Articles

A Language and Grammar of Healing – A review by Erica Holum

 

Ife Piankhi, Artist in Residence: 

Ife Piankhi is currently an artist in residence at 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust. Working as a performance artist, singer, poet, and creative facilitator for over 30 years, Ife has recently ventured into a creative practice where her craft has taken visual form through a textured, multi-media approach to paper mache and collage work, and the creation of bright and colorful mandalas. The material and spiritual elements embedded within Ife’s work create a semiotic grammar and visual language with symbols and metaphors that unfolds into a space for peace, calm, and healing.

Ife grew up in London for most of her life with her Caribbean-born mother who took Ife and her siblings traveling from a young age. She describes her experiences in the U.S. as the time when her “politicization as an African began.” As a young adult, Ife stayed in the U.S. as an exchange student where she began learning about the Civil Rights Movement, and leaders like Marcus Garvey who advocated for Africans to return to their ancestral home. Never feeling like the UK was her place nor home, Ife returned from the U.S. and began traveling to Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Zambia, before making the decision to repatriate to Uganda. Ife has been living in Kampala for over eight years, and uses live performances, poetry, creative facilitation, and visual art to fuse her work into different mediums.  

Through a process of reeducation, Ife ventures into unwritten histories of the continent to reveal contemporary and contextual meanings of a hidden past through poetry, music, and art. Ife believes that Africans of the diaspora have important contributions to bring back to the continent, and engages specifically with mass healing after mass trauma, with a focus on the collective memory and collective consciousness among descendants of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

 

During her time at 32° East, Ife used multi-media art forms and natural materials to create paper mache collages and mandalas from newspaper clippings, beads, shells, and cassava flour. Ife weaves together these materials to create a visual language with beads and shells, and writes text-based poetry with newspaper clippings on paper mache made from cassava flour. The materials symbolically illustrate ancient history and the decomposition of the pieces made of organic materials denotes the passage of time, a process which critically engages with the maintenance of art, the legacy of an artist’s work, and the temporality of embedded meaning on objects. The process of creation, engagement, and deterioration of the work represents a cycle from a traumatic past and healing for the future.

Ife believes in taking art to public spaces and using her work to bring ideas, methods, and approaches to that public that are not the norm. Her work pushes back against institutionalized methods of artistic production in favor of public engagement and discussion of her work. Ife has held community conversations surrounding the formation of identity, self-liberation, and mass healing, which has prompted personal stories and revelations from participants on these vital, yet contested matters. Following her residency at 32, Ife wants to continue exploring the creation of paper, collages, and mandalas, hoping to expand her installation work and continue to broaden and diversify exhibition platforms and audience engagement.

 

Activities

The Comfort Zone- an experiment of art in a public space (a chapati stand) with Mo Siira

 

As part of KLA Art Labs I was involved with 2 workshops. 1 dealing with deepening our observation skills and a collaboration with performance artist Mo Seira about engaging with performance art in public spaces.

Sometimes we resisted being directed, but it seems humans seek to be told what to do. We are comfortable with that.  Making our own artistic discoveries is hard it seems.  People have lost their agency and wait to be given permission by someone to do something, anything.

We entered the local chapati restaurant (The Comfort Zone) located in Kansanga. Alongside customers, chapati makers, waitresses, and various small children is a welder working with machinery. The tent has open sides and a blue roof, is very noisy and congested. Eventually the sound reduces but i don’t know if anyone noticed. People come and go and change positions. As part of the lab we are exploring how the general public engages with Art in public spaces.

We were the guests but somehow we became the hosts. We occupy the space. Like refugees crossing borders we overwhelm our surroundings.

‘Lets invite her (one of the waitresses) to sit with us’. Members of the group ask the boss first before speaking directly to the woman.  She sits against a ply board partition. squeezed.  Shes been watching us as she passes. Someone must have made eye contact which gives us permission to impose our ways on others and call it inclusion.  How can this be art? We can’t just be in the space observing the happenings. How can we be present and just allow things to happen around us?

