THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: MESSI YET SO WORTH IT

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  A LESSON IN HISTORY

You have to give it to Germany! I am yet to experience a country which is to a large extent the instigator if not the  cause of the longest and  deadliest war in our  common lifetime(s), an ongoing war in fact,  and still comes out of it smelling as fresh as roses in the dawn of spring! I mean can you imagine! This my dear is pure magic!  For the first time in my adult life I didn’t participate in the world cup event, either as an active fan supporting a country or continent or part of the audience. I didn’t watch a single game.  The one I tried to watch the semi-final between Argentina and Holland, left me pondering the tiny hole in my sock trying to think if I have a needle and thread somewhere to saw it up before it gets any bigger.  When I lost interest in the little potato I checked to see how long I could hold a glass in suspension an inch away from the surface of the wooden bar table. I even found time to look around and observe a sweet couple drinking hot-chocolates while whispering sweet nothings into other’s ears. Cosy, warm and content in each other’s arms.  Then there was a middle-aged man whose movements where so precise you would think he was being remote-controlled: from his step out of his German car, the efficiency with which he sat down ordered a Guinness, made sure all his personal belongings keys, jacket, wallet were all properly in place before glancing at his wrist-watch and fixating his eyes on the screen above, all happening in a smooth single movement as if he alone was in the bar.  His purpose, why he was there, was clear from his demeanour. By half-time I decided to take a brisk, cold walk home, to save my time and hopefully do something a little more useful.  That’s the most I’ve seen of the world cup this year.

THE MESSI PART- ONE

I guess my heart was not in it because I saw how tense the situation had been just before the World Cup in Brazil. The people protested, screaming their lungs out, risking body and limb saying they prefer houses, improved healthcare and better standards of living to a show of football, but no one listened. The game had to go on anyway. So the protest, however fierce, angry and heart wrenching it was, still didn’t change the fact that those who wanted the game to go on collectively around the world (that’s all of us who watched it) were more powerful in their desire for the game than those who didn’t. So as soon as kick-off started we all forgot about the holes in our socks  to refocus on the matter at hand, the  beautiful game.  So I wondered how those whose yellow and green colours I had worn so proudly and sensuously after having squeezed myself in into a tight-fitting, Brazil National team jersey which pumped my breast up firmly to resemble balls from which warm delicious, creamy fresh milk and golden  sweet honey could drip, with just a hint of my prune like belly button peeping between heaven and earth, could possibly win under these circumstances: the people didn’t want it.

“They had no focus, they were too emotional or didn’t direct that emotion into a positive strategy on the field” these were just some of the comments I heard in passing after Germany emaciated Brazil with a 7-one win. The Giants of football had fallen at the hands of the most interesting country in the world. They call it German Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth. “Germany has paid its dues to history, it’s time to celebrate!” No holocaust was mentioned there in my friends comment on Facebook. Why spoil a good story with facts. “It happened but we learnt from it” You should too.   So now here we are in the middle of 2014, almost a century since the Second World War when between 1942 and 1943, six million Jews, homosexuals, the disabled, and mentally ill were efficiently suffocated to death. Germany has won the world cup and is smiling from ear to ear, while Palestinians (Arabs) and the Israeli’s (Jews) are at each other throats, forcing an empty argument with heavy artillery through the mouths of infants. Germany has nothing to do with it!  It is the USA whose hands are dirty. Germany has paid its penance for the crimes it committed, they do what they can to support from behind but they will not be the face of it no. Too shameful. Even though its ethnic cleansing initiatives in 1942, are the reasons why Arabs won’t live with the Jews or why Israel is bombing Gaza.  The deal was the Jews would get their own piece of land after such cruel and atrocious treatment from the Germans, they had to be compensated somehow so they were allocated a piece of land – it was given to them. But nobody thought about what would happen to the people who already lived in that same piece of land, where are they supposed to go? So the fight started. Now nobody knows how to deal with the problem because both sides are entitled to the land by birth right, not to mention any holy book. One party suffers more because it has no resources, so other countries who are sympathetic to its cause support it where they can with arms or open disdain against Israel. Israel for its part sees nothing wrong with its actions, it’s something any father would do to protect the family. Germany is nowhere in sight.

