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African Renaissance

On the page the novelist-poet questions in Kiran Bhat’s seminal work: We of the Forsaken World

Abigail George

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The passionate outsider is people. Male people, female people, the displaced, dispossessed who live within the boundaries and structures of psychological extremes.

In a broken world of country made up of leaving our sorrows behind, painters and poets who turn into novelists everything is either temporal or temporary.We have lived in a normative depressive age for centuries with automatic thoughts of cognitive semantics, highly nuanced disordered thinking, personality disorder, dysfunctional world beliefs and we have been indoctrinated by journalists and television evangelists of the like that the world has never seen, propaganda, by war, by silent protest, art and culture and the emotive language of film. That most dramatic of all the arts. When it comes to, We of the Forsaken World the novel is mapped into sections.It teaches us by all possible dimensions, by theorisations of the elements of what drives both the tribe and the individual from the asphalt jungle of the city, to the rural countryside, to the ergonomics of the digital divide, and, by any means necessary, yes, we can look at the context in which race matters, for is it not race that matters tantamount to anything else in society. We must look at inter-faith matters with authenticity, what qualifies us to conceptualisation, anti-racialisation, the technique and style of has always been versions of the catharsis of anti-black racism, the false enchantment of ultra-democracy on the diaspora, uncommodified racism, and that yesterday’s powers are in co-existence with the science of the instrumentalist, the race of sustained commitment, unity and solidarity in defiance, the use of resources, and the under-representation of the Non-European, the African.

As it stands, the Non-European, the African is colour blind to their own potential, order, structure and shape. Ultimately, the discourse must transcend race, the elite and the establishment. The discussion must devise implementation. The complex debate must give rise to vigour and understanding our mentality, how vulnerable and conditioned our understanding of the psyche and intellect is of the marginalised, conditioned and disadvantaged tribe cast out of society because they do not conform to the norms and values of what and who a fixed and inter-dependant society thinks is relevant and socially, politically important. The elite are the wealthy, the educated, the prosperous, the intellectual, but how did they become part of the elite if they didn’t inherit their wealth, or education, or their prosperity, or their intellect. I believe it is through the clarity of the mind, the practice of perfecting the subtle nuances in the brain. All we are, are but segments of text in the ultra-nationalism of what I call the “tribalsystem”. What is the tribal system, what is it based upon, who created it, a philosopher or theologian? There is a social expectation on both genders, racial prejudice that exists between younger and older women. Labyrinths dominated by men thinking with anti-colonial non-racialism and racial prejudice.

During apartheid South Africa words such as “boycott’, “socialist”, “the order”, “non-collaboration”, “refusal to organise communities” were espoused and a door was opened into the psyche of a divided nation, highly politicised, and the aftermath of that has been xenophobia. The design and principles of Kiran Bhat’s book is the writing of an intellectual. It invents criteria. Presented as a language model to bridge situation, conflict, class, knowledge, distinction. It is the story of a poet, an open door, a master revival act, social justice around the issues of poverty, disadvantages, rise in crime and unemployment amongst university graduates as well as school leavers. This conception of the world is filled with highly multifunctional characters with political, inter-cultural, religion, social, territory, nationality, and borders as the new vocabulary, the curriculum is at work deliberately, predominantly where the interplay between the apparatus and the appraisal is connected now meets the contextual. With comparison comes language, with a new dispensation comes a new curriculum, a new government, a new cabinet, new leaders, new debate, discussion, reasoning, different expertise set into motion.

Kiran Bhat is a young lion who has the background of a poet. His ideas put forward in this book are phenomenally socio-forward-thinking. As he struggles for recognition and searching for grace, concept and narrative, style and technique and legacies of the past with their transitional figures of prophecy, realism and modernism, at the end of the day he finds himself standing in the gap of both philosopher and theologian. We think that the fixed and variant sociological ideas of a society transitioning itself into an ultra-democracy wills itself against the grain of neo-conceptualisation. For myself, I think that we live with three identities in a leading European discourse, the metamorphosis of the working classes to the Black elite in Africa, and the Black working-class individuals exist in their own pool of thought. We have to look at the social identity in the context of experimental identity and the complex identity of the co-dependent, inter-dependent and non-active participant as individuals, build their identity as such on the premise of an ultra-democratic nation built upon socialisation, social cohesion, and the integrational.

