For the ones who refuse to stifle their roar

“This ability to hold on, even in very simple ways, is work black women have done for a very long time.” ~ Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens

For you,

I would do anything. This is my note of love and light to you. I have tried to write you a letter, but the words keep getting stuck in my throat. All I have for you is  solidarity, is a thought, is a prayer.

So many of us need healing. Seek yours with a stubbornness only heaven can shake. Don’t hang around in the hurt, no matter how seductive that may be. You are not what you have been through.

Strength and power,

Dusty

“Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” ~ Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

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water (part 3): Zaneliza – How the Water Moves

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I remember the year the Tsunami hit. It was the early 2000s, and we were in primary school. Suddenly we all had to discuss what a Tsunami is, why and how it happens, and how many people had died versus how many had survived. We were astounded at the determination of that tide, and the powerlessness of those running from it, weak in the face of such a frightening and mighty moving body of water.

But destruction is not water’s only expression. In thinking about Msaki’s latest offering, Zaneliza – How the Water Moves, I had this – the strength of water, and how it can take on a life of its own, and even (joy!) give you life – foremost in my mind.

So I called her up and we had a young chat about “loss, hope and the wave-like rhythms in between those two states of being”.

Dusty: Cool! How are you?

Msaki: I’m good. I’m (pauses) hectic. I’m trying to leave for Cape Town so I’m trying to wrap up things today. And I need a PA, so I’m tryna put out an ad.

Dusty: I was actually wondering, how do you survive? I hate admin, personally, and I’m like ‘How does she survive, how does she raise a baby, be a wife, be an artist –’

[Msaki is an independent artist and does all her own management and bookings through her company, One Shushu Day  Artistry. She’s basically superwoman. Jokes. But close 😉 She has also been featured on popular house tracks.]

Msaki: Am I surviving?

Dusty: (laughs)

Msaki: I’m up between 3 [AM] and 5 [AM], doing my stuff, like I said.

Dusty: Ja you can’t get me up at that hour for anything, except if the house is burning.

Msaki: (laughs) Ja that’s my time. I actually wrote a song this morning because I was just like uh-uh, need to block off all the nonsense of the admin that’s creeping up and I just had to sing.

Dusty: Yeah. (pause) Okay well the last time I wrote about you, I wrote about the EP [Nal’ithemba], this was when it had just come out –

Msaki: I love that blog post!

Dusty: (laughs)

Msaki: Ja, EP indala mfondini, what was it – like 2013?

Dusty: Yeah it was 2013, I remember because I was listening to it a lot in my last year at Rhodes.

[The EP sold over 3000 copies – all independently. Msaki plays for mostly smaller audiences, and prefers to connect with listeners this way. Her latest project was crowd-funded largely in part by her network of supporters, people she has met and connected with over the years, musicians and music-lovers alike, her “Golden Circle”.]

Msaki: For some reason when you’re playing to smaller crowds, it’s easier for people to want to buy at the end of the show, ‘cos they really get to connect, you know? Like I’ll do shows in someone’s lounge for 60 people, and almost everyone will walk out with the EP. Stuff like that happens, because it’s difficult to hide your soul, it’s difficult to hide the message [in that atmosphere]. The proximity physically also lends itself to a proximity spiritually because people are examining you from up close and the energy is right there. It almost beckons you to share the essence of the music more. I find that in small gigs I’ve got less disclaimers, I’m less stressed about what people think, you know? But in the festival gigs I’m always like, ‘Oh my gosh – are people bored? Am I playing enough upbeat songs?’ and I’m wondering if they’re not twiddling their toes waiting for Zahara.

Dusty: (laughs) So the message of the EP [the first offering] was hope and love – what’s the message of this [album]?Is it resistance, water …?