Im wondering to myself, how can I be heard but not speak?

I stand up and make a gesture. I point to myself.

I cover my mouth with my hand.

I pull my ears. All this is meant to communicate the statement

‘I will not speak, i will listen and observe’. I don’t know if anyone got it.

I sit back down and observe the participants. All men, one woman who sits behind me so I can’t even catch her in my peripheral vision. In front are the men. One in particular talks non stop. Making suggestions of possible actions to ‘engage’ with the people in the space. Not with the space itself, which is confined and noisy. I grow weary and try not to lean my neck too far back because when I do it gets knocked by passing occupants. Its irritating. All I can do is remain small, still and observant of the dynamics in the group. One guy is on his phone constantly. Others are seeking permission to do something by asking the question ‘what are we supposed to be doing? They seem uncomfortable, direction less.

This is a social experiment. In a meeting the previous day we sit with the performance artist Mo Seira to determine the ‘format’ of the event. He doesn’t work like that so all is redundant, not applicable to the work in which he works.

I’ve been asked to manage and direct the conversation today because it all seems so chaotic. I prefer to wait and see what happens especially as I’ve made gestures to say i will not speak.

I listen to as the conversation moves to the subject of gentrification. How if a place is nice, the locals won’t enter. They anticipate higher prices. Its more comfortable for them to stay beneath a tent with no walls, on uneven ground by the side of the road.  If we took the time to look we would see the view of the valley below.  We eat tasty Rolex (chapati with fried eggs and vegetables). This loosens the tongues of the group even more, progressing to a slowing down of speech……………for some.

I stand up, book in hand,  I’m not paid any mind. I sit down. I stand up. One man looks at me and says ‘yes, you have something to say?’. I sit down, ignored by the majority. I stand up and sit down, 9 times I’m told until the Black Russian declares

‘I think Ife has something to say’

The men turn their attention to me, i recite a poem. Written about my observations of the space and the people within it. No plan, no script just what i saw.

I quote the words of Mo Siira –

‘Public space requires improvisation, preparedness, feelings, energy and observation.

Questions of ‘does it work’ don’t apply, was it a mistake don’t matter when everything is essential. I sit down and from my chair say. This is your takeaway, answer these questions for yourself.

What is my comfort zone?

How do I deal with the unexpected?

What makes a space artistic?

What is art and what is not?

I stand up, circling on the spot. I smile and blow a kiss to our lunch guest. She responds and sends a kiss back.  I leave, departing to enter the light. Destination – the other side of the road.

 

 

music, Poetry

To Be or Not 2B

 

Earlier this year I was a participant on the East African Soul Train, traveling from Nairobi to Mombasa on the Lunatic Line. We were encouraged to collaborate with fellow artists in the confines of a moving train and create something that was reflective of our personal experiences. The theme of the residency which lasted a week was Kovu Safarini – My Scar.

It was challenging, inspiring and the beginning of me questioning how I as a poet you explore my work in different mediums other than performance and workshoping.

As an artist in residence at 32 Degrees East I have been exploring my scars. The theme: To be or not 2b is an exploration of Migration, Identity and Mourning. The topic is multi layered, but my jump off point was ‘Maafa’ – The Great Disaster which was Chattle Slavery commonly known as The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Many Africans know nothing about this period in history or the implications it has had on Africans on the Diaspora and continent. We don’t speak about it, but i feel it is a scar that needs to be healed. But before that it has to be exposed. The continent lost between 11 and 100 million Africans to Maafa and I want us to remember that. We all know what it feels like to loose something and now as more and more Africans are being displaced through conflict, climate change, disease, I believe that even though it may not be us who experience this directly we need to develop compassion for each other and the trauma that this loss creates. This trauma doesn’t just go away it stays with us in the bones and the blood. It is generational.

