EVER found yourself genuinely delighted that someone is happy, despite your opinion of the reason for their happiness?
Like how an attractive damsel would be overjoyed by shedding some kilos, you’d obviously acknowledge her achievement of reaching a personal goal, but in the back of your head know that she doesn’t need the number on a scale to validate her beauty.
That’s how I felt Monday morning, watching highlights from the 91st Academy Awards. It was when legendary film director, producer and writer Spike Lee went to accept his first ever Oscar award for his recent film, BlacKkKlansman.
One of the best films ever to be made, Do The Right Thing, which Spike wrote, directed and produced in 1989 was snubbed by the Academy awards. Earlier this month, speaking to The Washington Post Spike was quoted saying “This is not in any way disrespectful to the Academy, but after Do The Right Thing, I just said ‘you know, whatever award it is, I’m not going to let myself be in a position where I feel I have to have my work validated.”
That quote alone lets us into the pain Spike felt from the 1990 Oscar Awards. On the other side of coin, his elation on Sunday night’s ceremony demonstrates how much the award means to him. And accepted the award with a moving speech.
I have not watched BlacKkKlansman, so I can’t say if Spike deserved the award for that particular movie. But on Tuesday morning I posted on Facebook that Spike is too great to be excited by an Oscar. Without trying to throw shade at the irrepressible director, the point I was merely trying to convey was that great artists don’t need to be certified by the academy institution to sanction their prominence. Especially black artists.
But what stood out for me, was how most of the young creatives on the social site, liked, agreed, loved and even shared the post.
I get why Spike was hurt by Do The Right Thing‘s loss, and why 30 years later, he jumped on Samuel Jackson’s arms like a lil kid, in accepting his award. Think about it, Spike was 32 years-old when the awards that celebrate cinematic excellence took place in 1990, and they had been taking place for more than 60 years. So you can imagine the clout, prestige and significance of a recognition from the Academy to a filmmaker born in the 1950s.
Not to suggest today’s young creatives don’t appreciate or yearn even, for industry recognition. There’s disinterest and distrust towards “honours” from industry gatekeepers. In music and film.
I was my mother’s one year-old sweetheart when Malcom X (also directed by Spike) was in cinemas. I watched the film years later and was astonished to find out that Denzel Washington, who played the US political activist, didn’t take the Best actor award in the 1993 Oscars. Why would I trust them, if they dismally failed to celebrate Denzel’s finest piece of acting?
Young artists don’t trust these institutions. After winning his Grammy last month, Drake gave an acceptance speech that displayed the power that today’s artists have taken from these ceremonies. “We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual based sport. It’s not the NBA where at the end of the year you’re holding the trophy, because you made the right decision or won the games. Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows. You don’t need this right here. I promise you, you already won.”
Poignant words from the Canadian rapper on the Grammy stage, basically giving the prestigious music awards a polite middle-finger. And this by the way, is from an artist who a few years ago gave away his own Grammy awards on Instagram to artists who he thought were snubbed.
Social media has allowed artists direct access to their fans. Artists are continuously on the receiving end of affirmation from their followers, reminding them of the real impact their art has. Do The Right Thing grossed over $30 million in cinemas, with a budget of less than $10 million. I wonder how Spike would look at that snub, had the movie came out during the prevalence of social media. The validation that comes with seeing people from around the world, celebrating your work would have some effect on your view on awards. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, said he appreciated how 2018’s big movie was appreciated by the audience.
While celebrating the Grammy wins of Cardi B, Jay Rock and Anderson.Paak on Twitter, J.Cole mentioned how this moment for them, is bigger than the awards could say.
Of course there are senior citizens in Hollywood who’ve had this thinking long before, like Woody Allen who has never accepted awards from the Academy. “The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgement of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t,” said the dodge old man.
I personally don’t have an issue with awards per se, it’s people running these bodies that I have gripe with. Black creatives are always chasing to be recognised by Caucasian-led institutions.
