Nalithemba: On finding hope, daring to dream and beating despair

The way to measure the quality of any experience is to ask yourself whether or not you dread its end. If you’re counting down the seconds till it’s over, chances are it was a bad one; but if you dread its end, honey you probably got a good thing goin’.

This is how I rate most of my listening experiences: the best albums are those which carry me from track one to the last, through every interlude, pause, rise, climax, simmer; as though guiding me on a sweet and inspiring journey.

It’s that time of the year when those of us in the bubble that is Grahamstown begin to bemoan the confinement of our little town. We’re getting impatient to leave this space. We’re bored with the monotony of lectures and deadlines, and so we whip out our ipads and Blackberrys and make plans for the December and early January months, eager to start the vac. We’re on the phone with our parents and friends from back home on the daily, longing for a slice of home. We’re suffering from cabin fever! *pulls hair out*

It is in this shuffling-my-feet state that I have been moving day-to-day, restless for this phase to end. It’s full of so much uncertainty and it would seem, chaos. I’m constantly having to encourage myself, to spur myself to take on the day, to get out of bed. I’ve been looking for hope.

And fortunately, hope came to me when I least expected, but most needed, it.

The weight of despair is enough to anchor any dreamer into resignation, but if you’re like East London based singer-songwriter and artist Asanda ‘Msaki’ Lusaseni, you hold on to the hope that ‘one shushu day’ (one bright and hot day) things will turn out alright for you. She’s recently released her EP, Nal’ithemba, and it was this little four-track offering that sang away my doubt and despondency.

Asanda has been singing for a long while now, and she decided to take the plunge and focus full-time on her music career after being a student of law and art. Her movement, “One Shushu Day’, is, as she describes it, “a dreamer’s statement of hope”, an assertion that even in a world where ‘making it’ becomes harder each year, dreams still do come true.

“Harbouring Hope (Nalithemba)”, last track on the EP, captures what Asanda and the One Shushu Day Movement are about:

The sea is patient

The moon lights a path from her womb to the raft

Oh, we’re waiting

Believing in promises born in the dark warmth of dreams

Hope needs concrete

Believing is hard as her dreams turn to rust…

She prays for the dreams in her heart not to wither away

Please let these dreams sail

Burden is heavy …

Let these dreams sail

Dawn is breaking the sleep of the ones that are harbouring hope

Nali’ithemba

Nalo, naliya

Dear Wind, carry me now, beyond the limits of fear…

This hope anchors my soul

The sea has spoken I believe

I’m alive in the promise made for the deep of the sea…

 Her exhortation to hold on almost brought me to tears – the combination of her sound, her melodies and her lyrics came together to form something quite like a balm. To hear it is to heal.

All I wanted was for the listening experience not to end, for her guitar to keep playing in my ears; but as the old adage goes, all good things come to an end. The best things, however, never really end. They leave proof that they were there: and though “Harbouring Hope” marked the end of the EP, it stamped courage in me, I knew hope was worth the effort, and when she sang it, I knew I could trust Msaki’s encouragement to “Hope on bravely”.

**To order a copy of Msaki’s EP email oneshushuday@gmail.com

Hope and dreams,

DustySoul

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair

‘Qui audet adipiscitur.” (Who dares, wins.)

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3 thoughts on “Nalithemba: On finding hope, daring to dream and beating despair

  1. Pingback: water (part 3): Zaneliza – How the Water Moves | theDustySoulDiary

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