 

The ideas for this installations have come through my dreams or meditations. As a poet I use paper, I love writing and have a Parker fountain for that specific purpose.  The other day at an event i was MCing I thought I’d lost it. I was frantic, I went back and found it laying in the aisle of the auditorium. I was so relieved I had found it. But what does it mean to loose a person you value and not know if you will ever see them again? How do we cope? Natural recycled materials are what i have chosen to work with.  I have been experimenting with the creation of paper using paper pulp and cassava flour. Using mabati (iron sheets) i  have moulded my pulp onto the iron sheet to create a ripple effect. This represents fluid movement and the the reality that our identities are seldom static. Constantly changing, both physically and mentally we evolve as human beings from year to year. Just like the annual migration of Buffulo across the Masai Mara we as human beings have always moved and when you think about the scale of the African continent this was always a great expedition and ultimately lead us to adapt and change as our circumstances as our environments dictated. This means we are now hybrids, Fusionist. There is more to being an African than being born on the continent. Its now about how we ‘want’ to express our ‘Africaness’, but is there an essence? What are the elements that keep us in contact with the land and each other?  Now in contemporary times Africans are restricted from movement. We are unable to see the other side, to broaden our horizons, we are restricted. Immigration policies mean we have to jump through hoops in order to justify our desires to travel and often even though we are told we are impoverished we pay visa fees which if denied don’t get reimbursed.

 

For most of my life I have been asking who am I? So I took a DNA test which showed me the genetic similarities I have to specific African peoples. Like Cheik Anta Diop I firmly believe we are one people who have mutated into the different forms which represent Africans now. I also discovered I am Haplo Group 1, one of the earliest groups of Africans who made their migrations out of Africa into Asia. So when asked where am I from, I can honestly say I am an African even though the details of location have been distorted or lost through the global trade (not really a trade but a theft) of Africans and the misinformation we are given regarding the contributions of Africans to civilization.  Maybe this is why i was searching to reconnect with those missing parts of myself I felt were lost. I also wanted to explore how other people define themselves as there is an assumption by Africans of the Diaspora that Africans on the continent know who they, celebrate their culture and will place it before anything else. Interestingly enough many of the indigenious Africans who attended the discussion felt that their cultures do not represent who they are or who they want to be and in fact they feel restricted by it. My mind was blown, what does this mean? Why is this happening? Reading C& (Contemporary and) publication ‘I am built inside of you’, the artist Helen Sibidi says ‘we own nothing….. we don’t even own ourselves’ and i see this, I see how we as Africans we are ashamed of our skin, our hair, our ancestors, we cleave to Christianity and Islam, to skin bleaching, to speaking with foreign accents, to being anything other than who we are. The seeds, our seeds are being lost to us and this is what tied us to the land, grounded us in cycles and rhythms and gave us a sense of purpose. Now we have become consumers who have bought into capitalism and expansion at the detriment of our environments. This is also why i chose bio degradable materials because i want the installation to change, decay, fade away just like I will at the end of my life. We are looking for permanence now.  Also as part of my exploration of Identity I interviewed Baba T and his wife Mama T who repatriated to Tanzania. They left Jamaica for the Europe and eventually decided to settle in East Africa. The elder who is 81 gives an emotional account of his experiences which will also feature in the installation.

The paper panels I have created will feature my poetry and quotes relating to the theme. I have a soundtrack which was created by a wonderfully talented artist called Joshua Oyintareoge Egbuson and am supported by so many great creatives Patience Asaba, Nikissi Serumago -Jamo, Kaya Sanaa to create an installation that will be an sensory delight. I will also perform some of the works as a part of the activation.

