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African Renaissance

Starling

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I never had that kind of attention. I never received that kind of loud applause. Never called love rapture, or, passionate. We don’t talk anymore about the frog hospital, me landing up there again, relapse after relapse. You never called long distance about the war inside my head, my inner torment, the clinical madness of it all. Of stress, then burn out, then manic highs and seduction theory after seduction theory, being low. You become a parenthesis. But you don’t know the half of anything. That you’re a watermelon midwife and the blues in the middle of a road-trip in the Kalahari. There are days when I can’t seem to think. Can’t do anything really. Everyone seems to be leaving. They want to go to greener pastures. Find their purpose in life there. If you find it there where you are, please tell me.I have failed you all. I have let you down badly in the past. But you don’t let me make it up to you. You don’t click send. I have never felt discontent so alive before. You’re a quiet place. You’re with your boyfriend. He’s an artist. You ignore my messages. I try and understand. You. This bipolar life. The life that I’ve chosen to live now, as novelist, and it’s as if we’re coming home from the sea again, but we’re not. You’ve fled to Europe. I’m the daughter that stayed put. Found her purpose in writing. You’re the tenacity of this water flowing under the bridge of this. You holding the structure up with arms made of layers of steel and magnolia, prairies as if you wandered there on your American experience in youryouth. You have legs made of iron in a machine-age. You’re three, four, five poems. You’re a modern fever.

You believe that I’ve never lived. That I don’t know anything about the price of swimming. That taking is for the asking. You walk on a cloud floating down the universe. You never ask about it. You never asked me about it. In conversation it wouldn’t come up like a weather report. I find my life derailed somehow without the great marriage my parents had and the three children. I say good morning, and the word reconciles life with death, weddings and funerals take the shape of the sea, the place of fake mortality, the bleak outlook of the abnormal, the washed-out neuroses playing itself out inside the reality of my head. I put my hair in a scarf, go outside. Hear the sound of glass breaking. I can’t take anything much anymore. Everything sounds like glass breaking. You grow up with it, it eventually becomes your entire life world. You begin to crack up. To deaden and numb the pain you take more pills. Sleeping pills, tranquilisers, anything. More pain medication to dumb and dull what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, who you’re with, and the people that you’re not with. You’re a million miles away in thought in the middle of serious conversation. Might as well be another planet. And everything feels like death, but on good days everything feels splendid. Feels well. Then you’re into this world. You want it all. I am drowning. I am in the black water. The water is as black as night. So, is this voyage into eternity. You want everything in it. You’re walking on a dreamt hat you’re holding in your palms. I take to my bed holdingon to to this dream of being the other daughter. The good one.

Whenever I think of our brother, I start to cry, take to my bed, take more pharmaceuticals. This time I have really lost my mind for good. I am not normal anymore. I am crazy for sleep, insomniac that I am.I thought he’d always stay. Now he wants to leave (with a girl)all of us behind. Just. Like. You. The other daughter. I can’t save myself anymore. My mind is gone, gone, gone. They’re trying to erase me. They got it right. They got it right. The monsters swimming outside my window in the city lights at night have got it right. Tears drip from my eyes like candlewax. All I want to do is rejoice in the world, reinvent my life. Can’t. Can’t. I want my future back, but years have gone by and I’m not fearless anymore. You left, sibling. Gone for good to Rilke’s Europe. I can’t rule the world anymore. My life is finished. It is over. It is over. I wake up, all I want to do is sleep it off. Leave me now just like everyone else. The bipolar flame is inside of me for good. Everlasting. And every year I relapse. Nothing good for me in it. Except always this contrast between nightfall and daybreak. This knowledge thatof course, I am not normal. I don’t fit into broader society, broader society does not want, or, accept me. Inside I am dead already. Can’t you see, can’t you see, I can see, I can see. My life is over. It is gone. Farewell into the sun. The sun has taken everything that has belonged to me, eaten it up, turned every wound to fire, every hurt into cackling women who chase me away from their homes. I cannot accept sanity anymore. Only flashing lights, strange dreams that come upon me. It could be the drugs talking.

