, then I’m happy. Go to her. You will find no happiness there. You will not find any happiness with me. I live in both reality and non-reality. I miss you. You make me feel. Guess it is over. I don’t exist. I must find love again to exist. Must find a sweet man.

First things first. I am cold like winter, like snow, like disclosure, like my talk, my walk, my mouth, my man. Can nobody love me? Is there no man that can love sleeper-me?  I go deep like the sea. It is only the sea now that can un-break my heart. I run up streets. I run down streets. I die a succession of deaths with you, without you, only to be with you, whoever the man is can he please step into the spotlight now? I go through burning desire, recovery, angels, relapse a thousand times a day, and still he won’t love sweet me.

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.

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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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