As an non traditional artist I have been challenged with how to present the work. For me it doesn’t go into a gallery space because I think what I have created is like a memorial to those who have been lost and due to the artist Sunoj D who is an Earth Artist who I worked with a few years back, the installation will happen outdoors in space which reflects some of the emotions and experiences Africans may have felt as they were ‘tight packed’ on the ships bringing them into slavery. The installation is also interactive and there will be certain things people will have to do before entering and whilst inside.  I realize the subject matter is heavy so to bring ease to myself and audience I have created 9 mandalas which represent my desire to heal this wound, to restore myself to balance and allow the ancestors to weep not just tears of pain but of joy, as we recognise their contributions and sacrifices so we can live and be who we want to be in contemporary Africa.

 

Poetry 0 comments on Living in the Era of Trump

Living in the Era of Trump

 

Slowly the ink flows to the nib.

A few shakes in the air and it begins to write.

I am chronicling the Age of Trump.

As it begins, who knows where it will end.

But he’s given us a heads up.

To make America great again, by any means necessary.

What irony

Is this once again a case of the chickens coming home to roost?

What goes around, comes around and America has some

Superpower karma coming its way.

So what to do?

In this age of Kali Yuga, destruction is the order of the day.

But there is always a rebirth,

a New Life.

So let’s prepare for that.

What would that world look like?

Imagine.

I see it

I feel it

I wish to describe it.

Its infinite possibilities, focused on the development of a new way.

There’s been no era like this one.

This is the age of Donald Trump.

There’s been lots of name-calling and exposure of a lack of character.

And the question

‘Will he be running the empire between tweets’?

Everything is up for grabs.

Get ready for the corporate feeding frenzy.

As he lines up his prey.

No support for family planning and alliances with Russia.

We are heading for an Indian summer and problems with China.

The sun will shine on the corporate sector, turning the earth into a desert.

Capitalism needs fuel to feed its lifestyle.

So what would happen to the American mind if there were no power, no fuel, and no water?

It’s a powder keg waiting to go off!

But hold on…

Let’s not get traumatized with images of apocalyptic whoa.

This is our opportunity to shine, to define our times.

To be present with the challenges and strategic in our vision.

They say Rome was not build in a day.

So let’s take the long view.

It starts with you and me, challenging our energy positively.

I know at times it’s hard when surrounded by negativity.

We just want to burn a Trump effigy.

But my mother told me

‘You can’t fight fire with fire, you need a little water’.

You know water is feminine, right?

So you see the march on Washington DC?

Is Pussy power!

Should we be afraid, very afraid?

Absolutely not

This is the New World Order.

Take a deep breathe, place your hand on your heart and feel.

Feel our connection to each other.

Fell our inter connection, our co dependency, our global perspective.

Put aside geo politic borders.

Put aside physical appearances.

Put aside hierarchy.

Put aside gender, because souls have none.

This is the Kannagara tribe and our god is Love.

So, as you write your protest letters,

As you light up social media with your passion and your progress.

As you connect with the global community of like-minded soul-diers.

Fill your works with Love, positive intention and balanced thinking.

Be present with your feelings, so you don’t loose your humanity.

Which is easy to do in the era of Trump.

Don’t get it twisted.

We are going into battle, but it’s up to us to resist.

The race is not for the swift but for those who can endure.

We are going to another level.

Some will pout and doubt because they don’t have faith.

But who feels it knows it.

So let’s get organized, mobilize, strategize, advertise our opposition to his plans.

Don’t be a useless eater.

A sleeping consumer.

Wake up!

And smell the coffee, it’s a new brand.

Freshly brewed, not stewed.

By Ife Piankhi

©copyright 2017

Yoga

Afrikan Yoga on Morning at NTV

The practice of Yoga can be very rewarding. I have experienced increased energy, concentration and flexibility. I’ve also been able to relieve my anxiety and develop a deeper sense of well being.

I think its important to learn to love, appreciate and listen to ones body. Too often we are not in tune with our bodies until we become sick then we begin to notice what is going on!

With the practice of yoga you become more sensitive to your body and learn to respond.

Based on my own practice and the teaching of others, I’ve realized its really important to take time with ones body, to nurture it, to respect it. Learning to slow down is important to personal development. It give us the opportunity to reflect and rejuvenate especially as we live highly stressful lives.