Msaki: Oh man (pause). I didn’t realise how much loss I was processing through this album, and trying to figure out how you express or share that without it being full of despair. Just thinking of the waves coming in and the lapses in between and the ebb and the flow – there’s something about the water, cleansing, that made the loss bearable. So the theme of hope is always there, it seems like it will be a central theme to all my work. At the same time this album…it kinda like leaves you in the middle of the sea there bobbing wondering if a rescue mission is coming or not, you’ve gotta sorta figure it out for yourself. (laughs)

Dusty: Ja.

Msaki: It’s more real life. There is a song full of hope but it’s also like, ‘What next? Where do we go from here? And what do I do with all the stuff that’s sore? It’s asking more questions, and I guess I’m imperfectly processing some of the things that make me sad about being young, about being in this country, about the reality of losing people and the reality of losing dreams and having to pick yourself up and do another day when things aren’t working out.

Dusty: The line “Living water for the war over your heart/ Waterfall” [from Weight (for the war] stuck out to me, and it gave me a sense of watering in your life, watering the dry spaces, watering the dryness.

Msaki: If you listen to the pressing of a waterfall when you’re right there against it, you can’t mistake the power that’s there. Continuing from the EP; even using the water metaphor, I spoke about how You are not my strength/ You rock the cliff, the edge, the drop, my landing of love, I almost pictured myself jumping into a waterfall, like free falling into a waterfall, when I wrote that. If you think you’re jumping from the cliff into water (and the water is meant to be a metaphor for love), you’re mistaken because you’re standing on love, the rock is love, the cliff is love, the water is love, the great force around you when you’re in the water…that was when I decided to become a musician full-time because I realized that grace had been covering me the whole way and it will continue to do so, and that love is ready to meet me if I take the leap. So that water theme extends itself into this album, but now it’s looking at the different qualities of water and also what that speaks to my heart. Waterfall, nyani – you realise that God is fighting for you. There are clues that are telling you this all the time. You’ve got your own inner turmoil but there’s an outer fight that also manifests itself on the inside. But there are so many clues on the outside saying ‘Look around, keep going’. That whole line, that’s kind of where it’s from. The waterfall was a very obvious sign that love is fighting for me. The power, the rushing noise, and…thing of a war cry. Hence that line that you’re talking about.

[Weight (for the war) is the first single off of the new album. It begins with Msaki chanting the words “FRIEND FIRE FREEDOM FEEL/ WISDOM WONDER WORRY WISH/ BLESSING BURDEN BROTHER BREATHE/ WAIT WAIT WAIT WEIGHT” acapella. In later verses, she changes the last line to the refrain, “WADE WADE WADE WADE”. The pause after the acapella intro is followed by a guitar playing a note suspended over a bar as she sings about the blues. Enter the drum, which together with the chorus, creates a marching sound that increases the urgency of the song. As it progresses, more instruments are layered in, until the point when the song reaches its dramatic turn, ushered in by a stripping back of all the instruments save for the urgent drum, and the subsequent introduction of a soaring orchestration. By the time my favourite line, “LIVING WATER FOR THE WAR OVER YOUR HEART/ WATERFALL” is sung; the battle has raged, and the war –punctuated by the rousing, rallying cries “ZIYADILIKA IZINDONGA!” and “MAKULIWE!” – is steady on the way to victory. An earnest ‘call to arms’ that’ll rouse the faith of even the most doubtful Thomas. If you haven’t already, listen to it below.]

Msaki: Can you hear Kwanda? She’s trying to pull off my ears, can you hear her in the background?

Dusty: (laughs) Yes I can hear her with her little sounds every now and then.

Kwanda: *indistinguishable baby talk*

Dusty: (laughs) She’s so cute.

Msaki: Hayi sana ubusy ubusy ubusy.

Dusty: (laughs) I have one more question. You were saying [elsewhere] that it is hard in the music industry, to keep the message central, to not get distracted by the machine. What are the things that you do to remind yourself that the message is important, and to keep the message intact inside of you?