There is a hell, just as sure as there is a heaven. There is a paradise that I recall from reading novels. And when I wasn’t having a relapse, they still locked me up in high care. With the people who were there for professional help. They wanted to do away with me, the monsters. Those red furious beasts who want to see me having a bipolar life, for the rest of my life. So, I am writing to youin the Czech Republic, and I am not writing to you. And I want to call you my darling sibling. You call me nothing at all.And I wish I had no shame. I wish I had only love. But I can’t be with or without my madness personality, I’man ellipsis. I have no desire. When I am apart from the teaching of the manic-depressive personality, I am ignorant of the abnormal. I say that like it is a good thing. I can’t say anything. Anything at all. So, I push up dead daisies around my body in sleep. They just grow from within me root and plant and stem and all. Madness is the psychiatrist. Madness is my shame. You can’t tell me anything about it, Like the history of water in wild places in the wilderness. Water found in lakes, in swimming pools, in the oceans wide. I take holiday snapshots of my madness at the sea, it strikes a pose in a bikini at the beach, and I worry for it, about it. It will last me as long as this life. It is a lonely life a madness life. You will lose everything. Gain absolutely nothing back which you lost. People call you mad, black sheep. People call you bizarre lunatic. They don’t return your calls. They pretend they don’t know you in the street. That you never existed for them. They forget your kindness. Your face. Erase your number.

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

Truth and the third wave of the pandemic: To be vaccinated or not to be vaccinated

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Photo: Atharva Tulsi/Unsplash

I have endured the worst possible case scenario. Being locked up in a mental institution for six months while in my late teens, early twenties. Even though I was of sound body, mind and soul. I am 42 years old now and I haven’t come all the way back from that experience. Everyone wrote me off when I returned home to Port Elizabeth as Gqeberha was known in those days but worse was to follow. Inhumane treatment from those closest to me, rejection from society. I was taught that I had a mental disability and would never be able to work again, hold down a steady job or earn a monthly income. I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to now live on the fringes of society since I would be unable to make a positive contribution to society. For twenty years this continued. I had to all intents and purposes not only given up on myself, my personal success, development of my potential and fulfillment and engagement in a relationship that would lead ultimately to my future happiness. The goal of marriage and having a child, bringing children into the world and raising a family was not only put into the distant past, I thought that it would always be non-existent for me.

I would spend my time listening to sad music, love songs on the radio and wonder why it was not me caught up in the scenario of having a relationship with the opposite sex. I sank even further into the pit of the hell in f despair and hardship. I virtually had lost control over my life, received a disability grant which I did not spend on anything which I personally needed. Family considered me to be the proverbial black sheep of the family. When I got angry at the way I was treated I was certified. My rights were taken away from me. I was verbally, mentally and emotionally abused. I did everything in my power to be loved and accepted by both my maternal and paternal family which is why I believe so strongly today in dismantling the stigma that surrounds issues concerning mental illness and depression mania, euphoria and elation (however mild or all-consuming it might be). At this late stage of my life I have become an advocate for mental wellness. To stop the fight and curb the alienation and isolation of sufferers of mental illness. I want people from all walks of life to realise that people with mental illnesses can enrich our lives and can make a positive contribution to society.

I myself have always sought solace in writing. I have found it to be an instrument for change and therapeutic as well.

I have firsthand knowledge and experience of being called anything from schizophrenic to being diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder and because of the heavy psychotropic medication I have taken over the years I have had a host of illnesses presenting themselves. Chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, an underactive thyroid, chronic kidney disease, gout and heart disease. These diseases manifested themselves early on in my life before the onset of middle age when they would be more prevalent in someone who would be prone to these sorts of illnesses because of not living a healthy lifestyle.

I take each day as it comes now and live in the moment. I have my good days. I have my bad days. I have a mean temper and constantly have to watch what I eat, watch what I say and how I react to people who treat me as him I am a second class citizen because of everything I have been through in my life. Truth be told I always knew I was different. The depression started in childhood for me. I was always an overachiever. I would come home in the afternoons after school but no one ever helped me with my homework, told me either that they were proud of me or believed in me or loved me for that matter.

Everyday I am a work in progress. It is tough dealing with moodswing but that is the currency I deal in and the territory that borders my sense of self-control.

I have been called many names. None of them pretty or lovely. I have had zero support from my immediate family and my estranged family has complete written me off and washed their hands off of me thinking there is nothing they can do for me. This has been very hurtful and even has made made me feel quite suicidal over the years and in my hour if need, my hours of silence, pain and collective trauma I turned to God, prayer and meditation in my hour of need. At the time of the outbreak of the pandemic I got corona and was admitted to the psych ward at Provincial Hospital here in Gqeberha. I had no medical aid and was once again at the mercy of the system but I survived hell and that harrowing experience again to live to tell the tale of how to overcome the impossible, to live and to learn, to remain humble and kind even in the face of adversity and cruelty.

Loneliness, abject poverty, homelessness can either kill you or make you realise that you are powerful beyond measure and I have realised that I am powerful beyond measure.

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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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