With all this in mind, my hope is to introduce the practice of Yoga to Ugandans and to encourage them to stretch regularly. Every Monday from 8.30am we are stretching, but once you get a taste Im sure you will want more.

I am available for private (home visits, booked in 10 week blocks) where I can assess and tailor sequences to meet your unique needs. Consult with you on wholistic well being which includes nutrition.

This is my preference for beginners as its very easy to get distracted by life and not show up for class. If however you feel that group stretching will motivate and inspire you then I hold a public class every Monday at 32Degrees East in Kansanga from 6pm. (please pre-book your place by emailing me at topgie@gmail.com)

I look forward to stretching with you

Hotep (peace)

Activities

The Feminine Fight Club

 

 

The feminine fight club was born on the 6 th July 2016. In a kitchen two women grappled each other to

the ground where one sustained a twisted ankle. It had come as a shock, the burst of energy that

erupted from the younger woman. It was the first day of her period and she was feeling aggressive and

impatient with those around her. So when the older woman grabbed her in a playful headlock the

younger women fought her way out, twisting until both landed hard on the concrete floor. Immediately

the older woman knew she had been injured, as she tried to bend her ankle she heard it click and then

the swelling began.

It wasn’t that they were angry at each other, but both had a rage simmering in their unconscious. No

one likes to feel powerless so they wanted to create a space where that rage could be expressed

productively. Intuitively the older woman had expressed that she wouldn’t fight knowing she wasn’t

ready to test her physical prowess against the younger woman. She had known something might

happen but she didn’t listen. The week before a friend of a friend had died because she was too busy

taking care of others to take care of herself. She didn’t seek medical attention until it was too late. The

day she was admitted to hospital she died. She left two children behind.

No one likes to be ill, have their mobility restricted or not be self-determined. It feels like a prison but

many women and girls live this way. 1 in every 3 girls is married before reaching the age of 18. In

developing countries this means that 47,000 girls don’t get to realize their true potential, most of them

also experience sexual violence. They are bound by patriarchal models which define how they should

behave as females.

So what is the message of these incidents? Don’t overextend yourself? Listen to your inner voice? Take

better care of your body? That day I realized how much I depend on my body. For the next week I was

forced to cancel appointments. It was very difficult, because even though I am female in gender I have

masculine energy in abundance – I’m active, giving, I make things happen.

How many of us give ourselves the time and space to express or experience our feminine energy, which

is passive, stillness, silent and receptive? These energies are important for balanced health. My feminine

and masculine energies were not balanced so I got injured.

maat

What I’m advocating is ‘Self Care’. Within our lives we need to make time for physical activities which

increase our heart rate and tone our muscles. The byproduct of which is a focused and peaceful mind, a

robust body with a strong immune system because our nerves and spine are flexible and energized. We

also need ‘time out’, to be still, to be quiet and receptive to our thoughts and feelings. To take a pause

doesn’t make us lazy or selfish but Self Full.

As leaders of the now and the future is we need to find our personal balance or what was known as

MAAT is pre historic Africa. If we don’t find it there is no way we can change our society, which is

suffering with all manner of diseases. Bodies and minds not at ease. We owe this to ourselves because

being empowered is not given by others. It’s something we have to give ourselves.

I will conclude with a quote from Anna Julia Cooper who was a black feminist activist. Born in 1858 in

North Carolina (USA) to her enslaved mother, Hannah Stanley Haywood, and her white slaveholder,

Anna Julia Cooper spent her lifetime of over a century redefining the limitations and opportunities for

women of color in a society set up for their disempowerment and subjugation. A distinguished scholar

and educator, Cooper saw the status and agency of black women as central to the equality and progress

of the nation.

‘All I claim is that there is a feminine as well as masculine side to truth: that these are related not as

inferior and superior, not as better or worse, not as weaker or stronger but as complements-

complements in one necessary and symmetric whole.