THE MESSI PART : TWO

In fact Germany is so ashamed of the holocaust that no one in the country is legally allowed to even utter the word “Holocaust”.  You will be imprisoned says one friend, for just mentioning the word.  That’s how sorry they are about the whole thing.  The sad part is Germany is a very good country actually, besides everything, those who have been there, especially artists who lived in Berlin – sing its praises.  They have achieved a lot since the Holocaust, it’s a shame that people don’t see beyond history to appreciate something good. There are so many Good things about Germany, economically, technologically, their approach to arts and culture, education, etc. So much good.  In fact it is as we speak the power house of the European Union. It is the most stable, most organized country in the EU. Germany decides. So while its plan to conquer the world by the most efficient form of clinical brutality was abruptly halted, they did not give up the idea all together. The idea of a powerful race was still there continuing to grow, it didn’t die, the question was only: how to do this without ending up with egg on your face? i.e. indiscriminately annihilating masses of people to get what you want? Once they figured that puzzle out, they could continue with their plan without smelling like last night’s dinner.  German soldiers had to change uniform, from Khaki military uniforms, to civilian clothing, actually to anything their target is wearing.  They sent an invisible army around the world to infiltrate and take as much information as possible about the target in order to help. We are here to help, not to harm you in any way.

Regardless of the circumstances under which Germany defeated Brazil on or off the field. In football it’s fair game. There are no party  politics involved, no social issues, no business, mother or father dying, you have to focus on the game and that’s what makes you a winner. Everybody understands and believes that in soccer no one cheats, there’s no match fixing, it’s impossible. The game is based on your fitness, training, mental focus, controlled emotions and time.

Instead of being at the foreground, Germany decided to take a back seat and control things out of sight. Being the pioneer of an ambitiously brutal quest for power does not win you many friends,  you have to appear sincere, seem to care. By learning through German Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth, it was easy for them to identify their opponents’ weakest point but instead of making fun of it, they thought of a solution that would have you freely and voluntarily handing over your power to them without them having to requesting it. This way instead of hating them, you will forever be in awe of their kindness. So that when they tell you it’s better to do things their way you agree, and why not, you stand to benefit from the deal too and it is a sweet one.   What they are doing in actual fact is making you play the game in their own terms.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Every country has its own form of football and that is what makes it such a beautiful game.  In days gone by during the world cup each country would play its own game to the field. I fell in love with Brazilians not because they have an over-supply of sexy men or beautiful women, no it was Brazilian soccer that got me hooked. Those boys were dancing on the field! Their tackles were so complex it made the tango seem easier in comparison. No one could break their rhythm, focus and precision with which they passed the ball from one foot to another.  Football was still fun then, and men played because they loved it, enjoyed the game. You could a compose a beautiful song while watching Brazil move as effortlessly as a swift  gentle breeze, which lingered for a moment in motion for a tete a tete with the opponent while their feet moved faster than a piano master’s fingers over black and white keys, as if asking: Will you dance with me? Before moving in a blink as if nothing ever happened. It was simply beautiful to watch. The result of this was other teams were forced to bring their own game to the table too. Which s why soccer was so interesting to watch, why the world cup could never be boring.

Everybody was inspired to play.  Now our hearts are too heavy to score a goal. We start and then just forget why we’re in the game in the first place – while at the same time wanting to win.   Now we’re playing the game on German terms and conditions: Efficiency, Discipline, Precision, Focus and so forth. They know that for as long as we play the game based on their rules, even if they don’t win now, because they are letting us win, they will eventually win and win big, since they are the creators of the rules of the game.  In effect they know their game better than you. I didn’t watch the game between Brazil and Germany but many say,  it was as if Germany was alone in the field.

So based on this evidence Germany clearly deserved the World Cup.  The country has done well. I think if there is a lesson that could be learnt from these times is: You can always change your future no matter how horrible your past is.  You can turn anything bad you have done into something good, something to be proud of.  You can recover from any set back, you can create a future you want. With time, focus and diligence things will work out for you.

