Today’s Episode of “Fuck These Platforms. Let’s Just Blog About Ourselves Bro!”

What’s been keeping me up at night? We unhealthily compartmentalize the world burning of course. So other than the end of humanity as we know it, what else?

The abundance of indie/small pub/small label music and writing there is. In this crazy information age you find yourself constantly drowning. There’s good drowning and there’s bad drowning. The abundance of amazing art drowning tends towards the good I rate.

I posted about African Speculative Fiction earlier in the year. Keeping that line of thought, I’ve purchased and am excited to read Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and The African Diaspora, Stephen Embleton’s Soul Searching , and I’ve been eying Mia Arderne’s Mermaid Fillet rather greedily. That sound’s gross somehow. The new issue of Omenana is coming in October, and the line up looks great! Also, I’m in it! Sorry, nobody has marketing budgets anymore, ok! We’re all our own promoters down here, in this grimdark rabbit hole.

On the music end, this weird thing’s been happening over the last couple of years where I’ve been interacting (on the internet haha, still don’t leave the house) with a lot of South African producers over the last couple of years. It’s a very surreal experience really. This all seemed to get rolling when I left Cape Town somehow. My cousin asked me the other day how I like rural life, and I told him it agrees with me. I told him I’ve somehow, very ironically, been networking more. The irony being, when I was right in the CBD and had access to everyone and everything, the madness of living in the CBD left me so mentally exhausted, I never had the energy to deal with people anyway. In person or online.

Somehow, now that my headspace is clearer I’m a bit more friendly. On the internet at least, can’t say much about phonecalls.  I’ve been engaging with South Africa’s producer scene a bit more, and have been finding amazing talent, and amazing music.  Seventhgaze, another South African talent, put together a really diverse list of South African music. This list isn’t just producers. It runs the gamut right up to our vibrant jazz scene.

Here’s the list: https://buymusic.club/list/seventhgaze-black-south-african-sounds

I can’t vouch for everything on here, as I haven’t listened to all of it. My intention is to go down the list, check out the stuff I don’t know, see what tickles my fancy. However, some projects or artists I’m familiar with.

I’m a huge Reza Khota fan, and his latest Liminal, is a phenomenal record. Also caught his quartet live when they were trying the songs out, so obviously it has sentimental value too. But it’s amazing. A journey. Find some time, sit down, and just listen to that album. The album art is also amazing!

I’m not too familiar with Asher Gamedze, but Buddy Wells (also on Liminal) plays sax on the album recommended on the list, and posted about it, so I’ll just assume it’s good. Blind buy good I’m assuming. (Update: I’m listening to it while writing this. It’s fucking good, what did I say!?)

Keenan Ahrends is on there. Not familiar with the project on the list, but I own his Narrative album, which is good, Nick William killing the keys like a mofo. So yeah, I’ll just assume that’s good too.

Tune Recreation Committee is one of Mandla Mlangeni’s bands, and you generally can’t go wrong there either. I have the previous album, Voices of Our Vision and its good. Good good!

The Brother Moves On is on there. Another local great! Amazing live shows! I’ve seen them play with Shabaka Hutchings whom they collaborate with frequently. So that album is a definite want as well.

I’m on there, lol. Next to some of my favorite people, which is sick! And weird…

That’s about all the stuff I know know, and honestly it’s mostly the jazz stuff. Specifically I’m saying I’ve delved into those catalogs, seen them live a bunch of times, that kind of thing. So this isn’t some kind of ranking system. I’m aware of a lot of the names on the list, and I can assure you there’s a lot of talent to go around, depending on your personal tastes. So if you’re not necessarily a jazz fan boy like myself, I recommend going down the list according to your own genre preferences. I’m sure you’ll find something you like!

African Spec Fic I’ve Been Enjoying

I’ve been reading a whole bunch (SNAFU), though mostly African Speculative Fiction as it’s Nommo Nomination period. If you’re unsure what Speculative Fiction is, or want to know more about the Nommo awards for African Speculative Fiction, head here: http://www.africansfs.com/ .

For this post, I just want to jump right in. As of writing, the period is pretty much over, and we’ll be moving to the voting stage. You can get updates at the African Speculative Fiction Society’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/africansfs/.

A Spy In Time – Imraan Coovadia (Novel) : A great novel. It’s a mash of time travel and a spy thriller, but written with a ‘literary’ bent. It reads easily and has a number of interesting ideas within. Most interesting to me were time travel and race. Much of the novel grapples with how we might morally judge humanity in the past and present according to our current racial prejudices. It also has an interesting take on the multiverse, and the moral conundrums of racially a charged species such as ours learning how to freely move through the multiverse.