Someone made a point on my post on Facebook that Spike was also celebrating the milestone because of the tireless work he’s done as an activist for the inclusion of black people in Hollywood. I honestly believe it’s through the work done by people such Spike, that Black Panther and even Jordan Peele’s Get Out won Oscars. It’s through the noise he’s been making.
That’s good and all, but do we still need to be making noise about not being appreciated by white people? why should we fight for inclusion into institutions created by Caucasians ? Our generation doesn’t want to live out its blackness through white norms.
In the majority of cases children are the unintended consequences of their parent’s reckless or ignorant behaviour. This goes beyond our instinctive dislike of latex between a vagina and penis which is the primary reason for reproduction amongst South African youths irrespective of the fact that most of you niggers call your children a blessing.
Who and what a child grows up to be is an unpredictable endeavour, with the existence of the pornography being sufficient evidence to support the above assertion. Thus in a fast changing world, family relations are becoming less homogeneous within a variety of demographic divisions. Through the prism of these rationalisations, I am bothered whenever the older generations express disapproval of our generation’s propensity to value friendship over family.
We are all slaves to our truths, with these truths being subject to our unique perspective. The previous generations truth was that in life, the Bantu had to find a person (or people) they could tolerate, control or love. Then they breed with that individual(s) with the primary purpose being the expansion of the paternal family name, through as many male children as possible.
While apartheid ensured that the Bantu had no need for silly abstractions such as self-actualisation and self-determination. Without doubt the life of the Bantu was difficult but on the up side it was a simple and humble existence. With minimal choices in life, the family was the corner stone of the Bantu’s sense of identity. Especially with the Bantu being forced to live in concentrated labour camps called townships, alongside strangers from different tribal, cultural and geographic backgrounds. Thus an ever present feeling of distrust for one’s neighbour always existed in the depths of the Bantu’s psyche on many different levels, which made friendship rather difficult to establish. This was not the case for the Bantu’s offspring.
The children of Bantu did not simply see the township as a labour camp instead they saw a place they could call home. These heavily myelinated rascals went bird hunting together and played soccer for hours until their entire bodies were covered in that distinctive red township dust. They did not communicate in their mother tongues when they were around each other, the Bantu offspring used a localised township dialect called Tsotsi taal and consumed copious amounts international cultural content through whatever medium was relevant at the time. Unlike their parent’s childhood, the texture of their reality was fragmented between home, the streets and sometimes the model C education they received in the suburbs of urban South Africa. Their sense of belonging was constantly called into question by the ever changing spaces that the found themselves in on a daily basis which created tension in the process of forming an identity. To para phrase a monologue from Alfa mist’s Potential, it is broken pieces that causes us to replace family with friends.
I am not assigning blame and I am not passing moral judgement, it is what it is. The effect of a cause upon our liner perception of time. It is intuitively natural for a parent to be unsettled when seeing a stranger in their own child. In the same breath people develop a lot of identities throughout the course of their lives, gravitating towards a diverse number of groups in the formation of their social identity. The reasons for this are different for each human being but biology is one amongst a plethora of explanations. Sometimes the family you choose is the healthier choice than the family you are born into. But only sometimes in a world with snakes and wolves disguised in sheep’s clothing.
It has been almost ten years since I was traditionally initiated in Xhosa manhood and I remember it like it was yesterday. The blood, the gore, the endless days of pain mixed with sleep deprivation, wishing that this archaic shit would end so that I could get back to civilization and resume my life in modernity. Personally I was indifferent to the whole idea of ukwaluka but at the time I was living under my parents roof and they are rural to the bone, so a ghetto kid did what he had to do to survive.
The ritual is designed to be traumatic so that the knowledge imparted unto you by elderly ‘wise’ men is seared into your memory like a brand on a cow’s behind. Unfortunately most boys come out of the whole shebang with a solid grasp on the finer points of misogyny and alcoholism.