The other lesson is and this one I think is most important: Play your own game – the one only you can play. Because no one can play your game better than you can. Keep playing your own game no matter what anyone says,  because the bottom line is the point of the game is for is for one team to make another lose their game. The minute you lose your game the other team wins. So if you keep playing your game – in your own terms, you will never lose because everything that happens (even thought it might seem like a loss to others) is in your own terms.

By sticking to your game, no one can copy you, even if they try to, and end up doing a brilliant job of it  – it will always be a brilliant copy, never an original.

So be you. Do what you love, what you are naturally inspired to do. Love will somehow, save you, even from yourself.

Who knew that you can learn so much from watching a game of boring football?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON A DANCE DATE WITH MYSELF…

moving into dance

moving into dance

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a date with anyone including myself.  So Last night was special.  I took myself out on a night out to see a dance performance by Moving into Dance Mophatong Company in Newtown, Johannesburg. It was an auspicious event for the dance company which is celebrating its 35 year anniversary and the retirement of its founder and director Sylvia Glasser who started the company from her garage back in 1978, during Apartheids glory days. The company has since developed into one of South Africa’s premier professional full-time, contemporary dance companies, receiving numerous awards including six Standard Bank Artists of the year awards, more than any other dance company in Johannesburg.

It was  a special night for me too  since, apart from being on a date with me, I got to “meet” the  woman behind the dance company which back in 2007 tossed me lifeline through its after hours open dance classes. It was a dream come true, to learn how to dance, because though I have always loved dance and wished to dance professionally all my life, I had never had the opportunity to, except of course at parties and music venues across Johannesburg. The afternoon classes were vigorous and succeeded in convincing me that I could not dance at all since I seemed to have two left feet.  Instead of one- two- three- four, I would go five- eight- one- two.  I became so frustrated that one day I sat out of class and cried while others danced in harmony to the teacher’s metronomic voice.  I cried because, I sucked at the one thing I loved and thought I could do well.  I wanted so much to dance like the other students and follow the logical one-two-three steps but my feet would not let me.  The experience was rewarding physically even though I quit after a while due to work commitments and a broken heart – after realizing that my heart somehow misled me – in reality I cannot dance.

The Winds of…

The four-day performance titled “ The winds of..” is about change and introspection with the sole purpose of moving forward, looking beyond and  conquering all that lies across the horizon. It speaks of the natural progression that time initiates. It speaks of change and movement, of sunsets and sunrises of plateaus and climbs.   So with such a promising description you can imagine that I was more than ready to be inspired to move forward and a part of me was hoping to still be moved into dance again somehow.

Man-Longing

The opening performance was “Man-longing”, choreographed by Sunnyboy   Mandla Motau. The piece is an exploration into the dark and sinister world of human trafficking.  The five person dance performance piece uses dance and poetry to bring awareness of the dangers and  consequences of being a victim of human trafficking. “Several years ago one of my uncles disappeared. We have never been able to find him. It has been a huge loss for the family. I don’t want the audience to be comfortable; I want to create awareness around this very real and dreadful industry. People disappear without a trace in big cities, families meet dead ends all the time” says Motau. The piece is accompanied by a city soundtrack which has captured sounds of Johannesburg into a grizzly metallic sound scape.  It’s a spirited performance piece, with breathtaking choreography fusing tight balance between violence and sex. One moment it feels like someone is going to get seriously hurt the next it seems the dancers are about to engage in an act public masturbation.  I was definitely not comfortable but I was pleasantly surprised by the piece which was first showcased in September this year. I loved the story line, the theatrical performances, the strong presence of solid female dancers who beguiled me with the way they moved. And yet something was missing….

NATURALLY…

For the first time in my life I didn’t want to jump on to the stage and join the dancers. I have always felt, , believed that dance is meant to be a freeing experience.  Part of my frustration with my dance classes at MID was due in part to the fact that I had to remember movements, repeat them over and over again until my body had programmed them to each and every muscle and they happen automatically. So I become pre-occupied with the algorithms of dance that I actually ended up not dancing at all. Just following the steps. Smile. Breathe. Chin up. Stomach in.  Shoulders straight. Tighten the behind. Act natural.Posture. Don’t miss a step. Smile. Look at your audience. Focus. Don’t forget your step.  And One-two –three-ten! ahhhh Yes to be a professional dancer one needs to be fit, solid and centered.  To create those soft-flowing-seemless – movements one has to be as tough as nails. It seems so utterly contradictory but it’s true.  Dance is ultimately about being in control of yourself, in control of your body and how it moves.  It is highly disciplined art and being fit.

