Ideas make the world go round

“If bands make her dance imagine what knowledge can do…”

That line comes from last year’s 16 for 16s project “No Time Out”, presented by Motif records, combining the efforts of 16 artists/ entertainers to commemorate the uprisings of June 16 1976. That line struck me as profound because, well, it is; and it’s witty. But also, it struck me as profound because it captured well the essence of June 16 – young people who were so moved by the knowledge of an idea that they took to the streets for it. An idea so powerful that even though apartheid thugs responded to schoolchildren in uniform with bullets and teargas (bullets and teargas bafwethu – BULLETS AND TEARGAS!), they went anyway. Imagine that.

The artists who collaborated on the song. Source: Motif Records

The artists who collaborated on the song. Source: Motif Records

One of the wonderful things about this millennium and all its technology, is how it has enabled us to ‘hear’ more voices, particularly from groups marginalised by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (to borrow hook’s term). To be sure, there are still those who do not have access to many of the luxuries of the technoratti, but for the most part now more than ever before, we have more platforms to speak out and be heard (and connect) widely across boundaries.

The downside is that less people are willing (or is it less brave?) to think for themselves. That is a little pessimistic, I know, and I do think it is great that we can have conversations across the diaspora and engage with one another intellectually. I guess it’s just clear to me, that ideas make the world go round, and I wonder – are we as passionate as the youth of that day, or do we lack something to believe in that will move us as poignantly as they were?

The entire world moves on the axis of ideas: the idea of money (which is only given value by how we esteem it, what we accept, collectively, it can and should do for us), the idea of power, the idea of potential. I’m just hoping that we are brave enough to step out and express a few of our own, unapologetically. Already there are some who have taken that leap, innovators and trailblazers in art, politics, commerce, science… And I commend them. They are what’s right with this world. No matter how pessimistic I can be about our generation and our future sometimes, something always pulls me back from that into an ocean of optimism. That thing is the knowledge that the bright future I’m looking for isn’t hidden in history – it’s in you and me.



“The whole point of being an artist is to make a statement with your art. So I don’t have to tell you who I am. You can listen to that record and say, ‘Oh, I get that girl’.” Lalah Hathaway



They don’t make ’em like they used to

I have a fierce aversion for old men who call me “baby”. I love old people but please, keep the seedy characters away from me.

No problem with things that preceded me. I appreciate things that whisper, “We were here first child.”

It’s funny but loving them makes me nostalgic for a time I never even lived in. Sort of like, like I’ve been here before, you know?

I like black and white photographs of my mother as a young girl and music made when gramophones were cool. I like books with that musty smell, turning the pages and living in another world for a short time. The ones in the corner, dusty and long forgotten.

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I like the stories they tell, the elderly folk, and living their memories with them as they live them again. History is never dead. It imposes itself on the future and on the next generation. Their memories make me feel like I’ve been here before. It solidifies my sense of self to know that there are people who I belong to. I looked at them and they introduced me to myself. They said I am bones and blood and spit and dust. They also said I am emotions and confusion and joy and spirit. “We were here first, but one day you will be the only thing that’s left of us.” That warms my soul, it does.   

I like remembering when I was ‘littleler’ and carrying the sweetness of nostalgia in my pocket. Memories –

Those buggers don’t die! Unexpectedly

They insist on remembrance. In a smell. In a picture. In a song.

Times have changed but at the same time, nothing’s changed. We’re doing the same things. Making the same mistakes. Pursuing the same goals. Nearing the same Exit Door.

We’ve been here before!

I like old things so don’t change who you are. Give me conversation over tweeting you any day. What we have to share is too enormous for 140 characters. Remember the days when we were knee-high?

And every sigh

Was one of contentment?

And we never slept

Angry at the other?

Oh dear friend, I hope the goodness inside of us never changes. Some things are better old.


Dusty Soul

“Is there a thing of which it can be said, See, this is new? It has already been, in the vast ages of time [recorded or unrecorded] which were before us.” – Ecclesiastes 1:10 (Amplified Bible)