Awaiting Another Borrowed Life

In a far away place, way beyond the stars, we arrived in a land where beings walked slightly high above the ground. A tribe so technologically advanced that they each possessed several bodies. That is to say, due to the large quantities of tasks and responsibilities each of them had, over the years, they had developed the art of multiplying their own selves. At a blink of an eye, these beings could project several other bodies similar to theirs whom became responsible for all kinds of work as they wish.

Perhaps the only limitation was that, each of the projected bodies operated from the mind of their creator, thereby restricting them from any kind of independence or freedom. At night these projected bodies did not sleep but were tasked with performing dreams of their masters (the beings that had created them). In that way all the dreams of the tribe were known through songs, dance and poetic recitations. As such, the tribe always understood and were made aware of the sentiments of their ancestors, their pasts in the same way they could also foresee their futures.

This ecosystem was functional and served the tribe in meaningful ways for many years until these projected bodies were tired of being slaves to the tribe and its dreams. They too wanted to live their own life, they were tired of the many hours of hard labor, they wanted to experience sleep, they wanted to have their own dreams.

For a long period there was great tension between the tribe and their projected bodies. These moments of disagreement got characterized by a serious war. They fought to death and they all perished. The projected beings turned into shadows living in a kind of exile state having no access and will to become ancestors. To this day, they await yet another chance for a borrowed life from the superior beings.

Iphupho (07102019)

Nduduzo Makhathini

The Lost Tribes of Wamadingho

She screamed with a deep voice. She screamed from the depths of her belly, right across the river. The river was full and no one could cross. Her voice echoed in the depths of the forest, in the caves, through the mountains, to the villages and right into the people’s consciousness. For many years, there had been a storm that never ended, and as no one could cross over, the tribe had split into two.

On the one side of the river, they spoke an ancient tongue left by the ancestors of their land. This tribe also searched their archives looking for their forefathers songs that could harness and quieten the storm. While on the other side, they developed new languages, and investing on new technologies that could perhaps assist to someday cross over to the lands where their umbilical chords were buried. After many years, the tribe built a ship that someday sunk the entire tribe.

I hope someday when the storms is over, all the tribes of Wamadingho (as told in another dream) will reunite in the underworlds, where the drum plays all day and night.

Umbono 15092019

Nduduzo Makhathini

There is a Space and Time for Everything

Standing here this morning, thinking about how an echo travels. I once dreamed of this idea ‘Letters from the Underworlds’ really around the notion of an ancestor and how, without a language (which I call code), we become confined in a kind of ‘exile’ away from a part of ourselves. From these thoughts, I then questioned our ‘Modes of Communication’ centered around ideas of rituals and how how they become a key hinge towards dissolving the ‘exile’ borders from either side. A deeper context of all of this is coming with the ‘release’ of the album.

So I know that you’ve been waiting for this record to come out… I’ve also been waiting, so the thing is, if we consider an African cosmology as a point of departure for our work, or as even a frame, then we have to also acknowledge its totality and the need for a kind of synchronicity between our world and the underworlds (ancestry realms).

With this in mind, I just want to tell you that the initial echo of the ‘Letters from the Underworlds’ has reached this side of the globe in a huge way.

Yesterday I attended a meeting, and all I can say at this time is I HAVE A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE regarding the release of Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds. I will perhaps share the news towards end of October, then from there the ancestors will grant us a date for the feast!!!

Reflections

Thokoza

11092019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Shadows of the Divine

There once was a man whom had fallen asleep. After a long period of sleep, he woke in another planet. He knew that he had never been here before, neither his ancestors had spoken of such existence. The land was flat, there were no mountains or hills, there were no trees. It was a space of nothingness.

He looked around and all he saw were very tall, moving shadows of men and women. Shadows of beings that had transitioned into spirit dimensions. These beings had transcended life inside a body, they had become spirit and only their souls lived. They lived through the light and the shadows represented projections of their shared pasts.

Through movements of their shadows they told tales of their collective memories. Memories of the lives they once lived in a physical realm. Their past was a dance, a dance of yesterday.

The man continued to watch in total amazement. And though another part of his being was still puzzled by such joy situated in intangibility, he soon became hypnotized.

Then his own body disappeared too and his soul smiled at the dance of his own shadow.

01092019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Imvula: A Vision in Three Parts

[It is after a heavy rain. A big flood had destroyed their homes. Through ancient wisdom, they had all climbed up the trees during the flood.]

Meditation|

A huge crowd stood by the river banks. A tall man in his old age carrying a particular type of stick, stood right in front much closer to the water. He was the eldest in the village, and over the years he had lost his eye sight. Though he was blind, he was still trusted deeply by fellow villagers. He had developed the highest level of hearing, they say he could hear the voices of the gods from far away worlds. Through the floods, he was given a task by the gods to take the tribe to their new home. They all followed him, he led in faith.

Meditation|

I also saw a second vision. There were beings that lived underneath water. Some were people that had ‘died’ in other worlds. Some had disappeared from their families many years ago and could never be found. Back in the villages, others told tales that they had been swallowed by gigantic creatures that lived in deep waters. The underwater community told different stories about how they had come to this world. Some said they heard a song from the river and followed until they reached their ancestors in the underworlds. While some say they were born and had always lived in both worlds and between.

I also learned that, some of these beings could live both on land and in water, as old ancestors they could even fly.