Msaki: First thing is to surround yourself with a community that isn’t afraid to point out your blind spots to you. I’m in an industry where ego is king, and depending on who you’re working with, that kind of stuff can become more apparent than the inner journey. If I spend my time with like-minded people that know what music is for, and have a heart for artistry and creativity, and community, then I think I’m in a safe space to go explore, to go to different places and come back and know ba kukhona abantu that are gonna be able to tell me that I’m going astray. That’s sort of the outer section. But now…Like this morning I had to wake up at three and fight for my own union, you know? Because that’s what music started as for me – it started as a way of communion, a way of communing with myself and with God. It’s a space where I can also listen for what song is being played to me. It’s so easy to stumble into every day and completely be absorbed by your To Do List and everything that you’re chasing as well, and things like trying to organize an event for a friend. All those things can still be good and you’re busying yourself with things that are good, but it still might mean that you’re distracted and you’re missing out. Sometimes I need to reset, to listen to God even more than myself. And sometimes these songs are not even to be shared, they are just for me to get something, the things that I need to meditate on and think about and acknowledge as truth for myself. Especially with so many messages that are telling us that we’re worthless, that we’re unlovable – that’s pretty much a very strong message out there. ‘You’re only good as your next this…’ There’s so many things, and I have to fight for a space that’s more real, and that’s where I’m writing from. Uhm, I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with writing from a point of confusion, or from a point of being hurt, or processing the stuff that’s out there, I think it’s really important; but my reality, wholeheartedly, should come from the secret place, or the place where I’m quiet. (laughs) I don’t know how to say some of these things, because even that, I’m exploring it through my music.

Dusty: (laughs) It makes sense. Thank you.

*This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

*Zaneliza – How the Water Moves, will be available in stores April 16th, 2016. If you struggle to find a copy, email oneshushuday@gmail.com to inquire.

Love and warm waves,

DustySoul

“The tides are in our veins.” ― Robinson Jeffers

“Though I walk through the valley low, I’ll fear no evil. By the water, fill my soul, no matter where I go.” ― SUTRA, The Water

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.”
― E.E. Cummings, 100 Selected Poems

 

Here’s to Your Hustle! – Part Three

Contributors

HTYH

 

Title

by Refiloe Owethu Makhatini

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@owethumack

instagram

@owethumack

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http://shortshitbigmouth.tumblr.com/

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 Owethu Makhathini

 

The career I have found myself in is a happy accident. After studying Politics and Legal Theory at Rhodes University for three years, I became frustrated and left. I had started blogging and from the traction I received from it, was able to secure an internship at ZA Social Media soon afterwards.

Yellow wall

As soon as I realized the opportunities present in the social media marketing industry, I decided to pour my skills, personality and talents into this space. Contrary to popular misconceptions, as a strategist I don’t just sit on Facebook all day! One has to have a commitment to learning about one’s industry and all the changes and developments that occur on a regular basis.

My dream isn’t to become a social media ‘guru’ or ‘ninja’. My dream is to align all my interests into a viable and profitable career. I haven’t seen a job title that combines all my interests yet, and since I don’t have a seat at the table (to paraphrase Joshua Kissi) I’m going to build my own.

IMG_1026

So what exactly have I been doing to realize this ‘dream’ of mine? Part of it is:

I have written an eBook: An Introduction to Livetweeting: How to Succeed At It.

I have presented to some of ZASM’s most important clients, including the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, who adopted my strategy. Working on established brands is a privilege, and though the expectations are high, the experience and growth make it worthwhile.

A short live interview on CNBC Africa, which was my favorite because it aligned the most with my end goal or ‘dream’.

I also just started writing for LinkedIn after I got an email asking me to become a contributor. This platform is really great for keeping up to date with the happenings in industries that are related to your own. Having a professional element to your social media presence is important.

There are great months and there are terrible ones. I do not want to give the impression that the pressures of having a job, the reality of bad ideas and a demanding boss do not come with the package. It is not easy. There is no opportunity to take a mid-day nap or walk to botanical gardens for some, uhm, ‘nature’. What matters most is what (and how) you get out from the mess. Someone wise has already stated that hard times build character. Trusting that they will, and growing into the experience, is what I have tried to do for the most part. I am stubborn though so it has been a bit of a challenge!