Letting GO…

But nowadays I find that when I watch dance performances in Johannesburg… there’s everything in the performance but dance. There’s drama, costumes, lights, music but no-one is dancing.   I remember one dance performance piece where the dancer, just sat looking at himself in the mirror throughout the entire show, talking to the audience, threatening to move into dance but never did. It was a powerful political statement to make about the art of dancing, especially as it relates to the African experience “all things being equal”.  But I still wanted to see “actual” dancing. I miss dancing. I miss watching people letting go and allowing the music to dictate where their limbs go and how they move. That is  how I have always understood dance to be in my mind.  Music is not just a backdrop to a dance piece, it is what gives dance its power, what propels the dancer forward. At least when I’m dancing it’s the music, the sound, that tells me where to go.

Dancing for me is about letting go of control.  And though I may seem often completely out of control to your my dear reader, I have a hard time letting go of control.  What my “night-club-dancing“ and dance classes have taught me over the years about dancing is you have to release all desire for control, and just allow your body to move naturally – like walking.  When you walk, you don’t analyze it, plan it , you just walk how you walk , dancing for me is just like walking. Allow the music to do the talking through your body.  I could never let go while sober. In the past it became essential to have a drink or two to ge to the point where I can relinquish control – to dance – I would drink and go out dancing, and if I suddenly had an audience I would close my eyes.  Because dancing for me has always been a form of prayer, of communicating with my maker and getting close to a place where I am whole complete, lacking nothing. In the past three years I stopped drinking to dance – so I stopped praying.  Only doing it in the privacy of my home after a shower or bath in front of the mirror or when if music pulls me up.

That said  dance is a sacred act for me yes, but there is also ample room for all kinds of dance expressions in the world. I just miss the kind that is full of love and joy. Dancing that inspires both the dancer and the audience to love… again.

Catch Winds of…. at the dance factory from  the 22 to 24 November at the Dance Factory.

*http://www.midance.co.za/

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

“Just because they are doing it – doesn’t mean we should do it too”

Miss World South Sudan

Miss World South Sudan

05 October 2013.  I have been avoiding this picture. I have seen it a thousand times with just as many likes while surfing my Facebook homepage. YaY! Black is beautiful.  On the surface there is nothing wrong with the picture – it’s everything we’ve all been fighting for right?  Finally the world acknowledges that Black is beautiful.  Finally it seems we are all collectively able to celebrate diversity in ourselves and others in all our different shades and hues.

But I couldn’t quite click “like” on it and that was an indication that something was not right for me, with this picture.  So I have been walking – restlessly around the house this morning trying to figure out just what it is.

I have a personal history with pageantry.  When I was 18 I participated in a Miss Pinetown Contest, during my first year of college. I had a grueling schedule, between being in a church choir, a Sunday school teacher, my studies and responsibilities at home, but I love to multitask.  That was an interesting experience; I was in the final five and came fourth overall. I lost out to Heather Hamilton who eventually took the crown of Miss South Africa in 2000. We used to watch pageants repeatedly at home and I always wished to participate with a view to winning of course.  I gave up that “dream’ after my loss and never tried again. So I must be jealous, maybe. I finally gathered enough courage to revisit Heather Hamilton online – and found that she was probably more ready mentally for the role of Miss South Africa and the opportunities that the platform offered than I was.  So I thought to myself, I lost out to a really clever girl so I didn’t mind – she deserved it. I thought I had closed that chapter.

