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The Salon

Letting go of the Blues

 
Mbali Matandela

(University of Cape Town, Honours in Gender and Transformation)

1) Blue-blooded minds

Blue-blooded minds: your thoughts are not your own.
They are the thoughts of the white supremacist imagination
These thoughts were infused into your mind by shedding the blood of your ancestors.

Blue-blooded minds: you are not royalty in their minds.
You are assimilating their power and justifying your own subjugation.
Your mind never mattered.
You were a body without blood, a body without vitality.
You were a life-less body to be enslaved.

Blue-blooded minds: liberate your minds to give vitality to your people.
You were once a commodity, a slave in ways that were visible.
The struggle is now in the mind, it is the blue-blood that soils your imagination and thought.
Your imagination is not theirs;
Your imagination is constructing the future of the black body.

Blue-blooded minds: sift out the knowledge that does not recognise your blackness.
You have been avoided, a void in their history so this is a time to reclaim your physical and mental space.
Decolonize your mind in order to sift out the blues of black history;
We need to discover the knowledge that has been avoided, beyond the superimposed.
We need to imagine the future of the emancipated mind.

Blue-blooded minds: let go the Victorian mind-set to be victorious for your people
Shift your mind-set to represent your own; the one that does not conquer others for its pursuit.
The African imagination and mind is not a niche or a counter-imagination.
It transcends the dichotomy of ideas and reality.
The African imagination is an imagination for changing reality to emancipate the living -the breathing
The African imagination is living- it breathes from bodies and lives that have been lost.
It is the rebirth of the ancestral minds and the creation of the mind without the blues of history.
Blue-blooded minds: emancipate yourselves.
Breathe... Imagine.


2) (Bruised Black and) Blue Collared Worker

(Bruised Black and) Blue Collared Workers: your position is not your circumstance.
You have received the triple punches of society that the structure hides in order to give you the blame.
You are not to blame.
Racism, Patriarchy and Capitalism has given you these blues

(Bruised Black and) Blue Collared Workers: you are not the slave that slavery did not liberate.
Your position is.
Your body never mattered, but your labour did.
You were an object for the colonial order: A man made project for a (wo) man-exchanging industry.
You are not an industry,
You are not an object but you are strength.

(Bruised Black and) Blue Collared Workers: you embody black strength.
You embody the strength to create with bare hands what the colonialists saw as an idea.
You made their imagination a reality, now it's time to use yours.
You had the strength to bruise black and blue in the chains of production, only because you saw the future.
You saw the future of when your bruises would be evidence of you breaking the shackles of your oppression.
You are not labour, but you hold the wisdom of African construction in your hands.

(Bruised Black and) Blue Collared Workers: the time has come to unbutton the collars of oppression.
The time has come to breathe- to release ourselves from the system.
It is the time of catharsis, of healing those bruises on your hands to construct the Africa- the African imagination in reality.
Your mind and your body is your own.

(Bruised Black and) Blue Collared Workers: emancipate yourselves.
You are not your position. You can be anything, you can:
Breathe... Imagine
And construct what you have imagined into reality.


3) Letting Go of The Blues:

The blues of the past and present are not who we are.
We are people and we are human
We have thoughts and we are bodies.
We are not blue-blooded minds nor (Bruised black and) Blue Collared Workers; we are not divided.
Divide and conquer is not our imagination.
We are African - Izwe lethu.

Soul-Searching in a Burning Room of Revolutionaries 

Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Mbali Matandela

(University of Cape Town, Honours in Gender and Transformation)

Soul searching in a burning room of revolutionaries,
A place of turmoil for the old soul, the windows to the soul have seen enough to start emptying the soul.
Society has stripped away the humanity of the revolutionary,
Placed her in chains with her cause.
The cause is in sight, but the connection between her soul and this cause is stifling.
The cause is within her reach, but the window-period has passed to hold on it.
The cause is no longer hers, but it is a moving, breathing person of its' own - in a hopeless place.

Soul searching in a burring room of revolutionaries,
The place of the hopeful in a hopeless place - the glimmers of light in a dark room.
Society has told us that the enlightenment of this era has been achieved-
A faux-enlightenment period that told the revolutionaries that freedom has been achieved.
A period of stripping away the humanity of the black body.
The cause is still in sight, but each blink, each pause in time, disconnects the revolutionary from the cause.
The cause is within her reach, but the immobility of society restricts the cause to an idea - not her imagined reality.
The cause is no longer hers, but it is moving, the power in the movement has been usurped by the powers in society.