Xhosa initiation rites seem to no longer serve their intended purpose, which was to nurture loyalty in young man and instil a sense of pride in them for being tough enough to survive the entire brutal experience. This was necessary in a precolonial South Africa, where bitch-ass-niggerisms couldn’t be tolerated because as the saying goes ‘you are only as strong as your weakest link’. The tribe could not afford to be weak, with megalomaniacs like Shaka Zulu prowling the land for villages to conquer.
Traditions should only survive due to the pragmatic value they have to a society or a community. If that set value is no longer readily apparent, then modes of thought, attitudes and behaviours become toxic. Their preservation is generally due to sentiment. As an economically poor people who do not have a working knowledge of our culture before colonialism, we desperately hold on to pieces of ourselves. Like a tortured soul tightly holding on to a piece of a broken mirror hoping to get a full picture of the beauty they once had. I think the reason we do this is because we want to feel like haven’t assimilated the coloniser’s way of life, it is reactionary.
Tradition is a function of culture, along with language, fashion, art and belief to name a few of its elements. Its unadulterated practice in isolation does not make sense because its intended function out of context will not bear the anticipated results. For example, educating children in their mother tongues but public and private institutions of consequence communicate is English. Having worked in the retail sector as a cashier, I saw the inferiority complexes that my co-workers had when they had to deal with an unreasonable Caucasian customer because they did not have a proper grasp of the English language. The very same people would have no problem dealing with an African customer who spoke the same language and exhibited the same kind of unacceptable behaviour.
I can already hear the culture Nazi’s shouting “in order to know where you’re going, you must know where you come from”. In principle I agree with this idiom, but in life I’m not a prisoner to it. I understand the profound desire that we have, as Africans, to be masters of our own destiny but we should not let it blind us in our actions. We should look at the world for what it is, rather than looking at it as what we think it used to be. The reactionary tendency to romanticize precolonial African culture is doing us no favours in reclaiming our sense of identity and sense of being. Instead we should consciously and consistently repurpose elements of our culture so that they are useful in addressing present day challenges.
For instance I think the tradition of ukwaluka should be used to instil:
· A culture of brotherhood amongst Xhosa men
· Tolerance for other people’s point of view and cultures
· The value of discipline and perseverance
· A demonization of alcohol and drugs
· An internalized understanding of how to treat African people regardless of gender, tribe or class
“The entrance of love into sex life…was an advance along the road of human civilization as important as the emancipation of slaves, ” Theodor Reik.
As a complete retard when it comes to dealing with my emotions, I freak the fuck out when an expression of love is directed my way. Except when I find myself butt naked in bed with an absolute thorough bred of a woman, who feels the need to tell a savage, that they are in love with them, on the first night of copulation. Being the thirsty douchebag that I am, my default response in such a predicament, is to dishonestly reciprocate the sentiment with a sultry “I love you too baby”. Regardless of the fact that love is familiarity built over time, nothing will stand between me and the booty (within the confines of the law of course) especially a little white lie about how I feel.
I recently decided to pour some thought into why I am profoundly unsettled by expressions of love, it cannot be healthy that one feels the need to fight or flee when your girlfriend spontaneously buys you a gift because she ‘cares’ about you. Inductively, I am of the belief that love is always offered with expectation. If someone arouses abnormal levels of positive emotions in you (or in your pants) at the first point of interaction. Naturally you hope that the same person can repeat that set effect the next time you meet up or communicate over the phone. If the respective subject of your affection consistently meets your expectations, your affection will turn into love. Thus this love business takes a lot of work and its value is something I am not certain about.
“Love is an ultra-risky business with a lot of pain in store for you, when it does not work out…”
Loneliness is a bitch no doubt about it. People are not designed to be single and sexually frustrated, I am sure a lot of incidences of road rage can be attributed to blue balls and repressed emotion. I can appreciate the necessity of love, it is its price that I am not sure about because it has no guarantees. Many times people have committed to a romantic relationship, only to find out that there partner is promiscuous, mentally unstable, irresponsible with money, an addict, recently had a sex change, lives with their mother etc. love is an ultra-risky business with a lot of pain in store for you, when it does not work out.