But here it comes again, this picture and it’s really bothering me right at this moment in time when I am strongly considering Modeling as a potential career option, since it seems that the one door I am trying so hard to open, the one I’ve given my all too, my life to, my soul to, my possessions to, my lifetime dream of becoming a Foreign Correspondent is tightly closed. I have knocked on doors, called people, applied for jobs, still applying, people have given me their numbers: “call me” they said, but repeatedly continue to leave my calls unanswered when I do. People say a lot of things, others have been more honest, but nothing seems to work out.  I have tried everything that is humanly possible and I am tired.  So what to do? Try something you haven’t done before that you enjoy (clothes, pictures, performance).  I was told by a few men after performing my play LINDIWE! A true story based on Love, that it’s my body that is the most interesting thing to watch, “it’s the way I move” they said. “ Ja, I think just take out all the words and just dance” one of the elders told me. “ But it’s the message – the story that’s important for me, without it I won’t dance” I responded but by then I had already lost them,  only realizing later that it was a subtle –  gentle way of saying “shut up” about your issues. It’s your body we’re interested in.  So I found myself thinking that well, I have worked pretty damn hard to maintain a weight that I enjoy and which seems to please others, why not use it right? Become a model and earn some income (the plan is not without its hurdles, I’m beyond my 20’s now and young people make the best models because they will just wear whatever and it’ll be cool, there won’t be any ‘cheeky” words coming out of their mouths) So I thought if it means I can keep a roof over my head, why not. I can shut up.  This brings to memory a formidable Dance art piece by South African dancer and choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba’s   “They look at me and that’s all they think”. In which she dealt with the very same issue. She is silent in her pieces of course – but the message is a powerful one, she can tell her story without having to talk.  This woman is amazing. But I on the other hand am not good at being silent. I can keep it down for a while but when it comes out – It’s pretty messy.  I have to talk, I’m always talking, I’m talking to you now see and taking way too long to get to the point.

So what’s wrong with this picture and my choosing a career in modeling?

There are so many layers to this.

But in summary, I have a problem with pageantry personally.  I discovered that despite my previous failed attempts at winning a ‘crown” it really does offend my soul.  The objectification of women, who are judged largely on their physical appearance and confidence levels; pageantry is another way of creating a uniform army of women who are all thin, all tall, all with sparkling eyes and teeth, who say the right things, in order to get money and a few luxuries at the end of the day. They are judged on how well they are able to look after themselves on a superficial level, smooth skin, well-toned body etc. It is hard work to maintain a perfect image all the time, and I do agree that those who do this, because it is a full-time job, need to be compensated for all their efforts.

The Judging is Subjective; it depends on the judges personal tastes; their preference for boobs, ass, legs, face, and hair all judged largely on western ideas of what constitutes beauty. So whether it’s a black, chinese, white, woman it doesn’t matter what hue they are, the competition still reinforces a false sense of security and confidence which I am principally against. Modeling falls within the same category, and I would now have to go against my personal principles to do it with some level of success.

I guess I just figured out that though it may be okay for others to do this, it is not for me.  It’s not okay for me that I have to wear false hair, wear copious amounts of make-up, and starve myself to fit into tiny clothes so that the world will applaud. They are not applauding me – Jedi Ramalapa. They are applauding themselves, their image and perceptions of who I am and what I should be about. It’s not okay for me anymore to go against my values. My body size does not make me more beautiful than the next girl, nor do the clothes I wear, they don’t make me more worthy, or special. The way I move or speak does not make me queen of the world, I am not any better than the next woman. I have been hurt and abused in the past because I tried so hard to be what I thought was beautiful.

Confidence comes with knowing who you are. I am not this woman, that woman. I am me and the me I am is not  what you see – it is precisely what you hear, what I say, what I do and what you feel when I am in your presence. All of what you see will disappear one day it doesn’t really matter on the grand scheme of things.  Looking after myself is good – but doing it for money is dangerous.  I have to be able to live with me, be honest and true to myself whether you applaud my efforts or not.

As black (brown in my case) people we cannot look up to white- western constructs and their definitions of beauty and still expect them to respect who we are when we deny and lie to ourselves every day and in different ways. Buying everything they sell us to get their approval. They will never approve. As individuals we cannot expect to gain any level of respect from others when we are consumed with activities to change ourselves so that we can be accepted. We can never hope to be treated like equals when we ourselves do  not think that we’re enough or worthy. Self-hate and doubt will always show up – we have even stopped questioning these things, figuring out what works for us, grappling with ourselves, our aim is to please other at all costs even if it kills us in the process.