On a more personal note, I have some of my poetry out. Getting my thoughts and feelings out and in front of me has been cathartic in more ways than I thought was possible. Life is just too short to not do things because they are scary. My poetry/musing/spilled ink can also be found on my (fabulous!) blog.

I am in the profile-building stage of my career, so I am trying to learn as much as I can from everyone I come into contact with. Stay tuned. 😉

Signed,

Owethu

About Owethu

I am a 5ft nothing powerhouse.

My favourite hobbies include feasting on the souls of weak men, binge reading and fashion.

I create in the world of digital and I am in the Destiny’s Child stage of building my empire.

Abhaya Mudra.

Stick around for the last post in the series, and thanks for reading this cool post! 

Love and light,

Dusty

A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Going back in time: Letter to my younger self

I know people wait until they are rich and famous – or at least poor and infamous – to write these kinds of letters; but I reckon I have a few things I can share, too. I’ve been doing that thing where you look back and wonder what you have accomplished over the past year, what you have learnt, and where you are going. Took me back to a time when I was much younger, and I wondered: what would I say to me five, six years ago? Realised, I’m not who I used to be back then, and surely, I have a few pearls I can give, too. And these pearls may help someone out there. So, feast.

My dearest Dusty,

How beautiful you are! Full of love and joy and warmth, even though you don’t know it. When your parents named you “Relebone Rirhandzu”, it wasn’t only because you arrived to much love, it was also because they wanted you to fulfil that prophecy. To be love, loving and loved. And it will happen, it will.

You are living in a strange, strange world; and you can barely navigate the madness without feeling like Alice in Wonderland, half the time. The darkness is deep, I know, but you are that unique thing in life called a ‘writer’ – you have the ability to not only be a mirror to society, to capture the zeitgeist, but you also have the power to write yourself (and society) out of the darkness. Your words are your superpower, wield them like the fiery darts that they are.

I remember that time when you were standing in the kitchen at night, with the light turned off, and a knife in your one hand. I remember the strength of the tide that threatened to pull you into a sea of depression, and how eventually, you walked away. Not even because you pulled yourself out, but because you were too much of a coward to go through with it. It doesn’t matter why you didn’t do it though.

It matters only that you survived it, and that you walked away from that edge. Now stop running. Stop running from the pain and face it head on. You’ll be surprised what strong stuff you’re made of!  Anyhow doesn’t help to run, because unless you deal with it, junk follows you wherever you go.

Now you have questions about your identity, about who you are, where you’re going. The answer to everything you think about yourself is (drumroll please) – it’s true. It’s true because you can’t help but live up to your expectation of yourself. What you think of yourself, your thoughts about who you are, these are like a memo for your actions. You will become that which you fear or desire, if you fear or desire it strongly enough. You see, fear is an expectation. Of, for instance, failure. We become what we fear because our mind internalises this fixation, subconsciously uses it as data to determine our action and who we will become. When we fear something we submit to its power, agreeing that it is more strong than the Power at work within us. And so we become what we fear because we’re working towards the expectation we set out for ourselves.

Choose to believe that you are beautiful, that you matter, that you are not only on your way to greatness, but that you are great. You don’t fall short in the things that are crucial – there’s nothing the matter with you. You were made whole and complete and perfect. You are perfect (yeah, I said it). Do not be afraid to be who you want to be – rejection may come but those who you need around you will accept you for who you are.

”You are perfect” does not mean that you are not going to make mistakes, or that you are better than others. It means only that you ought to stop thinking you will never measure up wherever you go. Your heritage, your circumstance, your experiences, these aren’t things to be ashamed of! By the bye, you’re not done making mistakes yet, either, so build a bridge and well, get over it.