Activism, Activities, Articles, Diarie

THE CANDIES THAT DOCTORS HAND OUT By Ife Piankhi


 

I fill my mouth with it. Never mind that I am lactose intolerant and in a few hours my stomach will be gripping and bloated. I will release gases and hope I am not in the company of others. If I am, I will attempt to hold it in or release it without making a sound. Impossible.

Every other person in Kampala has ulcers. It is a national epidemic that is not on the radar of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It’s all HIV, Ebola and now the Zika Virus. We are under attack from new strains of bacteria which are now resistant to treatment because of the antibiotics our doctors prescribe like sweets. One of the unfortunate side effects of antibiotics is that they are not selective in choosing which bacteria to kill. All the good bacterial colonies in the gut die along with the bad. Doctors give you the pills in small envelopes with the name of the tablet (sometimes) and the numbers 1×1 or 3×1 written on them, to determine when and how many of these you should take. There are no instructions other than that. Maybe if the drug is particularly harsh on the stomach they would suggest taking them with food or liquids.

When I go to the clinic in Kampala I am not physically examined or asked about my previous health history. You tell the doctor your symptoms and he or she prescribes you antibiotic pills. We have this tradition of respect for  elders in Africa, so when we go to the clinic, because the person sitting at the desk calls themselves a doctor we are afraid to question or even ask for clarity on what is being prescribed and what the effects could be.

I believe this is what is leading to the problems with our stomachs. Bacteria that are either beneficial or at least not causing diseases are being destroyed, along with the bad bacteria, thus leaving us more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections that are becoming more expensive to treat. (Currently the American government, under the guise of copyright law, is attempting to stop African nations from purchasing generic pharmaceuticals which are often sold at a lower price).

The stomach, the site of intuitive knowing (trust your gut), is under attack.

In our gut there is something called the enteric nervous system. It is a sophisticated network of neurons, neurotransmitters, and support cells like those found in the brain. This network permeates the digestive tract from the esophagus to the colon, and “enables it to act independently, learn, remember, and as the saying goes, produce “gut feelings.” Think butterflies in your stomach or cramps or when you are nervous or upset.

We have two brains, and one of them is in our belly. They are connected like Siamese twins, and when one gets upset the other will too. The gut contains 100 million neurons — more than the spinal cord has. This means it is sensitive. Symptoms of ulcers include abdominal pain, anemia, bad breathe, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, fatigue or low energy, headaches or migraines, skin problems, premenstrual stress, sinus problems, sleep problems, weight problems (gain or loss).

It’s a debilitating condition which is caused by a bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori) but also by a diet that is too acidic. While studying with Dr Llaila O Afrika, the well-known naturopath, I was taught that most of the foods ingested by Africans were acidic. We fry most of our food, combine carbohydrates with proteins, drink as we eat, eat a lot of refined flour and sugar, and take insufficient water, preferring instead to take soda or alcohol. No longer is our food our medicine. The belief is that if you are eating raw food, then there is something wrong with you. We are now medicating ourselves in order to numb our bodies. In order to be strong or appear strong we repress our anxiety, our depression and eat. It is common knowledge that women are experts at this one, and along with retail therapy we find creative ways to alleviate our stress.

I’m looking at a Ugandan population which is increasingly unwell. We are not exercising (the ritual of going to the garden to dig is what ‘villagers’ do). We eat large portions of food very late at night so that in the morning we wouldn’t feel so hungry.

As a woman living in Uganda I’ve been told I’m not authentically African and that I should learn to keep silent and observe more. To ‘hold water in my mouth’, to keep my opinions to myself and not share them with others because I will make people feel uncomfortable, even if I disagree or am curious to know more. My role is not to question but to blindly accept what is handed to me, because it’s rude not to. As African women we are meant to make people feel welcome, to give our time to everyone, but not invest in ourselves because that would be selfish. I believe those suffering with ulcers have a problem with anger and the inability to say no. We ingest the demands, protocols, and opinions of others but ignore our personal needs in order to keep the peace. This peace is the stereotypical image and behaviour of what makes ‘a good woman’. Meanwhile on the inside we are holding the tension of resentment because our words and emotions are trapped in our bellies.