We just accept that just because a white person is doing it, everyone is doing it, everyone is applauding saying well done! That it’s fine.  We have to be brave enough to confront our own lies to ourselves; we have to own up to our own part in our oppression before we can attempt to free anyone or anything –  let alone world. It’s not being racist, it is knowing who you and  allowing your true nature to come out – that is what t gives you the power – the confidence to stand up against the system. Unfortunately we can’t have freedom any other way. It’s either we believe in ourselves and our abilities, or we shall forever remain slaves to the system, to those in power, to money, to possessions, to fame, to applauds, to likes on facebook, to hash tags and  re-tweets. We will never be free – freedom and confidence comes from knowing who you are.

The sexiest thing about a person is not their body or their clothes, or their positions in society. The sexiest people in the world are those who know their worth and where it comes from, and nobody (including your parents) can give you that, only the source, the one who created you can give you that.

I fell madly and deeply in love last year, and that love was beyond everything I ever knew, beyond my looks, beyond my clothes, my possessions, my words, my dance, my moves, my mind,my friends and family. Beyond even my abilities as journalist or writer or any of the things I thought made her special. It was a spiritual love, a re-connection with the source that brought her back to me.

This is the woman I fell in love with. And she is the sexiest woman I know. I’m glad I took a picture of her, because I don’t think she could recognise herself at the time. It doesn’t matter what she ends up doing with her life. In my eyes she will always be worthy of all the love, care and attention I can give her. She’s amazing:

Meet Jedidiah  (a name which means God’s loved one) Ramalapa.

SHE is my BELOVED

SHE is my BELOVED – Self Portrait

Nelisiwe Xaba: A Dancer With Balls

X-homes 2010.

I first met critically acclaimed dancer and choreographer, Nelisiwe Xaba, in 2008. We made T-shirts together for the anti-Xenophobia protest march Johannesburg in June. She never said a word the entire evening, (if she did I didn’t hear it ) while I and our other mutual friends chattered or argued and debated about which  slogans worked, how many we should make, the fonts, the style etc. She just got on with the work at hand.

The next time we met, it was in 2009 for an interview on the  short run of her solo-performance pieces,  “They look at me and that’s all they think” and Sakhozi says ‘non’ to the Venus,  which she self-funded at the Market Theater in Jozi .  Both works were based and  inspired by the story of Sara Baartman (1789-1815) a Khoi-khoi woman famously exhibited as a sideshow attraction in 19th Century Europe, under the name “Hottentot Venus”.   I watched both her pieces with awe, I had never seen her perform  before – she is often travelling and working abroad and on the continent.  I wondered why I didn’t know about her before (being a lover of dance and all) or why there were not many people, black women like me,  going out to see what other sisters are doing. Her performances are powerful and challenging, and thought-provoking.  I have never been left unchallenged by her work.   Her  meticulousness is evident in how her work is structured:  from the  costumes she chooses, the props she uses, body movement, facial expressions, no action or movement is wasted. All tie in methodically together into  smooth and powerfully vibrant performances only Nelisiwe Xaba  can deliver.  I have loved all of the shows she’s produced  including  that of X-Homes in Kliptown ( one of the oldest townships in Soweto and the venue where the 1955 freedom charter was signed)   in which I barely escaped her urine which she splashed angrily at her  audience as part of the piece.    If there’s a critique from a novice, it would be, she is very much more than just  “intense” .  The day of the interview was over-cast,  just  like this one today.  We sat in a cove at Gramadoelas restraurant at the Market Theater, and indulged  in what was to be the most enjoyable interview I have ever had. We both laughed, and giggled like two school girls while sipping tea.  I was surprised when I stumbled on a short transcript of the interview  the other day and re-reading now  I see it was probably the most seriously, real, interview I have ever done.  Xaba is also, as it turns out one of the funniest people I’ve met yet, with a balanced mix of irony and witt I smile just thinking of that day.  I didn’t want the Interview to end I remember… I was already in Love.

The Interview:

SWA: How did you navigate your way through the dance industry  almost two decades  down the line?

XABA: ”  I had to fight. Nothing was given to me, all I had (have)  I had to do it myself. I know that for  my male counterparts  things were just given to them and they didn’t know how to handle it, because it was given to them.  No one gave me anything. I had to build my name, build everything myself.  So, no one can say I gave her something, including all these Dance Institutions for all I care. The dancing industry is full of men, and no they’re not better.