What is uppermost for me are the internal portraits of the mind which are not that nothing is played out in the scenarios of that, that have been exposed to being very powerfully overt before being rejected completely by the medical fraternity and the scientific community. What propels nature versus nurture? The brain, interpersonal relationships, social participation and interaction, social skills, the advances made in technology, artificial intelligence, the information communication technology, sexuality and exposure to the spoiled identity, the identity which does not conform, and that the agendas of consistent stigma, labelling and discrimination attaches itself to. How to we detach from alienation religions, factions, conflict situations that may lead to war and civil unrest, isolation from your peers, family and contemporaries and society due to illness, abandonment and neglect, rejecting that early and astute renaissance state of denial, denial, denial.

We must now look to past diplomatic studies, diplomatic treatises, modern diplomatic lessons in authenticity, reconciliation and negotiation as we navigate the treacherous waters of the world that we ae living in today. Understanding corruption at the highest level of government, making mental health awareness programmes mandatory for all age groups in society to prevent the cycle of depression and the narrative of mental illness and maladaptive behaviour,  phasing history back into the curriculum so that all children can understand the group dynamic of the nuclear family, their heritage, culture, tradition and social inclusion into modern society. For us to sustain life and youth, we need the renewal and vigour of both not to diminish in the face of all the problems and challenges that the world faces today.

We live in a social world that has an internal point of reference and an external locus point of control. The people in that world are oftentimes ambiguous and leave us with contradictory impressions. The conception of the world around us is what we make of it. If you only take one thing away from this nexus of this book, the interplay, the roleplaying, the flux of the nature of a digitised community advancing towards a macro-economic dystopia think of the world becoming more inter-connected, people from all walks of life inter-relating to each other on the spiritual level, with a novel understanding of each other’s cognitive, emotional and verbal reasoning. In the future we will correspond with technology in much the same way a man like Nikola Tesla did. It will become child’s play. 

Abigail George is a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants, one from the Centre for the Book and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She is busy with her brother putting the final additions to a biography on her father’s life. Her work has recently been anthologised in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film.

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African Renaissance

Diary of a filmmaker, the fox and the curtain

Abigail George

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I woke up with my hands full of leaves. Marakana and Lonmin are all over the news. My brother the wolf guy, the lone wolf, Wolf didn’t know how to sing and how to hold down a melody between his ears. But he did like music.

Every kind and when he laughed, he howled. I could hear his laughter as if the veil was lifting from his belly. He was the first person who ever taught me about issues of trust and loyalty, vulnerability and morality and giving up the ghosts. The boy in him was the purest part of my memory of him. The geometry of loneliness was built into him long before I ever reached any kind of love story, any kind of instruction on that world that dominates. Between my parents there was denial, shame, truth, separation between both of their depressions. My father’s mood was manic and my mother mood was pensive. So, they would alternate. So, we all lived with broody illness. She would be sulky, moody, shout and disagreeable and mostly ignore us and forget that we have to eat hearty meals of meat and potatoes rich and thick with gravy, that the meat would have to be taken out of the freezer to defrost. She would shout at my father. How he could do nothing right. Was he having an affair? Why wasn’t he a family man? Paying more attention (to her). So, we lived like this, the three of us, my brother, my sister and myself for all of our young lives never daring to question it, thinking that this was the way everybody lived. Sometimes they would go out.

They would behave like a couple. They would go to the movies and be like girlfriend and boyfriend. I would wonder if they would share their popcorn and hold hands. My father would write at night working on his thesis. My mother would watch television. They would be in separate rooms but you could still cut the tension in the house with a knife. My sister and I would do what my mother did throughout her life. Watch love stories and read them. We had a library. Access to books in a way other children did not have. The paperbacks my father bought in London. The romance novels mummy read. In all of this happy-mess my brother came into the world, into the exciting times of two people who had decided that because they loved each other they would get married and start a family just because they could. The lives of four people, individuals who learned the controversial mechanism of not giving in to the unstable because it would mean you were weak and vulnerable. Fathers are supposed to be charming. Mothers are supposed to be poised. Houses are supposed to be filled with joy every day of the year not just Easter, Christmas or birthdays. Mummy was stylish even when she was wearing her glasses.