When We Dream We Are Our God – Wole Talabi (Short Story) : Ahhhh, where to begin? I can’t say much about this gem, but if you’re intrigued by AI and the possibility of human hive mind via technology, then this is for you! The story is quite utopian which I really enjoyed that on paper. Since we literally live in dystopian times, it was fresh narratively. In reality though, there’s not enough money on this planet that would make me to willingly hive mind with you crazy fucks! I’ve seen y’all on twitter,  and no thanks! But seriously, read this short story.

The Border Keeper – Kerstin Hall (Novella) : I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. Two of my soft spots are non-traditional fantasy elements and excellent prose. This novella has both. If I were to identify a fantastical trope, it would be heaven vs hell, angels vs demons, but that is more the bare bones. The world building around it is still rather unique, so it doesn’t feel like a run of the mill angels vs demons type universe. The plot twists and turns quite a lot, perhaps too much at times, so I don’t want to give away too much about that. I don’t want to give away too much about the universe either, as the unique world building is part of the fun, so I’ll just leave the official blurb here.

“Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.”

The Cure – Tariro Ndoro (Short Story) : So again, all bias here, but this a whimsical little urban fantasy tale that also hit my soft spots. It’s set in South Africa (check!), but its not bogged down with over explanations, and language translations (check!). So the prose is nice and fluid. Shout out to the author and editors for that. It covers some great themes, like being an outcast, living in the city, and every South African’s favorite topic of choice after Coronavirus, crime. I mean, it seems silly at this stage of regularly reading African Spec Fic, but enjoying a fantastical short set in a place like Joburg, still really hits the spot!

Tends to Zero – Wole Talabi : Cheated with this one. Said I wasn’t going to read it, as Wole is already on this list, but curiosity got the better of me. The short is fucking brilliant! It’s a dark emotional tale, with themes of mental turmoil, which is my bread and butter I guess. It also plays with the age old trope in weird fiction of cities, and if they manifested themselves in some supernatural/fantastical form. The city in question here is Lagos. It reminded me a bit of a short I published in the Kalahari Review, also dealing with cities manifesting themselves.

Notes From A Presentation at The Luthuli Institute For Peace and Development

 

On Thursday 22 March 2018, The Albert and Nokukhanya Luthuli Peace and Development Institute launched, and held its first colloquium.  The topic of the colloquium was, Understanding The Culture of Violence as an Impediment to Development: Peace and Development as The Foundations For South Africa’s Future Advancement.

I was asked to do a presentation based on an article I published in The Thinker last year. You can find the article here: http://www.thethinker.co.za/resources/72%20THINKER.pdf. It’s called South Africa: A History of Cultural Violence.

The presentation and event in general went very well. It was empowering to interact and communicate with individuals of various ages and affiliations who share some common ideas and understanding.

Some difficult topics were discussed openly; many South Africans refuse to even accept, let alone even discuss some of these issues,  especially without degrading to name calling and insults.

Here are some things that were openly acknowledged , and discussed.

  • South Africa is a violent society. Both physically and structurally.
  • South African violence runs very deep historically and structurally.
  • The above point means there are no easy solutions to South African violence. Throwing police, PMCs, and military at everything just won’t cut it.
  • South Africa is an extremely racist, sexist, and classist society.
  • South African violence won’t go away if the above three issues, along with their nasty cousin inequality, are not meaningfully dealt with.
  • As Government and the Private Sector tend to fluctuate in their effectiveness, citizens likely need to take some matters into their own hands.
  • One such was is reaching out and interacting with Civil Society (we have various NGOs and activist groups) to heal South African society.
  • Strong Civil Society institutes may provide some kind of buffer against Government and Private Sector failure.
  • South Africans as a whole need to educate themselves more on peace studies, as well as learn how other societies with violent pasts, have instigated strong measures to ensure the cycle of violence and generational trauma does not ensue perpetually. Hint: there’s a reason America still has Nazis, while Germany does not. It’s pretty much because the Germans used their brains, and made Nazism illegal. Duh!

 

Here’s a link to the notes on my presentation. Oh, and don’t forget you can follow and support me directly via Patreon (it’s more music and fiction orientated currently), if you like what I do. Gotta throw that in there hehe! We still live in a capitalist society, and money doesn’t grow on trees. Meh!