SWA: Is there  a need then to build support structures for young (female) dancers? Would you consider perhaps setting up a something to train aspirant dancers?

XABA:  Sometimes I dream of having my own studio, my own Non-Governmental – Organization (NGO). But at the same time I don’t believe in NGO’s…. to keep giving something to people, maybe they don’t need it. They don’t need it so they don’t know what to do with it. So I would like to create something where young girls or boys, if they want to be dancers, would have to make an effort.  I don’t want to open another school where I have to rely on funders to give me money for the underprivileged, I don’t believe in that. It’s a great gift from NGO’s or from Europeans, but it doesn’t help.  How many NGO’s do we have in Africa? What do they do? If NGO’s were helping Africa, Africa would be at the same level with  first world countries today.

SWA: In Sakhozi says “non” to the Venus, you tackle Immigration Issues amongst other pressing issues, tell us more.

XABA: It boils down to the relationship that Europe has with Africa. It’s  the superiority complex that they have with us. Also it’s not only Europe that should be blamed. We’ve been blaming Europe forever. I think our Governments will blame Europe until I’m dead.  Africa needs to start having balls. Africa needs to stop having her legs wide open and cross them probably, and start having some dignity. Europeans are closing their gates to Africans, and we’re opening them wide, I don’t understand that.   I don’t know what we gain from them. Europeans gain money from doing business in Africa. I don’t know what we gain.

SWA: Who are you  Challenging?

 XABA: Unfortunately cabinet ministers or parliamentarians  won’t attend the show. They are too important (laughs).  I grew up in Apartheid – South Africa, then there was a movement of consciousness,  ( Black Consciousness Movement/ BCM) especially with the youth.  We made  each other conscious, but that’s all gone and I don’t understand why it’s gone when it should be starting,  beginning actually. So I look at my work as a form of creating a consciousness.

SWA:  You’ll also be performing your 2006 piece, they look at me and that’s all they think, what does this piece relate to.

XABA: This goes back to exoticism. When you’re performing in Europe, people are mainly interested in seeing your body. Sometimes they don’t actually care about what you’re saying. The black body is still so exotic. When your  body is your tool to make or create art, then it becomes a challenge.  How do you get your message across when someone is actually not listening and they’re just looking at your body? How do you get them to listen? That’s the challenge. They look at me , was also a challenge to Europeans that the black body is just a body “actually”. So you can listen to what I’m saying, or see what I’m talking about, to open a dialogue”

SWA: How do you deal with your own personal narrative? The irony your work evokes?

XABA: This time it is a choice. It’s not like Sara Baartman who had no choice, a contract or costume. Of course it is an art-form that gets abused. My challenge is how do I use my body in a way that exhibiting it does not degrade it, and how do I do that with pride.

SWA: Why do you think, many women, like Sara Baartman are still “caged” today?

XABA: The problem for me starts with the basics.  If we women don’t teach girls to be powerful  girls,  they will never be powerful women. You can’t expect a 21-year-old to be a powerful woman, when you’ve  never taught her when she was  five how to be a powerful girl. The state of women in Africa is still ridiculous. Men are still men. Men haven’t changed despite the fact that we marched in the 60’s . It’s like the struggle of being black, you have to fight everyday of your life. Same with being a woman, you fight everyday of your life. We live in a man’s world.  We live in a White world. Until we change that world, nothing can change for us.

ends.

Biography:

Sakhozi says non to the Venus

Nelisiwe Xaba was born and raised in Soweto (South Africa), and received a scholarship to study at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation. After studying dance in London (with a 1996 Ballet Rambert Scholarship) she returned home to join Pact Dance Company, where she was company member for several years, and with whom she toured to Europe and the Mideast. She worked with a variety of choreographers, visual and theater artists, particularly Robyn Orlin, with whom she created works such as Keep the Home Fires BurningDown Scaling downLife after the credits roll, and Daddy I’ve seen this piece six times before and I still don’t know why they’re hurting each other, which toured for several years in Europe and Asia, winning the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. In 2001, Ms. Xaba began to focus on her own choreographic voice, creating solo and group dance works that have been performed in Africa and Europe, includingb Dazed and confusedNo Strings Attached 1No Strings Attached 2Be My Wife(BMW)(commissioned by the Soweto Dance Project), and Black!.. White and Plasticization. Ms. Xaba has also collaborated as choreographer and dancer with fashion designers, opera productions, music videos, television productions, and multimedia performance projects.