Even when she crashed and burned on the sofa chair while my sister and I played on the floor with our dolls, re-enacting the same territory, the same drama our parents had come from. Drama filled with a man having enough rope to hang himself, war stories, and a father who had another family. Children who did not have his surname though. Then there was the drama of alcoholism, clinics for stress, burnout and depression in faraway cities and a clinic and a notorious hospital that was close by. Just a twenty-minute ride away to visit over the years, the childhood years, and the years that counted the most. People stopped coming to visit and I stopped having friends come over because mummy needed to rest. At least that was what I told myself. One day she yelled and screamed, cursed, pulled the sheets off the bed as if she was a mad woman. And then I began to look for her in the books I read. I called her Mrs. Rochester when I read Jane Eyre. I watched, observed and learned. Her imprint marked me like my father’s old books and divided us forever. Sadness seeped into my home, my bones, the stars and fat moon, everything, everything. The sun burned and left a scar on my forehead.

I couldn’t see it when I looked in the mirror but when I put my palm against my head, I could feel it. Anger, now that was something else. It was a sharp and bright force. It came with the momentum that any negative energy came from. Hot and cold, Iceland and Hawaii and it hit me literally between the eyes. It was potent, made itself seem significant and important, as if it had any kind of real substance and staying power. But it would also vanish just as soon as it had appeared. So, I am not afraid of Virginia Woolf and of speaking of the data of her sorrow, her memory, behind the scenes of the wasteland of her childhood. Sometimes things go wrong but not today. Sometimes holding onto the videotape, that stream of consciousness thinking of the position of a dream of a man turning into dust is enough. This is my diary. A diary caught on videotape, life through a lens as I see it. I think that is when and how and why I decided to go to film school. I had all these images that I had collected over the years and stored up in reserves in my heart. Finally, I decided one day that writing about them was not enough. I needed more time to compulsively declare them to the world to be the truth about what happened to all three of us.

It had become an obsession. These thoughts, my goals, all the psychological heresy and games that is in my mind’s eye held down in text while serotonin and dopamine is whizzing around in my head (that I furiously wanted to fix, hold down, stick to). There is nothing neurological about preeminent death. It will come whether we want it, and will it to or not. The bluish sky was filled once upon a time with laughter, with your laughter. Your glee had never been so magnificent. All we wanted to do was live. In childhood we were tigers, mannequins, clowns, climbing trees like monkeys, aping them before an organic depression cloaked us, dealt us stealthily with blows, neglect. I abandoned you, Wolf. I know that now. We were perfect once and loveable, adorable, wacky before we put up barriers to our inner vision and dreams. Projects to build empires reside in us still. And then the darkness came, that monster, those monsters of shame and prejudice. No friend of yours or mine but it was activated all the same. In parking lots in Johannesburg, I dreamt of change and freedom and love as I felt hands reaching out towards my thundering heart. I never felt the electricity of passion passing through me like a beam of lightning.

I never saw trees in Johannesburg. All I saw was a city and smoke. And men and I saw them everywhere I went. I saw them sitting in cars, in peak traffic, smoking, in restaurants, with wives and children pulling on them, reading newspapers, in a glorious office space and most of all I saw them walking past me, leaving me behind. All these strangers inspiring me towards greatness like you have done for most of your life. I have to make everything up to you. It came from your childhood. Life is an event that we are always waiting for.

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African Renaissance

Alcoholism: Cloud Briefly Visible For A Moment Above Zelda Fitzgerald’s Head

Abigail George

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I think of total exhaustion and being. How it takes me from winter to summer. Then I think of you and the space, the gap you in-habit for me.

The thing is I don’t distrust you, or pain. I think of you unburdened.

I think of you but you’re light years away from me now. Once I called you home. Once you called me sanctuary. Your hands were like a hat full of leaves, a porcelain teacup full of blue sky. Now all I know is betrayal, ghost protocol, the estrangement of the heart, the page, the frozen sea. I am the surgeon. You are the vibes in my fingers at the operating table. You are the phases of a Saturday morning, the leveling out of daylight. There’s nothing common about you. About your system of arrows, your symphony of sorrows. You’re light, I’m a bird found with an olive branch in it’s mouth. The notes found here in this world’s paradise are tentative. I’m thinking of you again. Now what is so wrong about that. You were romance, and I was homelessness. Now all that I know of love is extinct for me.

Zelda is waiting for the light. We’re all waiting on the museum. She’s waiting for the light. I’m waiting for the light. The world is full of stories for us to sup on. Even you must have one. The text sparkles.

