Update from Qudus' blog

Mar 28, 2008

I'm NOT proud to be Blak... Part 2

Africa surely do have a future, this future that is just a matter of years or perhaps decades, and in this great future we can't afford to forget our past. To fulfill the book that Bob Marley sang about in redemption song, the artistes and other conscious men and women then have a strong need to begin to redefine their engagement in this great future, we need to censure our broadway and clean up the mainstream. 

Each civilization informs their art and expressions, but today, Africa no longer trust in the words that comes from within and this has also affected her art and artists, our expressions these days are confused - We have a mission to re-Africanize the Africans, they have become too uncivilized for our liking. Dance is my mission, my own personal mission is not about the bad ones who are too skinny, lazy and scared, but the self proclaimed good bold ones who are too fat to be bothered. 

We cannot ask Artistes to go into politics, but artistes need to be aware of the socio-political drive of his or her society. The artiste in me cannot do without being "also political" in situations like this, the artiste in me needs to understand who his audience is, what perception he wants to affect and in what way to bring himself to the center stage of ideas and creativity, if we look at the history of art, (especially performing art) you will agree with me that the artiste and the politician both do politics, but at opposite end. The politician is like an astonishing magician, stupefying his audience and taking their attention away from what he is actually doing. While the job of the artiste is to be the cultured one, standing behind to deduce the malfunction-ness and the banality of such extravaganza.

We must be clearly clear about our intentions, we must know what we want, if all we want is to succumb to the lure of capitalism, be the audience instead of the performer in this drama of life, tour the world, make fame amongst fellow artistes, oppress the masses, accompanied with wealth and power of course. Good, we don't even have to say so, we only need to go on just the way we are, just as vulgar opportunist, turning deaf ears to the whistles of those crying visionaries, to keep on creating like snobs and philistines - wonderful pieces which will never transcend the wonderful world of art.

Unquestionably, our aesthetics, at times, manage to dazzle our innocent audience, only by chance, without a single consciousness of the power and legislation we could arouse. This game, empiricism, chance and anarchy must come to an end, the dead creators must give way to the living, no more to those pieces benefitting those that create them, rather than the audience being of social service to the creator. 

Mostly in the western region of Africa today, there we have some of the most clamored names in the dance scene of Africa, forming a sort of consortium of local champions, getting great ecstasies by seeing unprivileged dancers and young choreographers gather around them, arrogantly they continue to live and create under this same cliché of AM BLACK AND PROUD, pieces that subject-wise are just to benefit the creator as a valid "AFRICAN" Choreographer, tallying with the exact image of what the west imagines to be Africa; energetic, spiritual, entertaining and exotic, yet not so far from the attitude of African government towards dance; raffia wearing, sword carrying masquerades, parading and extravagantly flaunting their exotic culture for tourism. 

for sure, it is also a form of art, but what about those of us that are hungry for a voice, those limping across the sahara with no path, us... i mean us the Tarzanists, who claims to have home here and there, yet became strangers at both end, those of us who are scared of making our culture and heritage a commodity of buying and selling to who pays more. those of us who has in the recent times witnessed a handful of Hollywood film makers sprinting to get their share of this exotic first world, their share of the on going modern scramble for the continent of hope, whose creators and men of ideas has become so corrupt, so they took opportunity of that by telling African stories in a mannerism that is very vulgar and intuitive. 

I wont tend to hold them responsible for their cunning intervention, if the African film makers could not see the "SOS" state of their industries, if they've chosen to go on creating films that is so scared of telling fictional stories that brings their grotesque past to the present, just as African choreographers are seeing nothing to create than beautiful energetic, good-for-nothing dance works, then the Heddy Maalems of today, the Edward Zwick, the Jean Claude Galotas of today will continue to intervene in our sorry state in Africa, they've got the resources and the access to a larger and ready audience who are quite tired of what is theirs and thirsty for something propositional and "exotic", they will continue to make use of our green grassy grounds that we have decided to ignore, i as a normal dancer, just like other young dancers all over Africa will then have no other choice than to accept this last choice of being part of something "big" and not rot away with our so called choreographers.

Now that Africa is in fashion, now that our masquerade is dancing at the town centre, now that African nations have turned out to be in the list of "1st world nations" in terms of culture and arts, this doesn't imply that there is another birth of a new civilization, but the claws of the vultures will be on the then dark continent, now Continent of hope, as it had been before now. 

In the recent history of art, its look has been shifted from one civilization to the other and this is just the time for Africa to be opened to the world of contemporary arts, more foreign choreographers, directors, film makers and curators as the race has already began will hunt for more and more materials from Africa, more African creators will begin to set the pace, but, i'm emphatically suggesting that we must also remember, that our sun can still stop shinning and the heaven can still fall on us.

This is why we must be cruel on one another now in order for those creators that will soon be our representatives in the mainstream to go with a totally different reality and argument, rather than integrating existing ones into ours, when i say "CRUEL" i mean not cruel in the sense of blood and hatred, cruelty as in self criticism, inward check and balances, creating such piece that are difficult and cruel for myself first of all, general abolition of those pieces that comes so easily, accepting that some are actually called into this profession, while some were also called but after all not as a creator. 

We must belt up and be ready at all times for the world, going global but only with our local awareness, no more to self made Artistes, that name Artiste is not meant for any riffraff who give us craps, the title of an Artiste is given by a higher force and only to those who merits it, it is then an obligation to those crowned Artistes to use their title for the service of their subjects, only then will it remain theirs forever, if not they shall be dethroned and overthrown, by force or by fire!

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