Unkown Places

Somewhere on planet earth, in some hidden lands still not known to man, not ‘discovered’ and not ‘colonized’, the tales and myths of a people had remained sacred. Throughout many years their secret knowledges were passed down from generation to the next through storytelling, the drum and song.

Until this one time, when at the middle of the night an unusual noise was heard. It sounded like screams of angry gods. Many said it came from what appeared to be a huge spacecraft floating above the sky. Some said they felt it from underneath their feet. While some said ‘it’s the end of the world!!!’

Caught in all the confusion, suddenly everyone fell on the ground as though pulled by some mysterious gravitational force. No one could rise as they felt weak at this point, for sometime they could not open their eyes and soon they all fell into a long and deep sleep.

After many years, the tribe eventually woke up and was confronted with a reality of their lost years. Though they remembered their dreams vividly, on the contrary they struggled to recall anything else that took place before their deep sleep. Memories of themselves, their past, languages and ancestors were all lost. Looking around they were drawn to the multiple layers of evidence of human existence, there saw traces of human history that surrounded them but could not draw an links with their awaken-ness.

Such an intense level of amnesia brought so many uncertainties to the people. To this day it is unknown what took place before and during their sleep, but they all remember entering a dream state. As they they related the story, they told us that, in their dreams they traveled at high speeds to far away places, not seen or even imagined before. Some said in their dreams, they spoke in unknown tongues and some remembered unusual flying beings that appeared to be in a continuous trance, a ritual dance. Others even claimed to have had ancestry, that they had left behind in their dreams unable to invite on this side.

The tribe wondered about who they were before, they knew that they had a history hidden from their awareness, a past that defined them. As advised by the elders, this moment saw the tribe collecting all musical instruments especially the drums of various kinds and sizes. The belief became that, even though most of their stories and songs had been wiped off their consciousness, the wise ones asserted that all could be remembered through sound and its intentions that remain in silence, somewhere in space. They said silence was the carrier of all memories. From an old bag, and they pulled out an ancient text.

In unison they read with such a depth, it resonated and echoed in the caves where their ancestors lived and practiced their rituals, it reached the heart of the village. After several hours of chanting, drumming and even clapping it all dissolved into silence and stillness. In silence, the people’s memory emerged, through revelations they remembered the stories of their gods and as they did, one after the other they followed the stars and their bodies disappeared to unknown places.



2 thoughts on “Unkown Places

  1. Nduduzo: The later part of your story has significant resonance in musical, or at least instrumental history. In places where colonial and post-colonial wars wiped out all the known performers of an instrumental tradition, and even where the instruments themselves vanished, after a time they reappeared again. Curious musicians made new versions of the instruments and worked out how they ought to be played. I heard of such a case in Uganda, post Idi Amin’s bloody rule. Of course in the New World we have many examples of African instruments reappearing in a great variety of forms. My question has always been how does this happen? Cultural extinction is somehow reversed; where does it survive in cultural memory? I’ve got ideas. David Coplan


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