Disclaimer: Take a look at that face- video thumbnails are not my friend!
Bats to skulls
Boot soles to backs
Feathers for hair
Bottles for drums
You taught me how to spill blood and then you called me a savage. You exchanged harmony for pollution and then you said I lived in filth. You divided and tried to conquer- man from stone, body from essence, tongue from memory. Trading lyrics for lashes and dancing feet for dead too soon.
Mother’s screams to mass graves.
Civilization to barbarism.
History to myth.
Can you tell me, who the barbarians were?
In forgetting, we don’t reclaim our humanity, nor do we patch up the gaping wounds or re-attach limbs dangling by a tendon. It takes practice and skill to forget successfully, to lose yourself in the swamp of history, emerging only once in a while to steal a lungful of air, or smoke, or one syringe’s worth of hope. And so we forget…
“You can turn anything into an art form. This is what brings my people together- the art of forgetfulness”. -Aila
If you’ve never heard of writer/director/producer/visual artist/composer Jeff Barnaby or seen any of his work, hop on over to Google right now and start digging around. The same goes to anyone who isn’t familiar with the amazing actress Devery Jacobs who plays the biggest badass/firecracker/ultimate girl power lead role in Jeff Barnaby’s first feature-length film Rhymes for Young Ghouls. My Quebec film class went to see it on Saturday night at the National Museum of the American Indian. And Georgetown being the place that it is, it wasn’t enough for us to just watch the movie. The director and the star came to our class yesterday to talk about the film and to answer more of our questions! We also watched his short film “File Under Miscellaneous” which you basically can’t watch anywhere else unless you have access to the museum’s copy. Like I said, Georgetown. Jeff and Devery talked about anything and everything, and they were so irreverent and unapologetic while doing it, two of the qualities that I admire most in artists.
A lot of the themes seemed oddly familiar: destroying identity starting with language, erasing millions of people from earth and the history books, suggesting that history only started when European “civilization” arrived, the legacy of violence and brokenness left after brutal European rule, the list goes on. Then I realized that a lot of postcolonial African writers have talked about similar crises albeit in a totally different setting. You’ll be surprised the parallels I found between motifs in Quebec cinema and *insert pretty much any African Writer’s Series book here*. Still, I’m hesitant to make a big deal out of these similarities only because it feels as though I’m implying “Oh, I’m a postcolonial African, I understand the struggle” because I definitely don’t. But that’s another post for another day…
Homework for today: If you haven’t heard about the residential schools that native children were forced to attend, it’s time to do some research. I thought I was unfamiliar with this piece of history just because I didn’t grow up in the US, but apparently a study showed that a shocking 80% of Americans were not aware that this ever happened. I’m not sure how reliable that statistic is, but I can safely say that almost my entire class had never heard of these atrocities. Residential schools were basically prison camps where native children suffered unimaginable atrocities, all in the name of assimilation and civilization. I don’t want to say much more than that, because I’m hoping you’ll look further into the topic. The one thing I will say is that it reminded me of the book Richard in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun starts working on: “The world was silent while we died.”
Here’s to the un-forgetting…
I’m still trying to fill the gaps (*ahem* gaping voids) being left on this blog by my stalled creativity.
As you know, I’m a part of a little thing called Georgetown Stories, and by little I mean actually a huge deal and amazingly awesome and innovative and never been done before etc. I don’ t necessarily see film in my future, especially since I’m clearly at the amateur level, but a certain screenwriter-to-be roommate of mine has already agreed to adapt my novel (-to-be) into a movie somewhere on that hazy horizon called the future 😉
Since I’ve started “vlogging” or should I say #doingitforthegeorgetownstories, I’ve entered this Inception-like dimension of creativity where there are layers and layers of storytelling going on at the same time. Please stay with me- I make videos where I’m telling my own story, and then it’s almost like I have to step outside myself to edit them and look at them the way someone else would. But that’s only inception layer 2; I’ve also started this “Storyteller Series” were I plan to interview people who consider themselves to be storytellers: filmmakers, writers, poets, visual artists- basically anyone who is kind enough to let me stalk them with my iPhone camera. So I’m telling stories about stories within stories. Can you tell I just tried to make that more complicated than it had to be? You can watch the first two here:
Nosa Garrick is an intelligent, creative, stylish and all-around plays-no-games kind of woman who travels around the African continent telling stories that mainstream (code word for: American and European) media sources don’t often show. She was most recently in Dakar, Senegal aka my adopted home aka everyone please pray my post-grad plans work out so I can move back there for a few more months! Please check out more of her work here: http://www.myafricais.com/ If you’ve told an Ebola joke in the past 24 hours, then you need My Africa Is. Seriously, I’m struggling to understand how the deaths of thousands of people have become meme fodder…Is it because it’s just “those people over there” in Africa? *end rant*
Also, how many people can say that their professor has a Wikipedia page? It’s pretty impressive if you ask me, especially when that professor is so down to earth and tries to convince the class that the page is no big deal and that his friend made it as a joke!