Let’s talk about that annoying thing you do, you know that thing. That thing where you play the victim because you want to feel validated, seeking in others what is lacking in yourself. It’s not alien – we need to be needed and we need other people, as human beings; but we also need to be independent. To be certain of ourselves. I know your pain comes from a real place and that your cries for attention come from a crushing hurt, but the healing you’re looking for is in something Other than where you seek it now. Follow the Light. That’s where you will find the salve. And stop being so needy, girl. (~> “How you go win, if you ain’t right within? Uh uh, come again.” ~ LH)

You’re a sensitive soul so I’ma speak to you kindly too, because I know you need affirmation. Wanna tell you (you hot thang!) that you’re a powerhouse walkin’ on two sexy legs (short as they are) and you have so much depth, wisdom, intelligence and heart inside that body that hey, it’s inevitable that you’re gonna leave a mark the size of legacy when you’re gone. (DUDE, THE WORLD AIN’T EVEN READY FOR ALL THAT!) Choose to see yourself as beautiful. Choose every day, to walk like the magnificent queen that you are. Besides, you know how Dimamzo hates it when you walk in that hunched-shoulders-defeated way you do sometimes (chuckles). Head up. Chin up. You’re magnificent!

Here’s the hard truth about people: they don’t owe you anything, hey. And because they don’t, they won’t always care about you, or take the time to get to know you, or love you like you deserve. I know that that scares you, but it shouldn’t. They’re on their own path and they stumble also, sometimes all over your toes, but it ain’t a thang to do with who you are! They are human, too. You have all of Heaven’s resources available to you so whatever gets thrown your way, head up, chin up, tswela pele. You’re magnificent.

I’ma end it here. We’re a writer so we wax lyrical about, well, everything, but let’s cut it. If you forget everything else: remember this one thing: live your convictions out courageously, love recklessly, go about life honestly. And, keep God with you.

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid. 😉

**“Relebone” is the Setswana term for “we have seen” or “we have seen you”; and “Rirhandzu” is the Xitsonga term for “love”. Together “relebone rirhandzu” makes the sentence “we have seen love”. Parents were tryna be cute with the whole ‘merging-our-two-cultures’ thing. (chuckle)

**tswela pele is the Setswana term for “go forward”, or, used in this context, “keep it moving”.

Love and light,

DustySoul

“Sethe,” he says, “me and you, we got more yesterdays than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.”

He leans over and takes her hand. With the other he touches her face. “You your best thing, Sethe. You are.” 

~ Paul D to Sethe, after Sethe complained that Beloved (whom she considered the best thing in, and about, her life) has left her; in Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’

The Quiet Violence of Words

I recently went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life at the hands of a book. Yes, a book. I read it cover to cover reluctantly, only persisting because I was compelled to write an essay on it as a course requirement at the end of term. Before that words had always been wonderful things; always associated with catharsis, creativity, spirituality, relaxation and at the very least escape. Never did it occur to me that words could be vile things.

Duiker (1974-2005) is also the author of The Quiet Violence of Dreams. Source: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/

Enter the accused, that little book by K Sello Duiker, Thirteen Cents. The book is about a homeless boy, Azure, trying to survive on the streets of Cape Town. Each time I discussed the book with friends and peers, I would stress how depressing the book was: “EVERY moment is depressing,” I’d say, “and the moments that aren’t depressing are not less depressing because they are in and of themselves not depressing, but because they are less depressing than all the other depressing moments within the book.” Yes, you get it, the book was depressing.

When I read, I am at that moment held hostage by the words on that page, restricted to what the book describes, the world the book invites me into. As I read I must involve myself in the world of the book, partake of its experiences as though they were my own. It had never occurred to me that reading is, by that description, a violent experience only because my emotions are captive and at the mercy of the author’s pen. It’s a quiet violence because it’s a hostage experience I’ve entered into willingly.