Back 2 Basics Cultural Violence Presentation

New Song and Links

I’ve got a new song out on Bandcamp and Soundcloud! It’s an industrial, grunge, free jazz, noise, punk affair, topped with some Trent Reznor worship.

The writing process was very cathartic for me, and as such I’d just like to generally share it. I’ve opted to do this via Bandcamp’s pay what you want thingamabob. Pretty much you pay whatever you want for the song. You enter 0 to get a free download. I’m just asking for an email. No, I won’t spam you. I have neither the funds nor the political will to effectively spam people via email (ha!).

I’m looking for emails because we all know social media ain’t shit these days. Email offers a more direct way to reach people about what you’re up to and releasing. So I’m trying to go old school so I can actually reach people interested my stuff without having to post popular fake news, and boost posts to pay Mark Zuckerberg more monies. Also, follow my blog to get direct news, and/or follow me on Patreon. They don’t have weirdo algorithms there yet, as far as I know.

Dilman Dila’s ‘The Trouble With Afrofuturism’

I just read Dilman Dila’s ‘The Trouble with Afrofuturism’ and found it quite poignant. It touches on a number of things that scratch around my mind when I hear the term. Such as, what does it actually mean? Really though? What does it mean? How broad is this thing, and as Dila notes, there’s almost a fanciful, one size fits all approach, where the definition varies according to what the user wants to describe as Afrofuturistic.

Definition arguments aside though Dila’s piece also made me think of the ‘one-way transaction’ style I feel Afrofuturism sometimes falls victim too. These are mostly behind the scenes, niggles, that industry personnel would be aware of, but consumers probably aren’t paying too much attention to.

For example the issue of Lina Iris Viktor, vs Black Panther & Co.  For those unaware, Viktor alleges her artworks were stolen for use in the music video ‘All The Stars’ by Kendrick Lamar and SZA. I would say she has a very strong case here, as she was contacted twice to participate, and declined.

If you’re not schooled on Entertainment Industry Bullshit 101, the general stealing process operates in this manner. First, you, Leviathan Artist Inc. contact lesser known artist and ask them to participate for A. Exposure or B. Peanuts. Said person declines your ridiculous offer, as they actually want to pay the rent, and/or highly value their work (as they should, they made it!). You, Leviathan Artist Inc. then hire other, probably even lessor known artist, and ask them if they can make something ‘similar’, usually taking precaution to remain in the grey area of copyright infringement just in case someone notices. This is mostly to avoid bad publicity. You don’t really have to worry about the legalities as you probably have more lawyers, and you can run a smear campaign claiming the artist is a bitter hater, whose own self-pity and mental illness is the reason they’re suing you. I’m not saying this is what went down in this case, it’s just how it generally goes down.

Anyway, industry politics (bullshit) aside, as noted in the piece:
“In an interview, Ms. Viktor said what matters to her most is the principle, not compensation. “Cultural appropriation is something that continually happens to African-American artists,” she said, “and I want to make a stand.”

Things get very strange here. A team consisting of African-Americans, making a movie that’s supposed to represent black excellence, and Afrofuturism I suppose, rip-off (allegedly…) a British-Liberian’s artwork? I find no better way to describe this scenario other than: a complete mindfuck.

There’s also that slightly colonial smell of claiming intellectual property, and narrative merely because you have the bigger gun. I don’t like that I sometimes observe a weird colonial type thing going on in the creation of Afrofuturist works. I also find myself constantly seeing the “I Have the Bigger Gun” phenomena in the juxtaposition between what African Spec Fic authors (or movie directors in Dila’s case) living in Africa can achieve versus what those living in more developed nations can.

It largely boils down to access: social capital; funds; decent infrastructure. The world has a hierarchy (even with the internet), so on average, there’s generally going to be more infrastructure to take advantage of, off the African continent. It is what it is. There’s just something very painful in that fact. Despite these optimistic Afrofutures (Afrofuturies? Afrofutury? Afrofuture`?) we might like to see, most Africans still have to leave the continent, and access Western infrastructures, in order for those very Afrofutures to reach your computer screen in the first place. It’s a biting irony…

This goes onto Dila’s discussion of the difficulties of imagining and ingesting Utopian Afrofutures when you actually live in Africa. Most of the daily experiences living in Africa are so far removed such Utopian concepts that you find yourself with Schizobrain, walking between fantasy ideals and real world realities. Dystopia might be a dead genre, but dystopia is largely what I see when walking the insanely unequal streets of South Africa, hence why I write a lot of it.