Meditation|

Then I saw a third vision. An elderly mother appeared from the top of a mountain, she spoke in a deep voice. She was the rain goddess. Behind her stood a tribe, all dressed in white, they chanted a river song.

Meditation|

I then saw the initial vision, the old man danced to the rhythm of the mountain tribe. He had moved into a trance. So far away, he was the only one that could hear the voice of the rain goddess, he had their song. As the mountain tribe finished chanting, he jumped into the river and all villagers followed. They all disappeared and their story was never to be told.

Umbono 15082019

Nduduzo Makhathini

A girl that was given a magic stone

[This dream felt different, and uncommon in some way. It was unusual in that, most of what I saw had an intense deja vu feeling to it. Places looked familiar, some of the people I saw were people I know, people I currently live with and the ones that have transitioned. I also noticed that the setting looked very similar to where I was born eMbubu, in Sweetwaters eMgungundlovu. The dream it felt like a moment I was re-living, a song I’ve sung before]

It was almost at midnight, it felt as though the moon was watching us and over us. It was in winter, a fire right at the center of the kraal kept us warm but it also gave a unique kind of light. Its flames appeared like responses to our conversations, almost as though the fire itself had been listening and formed part of our conversation.

Throughout the day, we had listened to several teachers, poets, artists, musicians, dancers, poets and storytellers giving anecdotes, talking about what inspires them, what they’ve seen and the lives they’ve lived. They also, passionately, shared on their unique perspectives and approaches to life, some even demonstrated how their understanding of life informed their organic artistic outlooks.

I remember one poet sharing about her process, telling us how poetry helped her understand society and her place better. She continued to say that, it was through poetry that she understood the need to have a voice, and to then use that voice to bring about change. She spoke with great command and a particular rhythm. As she spoke, someone whispered in my ear that, as it was after midnight and part of the tradition was, a guest master artist would speak after her and offer a special blessing to one of the artists in the audience. And so it was time to listen really closely. We all set around the fire, listening attentively and all hoping we become the chosen ones.

Soon after a great talk from the poet, the master began to deliver his talk. As he started, a young girl with an extremely particular radiance, walked towards the kraal. For a moment we were all quiet, her presence was intense it filled in the entire space. She carried an unusual flute with her, and looked as though she had been accompanied by the stars. She did not look like any of us and I had also not seen her throughout during the entire programs. She had a remarkable grace.

It seemed as though the master too could not resist her charisma. As the girl walked inside the kraal, the master quickly asked, ‘who are you and how can I assist young lady?’. She responded, ‘my name is not important oh great one, I just want to be in your presence. I had traveled for many days so I could see you.’ Then she kept quiet, some older men standing behind started to mumble as they thought the young girl wasn’t as interesting as she appeared to be. Quite surprisingly, on the contrary, she didn’t look distracted by any of the comments and the ridiculing. She instead kept her eyes focused on the master.

The master then continued to speak and said, ‘I have no words of wisdom to give to you this morning but I think our ancestors have brought this young lady to us, from unknown lands, for a very special reason.’ He then said, ‘young lady since you also have no words, play us your flute.’

In no time the young girl began to play. As she was playing a huge cluster of bees appeared above us, then around master’s head. They danced for while, until they drop something on the master’s hand after which they disappeared.

Then the master said, ‘at times words are not necessary. The universe hears our intentions much deeper than what we could say or explain in words. And I say to you all, be an artist in all that you do and let it cut through in all that you are.’

‘Create a world you wish to live in and when you pick up your instrument, let it be a moment to allow your audience and all that is around you, an opportunity to enter your world. Play, dance, paint and sing gracefully.’

He then handed a magic stone to the young girl, and as he did two huge birds came and carried her to the stars. She left us all with a song.

I woke up singing

Iphupho 10082019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Echoes from the Past

I then arrived in a strangely beautiful place. The village had some of the unusually tallest trees I had ever seen, they overlooked everything. As I looked even deeper, I noticed that these trees moved in a very particular way. They danced to the rhythm of the sun.

Fascinated by such synchronicity, I stood underneath the trees for a long while. At one point I heard birds of many types sing in a kind of unison, they too sung to the sun. I tried to look for them but my eye sight could not reach them.

I then heard the sound of a drum traveling from afar. Some force pulled me towards its direction. I began to follow the sound. The closer I got to the initial sound, another sound pattern emerged as a response but sounded even further away. Of course I followed each call carefully, though note reaching its location, until the next idea emerged.

I was caught in this experience for several days but not reaching the musicians that performed this incredible music. The more I heard these sounds, my heart pumped even faster. From deep within, my anticipation grew and I became filled with hope that I would soon reach the source of all this beauty. Eventually, my feet got tired and I could no longer walk around the village. I fell on the ground, it seemed as though all the trees around me had eyes and they were looking at me with empathy.

I could not keep my eyes open anymore, the sun shined through the trees. With my eyes closed and still hearing this great music, I imagined what each musician, their drums and the surroundings may have looked like. I soon became lost in a beautiful dream.

In a dream my guide then told me that, the sounds I was hearing had nothing to do with an actual drum, musician, birds or even a particular place in this universe. He continued to say, these sounds came from the gods whom lived here millions of years ago. Since they left, all that lives in this village take turns in singing and projecting their songs in their memory. In closing he also said, the only way to witness these sounds closely is through transcending the material world into the planets of the gods.

Then I woke up and realized I had fallen off my bed. To this very moment I’m still hearing the echoes of the drums.

Iphupho 02082019

Nduduzo Makhathini