The fear of violence, shame or guilt which traditionally would have ‘kept me in my place’ is contributing to the epidemic of ulcers. I don’t believe people suffering with ulcers are any different. Something is being repressed. Our second brain is reacting to eating habits that are resulting from our feelings of powerlessness. We are afraid to speak our truth.

The creative work that I do to empower youth and young women using the arts is essential to sensitizing us to the need for identifying and expressing our emotions in a healthy and productive way. To find the balance between self-care and the care of others is important. Repression of emotions leads to greater feelings of discomfort and disease in our communities. We need to provide spaces where we can express ourselves and stop seeking to control the reactions of others. Something is going on with our stomachs and we need to start listening, because the body has its wisdom.

—>

Ife Piankhi is a poet, singer and creative facilitator currently based in Kampala, Uganda. She is an active participant in the creative industry of East Africa. Her works are available at www.ifepiankhi.com

All photos courtesy: Sunoj D.

Source: the foregarmagazine

Activism, music

I Look Away

I’m sitting in front of the computer trying to recollect all what I have achieved this year. It’s hard without my notebook. I have such a poor memory sometimes, so I tend to write things down. As a result I have many past notebooks collected in a box which I take out from time to time to reflect on my life’s journey. It’s surprising sometimes to see my aspirations and goals written down and to realize that some of them I have achieved. Others have not yet manifested but that I am on the way. I feel proud of myself. Especially when it seems that Life is just not going to plan. I encourage all of us to write our dreams down because otherwise It’s hard to see how far we have come.

I’m in a reflective mood, especially as this morning a friend of mine showed me a video of a beheading in some Islamic state somewhere. The crowd was gathered, blood from the previous beheaded people can be seen on the ground. The axeman takes aim and begins his wing, I look away. This isn’t a movie, this is real and I can’t stand to watch, to remember the image, for it to remain in my memory. I know this is the reality of many people who have been caught in conflicts. War is traumatising, it wounds and scares.

Even though I can be forgetful, I know I will be able to recall this. I look away. I’m confused by our inhumanity towards each other. How we can so easily murder and bring pain. And I wonder what is our future? If I was an extra-terrestial what would I think about our behaviour? Maybe it wasn’t such a good thing that God gave us free will, because look what we do with it.

It’ true I’m feeling morose. I don’t know why it happens around this time of the year when people seem to be so happy. Anticipating family gatherings and laughter. In my mind,  I’m thinking how come we can’t show this goodwill all year round? Why do we have to wait for Christmas in order to become more humane, generous and loving?

I’m in a reflective mood. After spending 3 intense days with ‘Barundikazi’, Burundian women who come together to discuss and formulate their opinions and actions regarding the events in Burundi, I keep wondering why these conflicts and traumas continue to happen in our beautiful continent and planet. Are we sick as a species? Will we eventually just destroy each other and leave the planet to evolve without us? I worry about us. Our continued march towards destruction. Are we indeed living in the last days? Who will be saved and who will be destroyed?

There are so many layers of reality, the political, the spiritual, the ecological, the scientific, the philosophical, the social, the mental, the emotional, the religious. If we were a patient what would be our prognosis? What is the percentage of the population who are behaving in a way that is anti life and love?

I know there are good stories out there, the world is full of stories of hope and inspiration but why don’t we hear or see them? I’m asking these questions because i want to know and understand the nature of humanity and how we can change the most destructive elements of our behaviour in order for us to live in peace and love.

Or is it a case of we can’t have one without the other, but like I say in one of my songs ‘there has to be a better way’. And I hope that more of us will make a commitment to finding it and transforming our society. It’s time to break out and try something new.