I have always been intuitively aware of this, hence I am uncomfortable with expressions of love. Sure love is a beautiful thing, like a pair of Yeezy 350 zebras but one should ask themselves if they are willing to pay R3500,00 for them or settle for cheap knock-offs bought in small street, Johannesburg CBD. The knock-off Yeezus in this metaphor being a steamy one night stand with an absolute through bred, whom you told you love but ended up blue ticking and never calling them back, ever again.
There is a ninja of mine who is a tenderprenuer, his favourite catch phrase is “everybody speaks from the stomach”. He kept on repeating that annoying-ass phrase as we were vigorously arguing about the moral and social implications of corruption. The argument took place across the background of eNCA’s live broadcast of the inquiry into state capture.
On a lively Friday afternoon with open beers on the table emotions ran high, as the alcohol ensured that nobody would be pulling back punches in a titanic verbal clash between two know-it-all armchair generals who do not know when to stop. On multiple occasions in the heat of battle I was often struck by flashes of homicidal intent, incapable of processing the words I was hearing from a man whom I considered a friend and a good person.
I am completely convinced that there is a subliminally insidious campaign by Caucasians, Arabs, East Asians and Latin Americans, aimed at demoting the status of black people to that of less than human in the collective consciousness of humanity. The reason they do this, is to justify the criminal exploitation of African resources. While I might not have solid evidence to support my hypotheses, it is close to the truth. My certainty derived from reported and experienced actions of then coloniser. My ninja believes this to be utter nonsense, the paranoid delusions of a naïve idealist and even if I am correct in my assertions. It would not matter if I had “real money” in my bank account.
He is of the view that race is an unprogressive artificial construct, along which people should no longer organize. In the 21st century all that matters is the money. Instead of focusing one’s energy on religious, tribal and academic aspirations, those Africans who are strong enough, should focus on acquiring material wealth at whatever the cost. According to this treacherous shinobi, the ignorant black masses are a lost cause, whose sense of identity and purpose has been irreversibly perverted by centuries of colonisation. Thus when our political, religious, cultural and social leaders sacrifice the futures of black children for financial gain, they are simply saving themselves from an already sinking ship. In the future, my friend deduces, there will only be haves and the have nots, race will not be a factor. Thus it is each person for themselves and god for us all.
Admittedly I have considered embracing my ninja’s loss of faith in our people’s ability to escape the clutches of mass poverty. Which largely stems from the people’s failure to decolonise their minds because if we were to do so, the people would recognize that we do not need the West, nor the east for that matter, in a time where knowledge is readily available. A resource rich continent, such as ours, should not be the basket case that it is at this current moment in space and time. Through tribalism, greed, religious mysticism and hedonism, black people largely remain at the bottom of the pyramid scheme that is capitalist.
With all that taken into consideration, we simply cannot give up on each other. A Tribe Called Quest said it best there’s no space program for niggers.
The money pig’s quest to amass as much wealth as possible, is an act of pure evil. With evil being diametrically opposed to life, with its assertion relative to individual or social interest. The money pig’s hunger for opulence is changing mother Earth’s atmosphere at such an alarming rate, that soon it will become inhabitable for human beings. Simultaneously the money pig is searching for other planets to colonize, them motherfuckers are done with continents, they are levelling up to colonizing planets and you best believe motherfuckers aren’t planning to take any kaffirs with them. They will have artificially aware robots to tend to there every need. Obviously this is a hyperbolic metaphor of the coloniser’s intent but there is more than a grain of truth to it.
Thus I believe a black man’s participation in the corruption of private and public institutions, for whatever reason, is treachery of the highest order. Liberal individualism is not an option for the black person because its logical conclusion is the annihilation of black culture through appropriation and the vilification of black people in the annals of history, through propaganda.
My ninja was insulted by my rationalization but fortunately for our relationship my phone rang. The honies I had organized for the night’s club hopping were at the gate and somebody needed to pay the cab driver. So naturally we put aside the politics to deal with the more important issue of the day, turning up and getting laid.