Azure is a young, black male, and Duiker’s description of his experiences raises some compelling questions about identity, history, trauma and its effects on individuals and groups, the representation of violence and reality, and so on. My contention with the book was its graphic nature: Azure is molested, raped and abused physically and emotionally, and far from glossing over these facts, the reader is forced to experience his molestation step-by-step as Duiker takes us through each act in detail. It was difficult to read, to say the least. Because of this, the book alienated me, I recoiled from putting myself in the focaliser’s shoes, and so for the first time, I was repelled by words.

Thirteen Cents is not for the sensitive reader. Source: http://www.sashaarms.com/2010/11/thirteen-cents/

I am not sure if I was more disturbed by having to engage with such violent imagery or with the fact that there are young boys in Cape Town for whom such violence is part of their every day lived experience. I felt at once ashamed to be human in a world where other human beings perform such atrocities on other human beings, and at the same time I felt angered by my helplessness. At the least Duiker managed to get me thinking about the human condition from a new perspective.

On this, the first ‘birthday’ of theDustySoulDiary, I am able to look back on my growth as a writer, how blogging has helped me gain confidence in my craft, and how it has improved my skill. There’s still a lot of growth I need to experience as a writer, but I’ll get there. I am grateful, at the least, for the freedom to write without restriction, and for that I thank the great freedom writers whose words were penned by blood and pain for me and my country. My experience with Thirteen Cents has shown me anew the power of words, of literature… Viewed as a violent act, the power words have take on new meaning in that old adage: the pen is mightier than the sword, for although the wounds of a ‘sword’ may heal, words stay with you forever.

**To mark a year of blogging, DustySoul adds a category to the four theDiary already has: “Look”. As times goes by, the idea behind this new category will be more apparent. For now, happy Youth Day.

Yours,

DustySoul

“When writers die they become books.” – Jorge Luis Borges

Writing from my grave

Introducing... Dusty Soul

Death has no manners. I know this because of the way it enters our lives without invitation and camps for long periods of time. When someone close to us dies we are confronted with the fact of it first. The realisation of it, of their permanent absence from our lives is yet elusive. We grope in the darkness for something to hold on to, something that will be our anchor and show us how to map out a new way of being, because we can no longer live like we used to. It’s like the deceased punched a hole in our existence. We cry, shout, and deny their departure. How can someone who was so alive, whom we could touch, converse with, laugh with, become so inaccessible to us now? “I’ll never see her again,” we think, and are brought to tears. We blame Death for this misery, angry that it would display such insolence in telling us that we will not, after all, live forever. Selfishly we had thought that she was immortal, that she existed for us. How dare Death remind us?

 Death interrupts us while we are busy living, going about as though we will never reach our D Day. Lately I have been thinking a lot about it. I blame this on Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying, which I have been reading, my uncle’s death about a month ago, and the recent deaths of two Rhodes University students. Death slapped me in the face and reminded me that I am on my own “dust to dust” journey. All life’s efforts, the things we believe in, the people we love, the stuff we do; they all seem minute the moment Death throws its darkness at us. We must stop. We must remember to change the pace and take in the sights. Any moment now we there will be a hole punched into where we should have been.

A rather bleak beginning to The Dusty Soul Diary I know, but if there is one thing I love about Death, it’s that it reminds me that I am still alive. It’s not that obvious, you know. Too often we wait our whole lives to actually begin our lives! What am I doing here? What are you doing here? What are we all doing here? Bear with me, I’m not altogether here, you see. I’m just sharing my words because it’s what I’m meant to do. There are too many words inside of me to keep to myself. If I have not given, I am selfish. If I am selfish, I cannot, I have not loved. If I have not loved, I have not lived. I write to exist.

I am a dusty soul because the words inside of me are old. It’s an old soul lives inside this body. I’ve been here before. These words were given to me, you see, by the Alpha, the oldest Being around. He put these words away and bid me share them when the time was right. They are my words and they are His words. They preceded my existence, and hopefully when I am gone, they will linger on.  So that when they (the people from the future) read it, it will be as though I am penning them for the first time, from my grave. I am ready. Tell Death to stay its hand.

Love,

Dusty Soul