It stretches out into the widening silence. Zelda is fathoming. The old girl has hit her head. She is bleeding from the wound. Her heart over the years has been faithful. Zelda is young and smart and no-nonsense. The priest must come over the vastness of desert and city jungle. The priest must come to pray for me. Zelda is not holy like the tubers and fossils found underground are. I’m left to clutch at the bird in my hand.

Zelda is eating sunflower seeds and honey. The old girl pours milk into her tea. I’m falling in love with Tarzan. Me Jane. Let’s give thanks. Let’s celebrate the galaxies. New and old.

I fear photographs and the cold sea’s philosophy. Now we all grow like wildflowers. Anywhere that we please. Like the seed of a mustard tree.

There’s nothing as beautiful as the newspaper man eating fresh plums.

The woods, mushrooms, potatoes. The vibrations of foliage. Daylight.

Glory. A tender swarm. The triumph of an athlete. The redemption of a sinner. Spring found in the desert. A Saturday morning. Leaf! Oh, sacred leaf! Universal winter. Cat. The action of rope found in blood.

The shadow of a woman found in the venerable wild. There’s nothing as beautiful as deep-blue love. The echo of a bird. An icy wind that freezes everything green but the gap of time. A page in a book. Golden people. Fire. Bright places. Novel places. Iron faces. The out-lines of a lonely season and hills. There’s nothing as beautiful as the woman in the photograph. The bride of high summer days. The confession of a sinner. The perfumed juice of a pear. Bird. Field.

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African Renaissance

The Renal Unit: Paper Towns Of A Borderless Woman

Abigail George

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The hospital is a lovesick climate. The blessing of an emerald day.

Kite-flying. The fabric of a stream. The hidden wings of a child. The swell of a rosebud’s mute-bloom.

Thread of an owl through the air. The lengthened passage north.

Sinking-gathering-maturing cells of sunburnt flesh and bone. The Mediterranean-blue sky. The tarnished transaction of vital star meeting black hole. No, there’s nothing as beautiful. I come to life in my sister’s Cape Town flat. It is raining men and women and when the radiant sun comes out it rains golden. I think of people that only say things to be polite or diplomatic. I think of how before I do things now, I have to wait for the tiredness to lift. I think of my flesh and blood. And how everything around me is fragile and connected to God. Sometime I think of the hospital room I found myself in when I was barely 20-years old at Tara, then at Golden City Clinic, then at Hunterscraig Private Clinic. That was before the renal unit at the hospital where I was born. Now, I eat for three and four and five. I have to find my own way to be cheerful, and it feels like the day after Christmas in my hands.

The sun was unusually strong today. The waves seemed as angry as I was, and fury was like ice warmed up. He has a bear of a man for a step-father. I think of his sticky fingers on the counter-top. I think of the shape of autumn near my fingertips. The weather changing. Is it more climate than God? Whenever I wear a dress I think of Paris. I think of wearing Parisian-made dresses. I think of the love of my life and his daughter now. Of how he never saved me. I think of eating and drinking. I think of grief. I think of loss. I think of emptiness, futility, loneliness and silence. All harmless like vessels. I think of the country where I live. How heavenly it is. How metaphysical.

There’s a chill in the air as I eat alone in my room, and I think to myself that I am oceans away from the sun. I wonder if he told his wife what I said. That I was afraid of him. Making love to him. I was young. I was afraid. I thought of never going back. Never going home to the dysfunctionality I was brought up in. A sister, a daughter.

Siblings fighting. Competition and rivalry. I think of the desert. It offers freedom. I think of how vulnerable I felt in the hospital. I think of my sorrows. My so-called nuclear family. My poverty. My weaknesses. I think of freely-given bread. I am always looking for people to read my poetry and tell me what it is they think of it or rather me. As if it will add to my happiness. To my future. As if it will fix me or love me or mark me in letters ‘Return to sender’. I think of my house on fire. Pale fire. Milk in my hands washing away all my sins but it is never ever quite enough. I am never ever quite enough. I am not loved. I am unloved. I dream of digital copies of my books. The world is cold and made of gnarled oak, exoduses, and indigo children. People who are dumped on the ash heap of life. And for all of my life I have been one of them. No winter-husband. No autumn-children to rain on me. No blue river. There is no one to bring me flowers or to cook me a champagne breakfast.

Only the souls of bad men and good men.

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