Soul searching in a burning room of revolutionaries,
The place of the sacrificial in a narcissistic era - divorcing the self for change
Society has told us that the individual is imperative for survival -
An individual that has a single story and experience.
This divide and conquer ideology has told the future-seekers that I is greater than we,
The cause is still in sight, but the western lens tells the revolutionary that her cause is different to the collective.
The cause is within her reach, but the invisible hand is pulling it towards itself.
The cause was never hers, but her cause was interconnected with the collective.

Soul searching in a burning room of revolutionaries,
We cry phoenix tears of healing as we burn to ashes in the system.
We will heal the ones that have been broken and reincarnate human existence out of black love and wisdom.
We are soul-searching in a burning room -ashes to dust - dust to life.

Use Your Imagination

Mbali Matandela

(University of Cape Town, Honours in Gender and Transformation)

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stagnant Debates, Stagnant Minds

Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Mbali Matandela

(University of Cape Town, Honours in Gender and Transformation)

What do you think about the statue? Can you tell us how the statue will solve anything? These are some of the questions that I've had to answer in the past three weeks of protest that have taken place at the University of Cape Town. In my opinion, the initial group that started the Rhodes Must Fall Movement did not realise that the interpretation of the Rhodes Must Fall symbolism would reveal the state of South African consciousness as it has to this present day. The movement used the statue as a symbol of the institutional racism and other exclusionary politics that are linked to the racism, such as patriarchy and white cultural supremacy.

Although three weeks have past and numerous protests and interviews have been done, the debate is still predominately centred on the statue and the historical implications of its removal. It is disheartening to say that the counter-debates that have surfaced do not directly address our call to a more inclusive institutional culture, but merely address the physical evidence of the lack of transformation. This is telling of the current paradigm that our society exists in - the same European paradigm that Post-Imperialist writers were writing about. From the first black consciousness movement, called Negritude, to the more recent black consciousness scholars, the European paradigm has been problematized in its African context. The European paradigm as the post-colonialist scholar Oyewumi (2005) in Visualizing the Body: Western Theories and African Subjects states that western thought is fixated on reason that is constructed based on the physical. In saying the physical, I'm referring to physical evidence that either supports or critiques an argument. This same Eurocentric reason or logic is present in most European languages that use dualisms such as black-white, male-female and physical-imaginative. In turn, these dualisms simplify the experience to be one or the other. This western ideology constrains citizens from understanding that the physical statue has meaning, feeling and a narrative on transformation embedded in its central positioning on the campus.

I envisaged that the debate would have progressed and transcended the physical at this point in the movement, but the debate has stagnated due to the unwillingness of public to shift their consciousness to a new paradigm of thought. Once the debate starts to use imagination to understand the oppressive nature of institutional racism and other exclusionary politics in institutions, the transformation agenda would begin to be understood holistically.

Our narratives have for centuries been simplified for western conquest, so I urge you to conquer your ideological framework by observing, listening and understanding the context of South Africa through the voices of the marginalized.

Therefore, I urge the public to not fall into the trap of the statue debate because it only reinforces the western paradigm of thought that this movement is opposing. This debate is complex because black bodies have complex historical grievances that translate into present society. So, in order for Rhodes to fall, I encourage the public to prepare for a shift in consciousness in order to delegitimise white supremacist knowledge. This shift in consciousness entails stripping layers of intergenerational conditioning that have been passed onto society from colonial times. Therefore, in order to start the decolonising process, allow your imagination to move past the physical and think about your counter argument after understanding the narrative. Our narratives have for centuries been simplified for western conquest, so I urge you to conquer your ideological framework by observing, listening and understanding the context of South Africa through the voices of the marginalized. We see it and feel it because society does not provide us with a narrative; this is our narrative, this is the identity of blackness.

REFERENCES

Oyewùmí, Oyèrónké. 2005. "Visualizing the body: Western theories and African subjects in Oyewumi (ed) African Gender Studies: A Reader. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 3-21.