LOVE: Ts & Cs Apply

Harmony makes Love

I told  one of my very close  friends on Sunday that she must ” never” listen to other people when it comes to choosing her mate. I said this to her  like the Guru I sometimes think I am (after all this time I still haven’t learnt to never say never ).  Love, if you find that there is someone in this world you love, in secrete or in public,  love them and don’t let them go.   She looked at me with that ” Are you listening to yourself, I don’t know what you’re talking about look” and replied where does this come from? It’s a response I’ve heard so many times in my quest for love – so I was prepared.  Look at me, I said, you see that I am alone  now, and if you don’t want to be alone ( which she doesn’t, myself included) then don’t listen to other people just go for the one you love, that one that makes sense to you, the one that works. I have given up on so many people as you know, I allowed the world and circumstances to determine my love life, and well if you don’t want to be alone. Don’t do what I did.  She stared at me still with that you have gone crazy look in her eyes and then she asked;  but what if the one you love  doesn’t want to stay…?

It’s a common occurrence, in fact its way too common as far as I am concerned. The ones who are willing to stay are  numbered, 1 or 2.   I guess you’ll just have to accept that they want to move and you must move on too, continue on your own journey. Wish them well. I say, in my heart as I walked out the door.  It was truly a bizarrely uncomfortable conversation, because we have known each other and each others lovers for years and we are both at a point where we want a change in our lives – again. It was a real conversation, we aborted. It was uncomfortable for me because I realized  there are so  many people I have hurt with my love, whom I’ve left with no choice  but to leave in order to save themselves, and there’s also been others who have left me gasping for air after they knocked the air right out of my lungs. I’d say we’re even now. So where to from here….

In thinking about love ( which here specifically refers to love of the romantic kind)  I have found over and over again, despite my best intentions that:   Terms and Conditions do apply;

Money: Are you able to make and keep money. how much do you have and how much can we make together.

Sex:  How important is sexual intercourse for you on a scale of one to ten? Once a day, week, month, Never?

Status:  How would a merger with you benefit me, in my career, family life, business etc. Upward Mobility, Downward Mobility, No change?

Love:   How do you know when it is real?

Faith:  Do you believe what I believe? also known as religion.

Each of these five Ts and Cs take priority over time depending on where you are in your life  mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. So what makes for a  good merger?

I asked this question to a good friend I met a few months ago. He has just gotten married now for a second time, and he is in his  60’s.  I asked him what he learnt from his first marriage.  He said communication is important. We  need to talk.

My first wife was very insecure, never experienced love in her life, so she never fully opened up, so in the end it didn’t work out.  He told me as if he was describing a great mature wine.  The only person I think she truly loves is  our daughter, he concluded.  Talking is important  I am learning as  I go along or should I say communication is more more important than talking. We need to  let others know where we are and what we’re going through.

And now the second one? I ask. Feeling like a ten-year old again… ” well” he answered with a wry smile ” she saved my life, you see, can’t imagine life without her”  Is all he said.

So how should I choose? I asked him.  It’s not an exact science he said but you can:

1. Ignore the  looks

2.  They must be even-tempered, able to deal with you and your various emotions, moods swings etc.

3. They must not mind you being in the limelight.

Sounds easy enough one would think. Okay What about me I thought, what do I want.

1. Children? Money? Wealth? Knowledge? Fame?

After having been knocked down by love so many times,  I have drafted what I think is a simple list of my terms and conditions . If we can do this, the rest will be just a Breeze:

1. I must be able to laugh with you

2.  Work with you.

3. Play with you.

4.  Cry with you and my personal and final  favourite  is…

5. Dance with you.

I am an Artist.  A love Activist.   Which is the greatest equalizer in any relationship, which ever way you look at it.

Never thought I’d say this but in my love life

Terms and Conditions do  Apply.

What are yours…..?

Sowe-to?From here…