 I’m definitely on the fence about this whole Utopian Afrofuturism thing. I prefer a more Mamdani inspired interpretation. In a post from last year, I noted, contrary to what is often a Black African knee-jerk reaction to decolonization, that Mamdani suggests the future of Africa may not be a revert to traditional beliefs, and a throwing away of all Western influences. Instead he suggests, it may be a convergence of the two, which creates something new and unorthodox.

I feel somewhat the same about Afrofuturism at times. It may also be the South Africa in me, as we’re such a mishmash of Afro and Euro centrism, I find it difficult to turn off that lens. I was also not born in South Africa, so that strange limbo place between African and African diaspora is pretty much my comfort zone.

Either way, I believe a more realistic Afrofuturism might speak to the convergence of our current realities, and how we hope things might be. Maybe an African does create a new amazing technology that defies all expectations, and could save the entire continent, and turn it into a Utopia. But then again, maybe the West steals it from us, with the help of our limp politicians and we reap none of the benefits. Who knows?

 

Police Abuse and PTSD

Short article detailing police abuse during FeesMustFall last year, and resulting PTSD in students.

The article contains links to two documents that are probably well worth a read.

I touched on some of these abuses in a paper I wrote last year, published in The Thinker. The two documents in the article go into greater detail about protest protocol according to South African law, and have witness accounts of events from last year.

My research was largely based on news reporting from independent media, and conflict resolution theory, so there is a bit more meat in these documents from a law, and eye witness perspective.

On The Nature of History, Heritage, and Dicknanigans

Recently, the unstoppably evil sociopathic force that is Jacob Zuma, has had himself memorialized twice, to the applause of faux black excellence, and overblown struggle credentials.

Observing Zuma and his new brand of ANC, recent discussions of history and heritage come to mind. Much like their fore bearers, The National Party (who wrote the book on thumb sucking a new history for political gain) the ‘ANC’, and Zuma, are quite clearly trying to rewrite a contemporary South African history that paints them in a flattering light.

As absurd and depraved as these moves are, they present a great opportunity to reflect on why heritage and history must consistently be brought up, discussed, pondered, reformed, and occasionally re-written in light of new information. An ongoing process that should continue forever. Maybe future African generations will lead #ZumaMustFall movements (wait…hang on…) and opt to erect statues of African leaders with more integrity?

Anyway, many a white conservative (along with their ever annoying sloth shaped familiars, the neo-liberal pacifist) wonder why persons of colour of are so concerned with constantly re-evaluating the popular history, that they were so often haphazardly written out of. Well, here we find an example the white conservative may be able to fathom more easily.

The current corrupt ANC’s attempts at repainting themselves as the “real struggle heroes”, the “returners of land”, and the “slayers of white monopoly capital”, are pretty much the reasons why. Recent ANC history, compared to what the ANC used to be, is embarrassing the say the least. What the current ANC is doing, in how it chooses to socially re-construct South African (and African history) is nothing new, or out of the ordinary. It is pretty much what white supremacists did when they arbitrarily decided that white is right, and thumb sucked a history to go along with it.
Furthermore, Zuma is also illustrating the matter of rich, tasteless, powerful men, memorializing themselves, based on the narratives they decide. Again, a common colonial strategy, that Zuma has shown such a penchant for perpetuating. The man seems to be on a crusade to be the perfect case study for what Fanon and Mamdani have tried to tell us about colonial hangovers. Also, spoiler alert #MugabeDidItFirst.

So how to memorialise the contemporary ANC, and their Supreme Leader Jacob “The Teflon Don” Zuma. Well, definitely no rape charges, avoid any mention of state capture, definitely don’t mention corruption charges. Keep it Disney; just good ol’ stories of ‘the struggle’ blah blah. Probably throw something in there about radical economic transformation, white monopoly capital, and oh, those pesky ‘clever blacks’.

Is this ringing a bell?

The list goes on.

So, I’m sort of hoping this example might resonate more with white conservatives as it fits their general ignorant view that persons of colour are incapable of doing anything right.  Hopefully they can but extend their brains a bit, reflect, realise that many of their white heroes are no better than Zuma, and constructed a bullshit history of their own too? Probably not.

I’m also hoping persons of colour aren’t falling for the same old Dicknanigans that many of our white counterparts have fallen for throughout history, as the ANC is going full-retard with reconstructing their contemporary image. Probably more likely?

Meh, think I’ll just watch Dicknanigans again, and pretend none of this is happening.